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Alicante

 

Alicante

Located on Spain’s eastern coast, south of Valencia, Alicante is one of the most popular towns on the Costa Blanca. Known as Alicante in Castilian Spanish and Alacant in Valencian Catalan, it is the capital of both the province of Alicante and the comarca of Alacantí, situated along the southern coast of the Land of Valencia.

Alicante is 81 km (50 miles) north of Murcia, 40 km (25 miles) south of Benidorm, 172 km (107 miles) south of Valencia, and 417 km (259 miles) southeast of Madrid. As of 2009, the city had an estimated population of 334,757, making it the second-largest city in the Valencian Community.

Renowned for its beautiful beaches, Alicante offers several kilometers of sandy shores that attract sun-seekers and pleasure enthusiasts alike. The city’s main pedestrian pathway, the Explanada de España, is a great starting point for exploration. This scenic boulevard, lined with palm trees, shops, restaurants, and cafés, stretches around the harbor.

Northwest of this elegant promenade lies the heart of the city, where you can visit the impressive Cathedral of San Nicolas. The narrow streets of El Barrio, or the old quarter, surround the cathedral, featuring economical accommodations and vibrant nightlife, from five-star restaurants to glamorous casinos popular among German poker players. The central tourist office, post office, and the main train and bus stations are located southwest, near Calle de Italia.

A must-see is the Paseo de la Explanada, a seafront promenade with rows of street cafes and a striking red, cream, and black marble mosaic. Visitors can enjoy al fresco concerts beside the sea, with musical performances held in the afternoons, on feast days, and on summer Sunday mornings.

Alicante, the capital of the Costa Blanca, has grown from a village under numerous sieges to the second-largest city in the Valencia province, under the watchful eyes of Castillo de Santa Barbara. Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Alicante’s microclimate makes it an appealing year-round destination.

The city boasts stunning beaches, such as Playa de San Juan, with 5 km of golden sand and all necessary facilities. Beyond its clear, clean waters, visitors can stroll along the Explanada promenade, surrounded by swaying palms and terrace cafes.

Alicante’s newly renovated Paseo Maritimo port was the starting point of the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race and features shops, an entertainment center, and a cinema. The city is rich in history, with numerous major and minor museums, making it a perfect holiday destination with a wide selection of hotel accommodations and self-catering apartments.

The Teatro Principal, a neo-classical building from the 19th century, is the center of Alicante’s performing arts scene, hosting plays, opera, ballet, and free musical and dance performances. Cultural activities abound, with venues like the Casa de la Cultura and the Lonja del Pescado exhibition center, which hosts art exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Eusebio Sempere exhibition in Casa de la Asegurada, featuring a collection donated by the local sculptor and painter. Music lovers can attend daily concerts on the Paseo de la Explanada, especially during summer Sunday mornings.

Alicante’s mild climate makes beach life accessible almost all year round, with fantastic beaches such as Playa de San Juan, La Albufereta, El Postiguet, and Los Saladares. For those preferring rocky beaches, Cabo de las Huertas offers coves with crystal-clear waters.

The Castillo de Santa Bárbara provides panoramic views of the city and sea from its perch 166 meters above the beach on Benacantil Mountain. Scuba divers will find interesting sea life around Isla de Tabarca.

Alicante offers extensive sports facilities, including installations for football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, shooting, riding, swimming, and sailing at various nautical clubs. For mountaineering enthusiasts, the Maigmó Mountain presents a rewarding challenge with stunning views from the Balcón de Alicante.

Golfers can enjoy several courses within an hour’s drive of the city, while nearby Muchamiel has a local airport for private sports aircraft. Boat trips to the Island of Tabarca and visits to attractions like the Caves of Canelobre and the Palm Forest in Elche are also popular.

The city offers vibrant nightlife with bars, cafés, and discos open until the early morning hours. The old city center, known as El Barrio, features some of the finest restaurants and tapas bars, offering authentic Valencian and international cuisine. The “modern” zone between Alfonso El Sabio and the Explanada offers elegant pubs and restaurants.

In summertime, the Playa de San Juan hosts seasonal nightlife. Special events like Les Fogueres de Sant Joan on June 24th and the Habaneras and Polyphony Festival in nearby Torrevieja in August add to the city’s allure.

Alicante is also a university city, offering various cultural activities and Spanish courses for foreigners during summer. With an excellent mild climate, an average year-round temperature of 18-20°C, and a rich cultural and historical heritage, Alicante is a delightful destination.

 

Alicante
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