In the rush to get to the beach and pool it is easy to overlook some of the most obvious tourist sites. After landing at Alicante airport most people either head south down the N332 towards the resorts and golf courses of south Costa Blanca or up the A7 motorway, around Alicante city, to the mountains and coastal towns in north Costa Blanca. But what about Alicante itself?
It was many years after first landing there that we ventured into the city. I’m not a lover of large British cities despite living on the edge of the city of Norwich. But there are large towns bigger than Norwich, and there are few high rise buildings so it doesn’t feel like London or Birmingham. Alicante too is, like many Spanish cities, quite small scale. Also like other Spanish coastal cities it has sandy beaches, tourist hotels and an old castle sat on the hill on the sea front.
Castillo de Santa Barbara is definitely worth a visit. You can either walk up to the castle from the car park at the back or go up a lift inside the cliff via a long futuristic tunnel leading from the sea front. Like all attractions in Spain it is not very well signposted, so give yourself time to find it! You can hire a recorded tour guide in English, well worth the few euros it cost, as the castle is steeped in history and went through several changes over its centuries of use.
Alicante city is a clean and lively place, with an old town of narrow pedestrianised streets and cultural museums. You can take an open-topped tour bus around the city or just meander on foot. The famous mosaic walkway along the coast road is designed to look like waves, I haven’t a clue how many billions of tiny tiles were used to make it, and it is lined with giant trees – who would have thought the rubber plant in the corner of your lounge could ever become that big?
Alicante city is worth a day trip or a long weekend visit.