If you’re looking for a seaside city in Spain for your next family holiday, we’d recommend adding Alicante to your list. There are so many great things to do in Alicante, with something for everyone from beaches to museums, shopping to sightseeing.
Alicante is on the Costa Blanca, on the southeastern coast of Spain. It’s just a 2-hour flight from the UK and there are plenty of cheap flights via airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet and Flybe so a holiday to Alicante doesn’t have to cost the earth.
We’ve visited Alicante many times over the last 10 years and we now live just 40 minutes south of the city. Here I’ve listed 11 things to do in Alicante if you’re thinking of heading to this great city on your next holiday…
1. Visit Santa Bárbara Castillo
If you visit Alicante you can’t leave before you have spent a few hours at the castle to learn about the history of Alicante and see some amazing views. Perched on top of the hill overlooking the city, the beach and the port, Santa Bárbara Castle is the main tourist attraction in Alicante and dates back to the 9th century when the city was under Muslim control.
Directly opposite the beach is the entrance to a tunnel leading to a lift that will take you to the top of the castle. If you walk up the road to the main entrance it will take ages and I don’t advise it if you visit in hot weather! It’s around €2 per person to take the lift up (free to come back down) and entry to the castle is free so it’s worth the small fee to avoid a long walk.
At the top, you can walk around the castle, enter various rooms and learn a lot about the history of the castle. There are so many things to see in Alicante and you can view many of them from the top of Santa Bárbara Castle. There’s also a restaurant and cafe so you can rest your legs and recover from the heat.
2. Have a beach day
Alicante province has miles of golden sandy beaches and if you have a car there are plenty to choose from within an hour’s drive such as Guardamar, Javea, Santa Pola and Grand Alacant. However, if you want to stay close to the city there are some great beaches there too and a beach day is one of the best free things to do in Alicante.
Playa del Postiguet is the main beach just a few minutes walk from the city centre. The beach has beautiful golden sand and you can walk for miles along the shore towards Playa de San Juan. There’s a playpark on the beach itself and in the summer they often have inflatables in the sea, making it perfect for a beach day with the kids.
There’s also a long promenade lined with palm trees and full of beach bars, cafes and restaurants. If you look out from the top of the castle you can look down on the beautiful beach for a slightly different view.
3. Take a tram ride
The Alicante Tram runs from the center of Alicante all the way up to Benidorm and is a great way to see some of the coast and amazing scenery. You can get on the tram in the city centre and for €6.40 get a return ticket to Benidorm.
If you don’t fancy Benidorm you can also get off at other lovely Spanish towns such as Villajoyosa where there is even a chocolate factory!
4. Go on a boat trip
With a large port, there are lots of boat trips on offer from Alicante. Just wander down to the port and you will be inundated with offers of all sorts of boat trips.
You can go on a half-day Catamaran trip and have drinks on board while enjoying the sun. Or maybe you fancy chartering your own boat for a few hours. A great choice is the trip on the glass bottom boat to Tabarca Island where you can spend a few hours before getting the boat back to Alicante again.
5. Vist Parque el Palmeral
One of our favourite places to go in Alicante is the palm tree park just outside the city centre. This beautiful park has lakes with boats to hire, waterfalls, play parks, picnic areas, and of course a lot of palm trees.
You can follow the paths to take a nice walk around the park, sit in the sun, get an ice cream or a drink, and let the kids burn off some energy. It’s completely free to go in, plus free parking outside the park gates.
6. Shop, shop, shop
If you like to shop Alicante city centre has lots of stores to choose from, including well-known brands as well as narrow streets full of unique little shops and of course the Spanish department store El Corte Ingles.
There are several shopping malls in Alicante including Plaza Mar 2 which has shops like Benetton, Mango, Zara and H&M as well as a cinema and restaurants. The Gran Via commercial centre includes Ikea, Primark, Pull & Bear, H&M and many great Spanish brands.
Alicante also has many streets full of shops selling local delicacies, wine, chocolates and also the grand central market with fruit, vegetables, meats and fish. There are also lots of stalls alongside the port selling souvenirs and crafts.
7. Visit a Safari Park
A 20 minute drive from Alicante city centre is the Rio Safari park in Elche. Here you can see lions, tigers, crocodiles, llamas, reptiles, zebras and much more. You can go on a ride around the park, pet goats and horses in the farm area, watch parrot shows, and play in the park.
There’s also a fantastic water park on site but you do have to pay extra for this. Take a look at my review of Rio Safari for more information.
8. Wander the streets
If you’re all shopped out or need to get away from the beach for a while, Alicante is a great place to just have a wander. There are many squares with bars and restaurants where you can sit and watch the world go by. One of the most interesting bars is Soho Parc on Plaza de Elche – it serves amazing cocktails, tapas and is very distinctive with a giant tree overhanging the square.
If you are visiting Alicante with children a great place to wander is Calle de las Setas also known as ‘Mushroom Street’. The yellow brick street is painted with leaves and hopscotch, and there are giant toadstools like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland. Some of the toadstools have slides and others are like little playhouses. Kids will have a great time exploring and playing down here.
9. Have a day out at a theme park or water park
There are tons of theme parks and water parks within a short drive or bus ride from the centre of Alicante.
Terra Mitica in Benidorm is a fantastic theme park with rides for all ages, plus it’s own water play area with slides and waterfalls. Find out more in this post about our day out at Terra Mitica.
Mundo Mar is a marine animal park in Benidorm with a Dolphinarium. It’s twinned with the waterpark Aqualandia and you can get some good deals when buying tickets to both parks.
10. Visit a museum
There are loads of great museums to visit in Alicante if you want to learn more about the history of the city and the surrounding areas.
Museo Arqueologico de Alicante, known as MARQ, has lots of archaeological displays as well as themed areas and interactive displays for kids.
Museo de Hogueras is free to enter and displays floats and papier mache figures from the famous San Juan festivals that are held in Spain every summer.
Plaza de Toros y Museo Taurino de Alicante is the bullring and adjoining museum. Even if you don’t agree with bull fighting it’s a fascinating place to learn about one of the most famous traditions in Spain. Spanish bullrings are massive, and very interesting from an architectural point of view.
11. Eat & drink
If you’re on the Costa Blanca you can’t leave until you’ve had your fill of tapas and paella. And maybe some Sangria to wash it all down!
Along the seafront in Alicante, you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants serving fantastic seafood and paella dishes. In the squares tucked away in the back streets there are lots of bars serving tapas, you can have a table full of different dishes and sample as much of the local food as possible.
There are also many ice cream parlours dotted around which will please the kids!
Hopefully, this has given you some inspiration for things to do in Alicante. It’s a great destination for a sunny holiday and we have had many fun days out there.
If you’ve visited Alicante and have more ideas of things to do, feel free to leave your ideas in the comments. And if you’re visiting soon and want more suggestions of Alicante attractions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.