by Victor Sesma
Victor Sesma is an Alicantinian living in London. He is a Software Engineer who likes writing about the city he was born.
Alicante and Ibiza are both pretty cities and areas in the Mediterranean Sea. A two top-tier destination for beach holidays and living.
Alicante City is more beautiful and charming than Ibiza City. Beaches, coves and nature are top-tier comparable but Ibiza has more density of natural spaces. Ibiza excels in parties, luxury and nightlife while Alicante is still fun and lively. Culturally, both destinations are appealing.
Both cities and areas can be similar when looking for a relaxed holiday but very different if your aim is big DJ names and parties.
Alicante and Ibiza are separated by 111 nautical miles or 178 km. Both cities are connected by direct regular flights from Alicante Airport to Ibiza Airport. The closest ferry from Alicante to Ibiza departs from Denia and it is operated by Balearia.
Alicante and Ibiza names can both refer to the actual name of a city and also the name for the area where they are situated in southeast and east Spain.
Alicante is a city on the Mediterranean coast southeast of mainland Spain. But Alicante is also the province’s name where other towns such as Benidorm, Elche, Torrevieja or Calpe are situated. Also, Costa Blanca is the name of the seaside of the province of Alicante.
Similarly, Ibiza is the name of the city of Ibiza but also the name of the island of Ibiza which is part of the Balearic Islands, an autonomous community inside Spain.
It is important to understand these key nuances to look fairly at both destination strengths.
Alicante is the 10th city by population in Spain with 348,901 inhabitants while Ibiza city has just 49,727 inhabitants.
Both areas, Ibiza Island and Alicante province, have a lot of population spread out around smaller cities. While Alicante is the 4th province in Spain by population -with around 1,965,252 inhabitants- Ibiza Island has 154,186 inhabitants. All the Balearic islands (including Mallorca and others) have a population of 1,232,270 people.
Therefore Alicante has a lot more population than Ibiza in both the cities and areas.
Ibiza city has less appealing beaches than Alicante city. While Alicante has more than 10 truly amazing urban beaches, including El Postiguet, right in the city centre of the city, Ibiza has a less beautiful beach in the suburbs called Playa Den Bossa Sea.
When comparing the province of Alicante versus Ibiza Island the picture is a bit different but not by much.
There is an internationally recognised award called Blue Flag (Bandera Azul in Spanish). The beaches, to get the award, need to comply with several criteria related to:
While Alicante’s province beaches had 69 Blue Flags in 2023 shared around many different cities and towns in Costa Blanca (source in Spanish) the Island of Ibiza had only 4 Blue Flags in 2023 (source in Spanish).
This doesn’t necessarily mean Ibiza’s beaches are bad but many of them don’t comply with all the high standards criteria for the Blue Flags, such as lifeguard services or beach and water parameters monitorization; such as water temperature and quality or Sun radiation, for example.
In Alicante Province, you can find truly amazing beaches and coves that can compete directly with the beauty of the beaches and coves in Ibiza. But Ibiza has a slightly bigger concentration of coves and beaches than Alicante, even though many of them don’t have any beach services (such as lifeguard) or miss several of them.
While Ibiza has more natural and non-urban beaches and coves than Alicante there is probably not enough time to visit all of them in a few days holiday. But the same applies to Alicante’s province and all its beaches and coves, many of them natural and non-urban too.
In summary, Alicante city has better beaches than Ibiza city and more high-quality beaches in the province are recognised with the high standards of the Blue Flag award. Ibiza Island overperforms in the number of non-urban, more natural and serviceless beaches and coves.
For big DJ fans and big disco club addicts, Alicante City has little to do with Ibiza City.
While Ibiza city has very famous discos such as Amnesia, Pachá, Privilege, Lio Ibiza, Usuahia o Hï Ibiza Alicante City has Marmarela, Copity or Puntapiedra.
Alicantinian clubs, despite being very decent, can not compete with the huge Ibiza clubs and the importance of artists going there for their music sessions.
Again, when we zoom out to Alicante province the picture is quite different. Alicante’s province has big discos like Metro Dance Club for techno or KM, Penelope, Privilege X or KU in Benidorm.
From the city of Alicante, there are public transport connections to Metro Dance Club catching the train to Orihuela and then a short ride by taxi. Also during summer, there is a night TRAM train connecting the city of Alicante with Benidorm all night (and early morning trains in winter) so going to Benidorm for a party is very easy on public transport from Alicante City with the only disadvantage of being a bit time-consuming.
If you like history, museums, archaeology… both cities and areas are excellent destinations.
Neither Alicante nor Ibiza can be compared with cities such as Madrid, Paris or London where big national museums are home to famous paintings such as the Mona Lisa or Las Meninas.
But both areas have been inhabited by millennials and there are many remains to visit in its different coves, archaeological museums –such as MARQ museum– or archaeological sites.
The closeness of both destinations gives them a similar -but not equal- rainbow of cultures having been inhabited both areas by the Romans, Muslims and Christians. Also, both cities have been trade and military hubs with rich histories to tell.
Public transport is a big win for Alicante versus Ibiza areas.
In Ibiza, a car is necessary if you want to visit its beautiful countryside and the different beaches around the island. There is a good bus system in Ibiza but it doesn’t connect many of the coast side of the island.
On the other hand, the Alicante area has the TRAM train that joins many of Alicante’s city beaches plus all the major cities from Alicante city to the north up to Denia, such as Benidorm, Calpe or Altea.
The bus company, Alsa, operates in Alicante too, from Alicante’s coach station, joining by bus many of Alicante’s province cities such as Alcoy or Benidorm but also the south of the province such as Torrevieja or La Zenia.
There is also a Cercanias train from Alicante’s train station going to cities such as Elche or Orihuela up to Murcia.
As in Ibiza, Alicante has many rental car companies to freely explore more places with cheap cars available.
Ibiza city is not very big. You won’t probably need to use public transport to visit most of its highlights.
Similarly, Alicante’s old town and the city centre are also not very big but have more hills than in Ibiza as it is around Santa Barbara Castle. But there is a good bus and Tram service that connects the centre with the beaches, parks and other parts of the city.
International connections are again a win for Alicante versus Ibiza. Not only because of the advantage of being in Mainland Spain but also because Alicante’s airport is bigger and with more connections than Ibiza Airport.
When planning on how to get into Alicante or Ibiza, the first city has several options:
While Ibiza has only two options:
What makes sense as one of the highlights of Ibiza is the island vibes.
But while Alicante’s Airport is the 5th airport with more passenger traffic in Spain Ibiza is the 8th with almost 40% less traffic than Alicante. Ibiza is more difficult to reach by plane. (source in Spanish)
By ferry, the story is similar. Balearia is the leading company connecting the peninsula with Ibiza. Ships from Denia (a town in Alicante province), Gandia (a town in Valencia province), Valencia and Barcelona go to Ibiza from mainland Spain. Ibiza also connects by ferry to other islands in the Balearics: Formentera and Palma de Mallorca.
Alicante has ferry connections to Alger (Argelia), Oran (Argelia), Ibiza Island, Formentera and Palma de Mallorca.
Alicante train connections go to Murcia, Madrid, north and north-west Spain and Barcelona with stops in all the cities on the route. Including high-speed trains to Madrid, the north of Spain and Murcia.
Alicante has several motorways reaching the city from the north (such as Benidorm or Barcelona), south (such as Murcia or Malaga), the indoors of the province (such as Villena or Alcoy) and the centre of the country (such as Madrid and the north of Spain).
Ibiza is significantly more expensive than Alicante.
As per nomadlist.com the medium price of a hotel room in Alicante is £84/night in Alicante while it is £147/night in Ibiza. In both places, you can find significantly cheaper prices so take these prices just as a reference.
The reference cost of a dinner is £9.43 in Alicante while it is £12 in Ibiza.
Both cities get significantly lower prices in accommodation during winter and the low season.
Both places are good for day trips.
In Ibiza, apart from exploring beaches and the countryside, there are several ferries per day to Formentera. This island has several amazing beaches to explore, a lighthouse and paradisiacal landscapes.
The island of Formentera can be visited in a day but you probably need a motorbike or a car to explore properly.
In Alicante, there are many day trips to do. The province of Alicante is big and very variated, from mountains to incredible beaches, caves, coves, rivers, hikes and many other activities. Alicante has also an Island to visit: Tabarca.
The island of Tabarca is small and cute. It has a tiny old town and several restaurants for lunch and a few hotels. You don’t need a car or motorbike to visit it as it is walkable in approx 1h. It has a main sandy beach and a few coves to enjoy. It is also a good place if you like snorkelling.
The countryside in Ibiza and Alicante is somehow similar. Both places are mountainous and have a similar vegetation.
But Alicante province has more variety of landscapes such as pine and Holm oak forests in the north of the province and desertic landscape in the south.
In both places the peak tourist season is summer. Prices are significantly lower during the winter months.
When it comes to the weather both places are warm all year round but. It can be argued that Ibiza has slightly better weather as it doesn’t get as hot or as cold -on average-. Also, the difference between day and night temperatures is smaller in Ibiza.
When it comes to rain, Ibiza has a few more days of rain per year than Alicante but both can still be considered a very dry areas.
The sea temperature is extremely similar in both Alicante and Ibiza so both are good warm waters beach destinations.
Some people might be looking for luxury in their holidays. It is true Ibiza is super famous and worldwide known. Ibiza’s name is all around songs and popular knowledge and some super-rich people dock their boats in Ibiza’s port for days.
While Ibiza is better known for luxury than Alicante, the former, again, does not stay behind. Alicante’s coast has hundreds of ports, some of them big, where luxury boats can dock, 5-star hotels and expensive clubs.
But generally speaking clubs in Ibiza city are more luxury-focused than clubs in Alicante with more expensive reserved areas.
Where you want to create your life is an important decision.
If your priority is the island vibe and its cosiness Ibiza has amazing weather, a lot of tourism and nice residential areas.
If you prefer to have easy access to travelling, good road and train connections and a big international airport in a privileged and nice area of Spain Alicante is the place to go.
If you want to raise a family Alicante has excellent international schools. Keep in mind, that both Alicante and Ibiza are part of Autonomous communities where there is another official language apart from Spanish -Catalan- and it is mandatory to be studied at school.
Many expect that start living in Ibiza and then decide to move to Alicante province as being in Mainland Spain has also important advantages.
Alicante and Ibiza areas have a similar shape and nature such as mountains, pine forests and general drylands (Ibiza being a bit more humid).
Both areas have a lot of spread out population being Alicante way more populated and having bigger cities than Ibiza.
Beaches and coves are similar too as both areas have astonishing nature to explore next to the sea.
If you want to more about how Alicante compares with other cities check these articles: