This beautiful port city of Alicante is located on Costa Blanca, one of the main coastal regions of Spain facing the Mediterranean Sea. It is a popular tourist destination for its long waterfront– and also for giving visitors a glimpse into the ancient times through its old quarter and the beautiful castle overlooking the city. Alicante is a great place to explore and laze in the sun during the day; and then it comes alive at night with parties going on till the wee hours of the morning.
Alicante was the last stop of my eastern Spain tour, and my sister and I chose to stop by this city because we were mesmerized by the pictures we saw of it– especially the ancient castle on top of the hill. However, we only had one day to explore Alicante; and with the little time we had, I believe we managed to see and experience as much as we could. Here’s what we did.
Alicante in One Day
We arrived at the Alicante Railway Station pretty early in the morning. The trip from Valencia to Alicante took us almost 2 hours– and after checking into our hotel located near the beach; we immediately went out exploring. No time to waste!
Playa del Postiguet (Postiguet Beach)
Our first stop of the day was at Alicante’s main city beach, the Postiguet Beach. It is a popular beach filled with crowds of people; and lined with cafes and the beautiful palm tree boardwalk. We stopped for brunch at one of the cafes overlooking the beach– it was a lovely meal just enjoying the soft breeze and watching people passing by in their summer outfits.
Castillo de Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Castle)
The Castillo de Santa Barbara overlooks Postiguet Beach and the entire city of Alicante. The entrance to the castle can be found close to the beachfront– and you can either take a long steep walk up the hill or take the easy way, and go on the elevator that rises through the core of the mountain.
The castle stands on Mount Benacantil, and it offers one of the most fantastic views I have ever seen. On one side, it is the pastel-coloured medieval buildings of Alicante’s old quarter; and on the other side, the beach area, and the beautiful Mediterranean sea all the way into the horizon.
The Castillo de Santa Barbara is believed to date back to the 9th century, during the Muslim control of the Iberian peninsular. Throughout the years, its ownership has changed hands many times; and it was bombarded, abandoned, used as a prison and finally, in the mid 20th century, was reconstructed and opened to the public. Now, some of its rooms and spaces are used as museums for ancient artifacts, and also to recount the history of the Alicante.
My sister and I spent a couple of hours walking around the castle grounds and admiring the gorgeous view from above. There were so many nooks and crannies to explore– from barracks, to rooms and towers; every corner was just as interesting as the next. It really is a huge ground to explore.
La Explanada de España (Esplanade of Spain)
After visiting the castle, we took a short walk towards the Esplanade of Spain, one of the most popular roads in Alicante, and a local landmark. It is the perfect place for a warm afternoon stroll, beneath the shade of the rows of palm trees. Its 500m long walkway is paved by millions of pieces of wavy white, red and black marble; and was built during the first half of the 20th century. It runs parallel to the Port of Alicante, the main port of the city mainly used for commercial and passenger traffic.
El Barrio (Old Town of Alicante)
After visiting the esplanade, we walked into the old quarters of Alicante– it was built on the slopes of Mount Benacantil and protected by the Castillo de Santa Barbara. The narrow streets of El Barrio are lined with pastel-colored buildings, leading up to the walls of the castle. It has a bustling but laid back feel; and it was always a surprise discovering different atmospheres in every lane we passed by. Some lanes were filled with restaurants and bars, some with beautiful wall art, some lined with galleries, and some were abandoned and quiet. It was fun wandering around and taking a summer’s afternoon trip back in time.
Basilica of Santa Maria
The Basilica of Santa Maria is the oldest active church in the city, dating back to the 14th century. It was built over the remains of a mosque in the old quarters of the city. Built in the Gothic style, the basilica gorgeous and well preserved exterior– and an even more magnificent interior. Take a few minutes to admire the beautiful high altar and the many chapels at the sides of the nave.
La Piazza Restaurante
Towards the late afternoon, we decided to have an early dinner before leaving El Barrio and walking back towards the beach. It was hard making a choice on where to eat, as there are no shortages of pretty sidewalk cafes and restaurants all around Alicante’s old quarters. So we just strolled around, scanning through menus, and finally selected the restaurant located right in front of the San Nicolas Cathedral— La Piazza Restaurante.
Sitting by the sidewalk of the restaurant, we were entertained by a comedy basker who happened to be performing in front of the church. I had a great laugh watching him; while enjoying my oyster appetizers, and the main meal of salmon. Food was pretty good.
La Explanada de España (Esplanade of Spain)
We ended the day by visiting the Esplanade of Spain again, but this time, after the sun went down. The esplanade comes to live then– with lots of stores set up along the walkway, selling everything from clothing and bags, to souvenirs and food. The crowd also gathers here at night; the place was packed with lots of people shopping, strolling and eating.
At the End of the Day
Alicante is also known for its vibrant night life– but my sister and I decided to skip the drinking and the partying, as we had an early flight to catch the next day. With our pretty packed itinerary, we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city in just one day.