Alicante - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Alicante


Alicante is situated on the east coast of Spain and is the centre of the popular Costa Blanca holiday region. Although Mediterranean in style, Alicante also has has an African flavour with women clad in caftans and hawkers selling African carvings along the waterfront and esplanades. Alicante's historical central district, though, is filled with Baroque buildings, bearing testimony to the city's rich history when it was a major seaport.

The main thoroughfare of the city is the Rambla, lined with palm trees, outdoor cafes and ice-cream parlours serving the unusual local drink, horchata, made with almonds. There are shops aplenty, parks and gardens, marble paved plazas and the broad Explanada d'Espanya encircling the yacht harbour with its mosaic promenade. Visitors come to Alicante mainly for the beaches, particularly San Juan which sports villas, hotels and restaurants.

The city has an international airport that makes it the gateway to the nearby package tour resorts such as Benidorm and Torrevieja, and ensures that the city is crowded with tourists during the holiday season. Alicante's energy reaches a peak during the last week of June each year when holiday makers and locals alike throw themselves into celebrating the unrivalled fiesta of Saint Joan.

Information & Facts


Holiday makers in Alicante will have a hard time trying their hand at all the activities on offer. With its miles of golden beaches, plunging valleys and high mountains, Alicante is the perfect travel destination for outdoor activities. Go mountain biking, horse riding, trekking or hiking through Sierra de Aitana Mountain, located in the north of the Alicante province or discover the marine life off the shores on Costa Blanca on a scuba diving trip. Snorkel the shallows from the beach, stay afloat on kayaks, jetskis and boats or enjoy the views of Alicante from the ocean while windsurfing along the waves. Golfers will be able to hit the links at the Alicante Golf or El Plantío, two golf courses practically right down the road from Alicante.

Spanish is the official language, but English is widely understood in areas frequented by tourists. Catalan, Galician and Basque are spoken in the relevant areas.

Spain's official currency is the Euro (EUR). One Euro is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change and major hotels, but banks give the best rates. All major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining money.


Alicante can become extremely crowded during the summer months and travellers wanting a more relaxed and low-key holiday should look elsewhere.


With a resident population of more than 300,000, the low-season doesn't seem to affect Alicante as much as purpose-built holiday resorts like nearby Benidorm, and no matter what time of year you choose to visit, Alicante will be alive with music, food and entertainment. With a large variety of bars, nightclubs and cocktail lounges scattered throughout the resort, visitors will be hard pressed to name their favourite spot. The bars and clubs near the marina area seem to be the trendiest and are a hive of activity with tourists and young locals. El Barrio in Alicante's old quarter also features some great bars along its narrow streets and party animals looking to dance the night away will be pleased to know that most clubs carry on going until sunrise, including the Peurto Di Roma near the port, one of Alicante's biggest clubs, while El Zona, behind the Esplanada, is another great place for rocking bars, stylish clubs and sophisticated restaurants.


The Marine complex in Alicante is a good place to explore when it comes to eating out. El Buen Coma is great for tapas and local Spanish fare, while Parilla Libre Restaurant is a good place for steaks and other grills. Look out for restaurants like Casa Julio in San Juan, a favourite amongst visitors, serving everything from paella to potato tortillas and exquisite local seafood. During the day a good place to stop for a light meal or just a coffee is La Rambla Restaurant Bar where guests can sit on the pavement and enjoy watching the world go by, while Darsena Restaurant makes a great venue for a romantic meal.


Shopaholics will be pleased to know that they really can shop till they drop while on holiday in Alicante. During high season, shop opening hours stretch well into the evening, welcoming extra business and tourists hunting for souvenirs. In recent years, Alicante has developed a world-class shopping scene with new centres like the El Corte Ingles and the Plaza Mar 2 springing up. The streets between La Rambla and Avenida de Federica Soto are a great place to browse for souvenirs, while El Barrio in Alicante's Old Quarter is a popular holiday shopping area that is a swarm of activity on the weekends. The local craft markets are a good place for bargain hunting for authentic goods and inexpensive jewellery or leather goods, such as handbags and shoes, and Esplanada de Espana is the busiest market during the summer months.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October). The Canary Islands: GMT (GMT +1 in summer).

The impressive castle that towers over Alicante was originally built by the Carthaginians in 400 BC and later used by the Romans and Moors. The fortress is massive, encompassing moats, drawbridges, tunnels, cisterns and dungeons, not to mention a stately tower and keep. From the top of the castle there is a wonderful view of the bay and city. The castle can be accessed in an elevator from the Explanada d'Espanya.

For a change from beaches, just 12 miles (19km) inland west of Alicante is Europe's only palm forest, forming a lush oasis around the city of Elche (Elx). The city boasts several beautiful parks and public gardens. The Parque Municipal is one of the most popular, festooned with palm trees, grassy promenades and children's playgrounds. Most beautiful is the Hort del Cura, filled with shade trees and bright flowerbeds.

The tiny islet of Tabarca is becoming an increasingly popular day trip destination from Alicante, with its quiet fishing village offering an old fort, several very reasonably priced fresh seafood restaurants, a rocky beach with clear turquoise water, and several coves and tidal pools ideal for bathing. The island lies 10 miles (16km) south of Alicante and can be reached in an hour by ferry from the dock on Explanada d'Espanya in the city.

In the Plaza de Santa Maria stands Alicante's oldest building, a former granary dating from 1685. Ironically the city's oldest building contains its most notable modern art collection, donated by painter and sculptor Eusebio Sempere in 1977. Among the noteworthy paintings on display are those of Dali, Picasso, Calder and Miro.

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