Visiting Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain

Alicante is the provincial capital and 2nd most important city in the Valencian Community. Home to a cosmopolitan population, a beautiful marina, centuries of history and Spanish culture and the main airport hub for the millions of tourists each year.

However, there is much more than meets the eye to this wonderful part of Spain, and often overlooked as the tourists tend to head to the plentiful beaches on the Costa Blanca's Mediterranean Sea.

Shoppers will love it!

The Alicante region is a shoppers utopia and famous for quality vendors and international brands. Popular purchases are shoes, handbags and other leather goods. Jewellery is popular and it is a great place for fine foods and wine. Local produce to look out for in Alicante is chocolates, olive oils, nougat (known as turron), and Spanish wines or cava. Alicante beach front and promenade market is a haven for shoppers. You can wander around the seafront, al-fresco bars and the historic quarter to enjoy little curiosity shops, tapas, people watching as well as well-known brands. Alicante also has the famous Spanish department store "El Corte Ingles".

Sand, Sea and Sangria!

Yes Alicante has many beach areas. "Playa San Juan" is golden sands and "Playa del Postiguet" is closer to the marina and city. It is popular all-year-round with the Spanish and Alicante residents as Alicante enjoys mild winters as well as hot summers. If sand between the toes in not your thing then the marina and harbour complex (circa 1996) are well worth a look round. Here you will see luxury yachts, the Panoramis Centre and glass bottomed pleasure boat trips to Ibiza and Tabarca Island (recommended). Alicante has also seen many international boat races in recent times. Currently there is a floating museum Many of the annual fiestas, music concerts and cultural events take place in these areas. Check the Alicante Tourist website for a calendar of events.

Santa Barbara Castle

You cannot miss the Alicante castle towering above the harbour looking out for invading marauders! It's one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe and covers the complete summit of the Benacantil Mountain. Originally built by the Moors in 10th century but developed further many years later. Santa Barbara Castle has everything you would expect, cannons, a palace, dungeons, a moat, the ruins of a small church and of course that famous lookout tower. From all around the walls you get the most fantastic views: a definite photo opportunity. It is well worth the trip up there for the views alone (and free at time of writing). Walking is possible (for the fit and healthy) but a drive might save your energy.

Art, Museums and Culture

You cannot be bored in Alicante as it has a regular plethora of visitor centres, arts, music (including international acts) and traditional events. Check what is going on in the city well in advance. Fiestas paly a major part of the cultural calendar. They are spectacular and very popular, expect to see hotels booked up then. The Fogueres (San Juan Fires) is well worth staying for consisting of a parade of giant cartoon style characters (in themselves works-of-art) that are literally set fire to. Amazing! .. eat your heart out Guy Fawkes! Check out the Museo de Fogueres if you are not in the city for the fiesta.

Also, there is a Museum of Contemporary Art, A Nativity Museum and Museum of Archaeology with modern interactive audio-visuals. The Museo Taurino explains the Spanish Tradition of Bull Fighting. Whether you love or hate it, has been a part of Spanish culture for centuries.

Eating Out

Where do you start? Alicante is a cosmopolitan city and and such caters for all tastes, day and night. Alicante doesn't really sleep so eat late and take in the ambiance. And in the main city quarter the restaurants enjoy a great reputation for quality, freshly cooked dishes and great service. From trad' tapas bars, paella, Greek, French, Turkish, international and more to choose from you will not be disappointed. Your best bet is to check out TripAdvisor. If you want to try local then there are many many Spanish restaurants to eat in. Typical dishes of the region are: grilled red mullet in oil, bacaloa (salt cod) garlic and parsley, cured sausages like chorizo in red wine, fish stew bursting with saffron, paella Valenciana. Gazpacho is popular in the summer and we all love patatas bravas. and of course the variety of tapas and bocaditos (small sandwiches) is amazing.. try them all!

And that's only scratching the surface!

Do your homework before visiting Alicante or you will miss things of interest and events of great joy. And if you do you'll just have to come back for seconds!

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