Alicante is known for its expansive public beaches, where you can enjoy sailing, sunbathing, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea during warmer months. Alicante’s main port is lined with diverse restaurants, bars and pubs serving seafood, tapas, cocktails, and wines until late. The best time to visit this city is in the summer as there are plenty of cultural events, live concerts, and street performances in the town centre and seaside promenade.
The Old Town Quarter is where you can find Gothic cathedrals, medieval castles, and structures dating back between the 15th and 18th-centuries. Many are free to enter, and you can enjoy guided tours of these venues for just a few euros. Its most iconic landmark is a mountaintop castle that offers beautiful views of Alicante. Check out this list of things to do to kick-start your holiday in Alicante.
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Things to do in Alicante, Spain
Discover Alicante through your five senses: its fabulous beaches, its varied museums and its impressive monuments. Together, they constitute the great attraction of this city that we invite you to discover.
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Tabarca is the only inhabited island in the Region of Valencia and is located opposite the city of Alicante, 11 nautical miles offshore and near the Santa Pola headland. In fact, it’s more than just an island: it’s a small archipelago that comprises the islets of La Cantera, La Galera and La Nao as well as the Isla de Tabarca itself. It is approximately 1,800 metres long and measures some 400 metres across at its widest point.
In the past, its shores were a refuge for Berber pirates and, in the 18th century, King Carlos III ordered the island to be fortified and a town built, in which to house several families of Genoese fishermen who were being held prisoner in the Tunisian city of Tabarka. The walls surrounding the town have been officially declared a Historical and Artistic Site and an Asset of Cultural Interest.
Plaza de San Cristobal
Alicante’s Old Town Quarter is home to historical structures dating back to between the 15th and 18th-centuries. Here, the Alicante Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) occupies an 18th-century Baroque building, where you can see paintings by local artists and permanent exhibits of archaeological finds from the region.
Another must-visit is the Santa Maria Basilica, a Baroque and Rococo cathedral that was built on top of the city’s oldest mosque. Nightlife in the Old Town Quarter is mainly concentrated in its main square, Plaza de San Cristobal, as well as Labradores and San Isidro Streets.
Castle of Santa Bárbara
Castillo de Santa Bárbara, set on Mount Benacantil, is one of Alicante’s most impressive mediaeval structures. The castle was named after Saint Barbara's feast day, which was when Alfonso of Castile recaptured it from the Arabs in 1248. For about €2.50, an elevator opposite Playa del Postiguet takes you to the top of Castillo de Santa Bárbara, which offers panoramic views of Alicante and Playa del Postiguet.
Entrance to the castle is free of charge, while guided tours are available at 11 am and 12.30 pm for a few euros. During the summer, free concerts are held at the castle’s courtyard on Friday and Saturday evenings. Check out the list of hotels near the Santa Barbara Castle and compare all that are available.
Explanada de España
One of Alicante’s busiest nightlife districts is Explanada de España, where you can find late-night cafés, al fresco restaurants, tavernas (taverns) and chiringuitos (beach bars) just minutes away from the beach.
This tree-lined promenade is located between Marina Deportiva del Puerto de Alicante and Panoramis Shopping Mall. During the summer, cultural events and concerts are held at an open-air theatre called Auditorio Municipal de la Concha.
Cathedral San Nicolás
Cathedral San Nicolás is a 17th century church that’s known for its Spanish Herrerian architecture, marble stairways, and sandstone façade. Located in the Old Town Quarter, it’s built in honour of patron saint San Nicolas, whose sculpture can be found at the lavishly decorated altarpiece.
Its Baroque communion chapel contains reliquary busts of Saint Felicitas Alicante, Saint Roch, and Saint Francis Xavier. Cathedral San Nicolás is open to the public and serves the local Roman Catholic community with its Sunday morning mass.
Alicante Central Market
Mercado Central is Alicante’s central marketplace, where you can find over 200 stalls and shops selling a variety of fresh produce, seafood, meat, and Spanish delicacies.
Founded in 1911, the Modernist-inspired building has a semi-spherical cupola and a massive stairway that’s flanked by 2 sculptures. The best times to visit this marketplace are on Fridays and Saturday mornings as you get to experience the lively atmosphere of locals going about their grocery shopping here.
Eat all i pebre
As a coastal city in Spain, almost every dish in Alicante involves seafood, olive oil, and rice. All i pebre may be a Valencian cuisine, but it’s also commonly eaten in Alicante. This stew-like dish consists of diced eels cooked in garlic, chilli, sweet paprika, olive oil and parsley.
Depending on the restaurant, additional ingredients include potatoes and picada, a rich sauce made with crushed almonds, toasted bread, olive oil, parsley, and garlic. Restaurants along the Explanada de España promenade are great spots to enjoy all i pebre with a beer or wine for about €15.
Museo de Hogueras
Museo de Hogueras (Bonfires of Saint John Museum) gives you an insight into one of Alicante’s most popular summer events, called the Bonfires of Saint John. The festival celebrates the start of summer in Alicante and is famous for the gigantic ninots (wooden statues) which are burned at the end of the day. Every year, only 1 statue is chosen to be spared from the burning, which is then displayed in the museum.
Visit Alicante in mid-June to experience this lively fiesta. Throughout the day, the old town hosts many traditional markets, street parades, and beauty pageants, while fireworks competitions are held on El Postiguet Beach.