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, is a go-to destination for many locals and foreigners. Who would say no to 18 C and 3,000 hours of sun yearly 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 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 several options exist for getting to Alicante. Alicante Airport, Elche, serves international and domestic flights. You can try WayAway to find cheap tickets to Alicante. And if you opt-in for their membership (discount code already activated), you can earn cashback on those flights and other activities. Read my full review of the WayAway platform.
I flew from Barcelona, and my two-way ticket was about 55 USD, but it can be less expensive if you plan your trip in advance.
If you prefer other means of transport, you can travel to Alicante by bus or train. There is a high-speed train from Madrid to Alicante, which takes around 2:30 hours. The train also runs from Barcelona to Alicante, but the journey is longer than from Madrid. It 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 many accommodation options both in the city center and along the beach. Here are some of the hotels I recommend staying at depending on your budget and taste:
Budget-friendly hotel: La Lonja – an excellent 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. 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 on the coast with a relatively average price per night. The hotel is also very close to the Castle of Santa Barbara; you’ll need around 10-15 minutes to get to the city center.
Boutique hotel: Occidental Alicante – the elegant, stylish, modern hotel offering 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 want to stay 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 – are 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.
What to pack for Alicante?
Packaging smartly is one of the most important things you’ll need to do when planning a trip to Alicante. Alicante is a vibrant and lively city with plenty of things to see and do, so you want to ensure you have everything you need to make the most of your time there.
Backpack or suitcase? – Oto and I travel with backpacks anywhere we go. I have a 55 Liter Osprey Farpoint, and Oto has Cobra 60 from The North Face. Both are spacious but small enough to carry on board many budget airlines. Read my detailed review of Osprey Backpack.
Comfortable walking shoes: Alicante is a city that’s best explored on foot. With its winding streets, charming old town, and picturesque promenade, you’ll want to spend as much time walking around and taking in the sights as possible. That’s why it’s essential to pack comfortable walking shoes. I typically pack one sandal with my Reebok sneakers if I travel in late spring, early autumn, or summer.
Lightweight clothing: Spain is known for its warm and sunny climate, and Alicante is no exception. Summers can be hot and humid, so it’s best to pack lightweight clothing made from breathable fabrics. For gorgeous photos, I always throw in one of these flowy skirts. Don’t forget to pack a fedora hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
Swimwear: Alicante has beautiful beaches, so pack your swimwear. Whether you plan to dip in the Mediterranean Sea or just lounge on the sand, a swimsuit or swim trunks are necessary.
Sunscreen: With over 300 days of sunshine yearly, Alicante can be a sun lover’s paradise. However, protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial. Pack a high-SPF sunscreen and reapply it regularly throughout the day.
Camera: The city is stunning, with plenty of photo opportunities. From the old town’s colorful buildings to the Castle of Santa Barbara’s panoramic views, you’ll want to capture as many memories as possible.
I have Sony a6300 camera and a Google Pixel 7 Lemongrass color smartphone. I also travel with a tripod. I took all the pictures you see in this post using my Sony camera and K&F tripod. I recently purchased this small Joby tripod and a Ulanzi phone mount for both tripods.
Travel adaptor: Spain has a different electrical socket type than most countries, so pack a universal adapter.
Light jacket or sweater: Even though Alicante is known for its warm weather, evenings can get a bit chilly, especially during the shoulder seasons. Bring a light jacket or sweater to layer over your clothing on colder days. During my visit, it rained a lot, so throw in a packable raincoat.
A day bag: Remember to pack a bag to carry all your essentials around town. Make sure it’s large enough to fit your camera, sunscreen, water bottle, and any souvenirs you may pick up along the way. I love my CITYC 2 in 1 Backpack from Driibe (get 15% off with code: FEDORA15). Read my full review of the Driibe backpack.
How to use 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, trams take you to your destination.
The main transport in Alicante is a tram, which takes you within the city and to the outskirts and nearby towns of Costa Blanca. Therefore, it has five zones: A, B, C, T1, T2, 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 1.45 EUR. The price increases depending on which zone you want to go to. For instance, a single ticket to two zones costs 2.80 EUR, while a three-zone single ticket costs 3.90 EUR. The price reduces if you buy a return ticket for these zones.
Buying Bono 10 or Bono 30 will grant you 10 or 30 trips within these zones if you use public transportation in Alicante often. The prices of the Bono cards vary depending on which zones you’ll be traveling to. Check all the rates here.
How to get from Alicante Airport to the City Center
A direct bus, C6, takes you from Alicante airport to Alicante city center, but it also stops at the train station, bus station, tram station, and port. It runs every 20 minutes; from 10 pm to 6 am, it runs every hour. One way ticket costs 3.85 EUR. You can purchase the ticket from the driver.
If you want to avoid the hustle of public transport, you can pre-book a private transfer with an English-speaking and well-trained driver from Welcome Pickups to drive you from the airport to your hotel.
Note: If you are traveling to Torrevieja, I have noticed direct buses from Alicante airport to Torrevieja
15 Wonderful Things to Do in Alicante
Alicante has plenty to offer visitors looking for sun, sea, and culture. Some of the must-see attractions in Alicante include the stunning Santa Barbara Castle and the picturesque old town of Barrio de la Santa Cruz.
The city also boasts a vibrant beach scene, with popular spots like Postiguet Beach and San Juan Beach and a lively nightlife and dining scene. Don’t miss the chance to sample some local seafood and wines and make day trips to nearby smaller towns.
Start your morning with a cup of coffee at a local bakery
El Moli Pan y Cafe is ideal for a light breakfast or lunch. The prices are 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 the Benalua district of Alicante on Calle Santa Maria Mazzarelo. I must say the latter was my favorite.
Walk at the promenade
Explanada de España is the town’s main promenade, 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’s 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 Santa Barbara Castle, this colorful neighborhood is a must-see among Alicante attractions. Part of Alicante Old Town, the barrio features tiny, white houses with multicolored doors, balconies, window frames, narrow streets, and flower pots, to name a few.
Enjoy the city views from L’Ereta Park
Once you walk out of the 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 the rest stops with gorgeous views.
Wander through the Castle of Santa Barbara
One of the best things to do in Alicante is to visit the Castle of Santa Barbara, located on Mount Benacantil. Considered 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.
Nearly 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 Mediterranean Sea views 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 snack and water. Even though there are cafes, the prices are pretty high and touristy.
A lift takes you to and from the castle to Postiguet Beach for a certain 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 the 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 shape of a cross and features six side chapels. It is home to a precious collection of art and documents.
Have Paella for lunch
Advertised as having the best paella in Alicante, Restaurante El Gosto del Gourmet is right behind the city’s main boulevard and promenade. There are different types of paella across Spain, and El Gosto features Alicante’s version of this traditional, 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.
Stop by the Renaissance cathedral
A Roman Catholic co-cathedral dedicated to San Nicolás of Bari dates back to the 17th century. Like 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 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 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 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 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.
Get into the game of tapas
One of the things to do in Alicante is to try its version of the famous Spanish tapas phenomenon. D’Tablas or Tapa-Cana 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 walks to your table to let you choose whichever you’d like to try. Each tray’s food is always different, including seafood, fried fish, sandwiches, sausages, and even cakes. The meals come on wooden planks, each costing 1.10 Euros. You need to keep those on your table for the bill.
Visit the museums for free to escape the rain in Alicante
On my visit to Alicante, it rained pretty much the whole day. So if that happens on your vacation, don’t stay 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 want 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 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 the Provincial Archaeological Museum MARQ, considered one of the most modern museums in Spain due to its innovative approaches to the subject and using advanced audiovisual techniques.
Art lovers 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 the most intrepid sailors and learn more about the hidden delights of the Ocean.
Don’t miss visiting the Pink Lake in Torrevieja
I am unsure what to do in Torrevieja except to visit Pink Lake or Laguna Rosa. When I accidentally stumbled upon this lake, I had to see it and made it my mission to include it on my list of things to do in Alicante. Therefore, I didn’t pay much attention to the other sights of Torrevieja (Sorry!).
I have a separate complete guide to visiting Torreviaja Pink Lake you can read for more detailed information.
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 microalgae. 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
The best way to get to the lake is to rent a car as the lake has several entrances; we tried three different points but did not like them due to their inaccessibility. 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.
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 colorful houses perfectly lined along the shore.
Located only 32 km away from Alicante, Villajoyosa is easily accessible by 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
You can rent a car or use a tram. Villajoyosa is in B and T1 zones on L1, red line. The drive will take around an hour, but you will have stunning views of the coastline and the small towns of Costa Blanca.
And if these two options are not enough, you can also visit Morella as a day trip from Alicante.
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