Is Alicante Worth Visiting? – 10 Reasons Why Yes, It Is

Alicante is a beautiful city in the province with the same name, in south-east Spain. There are many reasons why Alicante is worth visiting:

Alicante is worth visiting for its history, heritage, culture, castle, picturesque beauty, mile-long beaches, coves, island, restaurants, contained prices, nightlife, good weather all year around, charming old town, landscape, sunsets, mosaic promenade, friendly people, shopping, festivals, golf courses, festivities, parties, coastline, transport to other pretty Costa Blanca destinations, the relaxed vibe… and more.

Santa Barbara Castle
Santa Barbara Castle from Gran Sol

Let’s get into details on what makes Alicante special and why is it worth visiting.

The City’s Charm

Santa Barbara Castle From Herminta de Santa Cruz Viewpoint

Alicante is truly a charming and pretty city.

It has its own traditional Spanish old town at the hillside of Santa Barbara castle that gets straight to El Postiguet beach.

The palm trees around the city make many corners of the city exotic and pretty. The pomegranate La Explanada is a perfect place for one of the most loved hobbies of the Spaniards: pasear which means “going for a walk”.

The modern city grew in between two mountains (each having a castle on the top). El Benacantil (Santa Barbara Castle) and El Tossal (San Fernando Castle). This unique setup creates a lot of spots in the city to enjoy the landscape.

The light in the Mediterranean is truly different to the light in other places, such as London. Most of the days are sunny and it is, usually, humid and warm. A perfect combination to brighten up all the typical brown, red, green and blue colours in the city.

The feeling when you are in Alicante is relaxed and comfortable. It has a good public transport system, like the bus for nearby destinations and the TRAM to enjoy the rest of Costa Blanca, like on a day trip to Benidorm.

Everywhere in the city is accessible: the nice restaurants, the beaches, the rooftops, the shops, the landscape spots… easy and compacted city to enjoy around.

The Beaches

El Postiguet Beach

The beaches in Alicante are, simply put, astonishing.

The main beach in Alicante is El Postiguet. It is just down from Santa Barbara Castle and next to the traditional city centre El Barrio.

El Postiguet is not the biggest beach in the city but quite accessible and pretty.

Additionally, San Juan Beach is arguably the best beach in Alicante. It merges into El Campello Beach Muchavista through an invisible line that makes it one of the longest beaches in Spain. The beach is inside an urban beach with golden sand.

There are volleyball nets, chiringuitos and watersports centres opening in summer if your objective is not just tanning and swimming.

On the other side, if you prefer less urbanized spaces then Alicante got it too. El Cabo de Las Huertas in San Juan is perfect if you like coves and rocky beaches. In there, you can almost forget that people tend to build houses and enjoy the open sea views.

If rocky beaches are not for you but still want to enjoy less urbanized sandy beaches Alicante City got you again. Urbanova is a semi-urbanised sandy beach. In Between Urbanova and Arenales (Elche’s beach), there is a perfect space with dunes to enjoy more of a virgin (and, by the way, naturist) beach.

But the surprises are not done yet. Another extremely special place to swim and tan is Tabarca Island. It has beaches and coves and it is just an astonishing place to go to. The island is just another neighbourhood of Alicante so you don’t really leave the city.

If your trip is set in winter the beaches can be enjoyed too. They open all year around and the weather in winter is warm enough for walks on the beach’s shores. Volleyball nets are open all year around and nearby restaurants open as well on beaches such as El Postiguet and San Juan (but not the chiringuitos).

The Culture

If cuteness and beaches are not your priorities when choosing a destination Alicante, again, got you.

There are more than 8 museums in the city of Alicante (including a museum on the tiny Tabarca island, yes).

The museum’s showroom exhibits are a mix of Arqueological history (Alicante has been inhabited since prehistory, with remains found dating +6000 years old), art, water history and local traditions among others.

Ancient remains near Alicante

There is a complete article about the museums in Alicante here. A short summary:

You can also visit archaeological sites managed by MARQ showing the first Alicante city created by the Iberians and then transformed by the Romans called Lucentum, or get the TRAM train to Campello (line 3) to visit another site called Illeta dels Banyets with a city that was populated through the prehistory to the Muslin occupation in the Middle Age and has an ancient roman fish farm. Quite unique in Europe only finding remains in Alicante and Italy.

The Food & Restaurants

Alicante is quite a good city for food too.

The restaurant scene is dynamic with new openings every so often. Many types of food are found: traditional Spanish, traditional Alicantininan, burger chains, fast food, Asian, Italian, French and many others.

There are indeed two restaurants with Michelin Stars distinctions in the city of Alicante (in Spanish):

But Michelin-starred restaurants are not the only high-quality restaurants.

Using apps such as The Fork, Google Maps or others is an excellent way to find the type of restaurant matching your needs and budget. But in case you want some local recommendations I will leave them here.

Local Restaurants Recommendations

A good piece of advice is to try to have food for lunch or dinner at Spanish times (1-3 pm for lunch and +9pm for dinner. This way it is easier to avoid the tourist traps (yes, Alicante has tourist traps too).

Something special to do in Alicante is going to a rooftop restaurant or bar.

For example, El Gran Sol hotel building has amazing rooftop views restaurant. Or if you want to enjoy a drink then La Milagrosa Rooftop features spectacular views of the Santa Barbara Castle. However there are more recommendations in the rooftop bars and restaurants in Alicante’s article.

Paella and Arroces

And here goes a pro tip that it is important to know if you had in mind eating paella: In Alicante, the tradition is not to prepare paella but what we just call Arroz (it means rice). The dish is similar to paella -it is done in the same wide and short pan- but prepared slightly differently.

The main Arroz variant will remind similar to paella where you can have arroz con marisco, arroz mixto, arroz mixto (vegetables and meat), arrod de verdura (viwth vegetables wich is vegetarian and vegan)… but you can also try things such as arroz con costra, olleta alicantina (rice in a soap), arroz a banda, Caldero (if you go to Tabarca) and others.

Essentially, there is a choice for everyone in Alicante: budget food restaurants, expensive and excellent quality food restaurants, rooftop restaurants and bars, chiringuitos and next-to-the-sea restaurants… It will match everyone with a lot of options for all dietary needs and preferences. By the way, there are good options for vegetarian and vegan restaurants too and, virtually any restaurant, can sort out dishes if you are vegetarian or vegan and didn’t have it on the menu.

Other Foods You Should Try

And here are some extra recomendations for your trip to Alicante in a form of a list:

  • Coca de Mollitas
  • Coca Antoñina
  • Churros con chocolate in Chocolateria Valor
  • Cocas de verduras/de atun y cebolla/sardina salada
  • Empanadillas de pisto/atun
  • Mona de Pascua (in Easter)
  • Turrones (Christmas)

The Expenses

Alicante is -still- a relatively cheap city. For example:

  • A bottle of beer can cost around 3/4€ in most bars (nightclubs will cost more)
  • A cheap meal can start at 10€ and a good meal ranges from 15€-30€
  • A single TRAM or bus ticket costs 1.45€, being the cost of travel cards much lower
  • A taxi from Alicante Airport to Alicante costs around 30€-35€ (the airport bus is way cheaper, 3.85€)

Hotels and hostel rooms can range from as little to 25€ a double room to luxury rooms costing +100€, so there is something for every budget.

The Nightlife

Alicante’s nightlife is vivid.

Whatever you want to dance and listen to -from Latin music to techno- Alicante got you sorted. The centre is lively essentially all day until night at 3 am, where most of the clubs need to close by law (except for the after-hours nightclubs).

Remember the Spaniards like having dinner late (around 9 pm-10 pm) and going to parties late too. It is not unusual to meet your friends at 12 pm to then go to the clubs. But there is now a somewhat new tradition of going tardeo, which translates to “evening-ing” (makes more sense in Spanish).

This novel concept in Spain means meeting your friends in the evening to have some drinks and then going and having dinner before going back home. This usually happens in the party area Castaños. Some of the clubs stay open until late at night too.

Let’s go deeper into Alicante’s party zones, we have 4. This doesn’t mean there are no clubs or pubs in other places around the city but there are 4 main distinguishable areas:

  • El Barrio (part of the traditional quarter)
  • Castaños (for Tardeo and night clubs)
  • El Puerto (nightclubs, Latin music places, Karaoke and after-hours)
  • San Juan Beach and el Golf Area (more lively in summer)

As accessible as Alicante is, all the party areas except for San Juan Beach/El Golf are accessible by just walking between them in 5/15 minutes.

The Festivities And Festivals

The Spanish are known for their festivals and parties and Alicantininas are far from being left behind. Actually, they lead the way up at some parties.

The most important festivity of Alicante is Hogueras de San Juan.

It is a massive festival happening at the end of June (19-24th).

First category huge Hoguera or Bonfire during Hogueras Festival in Alicante
Hoguera at Hogueras Festival in Alicante

For almost a week, the city centre is closed to cars. The streets become museum showrooms of massive sculptures… that are burned on the last day of the party:

Huge flames come out from the gigantic bonfires while the firefighters control they don’t burn anything that should not be burned (such as the neighbouring houses and trees).

This is called “La Banya” and the firefighters will soak in water any brave person staying in the trajectory of their hose.

But it is not the only important festivity in Alicante.

Easter, Christmas and Moros y Cristianos are celebrated with all the enthusiasm they deserve, including Los Reyes Magos. For more about the weather and what to do in December click here.

Should you visit the city on any of these dates you will be able to live the experience of the Spanish traditions in all their glory.

There are also music festivals and others happening in Alicante or nearby. Such as the Low Festival in Benidorm, for example.

Trips to The Rest of The Costa Blanca

The city of Alicante is inside the province of Alicante (yes, it has the same name). The coast of Alicante’s province is called Costa Blanca.

The public transport to other places in Costa Blanca, such as Benidorm, Altea and others is done through the TRAM trains and busses.

The TRAM train is an experience in itself. The track route is +100 years old and passes by many nearby sea mountainous scenery.

It is not the most efficient means of transport for longer distances, such as Alicante to Benidorm (coaches from Alicante are faster), but if you have the time, then the views are amazing and worth the trip.

The Golf Courses And Nearby Theme Parks

Alicante has also major entertainment venues such as Golf Courses or theme parks outside the city but accessible by the TRAM train.

If you like water then Aqualandia is your place. It is situated in Bendiorm but it is accessible by the tram from Alicante and then using a local bus.

Terra Mitica is a theme park. It has proper roller coasters and many other rides for brave (and unbrave) people.

For young children, you visit Mundo Mar, a place with water animals. Or Terra Natura.

And if you like golf there are courses in the city of Alicante: Alicante Golf and El Plantio, but more about golf courses in the city of Alicante in this article.

Staying Longer in Alicante

Maybe you are actually thinking of moving to Alicante. Spending a longer period of time in the city instead of just visiting can be quite a pleasant experience. If you want to know more, here are some of Alicante’s Pros and Cons and here is how does compare Alicante to London.

Alicante is a great city not only for visiting but for living too. It is, for now, not too expensive and offers a high quality of life with many activities to do and surprisingly good weather all year around, even in winter.