The port city of Alicante is located in the south-eastern part of Spain, occupying the best picturesque shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The warm climate and rich history of this place have turned it into a popular tourist resort. The lazy beach vacation in this city blends perfectly with trips to cultural centers, museums, and historical sites. And the buzzing bars, sparkling sangria, and temperamental bullfighters immerse any traveler in the hot Spanish atmosphere.
Districts of Alicante
The El Centro district is located in the south of the city, but it is not the geographical center despite its name. This historic, tourist, and business area is adjacent to Mount Benacantil, where you can see the Santa Barbara Castle. The streets are full of bars, restaurants, and clubs with dance floors, where most of the young people are. The area overlooks the yacht port with clay tiles and palm trees, where tourists and locals love to stroll. And at the far end of El Centro is the bullfighting arena, which still hosts competitions of bullfighters and furious bulls every summer.
The Pla del Bon Repos-La Goleta-San Anton is near the center with the Postiguet Beach and the Archaeological Museum.
The Campoamor-Carolinas-Altozano neighborhood is known for the Plaça de Castello with its fountain area and the Sant Ferran Castle, surrounded by a green park.
One of the city's main markets, the Mercadillo Teulada, is located south of the Los Angeles-Tombola-San Nicolas neighborhood.
The Playa de San Juan-El Cabo neighborhood has a beach that tourists visit. There are no noisy crowds despite its popularity even on the hottest days.
Some neighborhoods in the city are not entirely favorable and not recommended for walking — Juan XXIII and Virgen de la Carmen. The streets in these areas are inhabited by the Roma diaspora and migrants (mostly illegal), due to which fraud and drug trafficking flourish here.
The city has everything you need for recreation and entertainment at the seaside. Important historical structures can be seen away from the bustling alleys by going up to the medieval fortress or walking through the cobblestone streets of the old town with amazing houses.
Around 1000 BC, during the Roman Empire, the Greeks and Phoenicians began to visit the eastern coast of Spain, establishing small trading ports. They introduced the indigenous Iberian tribes to the alphabet, iron, and pottery. The city had belonged to the Romans for 700 years, and from 400 to 700 AD, Alicante was under the rule of the Visigoths.
At the end of the VIII century, the land of Alicante passed to the Arab conquerors. The Moors (Arabs), who ruled southern Spain until 1100 AD, built the modern city here near the castle.
The city was included in the state of Valencia in 1296 and received the status of a royal village (Vila Reial). Alicante became Spain's third-largest Mediterranean destination, exporting rice, wine, olive oil, oranges, and wool. By the 1600s, pirate attacks on coastal areas became more frequent and caused considerable damage to trade.
In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701 - 1714), English troops partially destroyed Santa Barbara Castle.
The situation gradually deteriorated until the end of the XIX century, but Spain took a neutral attitude during the First World War, and exports began to grow again.
At the beginning of the XX century, Alicante was ravaged by wars, which resulted in the deaths of civilians.
The late 1950s and early 1960s saw the transformation of the city and the development of the tourist industry. After the industrial decline in the 1980s, the port was rebuilt and became one of the most popular coastal resorts.
Today the province of Alicante is the second-largest region in the Valencian Autonomous Region.
The best time to visit Alicante
Every year, the city celebrates its love of classical music with a grand festival called Alicante Actual with famous musicians from different countries. Classical music evenings are held in the administration building, where locals, tourists, and even officials go to enjoy the best compositions of world stars.
Buffet restaurants are popular in Spain. You have to pay for admission, and the food is unlimited. In addition to ready-made meals, you can also find raw food, which, if you wish, will be cooked in front of you. This is a reliable and budget-friendly way to feast on seafood.
Restaurants along the beach are designed for tourists who come once and are unlikely to return. If you go deeper into town, there will be places designed mainly for locals and all the dishes will be much tastier and cheaper.
Remember that almost all supermarkets, bars, and cafes are closed during the siesta.
Things to do in Alicante
- Climb Mount Benacantil and visit the ancient fortress of Santa Barbara. Despite the fact that the last reconstruction took place in the 1950s, you can still find fragments of Moorish times here. Also, enjoy the beautiful panoramic view from the heights of the castle.
- Get lost in the cozy streets of the old part of town. The locals are proud of their beautiful houses with blue and green shutters and decorate their balconies and thresholds with fresh flowers.
- Head down to the sea at Postiguet beach, with its golden sand and gentle waves, right next to the old town. Because of its proximity to the center, it has the most tourists. But this does not prevent you from enjoying a summer vacation by the sea.
- See the oldest and most impressive Basilica of Santa María. It is located near the foot of the mountain and a few streets away from the popular beach. You can see the Gothic statue of Santa Maria from the XIV century inside, after which the temple was named.
- The Provincial Archaeological Museum, where you can see various sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and much more, is a great place to learn about the history of Alicante. All the objects of bygone eras were found due to excavations in the territories adjacent to the city and the places of historical battles.
- Feel the city's atmosphere by strolling under the palm trees of the Explanada de España promenade. Admire the sunset and feel the sea breeze from the windows of the restaurants and terraces at the end of sweltering hot days.
- Try the paella with fresh seafood, a true national dish, without which it is impossible to imagine Spain. You can also stop by the bar, where they pour chilled sangria and serve tapas and pinchos.
- Go to the city of Elche, where there is the largest palm grove in Europe. It was planted by Muslims who settled here in the early Middle Ages and is a UNESCO heritage site.