Alicante, much like Malaga on the Costa Del Sol, is where you can have both a superb beach resort holiday and a host of cultural and historic sights on your doorstep. Nicknamed 'The City of Light', Alicante has it all - glorious blue flag beaches, a picturesque marina, a historic hilltop castle, fine shopping centres and superb boutique and specialist shops around its narrow old streets, parks, gardens, acclaimed art galleries, monuments, theme parks and tourist attractions. If you hadn't considered Alicante on the Costa Blanca as a holiday base, take a closer look, you might be surprised.
Off-shore island Tabarca is a popular day trip, as are touring the nearby villages of Elche and Orihuela or taking day trips to Murcia city via the fast A7 motorway. Alicante boasts some fine architecture, notably its 18th century baroque town hall.
Alicante (or Alicant in Valencian) is another Costa location that blends both its cultural and tourist appeal well. Just look behind you as you sunbath on Playa del Postiguet beach and marvel and the majestic view of Castillo de Santa Barbara! Postiguet beach, with blue flag status, is nearest to Alicante centre just to the east of the marina leisure area and port. Fine white sands are on the menu here, it's a beautiful beach with toilets, good level wheelchair access, adjacent seafront promenade and easy access to local cafes, bars and restaurants in Alicante centre and around the port.
Best known of Alicante's beaches is stunning blue flag San Juan beach to the north around the Cabo de las Huertas headland. San Juan stretches for 3km from El Campello to Cabo de las Huertas. One of the best beaches on the Costa Blanca, San Juan has fine almost white golden sands in a semi-urban location. Buses run regularly from Alicante centre (see Tam Bus guide weblink right). San Juan beach is popular for windsurfing and catamarans. Between the Alicante centre beach of Postiguet and San Juan another beach - Albufereta which tends to be popular for fishing. Further south from the port sit two more of Alicante's beaches - Saladar beach which is blue flag and the popular island beach of Isla Tabarca. Alicante then isn't short of fine beaches.
Alicante's old quarter around San Nicolas Cathedral couldn't be more charming, with its narrow streets contrasting with Alicante's 19th century wide avenues. Rambla De Mendez Nunez stretching up from the paseo waterfront clearly demarks the old and new town. No need to hike to the top of Castillo Santa Barbara - there's an elevator up accessed from opposite Postiguet beach. The lift actually goes up through the centre of the mountain. Cultural attractions abound including an Archaeological Museum and the Museu de Fogueres exploring the history of the Fiesta de Sant Joan in Alicante. Alicante's fine arts museum/the Gravina Museum of Art/MUBAG (weblink right) is a centre for the region's art, with works dating back to the 16th century to the present. The 18th century Palacio Gravina serves as a spectacular base for this fascinating collection of region specific art. Checkout Mubag's weblink right for listings of artists' work held here.
Alicante's Marina and Port area is crammed with leisure entertainment, including cinemas and shopping centres, restaurants, cafes and bars (see Alicante Marina weblink right for details). Alicante Tourist Information Office, Excelentisimo Ayuntamiento de Alicante, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 1 03002 Alicant/Alicante. Tel. 965149100. For Alicante daily weather reports see the excellent Valencia Region/Alicante section for Current weather and 5 day forecasts.
Museo Arqueologico Provincial/MARQ (Archeological Museum), Plaza Doctor Gomez Ulla s/n, Alicante. Tel.965149006. (see weblink right for details). The museum holds and extensive Iberian, Roman and Prehistoric artefacts collection, and is excellent for children with interaction and 'Getting to know the Iberians' style approach. This museum won European Museum of the Year in 2004, giving you some idea of its outstanding quality.
Museu de Fogueres/Museo de las Hogueras, Rambla de Mendez Nunez 29, alicante. Tel. 96 514 68 28.
Alicante's 16th century Castillo de Santa Barbara is free to enter. Once at the top via elevador you've spectacular views. Many visitors tend to walk back down via pretty Parque de la Ereta.
Museo de Bellas Artes Gravina (MUBAG), Fine Arts Museum Alicante, Calle Gravina 13-15, Alicante. Admission is free. Tel. 96 514 67 80. See the Art Galleries weblink right, which is available in English, for listings of works and more on the spectacular 18th century mansion it's housed in.
Alicante has an excellent choice of luxury spa golf complexes including the popular Alicante Golf at Playa San Juan (weblink right).
Checkout the Alicante Golf weblinks right including Bonalba Golf, alicante Golf and Golf & Spa Bonalba for details on Alicante's three main golf course sites.
See also the excellent Costa Blanca Golf guide for more golf courses around the Costa Blanca.