Santa Barbara Castle is the most iconic tourist attraction in the city of Alicante. Not only because of a history that started 1000 years ago, a face that is drawn on the rock or the omnipresence of the fortification around the city. It is also the best free point to enjoy the landscape of the city, the Mediterranean sea and the surroundings of Alicante. An easy way to get up to Santa Barbara castle is using the lift but is it not the only one.
There are four main ways to get into the Castle: by lift, walking, by public transport or by private transport. The castle is on the top of the Benacantil hill and it is a steep uphill of 544 feet or 166 meters. Santa Barbara Castle itself is plenty of uphills and downhills slopes to move you around its eras of history and beauty.
Each of the access ways has advantages and disadvantages. Alicante gets extremely sunny and hot in summer. Therefore it is important to factor in your fit condition, temperature, tolerance to the heat and the sun as your available time for the visit. All this to have the best experience visiting the medieval fortification.
Ways to Go Up to Castillo de Santa Barbara in Alicante
There are 3 main ways to visit the castle: Using the lift/elevator, on foot and by car. It is also possible to use the touristic bus of Alicante or Taxi/Cabify.
Get up to Santa Barbara Castle by Lift
The lift is the easiest way to get into the castle if you don’t have a car or you don’t want to use public transport. It is also the less tiring way up as you don’t need to hike to the Benacantil hill up to the castle. This would be the recommended access for the last fit people. The entrance to the lift is located right in front of Postiguet Beach:
The elevator in Santa Barbara Castle has a sad tradition of closures due to technical issues or, most recently the COVID pandemic. The best way to be sure it is open is to talk to Consejeria de Turismo (Tourism Council) and ask them. Info on how to contact them is written below.
The access to the castle is free but the lift service is not. The Santa Barbara lift price is 2.70€ to go up. Getting down in the elevator from Santa Barbara castle is free. The lift service opens at 10 am and closes at 8 pm.
Update: Santa Barbara Castle’s lift has been temporarily closed due to a thunderbolt hitting Santa Barbara Castle (In Spanish). This info will be updated when the lift reopens. You can still talk to Consejeria de Turismo to check the most updated news.
Access Santa Barbara Castle by Foot
Castles have usually one single entrance and Santa Barbara is not an exception. There is one single door that cars, busses and pedestrians can use but there are several ways to get up to the castle on foot. By walk is actually the most picturesque way to get to the top of Benacantil hill. This is the way to enjoy the traditional houses of the Santa Cruz neighbourhood and enjoy the views of Ereta park.
I leave here a pinpoint to one of the several doors the Ereta park has. If you follow this GPS mark you will need to walk through the traditional Santa Cruz neighbourhood to reach the door, which is also a must of Alicante city. Be ready for steeps, uphills and heat if it is summer. But the views and the area are just stunning.
Another beautiful option to get to the castle entrance is a walk through the medieval fort wall. This last pinpoint brings you to the beginning of the wall. And will get you straight to the door of the castle.
Once you are in the Ereta park it is easy to get around and find the castle. You just need to keep going up. Having the fortification in front of you, the entrance to the castle will be somewhat at the left up.
The Ereta park has drinking water fountains and there is a beautiful restaurant originally called Restaurante La Ereta. Check their website if you want to have lunch or dinner there.
The actual castle door is outside the park. Once you are on the top left side of the Ereta you will find another Ereta park door. Outside the park, you find the car access road to the castle and about 100 meters from there the castle entrance itself. That’s your way in.
Access Santa Barbara Fort by Car
This is the easiest access to the castle. There is a parking lot inside the actual castle you can go in your car but is now closed. The city hall has been thinking of stoping cars from getting into the fortification several times. The access to the castle has been closed for a year due to a decision in that direction and the pandemic.
The parking lot in Santa Barbara Castle is closed even though the government has said they will reopen it as the city hall couldn’t set up a reliable public bus alternative to get into the castle. The lot has between 30 and 35 parking spots. This includes bus spaces for organised visits.
Taxis and Cabifys can still drive you to the castle doors if walking or using the lift are not options to consider on your way up to Mount Benacantil.
I left you here a map with a pinpoint to the parking space inside the castle. This is the place you can set your GPS to go if the parking reopens.
Use Bus and Public Transport to Santa Barbara Castle
The city hall had plans of shutting down the parking lot inside the castle and it was shut down for a year. Then they reverted the decision on the sight of not being able to deploy a reliable public bus line that gets up to the castle.
The political opposition is complaining about this so expect updates in this article if anything changes again.
Tips for Planning your Visit to Santa Barbara Fortification Like a Pro
There are a few things you can plan ahead if you want to visit the castle and get to know its meaning, the importance for Alicante and a bit of its 1000+ years of history.
Book an Organised Visit With a Guide to Alicante’s Castle
There are different guided visits you can assist to enjoy and learn about Santa Barbra castle:
- Book an official and fancy visit with a guide and food included
- Choose a tour on the castle from the freetour.com website
The tourism council organises visits themselves but the monument is open to everyone. Several smaller companies are organising private visits also. The easiest way to find the tours is to go to the freetour.com website and find the tour that suits you.
Independent companies use freetour.com as a platform to get exposure to tourists. They use Free Tours to announce the tours they are organising and find the customers. Sometimes they use the platform to manage payments, but not always. Many tours are free. At the end of the tour, the guide asks for a remuneration that is not mandatory to give. Many times, the tourist can choose the money given to the guide.
Find the Balance Between your Cardio and the Best Views of Alicante City
A good tip to visit the castle might be to use the lift to go up and walk your way down. The castle itself is still steep and there is no way to avoid that part. But the distance you need to walk uphill if not getting the elevator is substantial before you reach the fortification.
When going downhill on foot you will still walk through Ereta park and Santa Cruz neighbourhood both places being a must in your visit to Alicante.
If you feel in the fit mood and are a fit person or group I would still say it is more rewarding to go up on foot. It feels the views get more and more amazing and impressive as you go up. Starting from above you will travel from the best to the good what feels just a bit not-as-impressive.
Have a Picnic on the Castle With Alicante Views
The castle has a small recreation area with a couple of free-usage tables. There is also a small pub where you can order some drinks or food when it is open.
If the idea of spending some time eating in an old medieval fortification sounds appealing, please, plan some extra time for that.
Check the Lift to Santa Barbara Castle is Open to Public
The lift to get up to Santa Barbara Castle has a sad tradition of breaking. It is a good idea to get in touch with the tourism council and check with them the elevator is operating. Contact details are below.
How to Get in Touch with the Tourisim Council On Alicante’s Castle Information
Consejeria de Turismo is a public entity to help visitors to move around Alicante. They are the people to get in touch with to get the last-minute details about the castle timetable, if the lift is operating or about guided visits organised by them. Find here all the ways to get in touch with them:
- In person at the tourist info offices listed in this link
- By phone. Note it is a Spanish phone number but people can speak English: (+34) 965 177 201
- Writting them on Twitter
- Reading Santa Barbara Castle info at Alicante Turismo website or Castillo de Santa Barbara website
- Using Facebook to get in touch with them
- Send them a message on Instagram
Alicante has two Castles: Santa Barbara and San Fernando
The city of Alicante is a very hilly town that has grown around the seaside and the hills. The most important mountain is El Benacantil, which accommodates Castillo de Santa Barbara. This iconic citadel has been the foremost important element for the growth of Alicante. Remember it dates from the 9th century.
Back in the time, long walls prolonged up to the Postiguet Beach protecting the city and citizens. Around the city, there are some ruins remembering those times. As the city’s safety, protection needs and war techniques involved the walls were retired so the city could keep growing.
Most recently in history, around the year 1813, the Peninsular War (UK, Spain and Portugal VS the Napoleonic France) required special military set-ups and Castillo de San Fernando was built as a prison on the top of Monte Tossal.
San Fernando Castle is another place to enjoy the views of Alicante if you have time enough. In Tossal hill you can also find one of the public swimming pools in Alicante.
Casatillo de Santa Barbara is Part of Alciante’s Identity
The monument is the most visited place in the city. It has been part of the city almost since its creation and has shaped its growth. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in history. Alicante counted 337482 inhabitants in the last 2020 census.
The citadel has several popular legends around it and it is a charismatic castle. From several places in the city, you can observe what Alicantinians call “The face of the moor”. Rocks shape what resembles a face when you are seeing the castle from certain points, such as Playa del Postiguet.
The legend tells a love story from the times when the city was under Muslim control and there is a reason why the Muslim caliph got into the rock forever, you might want to do a tour to know more!
For many years the castle has been illuminated at night as a monument. It is a reference point from several places in Alicante or around Alicante. For example, it is easy to identify from far when on a car on the motorway, on a boat at the sea or flying in a plane. Nowadays the castle also counts with led illumination that can set different colours as many other monuments in other cities.
Is Santa Barbara Castle free? Yes, the entrance to the castle is free. The lift has a cost to go up and is free to go down. Some private exposition happening in the castle might have a fee associated also.
Is Santa Barbara Castle for Children? The castle can be enjoyed by children if they usually enjoy other sightseeing walks. But be aware that some places might be dangerous with very high falls if they get too close to the edges. It is an old fortification and has very easy access to high falls with no security.
Is Santa Barbara Castle worthy to visit? Absolutely yes! It is the best place in the city for sightseeing and one of the most picturesque edifications in the city. It is the centre of the old city and a sign of identity to Alicante.
Is Santa Barbara Castle Open? Yes, but if you want to check visit Alicante’s tourism website or contact them on (+34) 965 177 201.
How old is Santa Barbara Castle? The castle is more than 1000 years old, dating from the 9th century. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in history. The city of Alicante is older than that.
How high is Santa Barbara Castle? It is 167m or 547.9 feet, built on the top of the Benacantil hill.
When was Santa Barbara Castle Built? The origin of the castle is in the 9th century. The castle was first commented in a written text in the 10th century. The city of Alicante as a settlement is older than the castle.
What is the Santa Barbara Castle Lift schedule? The lift operates from 10h to 20h.
Is Santa Barbara Castle Lift free? Going down is free but going up to the castle costs 2.70€.