Now that the weather in the UK is slowly but surely starting to get colder and the days grow darker, most of us begin to dream of a sun-filled holiday somewhere warm, preferably with palm trees! Alicante, located on Spain’s south-east coast, has become one of the most popular sunshine getaway hotspots, and with good reason: the Mediterranean climate translates into hot summers and mild winters, with little rainfall thanks to the surrounding hills and mountains. But with popularity come the swarms of sun-seeking tourists.
Ever felt overwhelmed by the tourist crowds, tired of standing in line at attractions, and underwhelmed by eating at restaurants with no locals to be seen? I know I have. Luckily for me, and you, my wonderful colleague Alejandro, originally from Alicante, was kind enough to give me the lowdown on his favourite things to see and do in and around Alicante. These insider tips will help you make the most of your time in Alicante, the real Alicante!
The best beaches
The majority of people travelling to Alicante head straight for the centrally located Albufereta beach, and due to its popularity it can be difficult to find a good place to lay down your beach towel. Head instead a bit farther out of the centre, and you have two fantastic options for soaking up the sun and viewing the beautiful waves. At Playa de San Juan, considered to be one of the finest beaches in Spain, you will find over four miles of white sand. For something a little different, you can head to Playa Cabo de las Huertas, which has a more jagged coastline and hidden coves that provide for a more relaxed experience.
The historical site you should not miss
Santa Bárbara Castle may hold the mantle as the most important historic attraction in Alicante, but it also attracts huge crowds of tourists. To experience Alicante’s history with less hassle, take a stroll during the day down the narrow streets of El Barrio, the old town. Enjoy the beautiful architecture of the colourful houses, the baroque-style Town Hall, the old convent, and multiple art museums. At night the area takes on a different flavour, as it transforms, somewhat surprisingly, into the hub of Alicante’s vibrant nightlife.
The most authentic restaurants
A visit to Alicante would not be complete without sampling its culinary wonders, which include excellent tapas, paella, and seafood (‘marisco’). To give you a real taste of what the city has to offer, try La Taberna del Gourmet, Restaurante Piripi, or Restaurante Nou Manolín. Each of these three restaurants prides itself on using the best ingredients from the region, and are all sure to provide authentic local dishes.
The perfect day trip
Taking a trip out of the city is a great way of getting away from the hustle and bustle of tourists, and gives you a much more varied experience of the region. Booking a car hire in Alicante is a convenient way of getting around the area at your own pace, and car rental in Spain is generally very affordable, especially during the low season. You could start your itinerary by driving to Benidorm, about 30 minutes away. Benidorm offers a huge variety of activities, notably Terra Mitica, an impressive amusement park themed around four ancient Mediterranean civilisations, and Terra Natura, a wildlife park with over 200 species. Continue your journey to nearby beach town Calpe, where you can enjoy the enormous variety of marisco and paella served by traditional beach bars (‘chiringuitos’). Finish your trip off with a drive to El Jardin de los Sentidos in Altea, a paradise-like botanical garden, where you can enjoy tea or coffee and homemade cakes while surrounded by stunning nature.
The best thing about Alicante
As you can imagine, this was a tough question to answer. But above all, Alicante deserves its status as one of the major destinations in Spain due to its vibrant atmosphere and the variety it offers. The areas of San Juan and Campello are particularly noteworthy in this regard: popular with locals, they provide a lively ambiance where you can shop, enjoy the local delicacies, have a relaxing stroll down the beach, or if you prefer, stay up and party until dawn. Whatever you are looking for in your vacation, you are sure to find it in Alicante!
This post is a guest contribution from Auto Europe, a car hire broker with pick-up locations in 139 cities and towns in Spain, including Alicante, and in 134 other countries around the world. Thanks to strong partnerships with leading car rental suppliers worldwide, Auto Europe is able to offer clients a vast fleet of cars at very affordable prices.