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16 Best Things to do in Alicante Spain

16 Best Things to do in Alicante Spain

There are so many awesome things to do in Alicante, Spain.

Alicante is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and is a perfect base for exploring the Costa Blanca.

Whether you want to relax at the beach, eat great tapas, or get active and explore, there are plenty of Alicante attractions worth your time.

I took a recent solo trip to Alicante and I had an amazing time. It was just at the tail end of winter, which is an awesome time to visit Alicante if you want to avoid the summer crowds. It’s one of the warmest places in Spain in winter.

My trip was a nice combination of exploring Alicante attractions, taking day trips from Alicante, and relaxing with good food and ice-cold beer.

Getting to Alicante Spain

Getting to Alicante is very easy.

There is an airport in Alicante that is located only about 10km or 6 miles from downtown Alicante. You can take a cheap taxi straight to your hotel for the set price of €19 (£16.50 GBP / $20 USD).

If you want a cheaper option, you can take the L1 bus from outside of the airport to the center of Alicante for €3.85 (£3.30 GBP / $4.10 USD).

If you are coming from Madrid Airport, you can take a fast train from the Chamartín Clara Campoamor station. It takes two hours to get to the Alicante train station and you can book trains directly through the Renfe website for the best price. Be sure to book at least a week or more in advance to get the best price.

The third option is to fly to the Valencia airport which is a bit bigger than the Alicante airport, so there are more flight options if you are coming from a smaller city around Europe.

You can take a bus or a train from Valencia. Check Trainline for the best and quickest public transportation options.

Getting Around Alicante

Alicante is quite a small and walkable city. If you book a hotel or Airbnb in the city center, you can easily get around to the best Alicante attractions in the downtown area by foot.

If you want to get to some of the northern beaches or take a day trip to Benidorm, you can use the very affordable and easy-to-navigate tram network in Alicante.

You can purchase tickets at the central city stations or on any of the trams. The ticket machines in the station accept cards and cash, but the ones on the trains only take cards. Local trams only cost €1.50.

If you want to get further afield to other great beaches, you may want to consider renting a car in Alicante. This will give you more freedom to explore day trips to nearby towns and even more stunning beaches.

Map of Things to Do in Alicante

Great Things to Do in Alicante Spain

Be sure not to miss out on these awesome Alicante attractions and fun things to see and do! If you want to try something really unique, check out this list of wonderful meditation retreats in Spain, including a few spots around Alicante!

1. Santa Barbara Castle

Perhaps the most famous of the things to do in Alicante, Santa Barbara Castle or Castell de la Santa Bàrbara sits atop a hill on the edge of the city.

You can see it from anywhere in Alicante and people of all fitness levels can walk the paved path to the top. It’s also wheelchair accessible, but I would recommend taking a taxi or car as high as you can along the road since it can be quite steep in places.

The views from the castle are some of the best in the entire city.

It’s free to walk around, but if you want to explore the dungeons or inside some of the different areas of the castle, you’ll have to pre-book a castle tour.

The tours are available in English twice a day or in Spanish twice a day. You need to pre-book at least an hour in advance at the visitor center. Read more about it on their website here.

santa barbara castle in alicante spain

Santa Bàrbara Castle.

2. Central Market

The Central Market of Alicante or Mercat Central d’Alacant is located right in the city center and is easily walkable from the boardwalk area or the old town of Alicante.

Alicante’s central market is much like many markets around Spain. You’ll find cured and raw meats on the main floor as you enter the market. If you go downstairs (there’s an escalator near the back), you’ll find all of the fresh produce like local and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

If you exit the market at the back you’ll find a flower market as well as a small restaurant where you can have coffee, beer, and some tapas.

This is a nice place to come if you simply want to see what a traditional Spanish market looks like. But it’s also a nice place to come if you want some ingredients for a good beach picnic. They have a huge selection of fruit downstairs and all of the best cheeses and jamon to make great sandwiches or charcuterie boards.

If you are self-catering at an apartment or townhouse, this is not the cheapest place to stock up on groceries, but it is by far the best quality you’ll find in Alicante.

If you want to learn more about what you’re seeing and explore the market with a local Spanish speaker, you can take a fun tour of the central market. This tour includes a full guided tour around the market as well as stops at local bars for drinks and traditional Spanish tapas. Book that tour here.

central market with blue skies and palm trees.

Central Market in Alicante, Spain.

3. Archaeological Museum of Alicante

The Archaeological Museum of Alicante or MARQ for short is a history-lovers must-see attraction in Alicante.

Located inside a beautiful building that was once the hospital of San Juan de Dios, the collection is a wide variety of art and artifacts which are divided into different areas of the museum.

It goes back to “prehistory” where you’ll find human remains like skulls and bones from thousands of years ago. Then you’ll be able to learn about Roman’s role in the Iberian peninsula’s medieval times, up to modern-day Spain.

One of the great things about this museum is that entry is free to permanent exhibitions. You can visit Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am-7 pm, and on Sundays until 2 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays.

inside of a museum with paintings is one of the best things to do in Alicante

Inside the MACA Museum.

4. MACA Contemporary Art Museum of Alicante

MACA is my personal favorite thing to do in Alicante. Considering Alicante is such a small city, this museum is just as good as the contemporary art museums in Valencia or Malaga.

The museum has a large collection of 20th-century and contemporary art from both Spanish and international artists. There are paintings, sculptures, sketches, and audio-visual works on the display depending on what exhibitions they have going on during the time of your visit.

Like many of the museums in Alicante, the Contemporary Art Museum of Alicante is completely free to enter. There is a baggage storage area at the front desk if you have a larger backpack or bag that you don’t want to carry around the museum.

outside of a baroque cathedral with blue skies in Alicante Spain.

Basilica of St Mary in Alicante.

5. Basilica of St. Mary of Alicante

The Basilica of Santa Maria is the oldest still-active church in Alicante.

It’s located right across the street from the MACA museum so it’s a great option to visit both when you are in this part of the city.

The thing that I love about this basilica is that is it quite simple, although large, from the outside. It sits in a very small little plaza with only one little restaurant and hardly any foot traffic around it. It’s almost out of the way to come to, which means not many people take the time to come and see it.

It’s worth sitting in the sunshine at the cafe here for a few tapas, a cold beer, or an iced coffee and taking in the sites and sounds of the locals going about their days.

The church isn’t always open, but if you come in the morning, you have a good chance of being able to go inside and see the ornate gold altar. Entry to the basilica is free.

view of blue water with a port and buildings in the forground.

View of Alicante from the Santa Barbara Castle.

6. Gravina Museum of Fine Arts MUBAG

MUBAG is the largest museum in the city and has one of the best fine arts collections in all of the Autonomous Region of the Community of Valencia.

Housed inside the Palacio del Conde de Lumiares, the building was first constructed in the 18th century and is listed as a historical monument.

Most of the art inside the museum is from the 19th and 20th centuries and it is almost entirely made of up paintings. However, throughout the year, they have different exhibitions which feature famous artists from this time period both from Spain and international artists as well.

The museum is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, except on Sundays when it closes at 2 pm. Amazingly, entry is free to this wonderful museum.

7. Santa Iglesia Concatedral de San Nicolás de Bari de Alicante

The Co-cathedral of Saint Nicholas of Bari is a Roman-Catholic cathedral that was built between 1613 and 1662. Like many churches in Spain, the church was built over the ruins of a mosque that was originally built by the occupying Moors.

Its most striking feature is the blue dome which sits 45 meters above the base of the cathedral. Inside, you’ll find the Chapel of the Holy Communion which many consider to be the best remaining example of Spanish Baroque architecture.

This church is much more centrally located than the city’s basilica, making it easy to visit on any stroll through Alicante’s Old Town.

You can enter the cathedral every day from 8:30 am until 1 pm and then again from 6-8:30 pm. The cathedral is free to enter.

beautiful blue water with beach below.

Alicante Beaches are absolutely incredible.

8. Visit the Best Beaches

Most people don’t come to Alicante for the museums and cathedrals (although you should still add them to your list of things to do in Alicante!).

Most people come to Alicante for the great weather and the beautiful golden-sand beaches.

And for good reason. The beaches in Alicante are absolutely stunning (although I’m not sure they beat my beloved Malaga).

They are indeed some of the best in the country and with amazing weather all year long, even a winter trip to Alicante should include at least a stroll along the sands of this coastal city.

Whether it’s to Benidorm, Villajoyosa, or small spots like el Campello, there are tons of great villages dotted along the coastline in the province of Alicante with amazing beaches.

There is a main beach, known as Playa del Postiguet, located right in the downtown area of Alicante, making it quick and easy to get straight to the beach. This is where locals come for beach workouts, beach volleyball, and for after-work swims in the ocean.

But if you want to spend the day at some of the best beaches in Alicante, you’ll want to hop on a tram to the north where you’ll very quickly reach one of the longest and most beautiful stretches of sand in the Valencia Community.

Along this stretch of sand you can stop off at any of these beaches:

long beach with blue skies and the sea to the left.

One of the many beautiful sandy beaches in Alicante. This is in El Campello.

9. Take a Day Trip to Benidorm

It took a few years for the tram line to make it all the way to Benidorm, but for just a few Euros, you can now take the L1 tram from the downtown stops of Luceros or Mercat all the way to Benidorm.

From these stops, it takes just over an hour to get to the center of town. There are so many things to do in Benidorm to keep you busy on a day trip from Alicante. 

That makes it a very easy and convenient place to spend the day, especially if you are curious about visiting this famous beachside destination.

Benidorm is much more of a tourist resort area than Alicante, but with that comes more amenities close to the beach. There are more restaurants where you can have international food or find waitstaff who speak English.

Benidorm also has one of the most stunning beaches near Alicante.

You can rent scooters (literally mobility scooters) to take along the boardwalk or you can simply head to the beach, enjoy the sea and sand, sample some of the busy party spots or fun restaurants along the beach, and then head back to Alicante by night.

beach with palm trees and blue sky.

Playa del Postiguet in Alicante, Spain.

10. Go to Tabarca Island

An absolute must-do activity while you are visiting Alicante is to take a boat trip out to Tabarca Island. It is the largest island in the Valencian Community and is packed with cool sites, amazing beaches, and some wonderful restaurants.

The cheapest and most self-sufficient way to visit Tabarca Island is to take the ferry. A round-trip ticket costs €23 (£20 GBP / $24.50 USD) per person and children under 4 years old travel for free.

The timetable depends on the time of year, but you can travel from Alicante to Tabarca Island at these times (as of March 2023):

  • From March 1 to June 20: at 11 am
  • From June 21 to September 30: at 10 am, 11 am, 12:15 pm, and 1:30 pm
  • From October 1 to January 8: at 11:00 a.m.

You can return from the island at the following times:

  • From March 1 to June 20: at 4 pm
  • From June 21 to September 30: at 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm, and 6:30 pm
  • From October 1 to January 8: at 4 pm

As you can see, it is much easier to come and go during the summer months when there are more visitors and the island is much more pleasant to explore. Read more about the ferry or pre-book your tickets on the ferry website here.

If you would prefer to visit the island on a tour, you can go on a catamaran boat trip like this one.

It is a 6-hour tour that includes snorkeling in the marine reserve at Tabarca Island, free time to spend on the island, and a lunch of paella and drinks. Book that tour here.

views of Alicante and the plaza de toros from above.

Views of Alicante from above.

11. Wander the Streets of the Old Town

Alicante is a small but beautiful city. One of my favorite things to do here is to simply get lost amongst the sidestreets.

Wander along the streets that are two or three blocks from the boardwalk and you’ll discover cool street art and wonderful little tapas restaurants (d’tablas is my personal favorite!).

This little pedestrian street has little mushroom sculptures and lots of great little bars. The main boulevard, La Rambla, is home to good shopping and plenty of affordable chain restaurants.

And of course you have the Esplanada d’Espanya which has stunning tile work and lots of cute little vendors selling souvenir bracelets and keychains at surprisinly affordable prices. I got some cute bracelets here for lesss than €1 each!

main boardwalk in alicante spain.

The boardwalk is a wonderful place to spend some time when exploring Alicante.

12. Take a Food Tour

The Valencian Community is the home of paella. That alone is reason enough to be curious about the food culture in Alicante, but there are so many other unique dishes from this region as well like arroz a banda or arroz con costra.

If you are spending a week or two with Alicante as your base, taking a food tour is a great way to start your trip and get more recommendations for great restaurants in the area. If you are only here for a quick weekend trip, it’s the best way to sample a lot of local food in a short amount of time.

This secret flavors food tour is one of the best options if you want to get to know more about the food culture of Alicante and sample some of the best local dishes while also supporting local producers and small businesses in the city.

You’ll explore the market and learn about its history and then you’ll have a whopping 20 different samples to enjoy. Book that tour here.

This evening tapas tour promises to take you off the beaten path and show you where the locals go for tapas and great wine. It includes visits to three top bars and four different tapas and drinks to sample.

Although it doesn’t sound like much, this tour is all about quality over quantity and you will have nice-sized portions and top-quality dishes with a rich history in this region of Spain. It’s also a fun way to explore Alicante’s nightlife with a knowledgeable local. Book that tour here.

palm trees in Elche Spain near Alicante.

Elche Palm forest near Alicante.

13. Visit the Palm Trees in Elche

An easy day trip from Alicante, you can take the bus or train to Elche several times a day (check times on Omio here). The bus is about €2 and you can pay in cash or card directly on the bus at the bus station.

It takes about 45 minutes and you will arrive directly at the Elche bus station where you are only a 5-10 minute walk from the largest palm tree forest in all of Europe.

El Palmeral is a huge park full of different palm trees (and if you can imagine, there are fewer here than there were even just 10-15 years ago!).

It’s a stunning place to walk around with different buildings and water features to enjoy amongst the shade of the palms.

The city itself is also worth a visit for the archeological museum which is housed in an old Moorish fortress. I would say it is just as interesting to visit this museum as it is to explore the palm tree forest.

el palmeral in elche Spain

Inside El Palmeral Park in Elche.

14. Tour the City by Bike

Bike tours are always one of my favorite things to do in the summer. There are so many great bike lanes in Alicante and riding around on your own if you rent a bike for the day is a great way to get around the city if you want to get around quicker than walking.

However, if you want to explore the city, get to know the history, and have some fun exercising, a bike tour like this one is a great way to do it.

They also have e-bikes on the tour if you want a little bit of assistance or an easier way to go for a nice long bike ride.

The tour includes a bike, helmet, a stop for a snack, and a knowledgeable guide who will explain history, culture, and fun facts about Alicante as you ride around the city stopping for breaks and seeing different sites along the way. Book that tour here.

boats in a harbor with blue skies.

Alicante is a great place to hop on a boat and get out to explore the coastline.

15. Sail Along the Coastline

The coastline of Alicante is absolutely stunning and besides the ferry to Tabarca, it can be hard to get out on the water to see more of the rocky cliffs and stunning beaches.

Boat trips can feel extravagent and they may seem like they are out of reach, but there are tons of affordable tour options that get you out on the water.

This catamaran tour is a two-hour boat trip that takes you to locations like Albufereta and Cabo de la Huerta.

On board, you can enjoy tapas and drinks or you can hop off at different locations for a swim in the stunning turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.

The boat also has snorkeling gear for anyone who wants to see beneath the surface of the stunning marine life around this coastline. Book that boat tour here.

hiking trail with blue skies and dirt path.

Hiking in Alicante is one of the best things to do in the area for outdoor lovers.

16. Go Hiking in the Nearby Trails

Alicante is home to so many amazing hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty. From easy paved walks like the hike to the top of the Santa Barbara Castle to long coastal walks with undulating trails, you’re bound to find a trail that challenges and delights you.

Just on the outskirts of the city center, you’ll find a great trail network that takes you up to views back over Alicante. You can get there by simply hopping on the tram and getting off at Sangueta station.

If you use Google Maps or Maps.me for your trails, you can follow along by inputting this location and working your way up to the top.

If you want to find longer trails, I prefer to use the Alltrails app. This allows you to download the map of the trail and use it offline when you inevitably lose signal on your phone up in the hills.