How can we describe life in Alicante in a few words? How about ‘wonderful’… Moni & I have recently spent nearly six months living in Alicante and have found it a wonderful place to stay. In this mega post I’ll show you some of the highlights from the city and surrounds that will probably have you booking your trip here very soon 🙂
Getting to Alicante
Alicante is easy to get to via plane or train. Even some cruise ships have a port of call here. Whichever way you arrive these are some of the places you can see.
Taking the Alicante-Aeropuerto bus
If arriving by plane, you’ll need to take the C-6 airport bus (2.90 Euro*) to the center of town or a taxi that costs around 15 Euro. Like most airports this one is located slightly out of the center of the city. The airport bus ‘Alicante-Aeropuerto’ runs every 20 minutes from each stop on the loop.
This service operates from 6am till 11pm 365 days a year and we found it very convenient and quite reliable.
A word of warning here, be careful to check if your travel dates coincide with some of the festival dates from Alicante as the bus then takes a different route!! We tried taking this bus on a day during the biggest festival period in Alicante and had to do plenty of walking to eventually find a taxi instead.
*Odyssey tip; You can buy or top-up a 10-journey ticket that costs 12 Euro. You need an extra 2 Euro initial smartcard fee, for a total 14 Euro, which makes each trip 1.40. This smartcard is ideal for multiple trips and one card can be used for each family passenger 🙂
On the subject of what things might cost, I have a detailed post that lists our entire living costs for the six months in Alicante. So, if you want to know what does it cost to spend 6 months in Alicante Spain then check it out.
Where to catch the Airport to Alicante city bus
Once you find yourself in the arrivals hall after collecting your luggage you’ll see lots of car hire booths to the right on this level, great if that’s what you want, but for those taking the bus into the city, you MUST go up one level to the departures and exit the building here.
You’ll be sure to see the Costa coffee outside with probably a thousand agitated smokers puffing for dear life 🙁
The bus stop is located at the very end of this level on the right.
By the way, if you fancy a coffee then grab one in the arrivals hall downstairs, you’ll get one quicker and cheaper, sure it won’t be a “costa” coffee but still. A flat white from Costa will cost 4.30 euro which is probably the most expensive coffee in Alicante whereas downstairs you can get a cortado for 1.40 euro!
By the way, I love my costa coffee but that is just a rip off 🙂
Depending where you alight, the bus journey into the town can take roughly 30/40 minutes with only a few stops on the way. The best stop for the center is the stop at the port, Puerto de Alicante, here you’ll be perfectly situated to start your day of exploration.
The port of Alicante – Puerto de Alicante
Take a look at this beautiful port, where the weather is awesome 90% of the time 🙂
If you’re visiting by cruise ship to Alicante then you’ll no doubt dock in the Puerto de Alicante. From here you can easily walk from the ship to town 🙂 which is fantastic, unlike many other ports of call that require shuttle bus transfers that add another cost to your vacation 🙁
Moni & I love cruising and were always on the lookout to see which ships visited Alicante each week. Above is the MS Oosterdam from Holland America Line of which we have fond memories from our two-week Alaskan cruise in 2014.
The area in the photo below is where you walk to when in the port. Looking ahead is the promenade and beyond this the town, which are all easily walkable.
On top of the hill in this photo is the Santa Bárbara Castle – Castell de la Santa Bàrbara which has great views over the city. You can walk up to the castle from the old town area, note here that it’s a quite steep walk with a lot of steps and probably not ideal for poor walkers, but very rewarding. Deeper into this post you can see more information about the Santa Bárbara Castle.
Santa Bárbara Castle lift entrance
If all that walking sounds like too much hard yakka you can take a lift to the top. Be warned, there is probably going to be a long line of people wanting to do the same thing especially in high season and with a ship in port. You can find the entrance directly opposite Postiguet beach via a long tunnel, it costs 2.70 euro per person.
The tunnel is very long, and believe me when I tell you that the queue of people waiting for the lift when we walked out of here during the month of June was the entire length! I estimate the wait time would have been well over an hour 🙁
You could take a taxi up, or if you’re a fan of the hop on hop off buses that almost every city has these days you could catch that. A day pass on the hop on hop off bus costs 10 euro for adults and 5 for kids and they run from 10am till 6pm end of March through to December.
We didn’t bother with the bus as we had our bikes which got us everywhere the bus went 🙂
Hop on Hop off bus in Alicante
At the intersection near the Puerto de Alicante you have a few options of what to do. Depending on the amount of time you have in Alicante, you could venture further afield to the wonderful beaches of the Costa Blanca. The likes of Albufereta, San Juan, El Campelo, Muchavista and others before even reaching Benidorm. I will talk about these other places later but I’ll keep this in the closer vicinities to begin.
Playa Del Postiguet in Alicante
If you want to visit the beach, then you’re in no better place as just to the right of the port is Postiguet beach. It’s popular with locals and tourists alike and can be very busy in high season.
The beach has lots of sun loungers & shade umbrellas plus it’s close to the promenade so easy to grab a bite to eat when hungry.
As I mentioned, Postiguet beach is very close to town and ideal for a day tripper to Alicante. Also popular with the tourists are the market stalls that line the promenade the Explanada de España in Alicante. The promenade spans the length of the marina and is pedestrian friendly. You will notice the colourful patterned tiled promenade shares a resemblance to that of the Copacabana in Rio with its wavy design.
All along the promenade you have a variety of restaurants cafes shops etc. We find it’s just a nice area to stroll along lined with established palms and bushes, and a small stage area where sometimes live music is played.
The facades of many of the buildings in Alicante are stunning, a far cry from the cement blocks we see built in many cities these days.
The entire area along the Explanada de España in Alicante is very well maintained, however the council does struggle to keep up the good work in many other areas throughout the city. During our time here there were several newspaper articles covering the problem of refuse and the amount of rats in the city, yes we did see some 🙁 This is due to consistent over filled bins and the general dumping of stuff.
Having said that, we found Alicante to be a great city and wouldn’t let that put you off.
Eventually the tiled promenade gives way to a roundabout and then continues but in the form of a park.
Passeig Esplanada d’Espanya
The park is dotted with fig trees and some slightly outdated fitness equipment.
From the promenade you can take many roads that lead further into the center of town. We love the Calle Cervantes which is directly opposite the port entrance and the zebra crossing near the water fountain in the middle of the road.
When you cross the main road onto the beginning of the promenade and continue past the end building this is Calle Cervantes. Looking forward you can see an archway with what looks like a tower beyond as in the photo below.
Plaça ajuntament Alicante
This leads onto Calle Rafael Altamira and the Plaça ajuntament de Alacant. Here you have a large square with splashing water spouts in the center and a few cafe’s or restaurants around. Also the Audiencia Provincial Alicante and the Oficina de Turismo Ayuntamiento de Alicante/ Tourist Info Alicante Town Hall.
It’s also home to a cafe that makes one of the best coffees in town called ‘Soho Plaza’. This place is a bit more expensive than others, but well worth it for a good cafe con leche 🙂 plus you get to people watch like no tomorrow.
Once we had found this place we enjoyed many coffees. There are a few ‘Soho’ named establishments in the town but this was the best one we found.
Just to the right of the town hall if you walk through another archway, you can continue to meander through the streets heading in the direction of the old town. From here make your way up to the castle Santa Barbara, just check the google map ok 🙂 I’ll come back to this area later in this post.
Plaza Portal de Elche
Heading west along Calle Rafael Altamira you come to one of the main roads in and out of the city, Rambla Méndez Núñez which reaches to the promenade. Directly over from here is a small park called Plaza Portal de Elche with huge fig trees and a quaint looking cafe in the middle, another Soho cafe this called ‘Soho Parc’. It’s a pleasant area for a drink during the daytime and easy to get to from the promenade.
This area has a few cafes & bars around and is near to where many of the city busses leave from, and just off the shopping area.
Just off the Plaza Portal de Elche is one of our favourite places for a coffee, a light breakfast even an afternoon snack, it’s called 26 Lounge bar. It is sandwiched between Musikklub 23 good for an afternoon beer, and Borgonesse maestros artesanos, again good for a coffee but also fantastic ice creams.
26 Lounge bar is great value and became our favourite breakfast stop after our bike ride around the city and beyond. Here you can get an express breakfast of toasted baguette with jam or tomato topping with a coffee for 1.80 euro the price of just an average coffee in other places. It’s often busy with the outside tables nearly always full, but for non smokers inside is great and well worth a stop 🙂
That’s one negative thing in Spain, they don’t have any smoking laws that restrict patrons from puffing and eating or drinking next to each other, crazy and disgusting 🙁
You can also get light lunch meals here.
Heading past the park – Plaza Portal de Elche along the road Calle Med Manero Mollà, a bit further you’ll come to another park or square with more of those huge fig trees. This area is called Plaza Gabriel Miro, and like all over Alicante there are plenty of places to stop for a drink or a meal. You’d never go hungry or thirsty in Alicante that’s for sure.
Plaza Gabriel Miro
We met up with a good friend of ours, who we call young Robert on a few occasions for lunch and afternoon drinks just so we’d keep in touch as he was staying more in the center of town.
This park has a relaxed feel to it and the wonderful trees around giving welcome shade from the hot sun make it a great spot to enjoy a G&T. Order one when you’re here and see how they free pour the spirit at the table for you 🙂 that’s with most spirits as well.
The fascinating fig trees have been here for hundreds of years and apparently are the only variety that can survive on the salty underground water. The shadows and light that flows through them is magical.
On the corner of this plaza at Calle San Fernando here you’ll find a post office which is probably the closest to the port if you need one. You’ll find it using google maps.
We tried another place for breakfast but the coffee here was pretty average 🙁
If you then continue on Calle San Fernando still heading away from the port further along the way you’ll come across a fantastic vegetarian restaurant. If this style of cuisine excites you then Bodhi Green vegetarian restaurant in Alicante will not disappoint.
From here you can keep on walking until you reach Avenida. Dr. Gadea. This is a wide road with traffic going up one side and down the other separated with a lovely green walkway. You can find cafe tables here, park benches etc dotted along the way up this road. You could walk all along the promenade through the Passeig Esplanada d’Espanya and turn right and join the main road into the city down by the port.
This is a major shopping street in Alicante and this road continues up to Plaza de Luceros which then crosses another major road that being Av. Alfonso X El Sabio. If shopping is your thing then you’ll find many shops here and on the roads that connect with it. One of those shops is the El Corte Ingles which is a big store that has everything.
All of these places that I mention are walkable during a day visit to Alicante. Use a google map search and plan a route that suits your walking strength and go have fun 🙂 Moni & I walked around for a few weeks and then bought bicycles which allowed us even more freedom of exploring the city and neighbouring towns.
From Luceros you can head left up to Alicante Train station or right down towards the castle Santa Barbara in the distance. Going right you’ll also come to the Mercado or central markets of Alicante.
If you go back to where we were at the beginning of the Rambla Méndez Núñez road and walk all the way up it, you will also arrive at the central markets. This entire walk would make for a full circle and probably take five hours at an average walking pace.
Before we get to the central market, just before the Rambla Méndez Núñez road splits in two, you can take a left and head back into the town along the smaller side streets. Here you’ll find the theatre with, (you guessed it) another nice cafe with alfresco ambiance, the coffee is pretty good here also.
Teatro Principal de Alicante – Principal theater in Alicante
We had great pleasure in showing our dear friend from down under our favourite spots in Alicante.
At the point of the ‘V’ in the road where Rambla Méndez Núñez becomes one way traffic a tall thin building stands. Here, on ground floor you’ll find another good tourist information center.
Before reaching this building walking towards it, look to the right and you can see a cafe with wooden decking in the shadow of the hill behind and the Castle Santa Barbara. From here you could walk through this old town area Barrio de Santa Cruz and follow the signs which lead you up to the castle.
Barrio de Santa Cruz
Even if you don’t go all the way up, it’s still a nice area to have a walk around.
Mercado central – Central Markets Alicante
At the top of Rambla Méndez Núñez road you will see the Mercado central, a large building with a dome on one corner.
Like most markets it is busiest in the mornings, with patrons as well as deliveries and vans loading up with wares to disperse around the city.
The lower level has fish & seafood while the ground floor level has meats cheese etc. You can sample and buy a variety of produce as you walk around.
The road that continues along past the Mercado is Calle San Vicente and this will bring you to the Plaza de toros Alicante, near to the Plaça d’Espanya.
Plaza de toros Alicante
Even though they don’t hold bullfighting here anymore the plaza de toros is an impressive structure used for concerts and other special events. Just standing outside the Plaza de Toros you can imagine how it would have felt in old times full of cheering romans watching varies fights and games.
Behind the Plaza de Toros is a nice painted wall almost opposite from the Panteón de Quijano and the church Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia over the road, all nice spots to look at.
You can venture even further north in the city if you wish which would eventually bring you to where we were staying. With our bikes, the ride from home to Postiguet beach takes about 15 minutes and to walk about 45 minutes at a good pace.
Plaza Séneca Alicante
There is another nice plaza area where we’d meet with young Robert for lunch in a couple of places and then enjoy a coffee or beverage and that’s near Plaza Séneca.
Here you’ll find a cafe in the park ‘El Refugio’ and some kids play gear, also underground chambers from the WWII time. On the road just before this park are a couple of very good value restaurants. They’re not going to be listed in the Michelin guide, but for a lunch ‘menu del dia’ between 7 – 9.50 euro you really can’t complain.
Around the corner from La Casuca you will find Rio.
Below are the meals from the restaurant Rio for 9.50 each and that includes bread & wine or beer. The wine is table wine, no gold medal vintage, but mixed with some Gaseosa (slightly sweet soda) it tastes fine, it’s what the locals do. The schnaps was gifted from the owner, and it was yummy 🙂
The meals from Rio were of better quality but then you were paying 2.50 more 🙂 but still damn good value. Both of these places had lots of local patronage which is what we enjoy. Mixing it up with the locals is so rewarding and after a few visits you feel like a member of the family.
Also the price reflects this, the menu del dia on the promenade is upwards from 12 euro, we even saw some asking 17 euro per person for the same deals 🙁 it just goes to show that the tourist dollar sends the prices high.
Walking up to the Castle Santa Barbara Alicante
We walked up on two occasions both starting from in the old town Santa Cruz.
As you can see, the walk is steep and full of steps. There are warning signs of 24% gradient and nearer the top a sign about the magnetic field area. Don’t forget, you can take the lift if you wish. Going down in the lift is free 🙂
The views are amazing and you can see all over Alicante
The photo below clearly shows the port, marina, casino, Postiguet beach, the Plaça ajuntament and more.
While I’m looking at the Castle Santa Barbara, it’s worth mentioning the other castle which has some nice views over the city but is far less impressive in stature. Probably an almost forgotten fortress that was once of huge importance is today only a shadow of its past.
Castillo De San Fernando
The walk up from the town is not so steep, but does have plenty of steps. There is another way up which follows the road and you can drive nearly to the top.
There is nothing much actually at the top of the castle apart from the great views over the city and signal towers dotted around the place.
The San Fernando castle sits on the second highest point in Alicante, the first being… Castillo de Santa Barbara
A cafe is near by and even though we walked up from the residential area and city below, you can drive nearly all the way up.
I’ll add that the way is easier to walk to the top than the more popular Santa Barbara castle. The area around Castillo de San Fernando is in one of the largest green areas of Alicante when you look at the map. The photo below is showing the entrance via the roadway to the top with the green park in the area.
Back down in the city you can find a fun street for the kids to play it’s called Calle Castaños, just put it into google maps 🙂
I mentioned earlier about being aware of the festivals and events that occur in Alicante, and one such event is the
Festival of Hogueras in Alicante
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Alicante in June then you will no doubt see some of the ‘Hogueras’ spread all over the city.
They are huge colourful monuments which are on display for a few weeks. The final night when they are then burnt called ‘Cremá de Hogueras’ in Alicante which takes place on the 24th June. This is the largest festival in Alicante and one of the most important for the city.
It is no way restricted to Alicante but probably the best in Spain according to Wikipedia and is known as the Bonfires of Saint John in other parts around the world.
I found this site full of information about the festival and other events in & around Alicante. It is worth noting a word about the festival.During the entire period which is basically the month of June, you can expect a lot of noise late into the night and early mornings.
The folk are forever setting off bangers or crackers and fireworks, albeit a tradition, it will at some stage probably give you a few shocks and even get on your nerves, something to be aware of when booking accommodation in Alicante. This is not just in the evenings but throughout the entire day.
This was the monument that was being erected in a road to the front of our block.
Like I mentioned, these monuments are dotted all over the city and many roads will be blocked for them, which will effect some bus routes.
These displays are judged and awarded plaques or certificates that stand on display at the Hogueras.
Apparently there are over 90 of these Hogueras monuments and each one will be burnt after midnight on the 24th.
Cremá de Hogueras in Alicante
Celebrations with loud music singing and dancing which have gone on all week come to a finale on the 24th as these monuments are burnt to the ground.
Huge firework displays take place on top of the Castle Santa Barbara for 5 nights after the burning on the 24th. Each firework display is huge and lasts around 25 minutes.
Around 1.30am the Hogueras at our place was set alight by the fire brigade and kept in control until finally extinguished. In the morning the road was clear and clean with hardly a trace of anything.
They burning of these monuments is certainly not good for the environment and the smell and black smoke was pretty bad, lucky for us the wind blew it away from our place.
On another note, we got caught up in the middle of a parade that was taking place while we were enjoying our coffee from the Soho Plaza cafe in the square only to be swamped with some very colourful characters, thankfully the music was the best attraction 🙂
As soon as we had space along the road, we unlocked the bikes and peddled off to a quieter place for a beer.
Cañas & Tapas in Alicante
A wonderful thing about Alicante is that there are so many places to stop for a coffee or alcoholic drink and a bite to eat. Order a couple of cañas and enjoy at your leisure, sometimes with crisps or olives or a small tapas item. The Spanish really do have a great concept about serving a small item with drinks, olives being the most popular by far which are so delicious and one caña is never enough then 🙂
We sampled a selection of Tapas selection from Sento restaurant in Albufera on one afternoon. All priced individually and you can just keep ordering. Remember to take it easy as you can really go to town here and the bill will reflect that 🙂
Exploring a little further
Walking back from Albufera to the center of town pre bike days. You can certainly visit this area even if just here for the day by foot or bus which are not expensive.
This view below is what you see from the top of the hill after leaving the Postiguet beachfront and continuing around the corner.
Playa de la Albufereta in Spain
This beach is probably the closest to the city after Postiguet and really not far away at all. There are a few smaller beaches between here & Postiguet but nothing as grand 🙂
Albufereta beach is in a bay, thanks to the spit that juts out from along San Juan called Cap de l’horta. It faces directly south so you won’t get the Alicante amazing sunrise here.
Almost all the beaches that we got to know had a certain amount of people bathing topless. Albufereta maybe more than others. The nearest nudist spot was more of a small area just off the main road. To get to this beach then keep walking past the Postiguet beach and follow the road around the corner, here you’ll see a small bay. Just along the road in the next bay is a nudist area via the road, sorry no photos 🙂
Time to hire bicycles and see more
As I have mentioned, we bought bicycles from the Decathlon store, but before this we actually hired some for a couple of days to see how the area was for cyclists. You can hire bikes by the hour or day or longer from City Bikes which is on the left along the road heading towards the Plaza de Toros from the central market.
The guys here are very helpful and helped us fix our bikes after they were tampered with 🙁
Let me now show you some more of the wonderful beaches along the Costa Blanca.
San Juan beach Alicante
The beginning of San Juan Beach Costa Blanca.
San Juan beach Alicante is probably the nicest beach area in my opinion. It stretches for miles even though it’s not all San Juan I like to say it is 🙂 but here you can keep walking all along the beachfront until you reach Muchavista beach.
There are plenty of establishments along the way.
We probably rode this way four times a week for much of the summer, and here we had coffee and breakfast or light lunch.
Not all coffees in Alicante were great… the worst of the bunch were mostly all along the various places at the beachfront between San Juan & Muchavista 🙁
Moni’s sister joined us for a few days in Alicante, just a little Internet shy 🙂
It was great to see so many people out and enjoying an active life along the beach, walkers, roller bladers, joggers, bikers, and then the volleyballers and general stretchers, oh and the sun bathers 🙂
You can get to the entire beach strip from the center of town with the tram. It stops at a few places as it makes its way along to Muchavista & El Campello. Also the trams run from Alicante center to Benidorm, ideal for visiting Benidorm for the day.
You can catch the tram from underground stops at Luceros or Mercado in the city center.
Happy birthday to me
Not a bad way to spend your birthday at the beach 🙂
Even though the paths are very wide and ideal for cycling, you are not allowed to ride on them. Having said that, lots of people do. We rode here all the time until a couple of weeks nearing the end of our stay when two friendly police officers told us that we should not ride along these paths and to use the road or bike routes.
There are some signs but we just ignored them, doing like the locals do right.
Playa Muchavista on the Costa Blanca Spain
We did cycle beyond Muchavista but this was the last beach that we stopped at along the Costa Blanca, enjoying a breakfast at the Shark cafe.
Another little spot where the locals like to go is at the point of the spit called Cap de l’Horta which is basically the furthest point that you can see when looking from the top of the Santa Barbara castle or from Postiguet beach.
We came across it while exploring on our bikes, just stopped to admire the view and noticed some people down by the crystal clear water so we went for a look 🙂
There is a worn path that leads past the front of some huge homes that are literally waterfront mansions. Following this path brings you to a tiny bay.
A very calm bay at Cala dels Jueus area without the crowds of the main beaches. Once we had walked to the end of this little beach it was clear that the locals parked along the calle de Calita which is the road that ends at this fine spot 🙂
Not forgetting that San Juan beach is located directly facing east and what comes up in the east?
San Juan Beach Sunrise
I guess you have to be just a little crazy to get up so early and pedal your way to San Juan in the dark and cold under the full moon.
It was a cold ride to the beach at this early hour in October, but sooo worth it. It was also a full moon see the photo above with all the street lights & the white moon 🙂
Thankfully it was a clear morning which we were entirely grateful for and absorbed the fantastic moment despite taking lots of photos.
Next up we had some exercise, haha well not quite, I did lift a coffee cup later on though.
The light was amazing for many photos but I think this blog post is already pretty full.
Views from north of the city in our neighbourhood where we stayed for nearly six months.
A good value Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant near to our place.
All you can eat for around 15 euro including tax 🙂
Just opposite our apartment block is a barbecue place that has tapas and icy cold beer just what you need after a few hours of cycling around Alicante 🙂
Just a slight soft spot for animals. One of the many stray cats that you’ll notice in the city, this one was near our place and needed some love 🙂 Such a gorgeous face.
On another bike ride venturing south west and out of the city towards the airport we arrived at Urbanova in Alicante where we stopped for lunch. On the way here whilst waiting at a crossroads, another cyclist shot past us and hit the oncoming car 🙁 it was a real heart stopper, thankfully he was fine, escaping with only a few scrapes and bruises but very shook up, the car driver was in a total mess. We comforted them both the best we could and after sometime they both felt capable of driving on.
Even though we found the roads quite safe and very bike friendly, sharing the roads with the fellow drivers was pleasant. The biggest and most dangerous obstacles were the pedestrians that have absolutely no idea of their surroundings.
We managed to sell our bikes to a cafe owner near the bus station which was great allowing us to ride them up until a day before leaving Alicante.
Well that just about wraps it up for a bit of a life in Alicante post, phew I’m exhausted from reliving all those bike rides and exploring all over Alicante and the surrounds. It is a wonderful place to stay for a day or much longer, whatever you are fortunate enough to experience I’m sure that you’ll have awesome memories just like ours to share. Cheers to Alicante 🙂