The Costa Blanca’s buzzing Port City of Alicante offers far more than a sandy beach and a night out!
I have to admit, I was perplexed by my Mum’s choice of Alicante for a family holiday this Autumn. (Later I realised she had confused it with somewhere else…oops!) I was anticipating a city of loud, drunken tourists and beaches of sun burnt bodies snoozing in the sun. Instead, I left having discovered there is so much to this Costa Blanca gem that will surprise you!
- Sunset from Santa Bárbara Castle
Rising above the port of Alicante stands Monte Benacantil at 166m tall. It is topped by the sprawling Santa Bárbara castle. Take a hike (or if you’re feeling lazy like we were, the car) up to the top about an hour before sunset to explore. The photo above is a classic Alicante view as golden hour shines on the castle! On a clear evening make your way up to La Torreta to watch as the sun fades behind the mountains on the horizon.
2. Mushroom Street (Calle San Francisco)
Yes you really did read (and see) that correctly. This surreal street is not from a children’s movie set but is in the middle of Alicante old town. For very obvious reasons, Calle San Francisco is also know as ‘Mushroom Street’. For a long time this street was a no-go area but in 2013 changes were made; 10ft high mushroom characters were constructed to rise out of the newly painted green and yellow cobblestones, complete with hopscotch and slides for kids to enjoy!
3. Drinks with a view
As you walk up colourful Calle Mayor towards Basilica Santa Maria, look out for Be Alicante on your right and make your way up to its rooftop bar. It was the perfect place for me to rest my weary legs! The view offers such an incredible perspective of the oldest active church in Alicante. There was even a wedding taking place when I visited and I joined in watching for the bride to arrive with some Spanish tourists who were (definitely) enjoying their drinks on the terrace as well!
4. White sandy beaches
Visiting Alicante you’re spoilt for choice with beaches. We decided to drive to Playa San Juan, just North of Alicante for an afternoon of beach napping and swimming. You can take the tram from Alicante to this beach as well. The tourists hordes of the Summer had all but gone from the 3km stretch of white sand and we could enjoy a nice big patch of beach instead of being so awkwardly close to other people you accidentally chuck sand on their towels. In October, the weather and the sea temperature were both perfect to swim, dry off and snooze comfortably!
5. Santa Cruz neighbourhood
There is nowhere prettier to get lost in Alicante than in amongst the dazzling white streets of Santa Cruz, reminiscent of a sailors town. Hanging plants and brightly painted flower pots fill every gap whilst locals were relaxing outside their doors. The steps may be steep but it is worth it for the streets and the views.
I saw a number of photos of the street above before visiting and it took a little while to work out where it was! If you’re on the lookout, it’s Calle de San Antonio and is one of the highest streets that you climb to.
Visiting Alicante I really learnt not to judge a city by its reputation! There are so many hidden gems and streets full of character to enjoy, every way you turn.
Have you ever judged a place before visiting to find your view completely transformed? Leave a comment to let me know!