If you are fantasizing about visiting a chill beach city with cheap flights Alicante could be your best bet in Southern Spain.
Beaches are numerous and stunning, food is fantastic, nightlife never stops and you can picture yourself already having another glass of wine and a tapa in the old Barrio quarter, on a night like that you will feel privileged to be part of Alicante’s long history, that started quite some time ago.
Strolling through Alicante or staying in Hannibal apartments in nearby Benidorm on a prime location at beautiful beach of La Cala: in this part of the Costa Blanca you will, one way or other, come across the name Hannibal, the famous general, who was a pain to the mighty Romans for so long and has been admired so much by later generals such as Napoleon and H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the general who based his Gulf-War strategy on invading sandy Kuwait under US president father Bush on Hannibal’s ingenious tactics. It’s true.
Well, it was Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barkas, who was the first to build a fort on the spot of today’s
Alicante. It was already named Agra Levki (white hill) by Greek traders, then the Romans called it Lucentum, the Light city, which became in Arabic Medina La-qant.
The moment you set eye on the brightness of Alicante, its splendid beaches, and surrounding hills, you know the Roman eyes coined it right.
Today the beaches of Postiguet and San Juan throw the best beach parties imaginable in summer at their chiringuitos (beach bars) and the El Puerto quarter is famous for its nightlife with tourists and locals.
The other nightlife area is El Barrio, and the eyeball (have a cocktail!) swinging Explanada de Espanya along El Puerto and the famous arterial road La Rambla cater for all types of people and tastes.
One advice: get here sooner than later, as Alicante has been discovered by more tourists from all over the world lately, many avoiding now overcrowded Barcelona, including the cruise ship industry.
No doubt Alicante is a top chill beach city and these fabulous beaches guarantee you lots of serious beach time.
Playa del Postiguet
This beach is one of the best city beaches you can dream of.
The sand shines golden, the water is clean and clear and as this palm tree surrounded beach is located at the foot of the famous Mount Benacantil with the Castillo de Santa Barbara, right in Alicante’s old Centro, you get it why Playa del Postiguet is the most popular beach with both locals and tourists.
Public transport makes it very easy to get here and you can just come here for a daily morning/evening swim or spend a full day here to enjoy the sun combined with reading, studying, or working on your website in the shade and meet with friends for drinks or dinner at the bars and restaurants.
The great Xiringuito Postiguet and kiosks are very conveniently located at the beach, across the road is the famous Arribal Roig Heladeria for ice creams or make your way for lunch or later to the Muelle Levante pier at the Puerto de Alicante at the southern end of Postiguet beach, which is filled with bars, restaurants and tabernas. One of them, the Ocean Race Club Volvo, next to the Ocean Race Museo (the Volvo Ocean Race headquarters are here in Alicante and the race starts here as well), is a very nice bar on a great spot after sunset!
If you happen to be around end June for a really special event, in the week just after the Bonfires of San Juan on 23rd June, the 7 -day long firework and pyrotechnic contests take place at Playa del Postiguet.
Playa de Albufereta
Continue North, and you get to another residential area with having the great luxury of having your own beach at your doorstep is L’Albufereta, although much smaller than Postiguet. The beach of Almadraba is at the other side of the Club Nautico Alicante Costa Blanca.
Playa de San Juan
Beach luxury of Alicante is all about having a choice!
The 7 kilometer long Playa de San Juan, around Cap l’ Horta, is great for water sport, swimming or long walks and boasts a feeling of freedom and space with wide views to the mountains and hinterland, in spite of the development along its bay. With only a short bike or public transport ride away from the center, this EU Blue Flag beach is very popular and maybe the busiest beach in summer months.
There are loads of facilities and bars/restaurants catering for day and night and for all varieties of suns and sea lovers from the Playa de San Juan area at the southern end of the beach at Playa Muchavista up north.
In summer months the social nightlife scene partially shifts to Playa de San Juan.
Playa de Campello
Around Cap Blau lies El Campello with the fabulous more harboured, smaller beach Playa de Campello,
great for a swim and lunch as reward at the end of your walk from the south. The coastline further North has got fantastic smaller hamlets, coves, and beaches to discover along the Autopista de Mediteránia and eventually gets you to the very well known popular (for a reason) tourist area of Benidorm.
Playa de los Saladares – Arenals del Sol
is a gem of a beach south of the city and close to the Airport and with its around 16 kilometers the longest beach in Alicante. Stretches of dunes lie in some areas of these beaches and you will find some great spots for lunch or sunset cocktails, like SameSame Bar Different in Arenals del Sol.
A much more relaxed beach, in between residential areas.
Cala dels Jueus to Cap de L’Horta
has a fabulous stretch of sandy rock beaches (Calas), such as La Calita Playa and Cala Cabo Huertes, away from the crowds and great for swimming and snorkeling. There are no bars or restaurants, which makes it great for the nature beach lover.
The very small volcanic island of Tabarca and its surrounding waters are a protected Marine Reserve, with an EU declared Bird protection Zone and an extraordinary variety of marine fauna and flora. An artificial reef protects the biodiversity and rich ecosystem. The last Monk Seal bred here in the 1960’s before becoming extinct in this part of the Mediterranean and the vast prairie of Posidonia, a type of seagrass is the largest in the Spanish Mediterranean and speeded up the status of the island as reserve ecosystem. Today 59 people live on the island, there is the church of St. Peter&Paul, a lighthouse, a couple of hotels and some restaurants with good food.
The sandy and rocky beaches are of course great for snorkeling. The island can be reached from Alicante, and also from Benidorm.
Any city with so many well developed and maintained beaches has to offer a value city life. And that is what proud Alicante has done for centuries. The city has become very popular and prosperous partially thanks to the tourist boom from the 1960’s onwards when the landscapes of Playa de San Juan and Albuferete changed hugely with the explosive development of hotels and apartments. The other side of success in the tourist industry so to speak, looking at today’s Barcelona in its struggle to keep tourists out.
The old center of Alicante is a real gem and consists of two quarters: the Casco Antiguo (or Historico) is the oldest part of the city, with the Basilica of Santa Barbara, the Ayuntamiento, the Mercat Central and the Teatro Principal, and the Barrio de Santa Cruz at the foot of Mount Benacantil. Both are a delight to walk during the day and nightlife never seems to stop here, with bars, tapas restaurants, and discotecas going on into the late or early hours.
As we mainly focus on the city’s chill beaches, we leave it up to the other (online) guidebooks to stuff you
with details on general or highlights info, such as Mount Benacantil with Santa Bárbara Castle, the
Explanada de Espanya along El Puerto, the Rambla Méndez Nuñez, the L’Ereta and El Palmeral parks and churches and convents.
But we like to mention this.
Fogueres de San Juan – (hogueres.es)
The worldwide feast of the Bonfires of Saint John on 23d June is a big thing throughout Spain. But the largest Bonfire festival in Spain takes place in Alicante from 19th – 24th June. Until 1928 Alicante held the same traditional festival as elsewhere in Spain, but in that year the Alicantino José María Py came up with the idea to mix the Falles tradition of Valencia with the festival of San Juan, thus introducing the bonfires for which Alicante is now famous.
Each Casa Faller produces a so named Falla (torch) during the year, that resembles a building, a puppet or a person and that is carried through the city in procession on the days prior to the 23rd June when it will be burnt on the bonfire. It was lots fun to have seen Shrek and George W. Bush (yep, the son this time) going on their way out to the fire through the streets of Valencia in 2005 and Obama and lady Gaga in 2013 go the same road.
Fiestas de Moros y Cristiano (alicante.es) are another very popular festival held in San Blas – Altozano district.
Ala- or Ali-
The city has two official names, Alacant and Alicante. It is suggested that Franco gave Alacant its Spanish name Alicante, but the name was already in use centuries before. What is true is that during his dictatorship speaking the Catalan language was forbidden (like all languages in the country other than Spanish), but of course spoken indoors. After Franco died the official name became Alacant again, but Alicante stayed on as a second name.
These 2 museums are really worth spending some time, if you want to dive in some history of the Alicante region or see paintings by Dalí, Picasso, Sempere, Juan Gris, the local Juana Francés and others:
Both buildings are extraordinary and the collections exquisitely displayed for all age groups.
One thing not to miss: The view over this chill beach city from El Barrio up to Mount Benacantil is at sunset.