Best Things to do in Alicante – Ultimate Guide
Alicante is the quiet medium-sized capital of Costa Blanca, the famous Mediterranean coastline of Spain. The city has its own character, which, combined with climate, historical heritage, and natural wonders, became a go-to destination for many locals and foreigners. Who would say no to 18 C and 3,000 hours of sun per year when it’s gloomy elsewhere in Europe? I dought anyone would. So, here’s my guide for some of the best things to do in Alicante for three full days.
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WHERE IS ALICANTE?
As I already mentioned, Alicante is the capital of Costa Blanca, located on the east coast of Spain. The area is full of small and medium-sized coastal towns like Benidorm, Javea, Caple, Torrevieja, Villajoyosa, and Altea, to name just a few.
HOW TO GET TO ALICANTE?
Alicante is well connected with the rest of Spain and many European countries. It is also a port city, so there are several options on how to get to Alicante. Alicante airport, Elche, serves international and domestic flights. Try finding the cheapest airline tickets at Vueling, a Spanish low-cost airline. I flew from Barcelona, and my two-way ticket was about $55, but it can even be less expensive if you plan your trip in advance.
If you prefer other means of transport, you can try traveling to Alicante either by bus or train. There is a high-speed train from Madrid to Alicante, which takes around 2:30hrs. The train also runs from Barcelona to Alicante, but the journey time is longer compared to Madrid and requires between 4:30 to 5:30 hours depending on the type of train.
Ferries to Alicante run from Algeria and the Balearic Islands (an archipelago near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula) only.
Where to stay in Alicante?
Alicante is a small city offering a wide array of accommodation options both in the city center and along the beach. Here are some of the hotels I recommend staying depending on your budget and taste:
Budget-friendly hotel: La Lonja – a great option for those on a budget but still wanting to stay close to the main Alicante attractions and the coast. The hotel is close to the Central Market, parks, cafes and restaurants, and shops, to name a few. The Postiguet Beach is only a 15-minute walk from here.
Mid-range hotel: Hotel Maya Alicante – although it’s a bit far from the city center, the hotel is an excellent choice for those who want to stay at the coast with a relatively average price per night. The hotel is also very close to the Castle of Santa Barbara, and you’ll need around 10-15 minutes to get to the city center.
Boutique hotel: Occidental Alicante – elegant, stylish, and modern hotel offers charming and well-equipped rooms. It is close to the city center and the coast, needing only a few minutes walk.
Beach hotel: Hotel Spa Porta Maris by Melia – ideal for those who’d like to stay right at the beachfront. Nestled between the Alicante Marina and Postiguet Beach, the hotel has splendid views of the Mediterranean Sea from a private terrace attached to each room.
Mid-range apartment: UNIQ flats – is another excellent option to stay in Alicante if you prefer apartments over hotels. The flat is only a 2-minute walk from the beach and features a hot tub, AC, and a fully equipped kitchen.
→ Find other apartments in Alicante
HOW TO NAVIGATE PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN ALICANTE
Alicante is a walkable city. I used public transport only once. However, if walking is not your way of exploring a city, there are trams to take you to your destination.
The main transport in Alicante is a tram, which takes you not only within the city but to the outskirts and nearby towns of Costa Blanca. Therefore, it has six zones: A, B, C, D, E, F, and six lines. You can purchase a ticket through a machine at the tram station. Click here for the tram map
Zona A is the city of Alicante itself, and a single ticket costs € 1.35. The price increases depending on which zone you want to go to. For instance, a roundtrip ticket from Zone A to Zone B would cost you € 4.25, from A to C – 6.40, from A to D – 8.25, and so on.
If you’ll be using public transportation in Alicante often, the best choice is to buy Bono 10 or Bono 30, which will grant you 10 or 30 trips within these zones. The prices of the Bono cards vary depending on which zones you’ll be traveling to. Check out rates here.
How to get from Alicante Airport to the City Center
There is a direct bus, C6, that takes you from Alicante airport to Alicante city center, but it also stops at the train station, bus station, tram station, and the port. It runs every 20 minutes; from 10 p.m till 6 a.m it runs every hour. One way ticket costs €3.85. You can purchase the ticket from the driver.
Note: If you are traveling to Torrevieja, I have noticed direct buses from Alicante airport to Torrevieja
14 BEST THINGS TO DO IN ALICANTE
Walk at the promenade
Explanada de España is the main promenade of the town adorned with palm trees and 6.5 million marble tiles, creating a wavy form. It starts from Port of Alicante and ends at mark Hersch statue. For many locals and travelers, the promenade is a meeting point and an excellent spot to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Get lost in the Barrio de la Santa Cruz
Leading towards the Santa Barbara Castle, this colorful neighborhood is a must-see among Alicante attractions. Part of Alicante Old Town, the barrio features small, white houses with multicolored doors, balconies, and window frames, narrow streets, and flower pots, to name a few.
Enjoy the city views from L’Ereta Park
Once you walk out from Santa Cruz neighborhood, you’ll find yourself at L’Ereta Park, located right at the foot of Mount Benacantil. It runs from the Castle of Santa Barbara towards the port and Postiguet Beach.
The park offers fantastic panoramic views of orange rooftops backdropped with the turquoise Mediterranean.
I would suggest taking the path from the park towards the beach after you’ve explored Santa Barbara. The pathway is full of decks and rest-stops with gorgeous views.
Wander through the Castle of Santa Barbara
One of the best things to do in Alicante is the visit the Castle of Santa Barbara, located on the top of Mount Benacantil. Considered as one of the most massive medieval fortresses in Spain with unbeatable views of the Alicante shore, the fortification is of Arab origin. However, almost none of its original features remain.
Almost all of Alicante’s historical events are linked to the castle; therefore, it’s one of the most important constructions of the city. During the Spanish Civil War, it was even used as a prison.
The territory is pretty big, and the views of the Mediterranean sea are absolutely gorgeous! So prepare to spend at least an hour here to visit some of the essential parts of the castle. Some rooms even display art or exhibitions.
I would suggest bringing your own snack and water. Even though there are cafes, the prices are quite hight and touristy.
There is a lift that takes you to and from the castle to Postiguet Beach for a fee.
Opening Hours: Summer: Apr 1-Sep 30: 10 a.m – 10 p.m; Lift: 10 a.m – 8 p.m; Winter: Oct 1- Mar 31: 10 a.m – 8 p.m; Lift: 10 a.m – 8 p.m
Entrance Fee: FREE
Admire the architecture of Basilica of St. Maria
Santa Maria Basilica was built over the remains of the Great Mosque between the 14th and 16th centuries. It has a Valencian Gothic style and is the oldest active church in town. The basilica has a chape of a cross and features six side chapels. It is home to a highly valuable collection of art and documents.
Stop by the renaissance cathedral
A Roman Catholic co-cathedral dedicated to San Nicolás of Bari dates back to the 17th century. Similar to the St. Maria Basilica, the cathedral was built over the remains of an old mosque.
The building has a Herrarian Renaissance style distinguished by a blue dome that rises 45 meters above the crossing. The cathedral is one of the most typical structures in Alicante Old Town.
Are you a golfer? Then you might want to check some of the best golf courses in Spain
Walk in the pedestrian street full of mushroom sculptures
Translated as the San Francisco Street (Calle San Francisco ), this pedestrian street is full of mushroom statues, cafes, souvenir shops, and restaurants. It’s a fun place to have a short walk and take pictures.
Shop for fresh produce at the Central Market (Mercado Central)
One of the places to visit in Alicante is its central market, even if you don’t plan on buying groceries and cooking at home. The building is an architecturally valuable construction built at the beginning of the 1910s. Span across the 11,000 sq. meters, the market has two, rectangular-shaped, floors that follow the basilican scheme.
With over 245 stalls of various products, it’s an ideal place to soak up the environment and vibe of Alicante. If you don’t plan on buying anything, you can still have a good breakfast, drink a decent coffee, or taste flavorful produce.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7:30 a.m – 2:30 p.m. Closed on Sundays
Visit some of the best Alicante beaches to suntan and relax
Among other things, Alicante city boasts with its excellent beaches and coastline. The central beach in Alicante is El Postiguet Beach, right under the Castle of Santa Barbara. It’s a sandy shore with a lovely promenade and beautiful views. It’s also close to various cafes and bars if you get hungry or thirsty.
Another all-time favorite beach for many locals and visitors is the San Juan Beach. Do note that it’s around 9km away from El Postiguet Beach, however its an ideal for those who want to try water-based activities and sports. If you are looking for a less crowded place to enjoy your vacation, try La Albufereta Beach, situated about 5km from the city.
If you are visiting Alicante with a car, then you might want to check out some of the best beach wagons to carry your essentials all at once.
What to do in Alicante if it rains
Visit the museums for free
On my visit to Alicante, it rained pretty much the whole day. So if that happens on your vacation, don’t stay at home and spend your day leisurely. Grab an umbrella and visit some of the museums in Alicante, which to my surprise, are plenty here. I won’t explain what each museum showcases, but will touch upon a couple. Moreover, if you are looking for free things to do in Alicante, almost every museum is free to enter!
MACA Contemporary Art Museum, located next to the Santa María Basilica, displays an essential collection of the 20th-century art done by Picasso, Chillida, Miro, and Dali, to name a few. If you are interested in ancient Alicante, pay a visit to Provincial Archaeological Museum MARQ, considered as one of the most modern museums in Spain due to its innovative approaches to the subject and using advanced audiovisual techniques.
Art lovers who are interested in learning more about Alicante’s local artists should visit MUBAG (Gravina Fine arts Museum). And if you are interested in marine, don’t miss the Volvo Ocean Race Museum to get acquainted with most intrepid sailors and learning more about the hidden delights of the Ocean.
TAKE DAY TRIPS FROM ALICANTE
The geographic location of Alicante makes it a great base to explore Costa Blanca. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to explore the cute towns of the region, but I had a goal to see the pink lake and the colorful city of Villajoyosa. The best way to explore Costa Blanca is to rent a car. However, if you have more time, traveling with a tram to the major cities is also an option.
We rented a car in Alicante at Sixt for a day. But if you wish to travel with a tram, you need to buy a ticket at the machines at various tram stops. Most of the details are above in the ‘How to get around Alicante’ section.
Visit the Pink Lake in Torrevieja
I am not sure what are the things to do in Torrevieja except visiting Pink Lake or Laguna Rosa. When I accidentally stumbled upon this lake, I had to see it and made my mission to include it on my list of things to do in Alicante. Therefore, I didn’t pay much attention to other sights of Torrevieja (Sorry!).
Ok, first things first, pictures in Google can be deceiving big time!! It’s not what we expected, but it surely is a unique and fun place to spend a day. Plus, how often do you have the possibility to see a pink lake?
Algae and bacteria cause this unusual hue of pink color. Halobacterium, aka “salt bacterium,” grows in salty places along with micro-algae. These are the magic ingredients of why the lake is pink.
There is another salt lake, green, nearby the pink one. Both of them are called Las Salinas de Torrevieja. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to explore the green one. If you plan to visit Torrevieja without renting a car, here’s a complete Alicante to Torrevieja transport guide
How to get to the Pink Lake of Torrevieja
There are several entrances to the lake, we tried three different points but ended up not liking them due to the inaccessibility to the lake. That’s why renting a car is ideal in this situation. The entrance that we liked the most was from Calle Munera and Via Verde de Torrevieja. We walked a bit on the trail and got closer to the lake. Here, the bay was clearer to walk into the water.
Things to note: I have read that bathing in the salt lake is forbidden, while other sites said it was allowed. We didn’t have any problems, and we didn’t want to bathe inside. We just took pictures and walked on the salty bottom.
Check best ways how to get from Alicante to Torrevieja.
Get lost in the colorful town of Villajoyosa
If you’d like to explore nearby towns on your day trips from Alicante, I would highly recommend Villajoyosa (La Vila Joiosa). It is a cute village by the Mediterranean Sea, boasting with colorful houses perfectly lined along the shore.
Located only 32 km away from Alicante, Villajoyosa is easily accessible by a tram as well. The city’s name means Joyful Town, and there is no wonder why; you will catch the vibe there.
On our visit to Villajoyosa, the town hosted a medieval fair, so we walked around the narrow streets full of those colorful houses and tried some sweets sold at the market. However, if you are up for touristy things to do in Villajoyosa, the must-see sight is the Gothic church of the Assumption. Otherwise, get lost in the town or relax at its white sand beach.
How to get to Villajoyosa
If you plan on using a tram, Villajoyosa is in Zone C on L1, red line. The drive will take around an hour, but you will have stunning views of the coastline and small towns of Costa Blanca.
And if these two options are not enough, you can also visit Morella as a day trip from Alicante
INDULGE IN LOCAL TAPAS AND CUISINE – WHERE TO EAT IN ALICANTE
Alicante restaurants span from one end of the city to another. There are plenty of options depending on what best suits you. I have found both average-prices and budget-friendly alternatives, so here’s my short list of best restaurants in Alicante.
El Moli Pan y Cafe
This is an ideal place for light breakfast or lunch. The prices are quite low, making it the right place for budget travelers. The venue has several branches all across the city. I have tried one near the Alicante train station, at La Rambla, and in Benalua district of Alicante on Calle Santa Maria Mazzarelo. I must say the latter was my favorite.
Restraurante El Gosto del Gourmet
Advertised as having the best paella in Alicante, we tried Restaurante El Gosto del Gourmet, situated right behind the main boulevard and promenade of the city. There are all the different types of paella all across Spain, and El Gosto features Alicante’s version of this, traditionally, Valencian meal. I don’t understand why it’s such a big buzz around paella. It definitely is a tasty meal, but Spanish cuisine has much more flavorful and delicious meals, in my opinion. Anyways, the one in El Gusto was tasty and full of flavors. It cost 12 Euro per person.
D’Tablas or Tapa-Cana
One of the things to do in Alicante is to try its version of the famous Spanish tapas phenomenon. This restaurant might not serve the best tapas in Alicante, but I loved every second spent here.
There is no set menu, not even for drinks. You find a seat and wait until a waiter brings out a massive tray of various tapas from the kitchen and walk to your table to let you choose whichever you’d like to try. The food is always different on each tray; it could be seafood, fried fish, sandwiches, sausages, and even cakes. The meals come on wooden planks, each costing
0.99 cents 1.10 Euros. You need to keep those on your table for the bill.
[CLOSED] Falafel Gourmet
For a quick bite, I tried Falafel Gourmet at Calle San Francisco. The place is a takeaway, and the proximity towards the beach enabled me to bring it as a light snack during my sunbathing time at El Postiguet Beach. The menu is not big, but has several choices; and if falafel is not your cup of tea, you can order sandwiches or salads along with fresh-squeezed juices.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Spain travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
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Want more inspiration?
I love this guide! It’s so easy to do a day trip to Alicante and see all these things you’ve suggested. I didn’t know about the pink lake, and I will definitely need to stop by there next time I’m down in that area. Great suggestions.
Hi Lauren, I am glad you found it useful ❤️ Yes, Pink Lake is worth the visit
I have limited mobility and use a crutch. But with the photos of places you suggested, it looks like I have to take my walker. What do you think?
Hi AnnJee, thanks for your comment. I honestly can’t advise which one you need to take; however, I would say to take the one that is the most comfortable and safe for you to walk around doing touristy things. There are a few long steps to take if you’d want to explore the area below the castle, and some parts of the city could also be steep.