The 17 best sights of Alicante that you can’t miss
Today we will talk about the city of Alicante, Spain. The sights of this resort town are hardly known to a wide range of travelers, and for good reason – there is a lot to see here! Alicante is the capital of the Costa Blanca resort region in eastern Spain. Its name comes from the endless strip of white sandy beaches, which this part of the country is so famous for.
The town has everything you need for a relaxing and fun seaside holiday, and there are a number of historical sites too, including a medieval fortress and a classic Mediterranean old town with whitewashed houses and cobbled streets. You’ll visit museums and churches in the morning, take a swim in the crystal clear waters in the afternoon, or snooze under an umbrella on the beach. Alicante’s modern streetcar system makes it easy to get from one end of the city to the other.
Santa Bárbara Fortress
Santa Barbara Fortress | Photo: wikimedia
When you come to Alicante, you just can’t ignore its rich historical past, because the city was built at the base of the magnificent 9th century Santa Barbara Castle. This fortification has been involved in military action more than once and is impeccably preserved.
You can take a high-speed elevator up to the top of the mountain, and for the adventurous, there is a winding trail that leads to the entrance. It’s best to take the whole day to see Santa Barbara, as there is so much to see and do.
Climb up to the rooftop observation deck, which offers a breathtaking view of the city, and explore the ancient rooms of the castle, which contain curious artifacts. There is a market in the courtyard selling trinkets and handmade souvenirs. You can take a break from antiquity in one of the many cafes.
Address: Castell de la Santa Bàrbara, 03002 Alacant, Spain.
Boulevard Esplanade | Photo: wikimedia.
Alicante’s marble-lined promenade is very easy to navigate, as it starts in the old town and stretches along the beach area and port. In most Spanish cities, family walks along the waterfront are an integral part of life, so be sure to take a stroll along the Esplanade to soak up the values of the Spanish way of life.
The promenade offers stunning views of the coast, and after dark in the summer, this brightly lit road offers a salubrious, fresh sea breeze.
Address: Explanada de España, Alicante, Spain.
El Palmeral Park
El Palmeral Park | Photo: Roger Toledo. / Flickr.
With its lush vegetation, waterfalls and lots of palm trees, El Palmeral Park is a little piece of Eden located very close to the city center. Once here, you will immediately come across a small waterfall, a nice manicured garden or a bridge next to the waterfall.
The park has restrooms and a small kiosk where you can buy food and drinks, but we advise you to take your picnic food with you as it is expensive here. In this cozy park you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy getting to know the local flora.
Address: Parque el Palmeral, Avinguda d’Elx, 109, 03008 Alacant, Spain.
Museum of Modern Art.
Museum of Modern Art.
This magnificent museum, housed in the 17th century Casa de la Acegurada, displays a superb collection of 20th century Spanish art, including works by Dali, Miró, Chillida, Sempere, Tapies and Picasso.
The exhibit is constantly changing, as the entire collection is too impressive. It is based on an artwork donated to the city by the famous abstractionist Eusebio Sempere (born in Alicante), who has a section dedicated to his work.
Address: Museu d’Art Contemporani Maca, Plaza Sta. María, 3, 03002 Alicante (Alacant), Alicante, Spain.
Archeological Museum of Alicante.
Archeological Museum of Alicante. | Photo: wikimedia.
This museum houses an impressive collection of ceramics and artifacts of ancient Iberian art. Everything here is decorated in a very modern style, and there are interactive screens for the convenience of visitors. There are also regular temporary exhibitions.
Address: Museu Arqueològic d’Alacant MARQ, Placa Dr. Gómez Ulla, S/N, 03013 Alacant, Spain.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral
Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Alacant.
In the center of the city not far from the town hall there is Saint Nicholas Cathedral of XVII century built and named in honor of the patron saint of Alicante – Saint Nicholas. Although the cathedral looks rather plain, its imposing interior will definitely leave a strong impression on you.
The sumptuous gilded altar and the magnificent Chapel of Holy Communion deserve special attention. This unique historical monument is an example of the Herrera style, the architectural school of Spain of the 16th and 17th centuries. Herrera buildings are notable for their severe façades and clear geometric lines.
Address: Concatedral d’Alacant Sant Nicolau de Bari, Plaza del Abad Penalva, Alicante, Spain.
Casco Antiguo District
Casco Antiguo district.
This old part of Alicante, a bit like a village, is located near the center of the city. Casco Antiguo stretches along the hillside below the castle and to get around you’ll have to tackle its steep streets and stairs hidden between high whitewashed walls.
The locals take pride in their homes, decorating the balconies and sills with fresh flowers and painting the door shutters blue and green. If you need a break, grab a bite to eat in one of the many cafes and restaurants that abound in this part of town.
Address: Barri Vell – Santa Creu, Alicante, Spain.
Marina The Marina.
Alicante boasts a picturesque and spacious marina with huge breakwaters. There are always a lot of yachts and private boats, and the local yacht club is bustling day and night. The harbor is very popular with tourists, so there are all sorts of cafes and restaurants nearby, where you can have a quiet coffee while admiring the sea horizon.
The waterfront is an ideal place for daytime strolls under the bright sun. At night it gets even busier. Go here for a romantic dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants, which have a gorgeous view of the marina.
Address: Marina Deportiva del Puerto, Muelle 8 Zona de Levante, s/n, 03001 Alicante, Spain.
Santa Maria Church
Church of Santa Maria.| Photo: wikimedia.
The Basilica of Santa Maria, located in the historic quarter of Santa Cruz, is the oldest church in Alicante. It was built by Catholic monarchs in the 13th century on the site of a former mosque. Originally it had a Gothic appearance, but then in the XVIII century it was rebuilt in Baroque style.
The main exterior facade has a sculpture of the Virgin Mary by Juan Bautista Borja. Inside, look out for the Rococo main altar and the exquisite chapels.
Address: Esglesia de Santa Maria d’Alacant, Plaza Santa María, Alicante, Spain.
Archeological Museum of Lucentum
The Archaeological Museum of Lucentum. | Photo: wikimedia.
Ruins of the Roman city of Lucentum, considered the predecessor of Alicante, are located about 3 kilometers east of the city center in Tossal de Manises. During the excavations, archaeologists found many samples of earthenware.
You can see the outlines of ancient streets and the ruins of baths, a forum, a large house with a columned courtyard and other ancient Roman dwellings.
Address: Lucentum Ruinas Romanas, 03016 Alacant, Spain.
City Hall. | Photo: wikimedia.
City Hall building is located just behind the park Explanada de Espana near the Plaza Puerta del Mar. The majestic Baroque building is characterized by a beautiful Churrigueresque façade and two imposing towers 35 metres high.
By the stairs leading up to the building you will find a topographic marker, the zero marker used in Spain to measure height above sea level. Once inside, be sure to enter the incredibly beautiful Blue Room (Salón Azul). It is also home to a number of curious paintings by the legendary Dali.
Address: Ajuntament d’Alacant, Plaça de l’Ajuntament, 1, 03002 Alacant, Spain.
Postiguet Beach. | Photo: wikimedia.
Beach Postiguet, which is considered as one of the most beautiful beaches in Alicante. It is truly huge and stretches along the entire city all the way to neighboring San Juan. Spending a few hours on the stunning white sands washed by clear blue waters will allow you to forget about the hustle and bustle of the city.
At the height of the summer season, Alicante attracts thousands of tourists, and many come here because of Postiguet Beach, so it is always crowded. However, do not despair, because you can go sunbathing in less popular and famous areas where there are no crowds.
Walk along the promenade away from the city center toward the opposite end of the beach to enjoy a more relaxed experience. There are beach bars here where you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the sea. At sunset, it makes sense to stroll along the promenade and pop into one of the many beach restaurants for some local food.
The address is Platja del Postiguet, Carrer de Jovellanos, Alicante, Spain.
Gabriel Miró Square
Gabriel Miró Square.
This charming and romantic park with its giant green trees symbolizes the locals’ tribute to the famous writer Gabriel Miró. A magnificent fountain with classical statues adorns the center of the square, and a bust of Gabriel Miró himself can be found at one end of the square.
On the edges of the square are magnificent Art Nouveau buildings and other monumental buildings. You can go here for a walk to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city (the square is not far from the center). Visitors can relax on the terrace or take a leisurely stroll around the centuries-old trees in the park.
Address: Plaza Gabriel Miró, 03001 Alicante, Spain.
The Volvo Ocean Race Museum
Volvo Ocean Race Museum | Photo: Jose Luis RDS / Flickr.
The museum is dedicated to the rich history of the famous Volvo Ocean Race. It shows visitors photos and videos of past races and offers the opportunity to take a ride on a 3d simulator to experience the incredible spirit of the race. Here you can see one of the yachts taking part in the race: how about jumping on board and spending 10 months here on the high seas?
Address: Museo Volvo Ocean Race, Muelle Levante, 10, 03001 Alicante, Spain.
Central Market | Photo: wikimedia.
If you like to cook for yourself, there’s no reason not to go to this large indoor market on Alfonso el Sabio Avenue. Spain’s central markets are more like temples of food, and Alicante is no exception. Here you’ll find plenty of fish and meat stalls and you’ll find true culinary inspiration along the way!
The seafood stands are a particular pride of the market: their stalls are almost always full of fresh crabs, lobsters, squid and other delicious seafood. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also in abundance, along with local delicacies like tourrona and the sweet dessert wine, Mistela.
Address: Mercat Central d’Alacant, Avenida Alfonso El Sabio, Alicante, Spain.
New Tabarca Island
New Tabarca Island | Photo: santapolero / Flickr.
Not far from the coast of Alicante is an amazing island called Tabarca. Here is a picturesque little town with white houses and an old church. It is very easy to get to the island, because boats leave from the port of Alicante daily.
The boat trip itself will give you a lot of positive experiences, because the waters around Tabarca are considered a Mediterranean marine reserve for their outstanding beauty, amazing flora and fauna. There is a restaurant and a store on the island, but we recommend that you take your picnic essentials with you, as they can be pricey in the summer season.
There’s a beach and a small coastal path you can walk along, finding the perfect spot for a picnic under the bright Spanish sun. Be sure to bring sunscreen, as there’s nowhere to hide from its rays!
Address: Nova Tabarca, Spain.
Elche Palm Forest
Elche Palm Forest. | Photo: wikimedia.
About 20 minutes west of Alicante is the city of Elche where you will find the largest palm forest in Europe which was planted by the first Muslims who settled here in the early Middle Ages. There are more than 200,000 trees, most of which are of the phoenix dactylifera species.
Interestingly, these trees have never been on the territory of Spain – they appeared here only with the arrival of the Moors. The forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the best way to experience it is to walk the Ruta del Palmeral, a circular hiking trail that begins and ends at the San Placido Garden.
Address: El Palmeral, Passeig de l’Estació, s/n, 03202 Elx, Alacant, Spain.
Sightseeing in Alicante – a must-see
Alicante is a popular Spanish resort that attracts travelers not only to the seashores and scorching sun, but also to sightseeing sites. Alicante, whose attractions spoil the tourist with their diversity, is sure to take you away for a few days from the gentle waters of the sea and plunge you into an ocean of history, culture and scenic locations. Importantly, most of the notable places can be visited on your own.
To make it easier for you to navigate the sites we describe, we suggest you find them on the map of attractions in Alicante. We have placed it at the bottom of this page. So, what can you see on your own in the city?
Santa Barbara Castle
The first thing to see in Alicante is, of course, the Santa Barbara Castle, perched on top of Mount Benacantil at 166 meters above sea level. Being one of the largest medieval buildings in Spain, it has become the main symbol of the city. The fortress is located in the heart of Alicante, right by the sea coast, it is visible from almost any point of the resort, so the ancient structure is often used as a landmark. The landmark is equipped with a modern elevator, which can be used for a small fee. At the top of the castle, tourists can enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the city buildings and seascapes.
A detailed description of the castle with photos is presented in this article.
Santa Cruz area
If you are worried about what to see in Alicante on your own, we would recommend the Santa Cruz neighborhood. It is the oldest quarter of the city which was built back in the 13th century when the Moors lived in Alicante. That is why today the Santa Cruz neighborhood is more oriental than European.
The Santa Cruz neighborhood is interesting with its winding streets, lined with neat white houses with blue shutters. It is noteworthy that the buildings are located on different heights, thereby creating a unique relief of the quarter. It is simply pleasant to wander here leisurely and immerse yourself in the era of the Middle Ages. Santa Cruz is still a residential neighborhood today. A surprising fact is that most of the tourist routes bypass this area, so it is always sparsely populated and even lacks the traditional souvenir and wine shops.
The site is located at the foot of Mount Benacantil, not far from Santa Barbara Castle, which is very convenient. After all, you can see two famous locations on your own at once.
Esplanade of Spain
The description of the sights of Alicante with photos would be incomplete without including the famous Esplanade de España. This is the main resort alley that separates the city center from the coast. A distinctive feature of the pedestrian boulevard was its pavement depicting a repeating wave in a 3-D effect. Six million ceramic pieces painted in blue, white and red line the sidewalk in such a way that it appears as if its surface is uneven, running in a slow wave. Such an optical deception certainly gives visitors to the alley an entertaining visual experience: many tourists, not believing their eyes, bend over to the tiles and try to feel them in order to fix the deception of vision.
The Esplanade Boulevard already existed at the beginning of the 19th century, but it acquired its modern appearance only at the end of the 20th century. Today the avenue has become a real epicenter of resort life, especially boiling in the evening. On the Esplanade you’ll find a spacious flowered promenade, a promenade with restaurants serving seafood (and more), and souvenir stores with authentic trivia. At weekends, the boulevard is filled with street dancers and musicians: here you can enjoy a fiery flamenco and listen to live Spanish music. The attraction is easy to see on your own, without the help of a guide. Address: Paseo de la, Passeig Esplanada d’Espanya, 11, 03002 Alicante, Spain.
Santa Maria Basilica
In photos of Alicante sights you can often see a small church with an eye-catching facade. It is the Basilica of Santa Maria, the oldest church in the city, built in the 14th century on the ruins of a Moorish mosque. Over the following centuries, the church was repeatedly rebuilt and expanded with new details. The modern appearance of Santa Maria was acquired by the beginning of the 18th century and since then, the church has remained virtually unchanged.
The dominant styles in the basilica’s architecture are Gothic and Baroque. The unquestionable adornment of the temple is its Baroque carved facade, the central figure of which is the Virgin Mary. The shrine is flanked by two simple stone towers with miniature balconies. One of them is decorated by an old but still functioning clock.
It’s worth seeing the attraction not only from the outside but also from the inside. Within the walls of the basilica visitors will find a gilded Rococo altar and an ancient organ (16th century). The walls of the church are decorated with large-scale paintings depicting scenes from the Bible. It is easy to visit the basilica on your own, taking into account the information below.
- Opening hours: The site is open Monday through Saturday mornings from 10:30 to 13:00 and in the evenings from 17:00 to 21:00. Sunday – closed (except for special holidays).
- Cost of admission: free.
- Address: Plaza Sta. María, 1, 03001 Alicante, Spain.
Archeological Museum of Alicante
When answering the question of what to see in Alicante and its surroundings on your own, it is impossible not to mention the Archaeological Museum of the city. It was voted the best museum in Europe in 2004, which should be a good reason to visit the institution.
The gallery consists of 5 halls, where in total there are more than 81 thousand objects, covering various historical eras. In the museum, you’ll see artifacts from the primitive period and Iberian culture, explore Roman and medieval history, and look at exhibits from the modern world. The exhibits are very informative, equipped with all possible technical means (light, sound, visuals), which makes them as interactive and fascinating as possible.
The rules of the institution allow you to touch some of the exhibits, which will especially appeal to younger visitors. The glass floor in the museum deserves special attention, strolling on which you can look at a shipwreck and ancient ruins. You will need at least 1-1.5 hours to visit the institution on your own and explore all its exhibits.
- Hours of operation: June 16 through September 15, the attraction is open Tuesday through Saturday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. From September 16 through June 15, the attraction is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Throughout the year, the institution is open on Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday is a day off.
- Cost of admission: 3 €.
- Address: Placa Dr. Gómez Ulla, S/N, 03013 Alacant, Alicante, Spain.
- Official site: www.marqalicante.com
The Ocean Race Museum
While studying photos with descriptions of attractions in Alicante, Spain, we came across a curious object called “The Ocean Race”. It is a gallery dedicated to the round-the-world sailing regatta and yachting. It features numerous photos of yachtsmen as well as videos of the races. Here you can learn about the everyday life of the athletes during their voyages around the world and the work they do on the ship. The exhibit perfectly demonstrates the ability of man to withstand the elements on the water.
Inside the gallery, stands tell the history of the regatta, demonstrate ship design and describe navigation. There is a yacht simulator in the museum, where everyone can try to control it on their own. At the exit there is a souvenir shop. It is important to keep in mind that all materials and videos are provided in English and Spanish. First of all this place will be interesting for the lovers of sailing.
- Opening hours: From October 1 to June 23, the museum is open Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 14:00 and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 to 18:00. From June 25 to September 29, the attraction is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday is a day off.
- Cost of attendance: free of charge. It is possible to form an individual group with a guide: the price will be 1,5 € per person.
- Address: Muelle Levante, 10, 03001 Alicante, Spain.
- Official website: https://www.museotheoceanrace.com/
Museum of Modern Art
Among the attractions of Alicante and its surroundings is another museum, this time dedicated to contemporary art. This is a large gallery spread over four floors and it includes more than 170 paintings of the brightest masters of the 20th century. Inside you can look at works by Dali, Chagall, Matt, Picasso and many other artists. The main goal of the institution is to educate about artistic modernism and abstractionism.
The core of the gallery is a collection of works by Eusebio Sempere, a Spanish painter and sculptor born in Alicante, who donated some of his works to the municipality. After the death of the maestro, the institution acquired more than a hundred more of his works for its collection, among which the watercolor paintings and chrome sculptures deserve special attention. A distinctive feature of Sempere’s sculptural creations was the realization in them of the optical-geometric illusion characteristic of an artistic movement such as Op Art. You can see the gallery on your own, armed with the information below.
- Opening hours: The attraction is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00 and on Sundays from 10:00 to 14:00. Monday is closed.
- Cost of admission: free.
- Address: Plaza Sta. María, 3, 03002 Alicante, Spain.
- Official site: www.maca-alicante.es
Another attraction of Alicante in Spain is the city’s Central Market. Even the building itself, where the largest bazaar in Alicante is located, causes genuine interest. The building was designed by the Spanish architect-modernist E. S. Cedeño, and by 1921 the structure opened its doors. It has a Gothic flavor and is richly decorated with ceramics and stucco.
As for the market itself, it has plenty to offer: 292 stalls. Buyers have a choice of different sorts of cheeses, meat for every taste (among other things, everyone’s favorite ham), fresh mushrooms, fruits and vegetables. But most of all, the central market is famous for its variety of seafood: fresh fish, shrimp, mussels, crabs, octopus, etc.
Many tourists, however, come to the Central Market to see, not to buy, as the prices are twice as much as in regular supermarkets. It is easy enough to visit the market on your own, and a single trip will be enough to plunge into the atmosphere of a modern Spanish bazaar.
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 07:00 to 14:30, on Saturdays and on the eve of the holidays – 07:00 to 15:00. Closed Sunday.
- Address: Av. Alfonso El Sabio, 10, 03002 Alicante, Spain.
- Official website: www.alicante.es/es/equipamientos/mercado-central
The Alicante Tram
If you’re traveling alone in Alicante, don’t miss the opportunity to take the streetcar to the famous Spanish resort of Benidorm. The streetcar is not really a streetcar, but a combination of subway, train and streetcar in one vehicle. Part of the route it follows above ground, part of it in tunnels underground. During the ride there are picturesque views of the local scenery from the windows, so it’s worth keeping your camera handy.
The streetcar itself is characterized by classic comfort: it almost always has free seats, air conditioning inside works, and there are terminals to pay the fare. In some areas of the route, the train reaches speeds of up to 90 km/h. Travel time in one direction takes about 73 minutes. Some tourists arrange a kind of streetcar tour and go on a simple trip to Benidorm and back, while others make a stop at the resort and see its sights. Decide for yourself which option would be more interesting for you and we will share some practical information with you.
- Departure time: see the detailed timetable on the official website.
- Journey costs: 3,85 € one way.
- Address: Tram leaves from Alicante-Luceros station.
- Official website: www.tramalacant.es
Down on the map of Alicante in Spain, there are also landmarks remote from the city. One of them is the valley of Guadaleste, which is located 76 km northeast of Alicante. The terrain is formed by three of the highest ranges in the province, the height of which ranges from 1000 to 1600 meters. The tiny town of Guadaleste, spread out in the valley, with a population of no more than 250 inhabitants, has long been considered one of the most visited places in Spain. There are nine museums in and around its territory.
The main attraction of the area is the artificial lake built in the 1970s of the 20th century. Of equal interest is the San Jose Castle, built in the 12th century by the Moors and combining two fortresses. In one of them (in the tower) there is an observation deck from which you can see the most spectacular panoramas of the valley with the lake and the ridges.
- Opening hours: The city galleries and the castle can be visited daily from 10:00 to 20:00.
- Cost to visit: to get into the San Jose Castle, you need to buy a ticket to the museum “House of the Ordoña”. The price for an adult is 4 €, for a child 2 €.
- Address: Marina Baixa, 03517 Alicante, Spain.
- Official website: www.guadalest.es
Alicante, whose attractions are quite versatile, undoubtedly deserves the attention of travelers. We hope that you will enjoy visiting this corner of Spain and that you will get the chance to see it with your own eyes and appreciate its beauty for yourself.
All prices and schedules on this page are for January 2020.
All the attractions described in the article, as well as beaches of Alicante are marked on the map in Russian.
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