Alicante is the capital of the province of Alicante in Spain. The city is located on Costa Blanca and has a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. Alicante is one of the largest cities in Spain population-wise and as a result, it takes 11th place with about 337k people living in it. It’s a really popular holiday destination, both in summer and winter. And no wonder because Alicante has a lot to offer – from many leisure activities, beach in the city center, the castle on top, mushroom street, and many cultural attractions.
Interesting fact: the Romans used to call the city “Lucentum” and as a result, you can translate it as the City of Light.
This post is perfect for you if you’re heading to Alicante, and the beach and parties aren’t your only points of interest. Together we’ll explore the city a bit more thoroughly. So let’s discover places you can’t miss in Alicante, Spain.
Places you can’t miss in Alicante, Spain
Santa Bárbara Castle
Santa Bárbara Castle (or Castell de Santa Barbara) sits atop Mount Benacantil, the highest point of Alicante. This fortress is an original 9th-century Islamic Alcazar. But forces led by Alfonso of Castile captured it In December 1248. It was named after Saint Barbara, on whose feast day (4th of December) the castle was recaptured from the Arabs.
Santa Bárbara Castle more information:
- Price: free
- Opening Hours: daily from 10 AM. Closing time depends on the time of the year. Check it out HERE.
- The castle is open to the public for self-guided visits, as well as guided tours.
- If you don’t want to go up on foot, you can use the shuttle service (from Plaza del Doctor Gómez Ulla) or lift (which is located in front of the Postiguet beach). However, both options are paid. More information is available HERE.
Santa Cruz District
After, or before, visiting Santa Bárbara Castle you want to visit Santa Cruz District. This area of Alicante is located on the hillside right beneath the castle. It’s the most charming and beautiful part of Alicante, the place where you won’t mind getting lost. Santa Cruz district is the oldest part of the city, and because of that being there feels like moving to a completely different village, miles away. Winding cobbled streets, vibrant colorful shutters and decorations, and snow-white building walls adorned with fresh flowers create a unique atmosphere in this place.
Basilica of Santa María
Lower in the Santa Cruz District you’ll find the oldest church in Alicante. It was built upon a former mosque, after Alicante had been taken back from the Moors in the 13th century. One of the first things you’ll probably notice are the church’s twin towers. What’s interesting about them is that even though they look identical, the one is from the 14th century, and the other from the 18th century.
The Basilica of Santa Maria is open to the public, entry is free. Opening hours: 10AM – 1PM & 6PM to 7:30PM.
Mushroom Street, or Calle de Las Setas, is located on San Francisco Street in Alicante. In 2013 part of this street was transformed into some kind of fantasy wonderland with yellow brick roads, toadstool houses, and towering mushrooms. You’re probably wondering why such a thing was even created in the middle of the city? We were wondering that too! Has someone smoked too much weed? Or ate too much magic mushrooms? Well… no! Just to clarify, the purpose of this unusual initiative was to rejuvenate the street and help failing businesses. It definitely helped, because now Mushroom Streets attracts many tourists and is one of the main attractions in Alicante.
Promenade Explanada, also known as The Explanada de España, is Alicante’s main promenade. This walkway is paved with over 6.6 million red, beige, and black marble tiles. It has a stunning wavy pattern, which mirrors the rolling Mediterranean waves. The promenade begins at the Plaza Puerta del Mar and winds up at the Parque de Canalejas.
Postiguet Beach in Alicante
It is Alicante’s most beautiful beach and is located in the city center, beneath the Castle of Santa Barbara. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing (for example, after a long day of sightseeing).
If you love eating fresh products – this place will be ideal for you. Mercado Central was built in 1912 and is located on the Avenida de Alfonso. The booths are full of seafood, meat, fruits, vegetables, pastries, regional specialties, olives, cheese, and many more. Mercado Central is open Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 2:30 pm (until 3 pm on Saturdays).
Monte Tossal Park
About a 10-minute walk from Mercado Central you can find Monte Tossal Park. Park offers great views over the city and the Santa Bárbara Castle. And what’s even more important: a moment of rest from the noisy city and crowds.
Plaza de Gabriel Miró
Right next to the Explanada Promenade, a small charming square can be found – Plaza de Gabriel Miró. It is shaded by leafy ficus trees and is a tribute to the renowned author of Alicante, Gabriel Miró hence its name.
These were the places you can’t miss in Alicante. You can fit all of the above into one day trip. But if you have more time and strength, you can also see:
The Archeological Museum will take you on a journey through 100,000 years of history. The collection covers prehistory and the Middle Ages.
Contemporary Art Museum
Opened in 2011, exhibits 20th-century and contemporary art. It’s located right next to the Basilica de Santa María.
Tabarca Island is located one hour sail from Alicante port. It’s the largest island in the Valencian Community, and the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain. In the past, the island was a refuge for Barbary pirates but nowadays it stands out for the restaurants with traditional food, the Church of San Pedro and San Pablo, the small historic center, the lighthouse, and the island’s museum. It’s rather an idea for a one-day trip.
How to get to Alicante, Spain?
If you’re traveling to Alicante by plane, you’ll need transport from Alicante Airport to the city. You can choose from a rental car, taxi or bus.
If you’re already in the area, you can get to Alicante by car, or by bus or train (only from selected cities – check before).
Where to park in Alicante?
If you’re traveling by car you can choose from many parking lots in the city. We left our car in that parking lot for free. It’s a 15min walk from the city center, but it’s free.
Now you know what are the best places to see in Alicante. Wish you a great time there! Have a great trip!
As for us: this city hasn’t stolen our hearts. But we were expecting that, as we’re not a fan of visiting big cities. There are only a few things we really like in Alicante: Santa Cruz District, Santa Bárbara Castle, and mushroom street, but that’s all. We hope you’ll like it more! 🙂
Where to eat in Alicante?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Alicante: