Alicante is the capital of one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain – Costa Blanca in the province of Alicante. City has a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters with lots of sunshine that makes it a great destination all year round! Alicante has a lot to offer – from charming Old Town, hilltop castle, and Mushroom Street to many cultural attractions, vivid nightlife, delicious Mediterranean food, and great beaches.
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. Vamos! Let’s discover the best things to do in Alicante Old Town in one day.
Interesting fact: the Romans used to call the city “Lucentum” which can be translated as the City of Light.
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Things to do in Alicante Old Town, Spain in one day
Alicante is located in the heart of Costa Blanca in the Province of Alicante in Spain. It lies in close proximity to Benidorm, a popular holiday destination and other beautiful small towns like Villajoyosa, Calpe, Altea, Finestrat, or Guadalest.
Yes, Alicante is totally worth visiting, especially its Old Town. Narrow cobbled streets full of old white adorable houses decorated in flowers, spectacular views from the castle, relaxing time on the beaches with calming sea views, vivid nightlife – Alicante has it all, and even more. Maybe this city didn’t steal our hearts like Altea, Finestrat or Calpe, but we found it very pleasant to discover.
Alicante is best known for its super charming hilltop Santa Cruz District which is the oldest part of the city, the 9th-century Santa Barbara Caste from which you can admire spectacular panoramic views over Alicante and Costa Blanca, a very unique street full of huge mushrooms with faces – Mushroom Street, several beautiful beaches and very vivid nightlife.
Alicante is a perfect destination for a one-day trip, great weekends, and even a home base for longer stays to slowly discover Costa Blanca. Without rushing we managed to see all we wanted in Alicante Old Town in one day. But if you want to know the city even better, we recommend staying for at least 3 days.
Yes, for those who are fit and have no problems with walking uphills and on the stairs. Those who might have problems with that should stay closer to lower parts of the city like Promenade Explanada or Mushroom Street. Reaching places like Santa Barbara Caste, Santa Cruz District or Monte Tossal Park might require the assistance of public transport or a taxi in that case.
Hard to say, depends on your preferences. Both places are very popular holiday destinations on Costa Blanca, both well known for many tourist attractions and their vivid nightlife with parties lasting up to the early morning hours. We prefer Benidorm (probably because we lived there for 7 weeks and had a better chance to get to know it), but it’s best to visit both cities and form your own opinion.
Things to do in Alicante Old Town
Santa Barbara Castle
One of the best things to do in Alicante Old Town is to visit Santa Barbara Caste (es. Castell de Santa Barbara) which 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.
Entrance to Santa Barbara Castle is free. To check out current opening hours please visit alicanteturismo.com website. 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). Both options are paid. More information is available on alicanteturismo.com website.
Santa Cruz District
After, or before, visiting Santa Barbara 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. In our opinion, strolling around Santa Cruz District is the best thing to do in Alicante Old Town (and the whole city!).
Basilica of Santa Maria
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, 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 Alicante
Mushroom Street, or Calle de Las Setas in Spanish, is located on San Francisco Street in Alicante. It’s a very unique street full of… giant mushrooms with funny faces. In 2013 part of San Francisco 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 many magic mushrooms? Well… no! 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 definitely very unique thing to do in Alicante that simply can’t be missed.
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.
Beaches in Alicante
In Alicante City, you’ll find a few beaches on its 23km coastline. Here are some of the best ones.
Postiguet Beach (es. Playa del Postiguet) is located in the Alicante center, beneath the Castle of Santa Barbara. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing and is close to all the nightlife.
San Juan Beach
San Juan Beach (es. San Juan Playa) after Postiguet Beach is the next most popular beach in Alicante, located about 10km from Alicante Old Town. This is a clean, wide, and sandy beach, much calmer than Postiguet Beach.
Mutxavista Beach (es. Playa de Mutxavista) is located right next to San Juan Beach. It’s also a wide and sandy beach, with clear blue waters, not too crowded.
Other beaches in Alicante
Here are some more beaches in Alicante: Playa de la Albufereta, Almadraba Beach, Playa del Carabassí, Playa del Saladar, or Platja de Tabarca on Tabarca Island.
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 crowds in busy and loud Alicante.
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.
Other Things to do in Alicante, Spain
Archaeological Museum of Alicante
The Archeological Museum will take you on a journey through thousands of years of history of Alicante and the whole region. Its permanent exhibition covers prehistory and the Middle Ages. This medium-sized museum is located in a very beautiful building that used to be a hospital. Entrance cost 5€, although on Sundays and bank holidays €3 (May 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit marqalicante.com website.
MACA Contemporary Art Museum of Alicante
MACA is a large museum that was opened in 2011, offering permanent and temporary exhibitions of 20th-century and contemporary art. It’s located right next to the Basilica de Santa María. Entrance is free. For current opening hours visit maca-alicante.es website.
Tabarca Island is located one hour’s 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?
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, located about 15min walk from Alicante Old Town.
Airports near Alicante, Spain
The closest airport to Alicante is located in Alicante, only 15km away from Alicante Old Town. The next ones are located in Murcia (100km away) and Valencia (170km away). All airports offer bus/tram connections with Alicante. You can check them on rome2rio.com website.
To Alicante by tram
Alicante has a tram station and you can get there easily from other nearby towns on Costa Blanca like Benidorm, Calpe, or Villajoyosa. You can check out map of available connections and prices on mapa-metro.com. For example journey from Benidorm will last about 1h15min (€2-6) and from Calpe 2h (€4-9). To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Alicante by bus
From many places you can very easily reach Alicante by bus. For example, a trip from Benidorm will take about 45min (€7-11), from Villajoyosa 45min (€6-9), and from Valencia (€16-40). Most routes are operated by ALSA bus service, so you can also check available connections on ALSA website.
To Alicante by taxi
The most expensive option, but also the fastest one if you care about time. For example, a trip from Alicante Airport will take only 15min (€40-55) and from Benidorm 35min (€55-70). To learn more about taxi connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
Things to do in Alicante Old Town, Spain – Summing up
Now you know what are the best things to do in Alicante Old Town during one day. We’re sure you won’t be bored there, and some places will delight you, particularly Santa Cruz District, views from the Santa Barbara Castle, and Mushroom Street. Enjoy your time in Alicante on Costa Blanca and later let us know how you liked it.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Alicante?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Alicante:
Where to sleep in Alicante?
MUSH-ROOMS is a stylish and modern hostel located in the heart of Alicante. Its comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and excellent location near popular attractions make it a great choice for budget-conscious travelers looking for a comfortable stay. With a variety of amenities, including a shared kitchen, lounge area, and free Wi-Fi, MUSH-ROOMS is the perfect place to stay for those who want to experience the vibrant city of Alicante without breaking the bank.
Eurostars Lucentum Hotel
Eurostars Lucentum Hotel is a stylish and contemporary hotel located in the heart of Alicante, just a short walk from the beach and the historic Santa Barbara Castle. The hotel features modern rooms, a fitness center, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city.
Melia Alicante is a luxury hotel located on the seafront promenade, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean sea and the marina. With its modern amenities, rooftop terrace, and prime location, it is a popular choice for both business and leisure travelers visiting Alicante.
Located in the heart of Alicante, Urban Hotel offers modern and comfortable accommodation for visitors. With easy access to the beach, nightlife, and cultural attractions, this hotel is a great choice for travelers looking to explore the city.
Gloria Host House
Gloria Host House in Alicante is a charming guesthouse that features stylishly decorated rooms, a spacious terrace with stunning views of the city, and a fantastic location in the heart of the historic center. Guests can enjoy a comfortable stay and explore the nearby attractions, such as the Santa Barbara Castle and the lively nightlife of the Old Town.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com