5 reasons to visit Alicante
With an average of 3,000 sunshine hours a year, it will come as no surprise that Alicante has made its name as one Spain’s most popular spots for sun-seeking holidaymakers. The city is small, compact and dynamic and, no matter where you are, you are never far from one of its great beaches. For those willing to venture slightly further afield, check out the seven-kilometer long stretch of golden sand and blue water just outside the city at Playa San Juan.
Having spent the day lazing on the beach, watch and marvel as Alicante undergoes its transformation from sleepy seaside town to buzzing nightlife spot. Within easy strolling distance of the city’s beaches is Alicante’s charming old town, or casco antiguo. Start off in any one of the winding streets in this delightful barrio, and soon you will be stumbling from restaurant to tapas bar to wine bar to cocktail bar without a care in the world. Be warned: the nightlife scene here is absolutely legendary so, before you know it, you may find yourself being twirled around a dance floor by the notoriously friendly locals.
For the more refined visitors, the stunning architecture and countless winding alleyways of the old town make a visit to Alicante worth your while. Art and history buffs will delight in the city’s excellent selection of well-curated museums that encourage you to delve into anything from ancient archeology to contemporary art.
5 reasons to visit Alicante:
Alicante isn’t all boozy parties and fun in the sun. The city’s excellent Museum of Contemporary Art (MACA) is housed inside a stunning 17th-century mansion and features an impressive collection of Spanish 20th-century works from artists including Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Tàpies and Chillida.
Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art
Plaza Santa María, 3, Alicante
Show on map
Alicante’s main market is a feast for all the senses. Built with modernist-inspired features in the style of a basilica, it houses 292 market stalls, mostly owned by families from in and around Alicante. Pick up all the ingredients you need for a spectacularly fresh dinner, including local seafood, such as the famous Denia red prawn, tuna steaks, sardines, crabs, cockles and mussels, and brightly colored vegetables, or stock up on plump stuffed olives, Spanish jamón (ham) and home-made sausages to take back home.
Avenida d ‘Alfons X El Sabio, 8, Alicante
Show on map
Drink the day away
A new tradition has gained popularity in Alicante in recent years: the so-called tardeo, which roughly translates as nightlife enjoyed in the afternoon. On weekends, Alicante locals can be seen taking the practice of tapas-bar-hopping to a new level, gathering in the central market square before lunchtime, for tapas, beer, and lively conversation. The whole thing gets decidedly rowdy well before sunset so it’s best to join early to avoid getting left behind.
Plaza 25 de Mayo, Alicante
Show on map
Saturdays and Sundays from around noon
Let them eat rice
Rice is to Spaniards what pasta is to Italians. And while everyone has heard of Valencian paella – a rice dish made in its most authentic form with chicken, rabbit and snails – it is worth remembering that, while all paellas are rice, all rice is not paella. In fact, many of the best varieties of Spanish rice come, not from Valencia, but from neighboring Alicante.There are countless rice joints in Alicante, so we will make things easy by recommending three: Paco Gandía, favored by Ferran Adrià, the world-renowned chef of El Bulli fame, the wonderfully authentic Restaurante Casa Elías, and La Taberna del Gourmet, headed by Michelin-star chef María José San Román, most famous for her unforgettable rice dishes.
La Taberna del Gourmet
Calle San Fernando, 10, Alicante
Show on map
The ultimate sailing challenge
The Volvo Ocean Race is challenge like no other, testing team and human spirit to the utmost limits. Alicante has provided the starting point of the last two editions of the toughest, most celebrated race in sailing, and the 2017-2018 edition is no different. Opening with an in-port race in Alicante, the Volvo Ocean Race will take the world’s most skillful, fearless sailors some 45,000 nautical miles around the world, across four oceans, six continents and 12 host cities.If you don’t make it to the in-port race on October 14th, or the start of the first leg on October 22nd, a visit to Alicante’s Volvo Ocean Race museum is the next best thing. Situated in the heart of the city’s bustling waterfront, the Volvo Ocean Race Museum offers an enthralling, family-friendly insight into the 45-year history of sailing’s most prestigious contest.
Volvo Ocean Race Museum
Puerto de Alicante, Muelle 10 de Levante
Show on map
Text: Isabelle Kliger