Santa Barbara Castle in Alicante: Lift, Foot or Car? & Tips

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.

Santa Barbara Castle
Santa Barbara Castle from Gran Sol

There are four main ways to get to the Castle: by lift, walking, by bus or by car. The castle is on the top of Benacantil Hill and it is a steep uphill of 544 feet or 166 meters. Santa Barbara Castle itself has plenty of uphill and downhill 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, and 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 4 main ways to visit the castle: Using the lift, on foot, by bus 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 or families. 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.

Entrance to the Santa Barbara castle’s lift

The access to the castle is free but the lift service is not. The Santa Barbara lift price is 2.70€ to pay by card or cash. The lift service opening hours are the same as the fortress. The last lift-up is 40 minutes before the castle’s closing time and the last lift-down is 20 minutes before.

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. The 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.

Views from La 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 in 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 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 to the left.

The Ereta park has drinking water fountains and there is a beautiful restaurant called initially 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

There is a road to go up to the castle but access to the castle’s parking lot is forbidden to maintain the monument in good shape.

One option to consider is using a taxi or Cabify as they can drive you to the castle doors.

If you still want to use your own car or motorbike there is also a public parking lot halfway up to the castle. It is less than 5 minutes from the fortification entrance but it is a steep way up and the castle itself is also quite steeped.

Please, keep in mind you need to be moderately fit for the walk as other options such as the lift or bus get you closer to the castle’s top. Parking lots also can get quite busy at peak times and don’t have many parking spots.

Santa Barbara Castle’s Parking Lot is Situated Halfway to the Top at Night

The last option is to park at Ereta‘s parking lot. It is also situated halfway to the castle entrance as it is 30 seconds away from the previous parking but it is even smaller so it can get very busy very fast.

These two are the closest options to park near the monument at Mount Benacantil. There are also parking spaces inside the castle but have been closed for a few years in a conservation effort to keep the historic castle fit for future visitors. The parking lot inside the castle is not set to reopen.

Use Bus and Public Transport to Santa Barbara Castle

The bus line CSB goes up to Santa Barbara Castle. The stops are:

  • Puerta del Mar
  • Postiguet-Pasarela
  • MARQ-Castillo
  • Santa Barbara Castle
CSB Bus Line Map. Source Vectalia

The CSB bus frequency is 40 min but the city hall will decrease the waiting time to 7 min in busier times (link in Spanish), such as when cruise ships are stopping at Alicante.

The bus price is 1.45€ for a single ticket which can be paid by contactless card, cash or travel card at a discounted price.

CSB Line Bus at Santa Barbara Castle

CSB’s operating times change by year season to match the castle opening hours:

15th of November – 27 of February10:00 to 18.00
28th of February – 16th of June10:00 to 20:00
17th of June – 4th of September10:00 to 23:00
5th of September – 14 of November10:00 to 22:00
Santa Barbara Castle Bus Line CSB Operating Times

The frequency is every 20 minutes and the complete timetable is on the CSB line website.

The only other public service operating at Santa Barbara Castle are taxis or Cabify. They are allowed to stop right before entering the fort through the moats.

Alicante Castle Opening Hours

Alicante’s Castle of Santa Barbara opens Monday-Saturday at different times depending on the month:

15th of November – 27 of February10:00 to 18.00
28th of February – 16th of June10:00 to 20:00
17th of June – 4th of September10:00 to 23:00
5th of September – 14 of November10:00 to 22:00
Alicante Castle Monday-Sunday Opening Hours

Note that Santa Barbara can’t be accessed 30 minutes before the closing hour.

Also, the castle closes on the 24th, 25th and 31st of December and on the 1st and 6th of January.

Tickets to Santa Barbara Castle

Access to Santa Barbara Castle is free. However, there are few optional paid services such as the lift up to the fortress, guided tours or events that are not free. Here is a table with a list of paid services you can use:

Access to the CastleFree
Lift2.70€ (up and down). Free for pensioners, over 65 and under 5
Bus1.45€ single ticket cash, card or travel card
Events and ExperiencesFrom 0€ to 30€ approx
Guided ToursFree and pay-what-you-can
Paid services at Santa Barbara Castle in Alicante

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, its 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:

The tourism council organises visits itself 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 website and find the tour that suits you.

Santa Barbara Castle Square and buildings

Independent companies use 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 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 get the elevator is substantial before you reach the fortification.

When going downhill on foot you will still walk through Ereta Parc and the 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 like 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 which feels just a bit not as impressive.

Have a Picnic in 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.

Have a Snack on the Castle

The Castle of Santa Barbara has a couple of snack bars where to have ice cream or coffee. Seating to enjoy on the top of Mount Benacantil surrounded by centuries of History sounds pretty neat.

Check the Lift to Santa Barbara Castle is Open to the 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 if the elevator is operating. Contact details are below.

How to Get in Touch with the Tourism 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:

Alicante’s Castle Legends: La Cara del Moro

Cara Del Moro in Santa Barbara Castle Alicante

Alicante’s castle has a profile of a face when looked at from a certain angle. There is one extended legend around the meaning of the face.

Once upon a time, in Muslim times, the Arab governor lived in the castle that crowns Mount Benacantil with his beautiful daughter Zahara.

As the princess grew older, her beauty grew, and her father was eager to find her a husband. But that was not going to be easy, since the princess did not want to get married, so the caliph organized a great party attended by her main suitors.

The party was a success in attendance, but among so many people a boy slipped in who was not invited, a Christian who happened to be the son of the main enemy of the Muslim leader. Zahara and the Christian boy saw each other at the party and fell in love, and although they knew that their love could not have a future, they met secretly. Their love was so great that they planned to run away together, but before they could do so, they captured the boy and sentenced him to die.

Zahara became sick of love and did not want to drink or eat. Seeing her in this situation, her father thought of a possible solution to end the suffering of her daughter. He would show her that if Alicante woke up dyed white the next day, he would forgive the person her daughter loved and give her permission to live her life with him. But if not, she would have to accept her fate and marry one of her Arab suitors.

She had no choice but to accept her father’s proposal and trust that she could fulfil what her father had exposed. It must be said that Alicante is a city where it rains an average of 37 days a year and it never snows.

Well, the next day Alicante woke up dyed white, not because of snow, but because the almond trees were in bloom. A beautiful print with which Zahara felt that nature had sided with her love. Seeing the landscape, she ran towards her father’s rooms, but on the way she found a moving body in the highest part of the castle.

Her father had broken his promise and executed him. Desperate from the situation, she decided to commit suicide by throwing herself from the top of Mount Benacantil.

Faced with this bleak situation, her father prayed to Allah asking for the greatest punishment for what had happened. Allah decided to “petrify” him and leave his face on the hillside where his daughter fell, setting an example that what she promises must be fulfilled. That is why we now call this profile of the mountain, La Cara del Moro -or the Moor’s Face-.

The Moor Face Seen from El Postiguet Beach

(adaptation of the legend from, in Spanish)

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.

San Fernando and Santa Barbara Castles

Back then, long walls prolonged up to Postiguet Beach protecting the city and its citizens. Around the city, some ruins are 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 see 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 away when in a car on the motorway, on a boat at 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 expositions 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 worth visiting? 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 at (+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 Benacantil hill.

When was Santa Barbara Castle Built? The origin of the castle is in the 9th century. The castle was first commented on 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€ and is paid by card or cash.