Here Are Some Awesome Things to Do in Alicante + Travel Tips!
Are you heading to Alicante for that classic beach vacation but want to explore the city a little deeper? From a stunning hilltop castle to historical or unusual places to visit, there’s much more to Alicante than just soaking up sun!
For this post, we’ve turned to our trusted travel correspondent Laura from She Who Wanders. Laura explored Alicante in the off-season and made sure to document her visit thoroughly. She’s no stranger to Penguin and Pia and always shares great tips for visiting the places she’s wandered!
So, for this guide we’ll pass it off to Laura to bring you some of the best things to do in Alicante in any weather! She’s also got recommendations for where to eat paella, where to go shopping, which beaches to enjoy, and more!
Alicante Quick Guide
- Best Time to Visit: year round (very few days of rain per month); May-August for swimming/warm temperatures or winter to beat the crowds
- Getting Around: The city centre is very walkable, good public transport
- Popular Activities: Sunset Cruise, Visiting Castell de Santa Bàrbara, Alicante Villages Tour
- Where to Stay: Melia Alicante for beautiful, central hotel; Hostel Ole for budget
Things to Do in Alicante, Spain
While Alicante may be small in comparison to other Spanish cities like Barcelona or Malaga, there is still so much to see.
With beautiful beaches, stunning mountain views, a castle, and so much more – there is something for everyone here in Alicante.
Explanada de Espana
If you arrive by bus into the city centre, there is a good chance the Explanada de Espana is the first place you’ll see (after the beach). It’s located right across from the beach and the marina.
This promenade is one of the most iconic attractions in Alicante with its beautiful mosaic tiles. The way it catches the golden light after sunrise is absolutely beautiful.
From 10 am onward the Esplanade will welcome tons of market stalls, artists, and musicians so it’s a great place to have a wander.
Location: Near the water by the Marina
Castell de Santa Bàrbara
Who doesn’t love visiting castles when they travel? Castell de Santa Barbara (or Santa Barbara Castle) sits atop Mount Benacantil and overlooks Play El Postiguet as the highest point in Alicante.
The Castle is easily accessible by foot with a bit of a steep climb or you can take the elevator. Yes, the castle on the hill has an elevator built into it and for €2.70/person you can take the 3-minute ride from the beach level to the top.
Not only is the Castle full of cool history and lots of tunnels – but it’s also an absolutely amazing place to catch the sunset.
If you do head up, be sure to wrap up if visiting outside of the summer months as it can get chilly up there! You can learn more about visiting the Castle here.
Location: On top of the Benacantil Mountain
Basilica Santa Maria
If you opt to walk down into town from Castell de Santa Barbara, there is a good chance you will pass this beautiful basilica.
The basilica is open to the public but only during times of worship: 10 am – 1 pm & 6 pm – 7 pm daily. This means that your visit should be timed well if you want to explore the inside.
The Basilica was built between the 14th and 16th centuries in the Valencian Gothic style and is the oldest active church of its kind in the city. The exterior is beautiful and the surrounding area is quiet and charming.
The little square that houses the Basilica is shaded in the afternoon and there are some really lovely buildings nearby worth exploring if you are waiting for the Basilica to open too.
Address: Plaza Sta. María, 1, 03001 Alicante, Spain
Playa El Postiguet
Visiting in the off-season means you could have almost the whole of Playa El Postiguet to yourself – which is just an added bonus.
The beach runs parallel to the main street of the city and the Esplanada de Espana and right next to the marina. It’s definitely a hub for life in Alicante.
Sunrise at the beach is definitely a must-do when the city is completely quiet and the sky radiates with beautiful colours as the sun comes up. This is when you should take a wander down the beach and watch the city come to life.
Visiting the beach in the day time or warmer months means that this is the perfect place to lay out and catch some rays, go for a swim, or enjoy the parks and promenades on the beach, too.
Location: Beach Near the Base of the Castle
The Old Town
The historic centre of Alicante is truly one of the most charming places in the whole city. Vibrant colourful houses line the skinny alleyways with beautiful plants on the balconies, fun murals, and so much magic with each and every turn.
If you visit first thing in the morning, you’ll likely not see another soul walking around. However, you will likely see the local tradesmen loading their vans, older ladies hanging the washing, and locals on their verandas drinking coffee.
Bring your camera, stop for a coffee, and soak in all the beauty of this part of Alicante over a few hours.
If you want to explore the Old Town and sample local foods, check out this Gourmet Alicante Walking Tour!
Coastal Walk: Alicante To Cala Almadraba
If you want a bit of exercise, head out on a coastal walk. This coastal route is hard to find on many maps but if you have a keen sense of adventure and don’t mind a nice walk you’ll be gifted with some pretty great views.
Walk the length of Playa El Postiguet taking in all the views until it looks like you can’t go any further. The path veers away from the shoreline but is paved and well travelled by cyclists, runners, and dog walkers. Leave the city behind you as you head out over the golden cliffs and you’ll drop down into a very residential area.
From there, continue to mosey along the shoreline and you’ll come across the most adorably quaint beachside restaurant perfect for a pint before carrying on. The only way back is the same way you came, so it’s easy enough not to get lost!
If you want to explore the coast and enjoy local foods, consider a bike tour with wine and tapas!
Mercado Central de Alicante
On the Avenida de Alfonso, you’ll find the Mercado Central – the city’s main source of fresh produce on offer. This market seems to be frequented mostly by locals, shopkeepers, and chefs of the restaurants but still has some incredible items to be discovered.
Nearly 300 stalls over 2 levels offer everything from flowers and pastries to cheeses, meats, and especially fresh fish. Go for a wander through the aisles and feel what it would be like to do your weekly food shop here.
Or better yet pick up some supplies for the perfect beach day picnic, Alicante style! You can learn more about the Market here.
Address: Av. Alfonso El Sabio, 10, 03002 Alicante, Spain
El Palmeral Park
If you’re looking for a great activity a little outside the centre, head for El Palmeral Park. Open daily from 9 am – 10 pm, this park is a beautiful little option for an afternoon out. The walk from the centre of Alicante will take about an hour or you can hop on the C-6 train for a quicker journey.
There are tons of beautiful palm trees, lots of gorgeous waterfalls, and even exercise machines in the park if an active mood strikes. There is also a boat rental kiosk here where you can hire a boat to take out during the summertime which is really fun.
As a perfect mix of park and botanical gardens, there are lovely garden plots everywhere, too. Bring a book, soak in the sunshine, and watch as the world goes by in one of the prettiest parks in Alicante.
Address: Calle Deportista Joaquín Blume, 33, 03008 Alicante, Spain
Day Trip to Villajoyosa
Of course, there are beautiful sights outside of Alicante, too. One of which is Villajoyosa.
To get there, hop on the L-1 tram from Mercado Station towards Benidorm and in less than 45 minutes you’ll be stepping foot into the Town of Joy. Seriously, that’s the translation of Villajoyosa to English.
For just €4.25 you’ll feel as if you’ve taken a vacation while on your vacation. If it’s possible, this seaside town is even more tropical than Alicante, with towering palm trees lining the beach, rainbow-coloured houses, and beautiful gardens everywhere – it’s heavenly.
Pack a lunch for the beach or visit any of the dozens of beachfront restaurants. There are lots of shops and even bike rental stalls so you can cruise along the promenade by the sea and enjoy the amazing musicians performing on the beach.
Explore beautiful Villajoyosa and Altea on a day trip from Alicante!
Day Trip to Tabarca Island
Another great day trip takes you out on the water to Tabarca. 11 miles offshore from Alicante is the only inhabited island in Valencia: Tabarca Island. At less than 2,000 meters long and less than an hour’s boat journey, it really is a must-visit.
Keep in mind the timetable for the boats, however, as this could affect your day trip plans. From October – May the boats run daily Thursday – Sunday at 11 am returning at 5pm. From June – September, the boats leave & return daily at several different times.
Once there, you can walk the beautiful main street, indulge in the freshest seafood dishes you’ll ever eat, walk out to the beautiful lighthouse, snorkel in the sea, or just lay out on the beach.
No matter what you want to do on the island, it really will feel like a completely different place compared to Alicante.
Where to Eat and Drink in Alicante
For a quiet little port city, Alicante really has a vibrant foodie scene. From beachside restaurants and bars, trendy and oh so Instagram-worthy cafes, and some seriously delicious pastries there’s some food item everyone. Here are a handful of the places I enjoyed.
Sip & Wonder
Owned by a married British couple, this is the only dog-friendly cafe in Alicante. And if that hasn’t sold you right away, the decor & the menu will.
Sip & Wonder has amazing coffee, happy hour from 5-7, some of the best pancakes ever, and a very cute dog to match the trendy decor. Plus they have an outside patio to enjoy, too. You can learn more about Sip & Wonder on their website.
Address: Carrer Poeta Campos Vasallo, 8, 03004 Alacant, Alicante, Spain
For great paella, head down an alley, turn right, then left, then right again. Okay not quite – but this gives you an idea of how hidden this restaurant is.
This is for good reason, though – it’s a local recommendation and a fantastic one at that. The Paella is the best in Alicante! You can check out the menu here.
Address: Calle Mayor, 33, 03002 Alicante, Spain
Boca De Vin
With an open plan kitchen, gorgeous leather sofas, a cozy atmosphere, and a beautiful menu, this restaurant is a must-visit. You may need a reservation if you arrive after 6 pm on a Friday/Saturday but it will be worth it.
Do yourself a favour and try the beef wellington or burrata stuffed chicken. I am confident you won’t be disappointed. You can learn more about Boca De Vin here.
Address: Calle San Nicolás, 18, 03002 Alicante, Spain
La Masa de Tomasa
For breakfast, a mid-afternoon “pick me up”, a post-dinner treat, or really just anything you want, head for La Masa de Tomasa. While this is a chain throughout Alicante and the Costa Blanca they do not skimp on anything.
Everything is baked fresh daily and absolutely delicious, especially the Polvoron – a Spanish take on shortbread which is massive and laced with cinnamon! Check out more on La Masa de Tomasa here.
Address: Av. Alfonso El Sabio, 18, 03004 Alicante, Spain
Churrería Santa Faz
Because churros are always a good idea, especially when they come with a massive tub of warm chocolate sauce, head for Churrería Santa Faz.
This place keeps odd hours but is located right near the market so close enough to make a return visit if it’s closed when you first go.
Plus eating churros and people watching at the market go hand in hand. You can see their Facebook Page here.
Address: Calle Mayor, 4, 03002 Alicante, Spain
Things to Consider When Planning to Visit Alicante, Spain
Located on Spain’s southeastern coast (Costa Blanca), Alicante is a port city and the capital of the Alicante Province. Easily accessible by most major European airports, Alicante is the perfect place for a quick beach getaway.
The city is often overlooked for Barcelona or Malaga, but has just as much going on as the two more visited cities – but without a large number of tourists.
UK sun seekers generally head for Benidorm farther north of Alicante, which leaves the beaches, streets, and attractions less busy than other Spanish seaside destinations.
Pristine beaches at the base of gorgeous mountains, rainbow-coloured houses everywhere you look, and a laidback vibe makes Alicante the perfect place for anyone looking for a getaway.
Best Time to Visit Alicante
How rare is it to find a destination to visit that is great all year round? Well, now you can add Alicante to the list! With less than 3 days of rain in any given month, this Spanish port city really doesn’t have one month that’s better to visit than another.
January sees temperatures between 18 – 20 degrees C. Plus, the city is relatively empty after the holidays making it a great destination for anyone who wants to avoid big crowds.
That said, it’s maybe not great weather for swimming in the ocean but it’s perfect for adventuring and laying out on the beach in the sun.
If you’re a summer lover then May-August is where it’s at. You’ll see temperatures of above 30 degrees C and because of that, it is the peak season for travellers because of school holidays and the endless sunny days.
Getting Around Alicante
If you’re flying into Alicante from anywhere, you’ll need transport from Alicante Airport to the city centre.
The simplest option is by bus, with the bus collection point being well signposted from the arrivals terminal right to the stop outside the airport.
The C-6 bus operates 24/7 on 20-minute intervals and takes less than 25 minutes to reach the downtown area all for around €3.85/person. Small bills or exact change is required to pay the bus fare. You can learn more about Alicante Transit here.
For most accommodation options that are quite central, you’ll be looking to get off at the ‘Avenida Alfonso el Sabio’ stop. There are additional buses that operate within the city to get you where you need to go to.
It is good to note that Alicante is just one of those cities that was created with walkers in mind. No matter where you end up basing yourself in the city, you’ll be able to get around with ease on foot.
From the beach to Santa Barbara Castle and even Old Town you’re never more than a 25-minute walk from something amazing.
If you’re looking to make a day trip to any neighbouring towns, the tram is really easy to navigate. The Alicante Metropolitan Tram network connects Alicante to all major suburbs and even out to Benidorm.
Plus the tram is a great way to get some pretty special views of the mountains as you go through them.
Where to Stay in Alicante
Since Alicante is a popular beach destination, there are a number of great hotels, resorts, and sunny accommodation options all over the city centre, coastline, and surrounding little towns.
If you want a popular recommendation, you can check out the Melia Alicante for a beautiful, central hotel with a pool right on the ocean! If you are looking for cozier guesthouses or hostels, there are a number of great options in Alicante, too.
Hostel Ole is a small family-run establishment with lovely staff to give you the best suggestions on where to eat, what to see and make you feel at home. It’s located a 10-minute walk from Playa El Postiguet and the bus stop for the airport is really in a prime location.
They have simple rooms and bathrooms that were always clean and a little kitchen with everything you need to use to whip up a feast.
The staff here are local and super helpful in making sure you see everything you want and then some, plus they have the best suggestions for where to eat! You can check here for Hostel Ole!
The Market Hostel is another great budget option located near to Alicante Old Town and the market. Newly renovated rooms and bathrooms add to the vibe of this hostel.
Overall, it’s a great option for anyone looking for a social place to stay but still somewhere quiet to get a good night’s sleep. Super knowledgeable staff will be able to help you plan out the most amazing days for your trip too. You can check here for The Market Hostel!
If you’re exploring more Spain, we’ve got LOADS of great Spain posts for you to check out:
- Must-Knows for Travelling to Spain for the First Time
- Spain Itineraries: Plan Your 5 to 14 Day Spain Trip
- Beautiful Cities In Spain You Shouldn’t Miss
- Top Attractions To Check Out All Over Spain
- Explore Madrid, Barcelona, or Bilbao
And there you have it – some great things to do in Alicante and a few places to eat! It’s a vibrant city that should be added to your Spain travels – and we’re keen to explore the city soon. A huge thank you to Laura once again for sharing her travel knowledge.
As always, Happy Alicante Waddlin’,