When visiting a new town or city, one of the fun things to do is exploring the local attractions which, besides giving us a feel for the history of the place we're visiting, enables us to orientate ourselves and discover hidden gems that are not on the tourist map. Visitors to Alicante will find the city is easy enough to get around on foot, and when the sun reaches its zenith and the heat is too much, there is always a nearby park or plaza offering welcoming shade and the chance to stop for a while and enjoy a refreshing drink in a roadside bar or cafe.
Alicante's City Attractions
Running parallel to the marina and harbour area, the wonderful Explanada de España is one of the city centre's most famous attractions and is recognised as one of the most beautiful seafront promenades in Spain. Constructed in 1876 and incorporating a whopping 6.6 million tricolour marble tiles in its design, this is a great area to enjoy an evening stroll while catching the sea breeze and listening to the street musicians.
A visit to Alicante would not be complete without exploring the impressive Santa Bárbara Castle which sits atop Benacantil Mountain and offers superb views over the city and sea. Many visitors choose to take the handy lift up to the castle, and after their tour head back down to the city centre on foot along the castle walls and through the lovely Ereta Park to the old town. There are several other city parks, the most central being Canalejas which is nearly as old as the explanada and boasts a huge and ancient ficus tree, so large its boughs need supporting.
Bargain hunters and those looking for gifts to take home will find several street markets, an artisans flea market and the city's excellent indoor central market boasting two levels of the regions finest fresh produce. The city's museums offer delightful attractions for all the family where the young ones can enjoy pretty nativity scenes in the Belenes Museum, dads will surely marvel at the beauty and size of the yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race Museum, and for a bit of art and culture there is the Archaeological Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art.
El Palmeral Park lies on the outskirts of the city and is similar to the famous palm groves of Elche, although not nearly as large but a wonderful place to visit during the heat of the day with its abundant shade, lake and waterfall. A bit further afield are the picturesque natural parks of Serra del Maigmó and Serra del Mariola that cover vast areas and boast an interesting array of flora & fauna including an abundance of wild herbs. Throughout both parks there are numerous hiking trails and opportunities for mountain biking and rock climbing.
If Alicante's city markets are not enough and you have access to a vehicle, there are many other excellent markets to explore within an hour's drive from the city. Torrevieja‘s Friday Market is the largest with over 1,200 stalls on most market days selling just about everything you could imagine a market stall to offer. For collectors and antique dealers flea markets are the place to visit, and the one at Jalon also offers the chance to sample the region's famous wine from the bodega (winery) across the road. El Cisne on the outskirts of Benidorm is the most popular flea market on the Costa Blanca, and the place you may find that hidden treasure.