Alicante

For other places with the same name, see Alicante (disambiguation).

Alicante (Valencian: Alacant) is a popular tourist city in the Valencian Community of Spain. It is the capital of Alicante province.

Mount Benacantil in Alicante, view from the sea

Understand

The city is believed to have been started by the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, who established the fortified settlement of Akra Leuka (Greek: Ἄκρα Λευκή, meaning "White Mountain" or "White Point"), where Alicante stands today. It was later conquered by the Romans who renamed it Lucentum. In Mediaeval times, Alicante became a major Mediterranean trading station, exporting rice, wine, olive oil, oranges and wool. Im recent times, the city has become a hub of tourism directed to the beaches of the Costa Blanca.

Get in

By plane

Alicante Airport (ALC), also known as L'Altet Airport, is located 11 km (6.8 miles) south of the city centre.

At the airport, one terminal is in service. It is known as Terminal N or the new terminal. Terminals T1 and T2 that were used before the construction of the new terminal are no longer in service.

Bus n° C-6 connects the airport with the city . It departs every 20 minutes from a bus stop at the departure level (level +2) of new terminal. Don't get confused between the departure level (level +2) and the bus level (level -2); the latter is used by charter buses. The city bus takes about 20 minutes to the city centre, where it follows a circular route. It stops near the Alicante bus station, at Plaza Puerta del Mar, near the Archaeological Museum, next to the central market, at Plaza Luceros, and on its way back to the airport near the train station. One-way ride costs €3.85 (2014). The buses run from 6:00 until 23:00 .

A taxi to the city will cost €20-25. Cabs can be caught at the arrival level (level 0) of the new terminal. A dozen car rental agencies including Avis , Budget , Hertz and Europcar are located at the arrival floor of the new terminal.

By train

Casa Carbonell

RENFE runs a number of trains per day from Madrid and Barcelona. A ride from Madrid by high-speed AVE trains should take between two and two and a half hours. From Barcelona on conventional rail it takes up to five hours. Commuter rail connects Alicante with neighborhoods and Murcia. Suburban trains (cercanías) can get you from Elche to Alicante in half an hour. The RENFE Train Station is in the city centre at Avenida de Salamanca 1 (38°20'40"N 0°29'42"W).

By tram

Tram in Alicante

Alicante has a modern and still-expanding tram system . It runs along the coast of Costa Blanca up to Benidorm, from where you can connect to Altea, Calpe, and Denia by a diesel train. Railway electrification from Benidorm to Denia is under consideration.

The tram service along the coast is enjoyable and reasonably priced. When going from Alicante to Benidorm, sit on the right side of the tram to get a sea view. The ticket price between Alicante and Benidorm is €3.75 (2013). In case you don't want to practise Spanish (why? You're in Spain!), get a ticket from automatic vending machines, which are equipped with an English-language interface. If you plan to return the same working day, get a round-trip ticket right away with small discount. As always, keep the ticket until the end of journey. On some stations (including all underground stations in Alicante) you will need the ticket to exit from the system.

By bus

Alicante bus station (Estación Central de Autobuses) is located at Puerto de Alicante (barrio de Heliodoro Madrona) Muelle de Poniente, s/n (38°20'13.5"N 0°29'30.2"W). ALSA has many lines, including to Valencia, Barcelona and Granada.

By boat

Alicante port

Direct ferry links exist to Tabarca Island, Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca, as well as to Oran and Algiers in Algeria. Book early!

Get around

If you stay in the old town, most areas of interest are within walking distance.

Public transportation is provided by buses and trams . On most routes, buses run from 6:30 until 22:30. There are a number of night routes. One ride costs €1.45 (2013). Bus drivers give change. A rechargeable card for 10 rides costs €8.25 plus €2 for the card (2013). The card can be purchased at the TAM office near Mercado Central.

Taxi rates are regulated and most tourists find them affordable. TeleTaxi (tel. 965-101-611) and RadioTaxi (965-910-123) are the two largest taxi associations.

See

Mount Benacantil and Santa Barbara Castle
Esplanada, Carbonell House and Hotel Gran Sol in the background.
Esplanada de España

The old town of Alicante is roughly the triangular area enclosed by the Rambla de Méndez Núnez, the Explanada de Espanya, and Mount Benacantil. Largely tourist-friendly, the old, narrow streets make for an enjoyable wander provided you don't get yourself lost. Here you'll find the town hall, cathedral, an old covent, and several art museums.

Do

Postiguet Beach near Hotel Porta Maris
Luceros Square

In the heart of the city there is Postiguet Beach. The sandy beach is popular during the day and fairly busy during the evening when it's illuminated by sodium street lights. These give the beach and breaking waves a surreal effect. With a bit of traveling (by bus or tram), you can reach a spacious 7 km long San Juan Beach, which is considered to be one of the finest in Spain. There are several companies near the port which offer boat trips, from 45-minute excursions on a catamaran to all-day trips to the island of Tabarca. Prices vary.

One of the elaborate monuments that can be found throughout Alicante during Las Hogueras de San Juan.

Las Hogueras de San Juan is the most important festival in the city. The celebration takes place around the 20s of June, but you can see locals setting up about a week earlier. Throughout Alicante, enormous monuments (up to and above 3 stories tall) are constructed and burned at the end of the festival during the night of 24th to 25th, after the shooting off of the very large "Palmera" firework from the top of the Castillo de Alicant. The explosion takes the shape of palm tree leaves (hence the name, Palmera). This is the symbol that begins the burning of the Hogueras monuments, which lasts into the later hours of the night. After that, a week of night fireworks continues in the beach. During the festival you won't have to go far to find music, drinks, and dancing, that all usually lasts until the early mornings.

Other celebrations include Carnival (in February–March, just before Lent) with parades of people in disguises and open air concerts (yes, weather allows it!), Holy Week (with parades of religious brotherhoods with their images of Jesus Christ, Holy Mary and so on) and Santa Faz (second Thursday after Good Friday) where a massive pilgrimage/walk to a close village where a relic with and image of Jesus is on display. As in the rest of Spain, in the Epiphany (January the 6th) there is a parade in remembrance of the Three Wise Men that adored Child Jesus, where every child participates (it is the equivalent to Santa Claus in the Spanish culture).

In October is the Moros y Cristianos festival in various small towns around the Alicante region. The festivity keeps memory of the Reconquer of each town by Christian kings of the territory to Islamic forces. Locals dress up in colorful costumes as Medieval Moorish and Christian warriors and knights. Live camels and elephants can sometimes be seen in street processions. In some areas, temporary wooden castles are built and mock battles are waged. Loud gunpowder arquebuses are discharged into the air, and fireworks can last late into the night.

Learn

Buy

There are market stalls along the Explanada d'Espanya selling beads, clothes, flags etc.

If you want to see how the locals shop, head into town down the Rambla de Méndez Núnez then turn West on the Avenue de Alfonso El Sabio, and you'll find the city's main market, the Mercado Central de Alicante (38°20'52.5"N 0°29'9.6"W). It is open until about 14:30 or so most days, the two levels sell all the fresh meat, seafood, cheeses, fruit and vegetables anyone could need. If you exit the market through the back, you'll find the flower sellers in a small outdoor square.

Eat

Eating Culture

Arroz con costra (Rice topped with sausages and eggs)

As with the rest of Spain, breakfast is usually light, usually some sort of bread (e.g. toast) or piece of bakery. Traditionally, a hearty meal in the early afternoon is followed by a siesta as the heat builds. Many restaurants are then closed between 4-9pm. A light meal is taken once the sun goes down, often in the local taperia if you are a visitor. A lot of restaurants don't open before 9pm for dinner, so bear this in mind when planning your dinner schedule.

As elsewhere in the region, seafood and rice dominates, with paella in the frontline. In almost every restaurant, you will find a "menu of the day" or a similar special for €10, a three- or four-course meal with or without a drink. This is an excellent way to economise if you want to splash out later.

In tourist areas, you'll have no problem finding UK fare served at earlier times, if you find yourself intimidated by the local cuisine.

Go around Calle Castaños (near the Theatre), Calle San Francisco and Calle Mayor (near Saint Nicholas Cathedral) for hubs of restaurants of the whole price range.

Budget

Splurge

Visit places such as 'Now Manolin' (calle Villegas near the Theatre), Darsena (in the port area) for exuberant dishes both at the restaurant table or in the bar.

Drink

A glass of wine at sunset

Alicante has its own regulatory wine council . Tinto Alicante and Moscatel Alicante are the most known varieties.

Nightlife is concentrated in Old Town, called El Barrio or El Casco Antiguo, with dozens of bars and clubs along the narrow streets. Another focal point is the eastern rim of the marina, called Puerto, in and around the casino, where things start and end later.

The "Barrio" is the center of nightlife in Alicante, with bars like Dos Gringos, Mulligans, Carpe Diem, and Swing; there is never a dull night in this small Spanish city. Drinks are cheap, and shots are sometimes free. Pregame of "Botellon" on the castel or on the beach, then head over to the Barrio at around midnight. Then head over to swing or the puerto at 4am. A typical night should end at around 7 or 8am. (Note: "El botellon," literally, "the large bottle," is a custom among young people in Spain, in which they buy 2-litre bottles of soft drinks and mix into them hard liquor, and then stand or sit around drinking in parking lots and other public places. This is to avoid the high cost of drinks in some bars and clubs. There are many organizarions which organise and advertise the party scene of the Barrio, such as BarrioLife.

Sleep

Budget

Seaside promenade

Mid Range

Splurge

Connect

The city provides free wifi to everyone in a number places across the city centre, including Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Plaza de los Luceros, Plaza de la Montañeta, as well as at the Santa Barbara Castle, and at the Postiguet beach .

Go next

Benidorm


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