Alicante is an excellent choice for a quick winter getaway. Between December and March there’s still warm weather, little rain and gorgeous beaches to explore. The city itself has exceptional food as well as fascinating historical spots.
With the tourists at bay during winter months there’s the perfect opportunity to explore the sites of Alicante. Santa Barbara Castle dates back all the way to the 9th Century during the time of Muslim control of the Iberian Peninsula. It resides on top of Mount Benacantil, which makes for a great hike that’s not too taxing. Alternatively there are lifts to the top and guided tours of the castle for only €3.
The oldest Active church is the Basilica of Santa Maria. It’s built in Valencian Gothic Style constructed over the remains of an ancient mosque between the 14th and 16th Century. It’s definitely worth seeing, especially if you choose to include it with a walk around Parque de la Ereta, which is just nearby.
If you’re really interested in the history of Alicante then a visit to the Archaeological Museum is worthwhile. It’s very reasonably priced and easy to get to by tram. There are permanent exhibitions and temporary ones all held in a beautiful building that used to operate as a hospital. There are artifacts spanning entire eras including Roman, the Iberian age, the Medieval age all the way to contemporary history. Visitors are also shown the various methods and techniques surrounding archaeology including field work, urban and even underwater archaeology.
It’s also worth visiting the Maca Museum of Contemporary Art of Alicante. They have a great collection of pieces from the 20th Century, including works from some of Spain’s most celebrated artists such as Picasso and Dali. Although under temporary renovation the Gravina Museum of Fine Arts should re-open soon. It’s a historical monument housing 19th Century masterpieces from affluent Spanish and European artists.
Alicante is easy to explore and pleasant to walk around. So naturally while you’re exploring the sites and building an appetite you’ll want to take in the local food. A sea food lunch is always a popular option due to the proximity to the sea, Alicante makes an exceptional seafood paella that comes in 101 variations. Tapas is also a great delicacy and lets you sample much of the local cuisine.
Of course, with the weather still bright and warm, even in winter, there’s no reason not to enjoy some outdoor activities. It goes without saying that a trip to the beach will make any day fun. Work on your tan, walk along the sands and swim if you’re brave enough. Alicante has a beautiful coast line with a number of great beaches including Playa de la Albufereta and Saladares.
However if it’s just a walk by the sea you crave then stroll down Alicante’s promenade. The colourful and well-kept walkway takes you all along the waterfront and harbour front. There’s a huge number of great restaurants and shops, as well as market stalls selling hand crafted goods.
With a hire car your options really open up when visiting Alicante. The Canelobre Caves are a must-see if you’re able. The caves are located in Busot, a smaller town located 23km from Alicante. They are situated 700 meters above sea level and have a space of more than 80,000 m2, filled with stalactites, stalagmites, columns and jellyfish.
With a rental hire the whole province is at your fingertips. In two hours you could visit Calpe, another beautiful city resting in a valley with incredible beaches and a great hike called Peñón de Ifach, which is essentially a big boulder by the sea you can climb (if you’re fit enough!).
Alternatively you could also make a day or two trip to Valencia, the capital of the province. It has an aquatic museum as well as great architecture influenced by Roman and Arabic culture. If you’re visiting in March it could be fun to go from Alicante for a night to see Las Fallas – a street festival where intricate political statues are created and burnt on the last night.