Euro City Guide: Alicante
Located on the Mediterranean Sea right in between Valencia and Murcia, this beautiful, scenic part of Spain is the best part to visit if you're looking for classic Spanish beach towns. Alicante is the main city on this part of the coast, but I've heard great things about the surrounding towns and beaches, Benidorm being one example. Alicante is definitely a bit of a party town with a large expat community, but that doesn't make it inauthentic in the slightest. You can find whatever you're looking for here! If you'd prefer to go to all of the expat/tourist bars that can be fun, but there are also plenty of great, local tapas bars.
I happened to visit during Carnival, and little did I know that Alicante has the biggest Carnival celebration, and one of the largest in all of Europe. This was a pretty cool surprise and made for an unforgettable experience. So if you can, I'd recommend visiting during Carnival! We booked an Airbnb just a bit north of the city, which ended up being a really great decision since the Carnival parties last all night (and I'm tryna sleep).
We arrived in Alicante by train, which was a 2 hour Renfe ride from Atocha Station in Madrid. Alicante has excellent public transit, and there was a bus stop just outside the door of our apartment that took us into the city center in about 5 minutes. Alicante also has a metro/light rail network, so you can get pretty much anywhere in the area using that, walking and biking. They also have an international airport with flights from northern Europe pretty often, and the ALSA bus in Spain can get you there for cheap.
There aren't a ton of historical sights in Alicante, most people come here to party and go to the beach. But there are a few, and I'd definitely recommend checking them out. It's a pretty, old Spanish city, so you won't get bored wandering around here.
Playa del Postiguet. This is Alicante's main beach. It's right in the city center, so easy to access. After walking around the old town and stopping for a large Spanish lunch and some drinks, head over here and pass out sunbathing for a few hours. It's got great views in all directions, with the sea in front of you and the Santa Barbara castle in the background rising above the old town's buildings. Despite going in the middle of February, it was still warm enough to lay out on the beach.
Esplanade. This is kind of like the city's "boardwalk". It's essentially just a walkway between the beach and the old town, but you'll find shops, restaurants, and bars along here so it's nice (but they're all pretty touristy and overpriced). It is cool though if you want to grab drinks with a sea view!
Barrio de Santa Cruz. Alicante's old town can be pretty slow and quiet during the day, but at night it essentially turns into a street party. Walk around here during the day for cool buildings and architecture (if you're into that), but definitely come back at night to go out.
Carnival. Obviously this is only an annual event, but it was the coolest experience. If you happen to visit during Carnival, hang out in Santa Cruz on the Ramblas for an insane party.
Castell de Santa Barbara. When you first arrive in the city, you'll notice a pretty stunning castle on a hill. This is the city's main site, and it's worth checking out. You can either hike up to the top or take an elevator. I showed up a couple of hours before they closed and didn't have the time to hike it, but if you have a few extra hours it's a great idea! You'll get awesome views of the city as you hike. The castle is a whole massive complex of buildings and ruins, so I'd really recommend taking a few hours in the afternoon/evening, then staying for the sunset, which is stunning. You'll be rewarded with amazing views of the city and the Mediterranean.
Il Bocca al Lupo. Great Italian spot. Portions are small, so order appetizers. The prices are good though, and the food is excellent. Sit outside in the plaza, and relax with some pasta and wine. Wait staff is super friendly too.
Sip and Wonder. Cute breakfast spot! This one of my favorite spots in the city. The inside is cozy and welcoming, and it would be a great place to sit and get some work done. Great food and coffee, tons of healthy options.
Bodeguita 1999. Traditional Spanish tapas bar with an incredible vegetarian paella and amazing wine. A bit more of a splurge, so come here to really treat yourself to a nice dinner. Despite being a super touristy city, we were the only tourists in there, so it's more of a local spot.
Madness Specialty Coffee. Cute, little coffee shop tucked into the streets of Santa Cruz. They have great coffee and Spanish breakfast with a modern twist (if that makes sense). I highly recommend it! Also would be a good place to get some work done.
Sale & Pepe. I think this place is a chain, but it's an excellent Italian spot and just a solid option for good food in Alicante. The service, food, and prices are all good.
Altabirra. Cool, little brewery hidden on a quiet, residential street. Fun spot with great craft brews, some snacks, and games.
Soho. This is the only bar in Santa Cruz that I remember the name of (lol). Cheap drinks and good vibes, but honestly that's the case with every bar in Santa Cruz so just wander around here and walk in wherever looks good to you!
Visit Alicante! It's a fun little city, and a great place to just get away, sit by the beach and relax. The city's got a really great vibe, and everyone is kind and friendly. If you're looking for a Spanish beach vacation that's more of a party vibe, this is your place. Enjoy it!
Check out more pics of Alicante on my Flickr.