During the month of March 2018, having had enough of the cold, blustery weather back home in Scotland, we were starting to crave the warmth that only a beach holiday could provide. However, wanting to save our already limited leave days from work, we decided to make do with whatever nearby beach we could get ourselves to, for just the weekend.
After looking up cheap flights to nearby weekend destinations, we decided on Alicante. The fact that there was a direct flight from our local Glasgow Prestwick Airport helped sweeten the deal. It felt like a very long 3 hours on a budget Ryan Air flight, chock-full of loud, rowdy stag parties. However, this view from the plane window, as we approached Costa Blanca or ‘The White Coast’ of Spain, rekindled the excitement for our upcoming weekend.
Costa Blanca is over 200 km of Mediterranean coastline on the southeastern coast of Spain. Alicante is a popular tourist city and port on the Costa Blanca. It doesn’t give you the same excitement that Barcelona would, but for a beach trip, it will do nicely.
As Alicante is quite a small place, you could easily see all its sights over the course of a weekend or less. A longer trip would only be necessary if you fancied some serious sunbathing beach time in the summer, or if you were planning to visit some of the other areas along the Costa Blanca, like Benidorm, or a bigger city like Valencia.
This is our top picks of sights to visit in Alicante – all locations are as named on Google Maps.
Plaza Puerta del Mer
This promenade is the perfect place to start exploring. It is a central location from where you can walk along the pier, watch boats in the marina or have a coffee at the water-front whilst people and boat watching. From here you can easily walk to the Postiguet Beach in one direction, or towards the Old Town in the opposite direction.
The castle creates a stunning backdrop for pictures and in the evenings, the carousel towards the end of the promenade opens for business.
A similar but busier promenade, this street runs parallel to the port, and is where you can find restaurants, cafes, shops and souvenir stalls. The rows of palm trees that line the promenade look beautiful against the coloured tiles of the pavements. There are 6.6 million of these red, black and cream tiles designed to create the look of the Mediterranean waves.
Along the street, you will come across an interesting sculpture ‘Mariposa‘ of a butterfly sitting on a face. It looks pretty cool, especially at night when it is illuminated in different colours.
If you keep walking along the promenade, in the direction away from Postiguet Beach, you’ll come across Casa Alberola – a column reminiscent of a mini Colom monument at the top of Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
Plaza de los Luceros (Luceros Square)
From the Casa Alberola column, you can walk through a park called Parque De Canalejas – somewhere to get some shade on a sunny day, and spot some cool trees.
Walk to the end of the park until you find the lions. Turn right and you should be facing a leafy central pedestrian promenade (Av. Dr. Gadea).
Walk all the way to the top of this, and you’ll reach the Plaza de los Luceros – a roundabout surrounded by palm trees with a fountain in the center. It makes for some pretty pictures.
From the roundabout, we spotted a gold building, so we crossed the road and walked towards it. On Avenue de la Estacion is the Palacio Provincial de Diputación de Alicante – the gates were closed when we were there, and we aren’t sure if you can go in or not (found it difficult to find information in English about this building), but it’s a beautiful ornate building to take some photos of. We could only get some photos through the closed gates.
Playa del Postiguet (Postiguet Beach)
Our hotel room gave terrific views over Postiguet beach, especially at sunrise and sunset. The Santa Bárbara castle really does create a great backdrop for many spots, including the beach. Unfortunately, we visited on an incredibly windy weekend! Therefore, we couldn’t really enjoy the beach as much as if were there in June (and we didn’t even get to take our beach wear out of the suitcase!). In fact, we spent the whole walk along the beach trying not to get sand in our eyes. We can imagine this place coming alive in the peak of summer though.
For more pictures of the views from our hotel room, check out our blog on our stay at the Melia Alicante (coming soon).
Castell de la Santa Bárbara
If you had to pick just one sight to see in Alicante, it would be the Santa Bárbara castle, especially since you can’t really miss its looming presence from the whole of Alicante. The whole journey to the base of the castle, ascending the hills and stairs, and going up to the castle itself, takes you through the inner dwellings of Alicante. You come across quaint little local houses, narrow alleyways, old churches and random sculptures.
There is a lift you can take up to the castle which has a small fee. It is set in the rock-face opposite the beach, but we preferred to take the scenic route up. On the way up, you get some of the best views across the whole city, from the Mediterranean Sea, the bay and the city itself. Definitely take your walking shoes if you’re planning to visit this city, because there are a lot of hills to go up for the best views!
The castle itself stands on Mount Benacantil, and is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Spain, originating back to the 9th century when it was under Muslim control of the Iberian peninsula. The name of the castle comes from the fact that the castle was captured from the Arabs on the feast day of Santa Barbara.
The Old Town
Narrow alleyways, quaint little buildings, local cafes, restaurants and old churches make up the Old Town. Walk through the Old Town and you won’t be able to put your camera away. We loved coming across cool, colourful murals, wall art and even graffiti. Buildings were painted in lovely pastel colours – every corner was a photo op!
Sometimes it can be difficult to track down a specific building or view you’ve seen online in the many alleyways of the city – so we’ve added the names of the streets we’ve taken these pictures from, if you want to find them for yourselves. Or you could just wander around and stumble upon them yourselves. Please note, some of these names belong to more than just one location, so we’ve tried to be as specific as we can.
Before our trip, I kept spotting these colourful stripey walled stairs on Instagram but I couldn’t find an exaction location for it. When we were wandering the small alleyways, I just happened to spot the colourful stripes out of the corner of my eye! The funny thing was, when we got to the top of the stairs, we realised we were facing the Water Museum of Alicante from a different direction from where we’d been just the previous day.
So if you’re at the Water Museum (Museo de Aguas de Alicante), and you’re facing it right in front of you, walk towards your left, and you’ll get to the top of these stairs. If you want to approach it from the bottom, it’s at the junction of ‘Calle Maldonada’ and ‘Plaza del Puente’. There you go, no excuses for not finding it now!
Castillo San Fernando
San Fernando Castle has an interesting history, It was built in the 19th century to provide support to Santa Bárbara castle against a French invasion. The main purpose was to keep prisoners. The castle was never actually used because the French ships never arrived in Alicante, as they were called back to take part in an invasion in Russia.
The castle was abandoned as it couldn’t be used due to the architectural mistakes made, from being built so quickly. Even now, there isn’t really much to see at the castle ruins, and the views from here are probably the best part of visiting the castle.
These are some of the sights we saw on the walk between Mercado Central station and San Fernando Castle. This is a 15 minute walk (roughly) through some residential streets, and up the hill towards the castle.
These colourful buildings are on ‘Carrer Poeta Campos Vasallo’, one of the streets you’ll likely walk through on the way to the castle.
Walk back to the very first location mentioned – Plaza Puerta del Mer – and you can spend the evening watching the marina. This is also where you would get on a boat ride to some of the nearby locations, if you’ve got time to spare.
Hope this helps plan your trip to Alicante. Just remember to bring your walking shoes, and you don’t need to get on any public transport.
Would we go to Alicante again?
Probably not, as we feel we’ve seen everything there is to be seen and there are so many other amazing places to visit for a beach holiday. However, if you’ve never been before, and want to go somewhere relatively cheap and nearby, it’s somewhere to start.
Love, DJK x