Our guide to one day in Alicante and how best to experience this gorgeous Spanish city on a tight schedule. Featuring 6 must-do experiences.
We featured the beautiful Spanish city of Alicante in our 12 places we loved article and for good reason. Alicante holds a special place in my heart because my parents have had a summer home here for 20 years. It’s a second home, a familiar place to escape. And that’s why I love it. In fact, not only is there loads to do in Alicante itself, there’s loads of cool day trips from Alicante too.
So, here’s our ultimate guide to spending one day in Alicante.
6 things to do in 24 hours in Alicante
Yep 24 hours in Alicante may seem like a short amount of time but you’d be surprised at how much you can fit into one day in Alicante. As long as you stick to a schedule and follow my list below (in that order preferably) you could fit up to 6 activities into 24 hours in Alicante. Of course if you want to do one (or a few) of the recommended guided tours I’ve recommended in the below blog post then I recommend allowing more like 2-3 days in this lovely city!
Here’s the top 6 places we recommend visiting in Alicante (more detailed information if you scroll down):
- La Explanada de España
- Alicante Harbour
- Alicante Water Museum
- Castillo de Santa Barbara
- Barrio de Santa Cruz
- La Ereta Park
La Explanada de España
First stop coffee! There are lots of sweet little coffee shops lining La Explanada de España and we picked one that was thronged with Spaniards smoking and chatting lazily outside. Inside was dark and dusty and very authentic. Very cheap too, I think we paid €4 for a ham & cheese croissant and coffee. Oh by the way, it’s called Cafeteria Ripoll
Afterwards we walked the famous Esplanade and I forced Paul to take lots of photos of me. FYI – as you can see it’s extremely instagram-worthy.
We spent an hour or so walking around the harbor, mainly because it was sweltering and we needed a slight breeze from the ocean. As you stroll through here you will have gorgeous views along the picturesque Postiguet Beach. If you have time you may be interested in visiting one of the other amazing beaches in Alicante.
There are lots of restaurants lined along the harbor, great for people-watching but beware they are pricier because of their desirable location. Some of the best restaurants here include Restaurante El Pescador and Taberna del Puerto.
From the harbor you can go on a boat tour. Choose from a sunset catamaran experience or an awesome 6-hour day trip to nearby Tabarca Island. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can book a 3-hour catamaran cruise that includes snorkeling!
Alicante Water Museum
Next, we began the daunting hike to Castillo de Santa Barbara with a quick pit-stop at the Alicante Water Museum because it has awesome air-conditioning. It is actually quite an interesting stop, you can visit the ‘Pozos’ or Wells of Garrigós which are believed to date as far back as the 16th century. These wells were redesigned to their current layout in the 19th century in an attempt to lessen the effects of the prolonged droughts suffered by the city.
Castillo de Santa Barbara
Now, back to the climb to the Castillo, not for the faint-hearted especially during the hottest time of the day. FYI-if you have a car you can park in one of the carparks much closer to the top. It’s free admission to the Castillo de Santa Barbara.
We didn’t spend too much time wandering the Castillo grounds as I was most interested in the spectacular views. At 166 meters above sea level the views from here are unbelievable! The Castillo was built way back at the end of the 9th Century and over the years the archaeological remains of the Bronze Age, Iberian and Roman have been unearthed here. It is filled with history and such a great way to spend a couple hours.
We spent a whole lot of time admiring the views from the top and taking lots of photos. There is a restaurant and a little kiosk on site for refreshments, which is a welcome sight in the heat of the Summer!
You can see the Castillo on a guided tour which also includes a visit to the Central Market and tapas in a locals only restaurant! You can book this specific tour here.
Barrio de Santa Cruz
This cute and colorful neighborhood is the oldest part of the city. Barrio de Santa Cruz nestles at the foot of Benacantil Hill. Step back in time as you climb this neighborhood’s narrow streets to Santa Barbara Castle at the top of Benacantil Hill. At night, the atmosphere grows lively as locals head to the Barrio’s many tavernas for tapas and drinks.
A fantastic way to see this neighborhood and other quirky areas in Alicante is on a 2-hour food tour. Eat where the locals eat and get a real sense of the city on this highly recommended tour!
La Ereta Park
This park has excellent views of San Nicolás Cathedral and the Port of Alicante thanks to its location on Mount Benacantil. It is also a great starting point for visiting other sights I recommended such as Barrio de Santa Cruz and Castillo de Santa Barbara.
This park is almost 7 hectares and is home olive trees, oak trees and other typical Mediterranean plant life. There’s also an exhibition hall, small museum and a water fountain here.
One day in Alicante – how we got here
Located on the Costa Blanca, with the closest major city being Valencia. Alicante has lots to offer a respective tourist in a short time.
Even though I’ve visited Alicante on day-trips numerous times in my youth, This time I decided to spend the night here and trully get a feel for this coastal city. We took the bus from Torrevieja, which is where my parents house is located and approximately an hours bus journey from Alicante. Our hotel for the night was just a 20 minute drive from downtown. So, we put our luggage into the coin operated luggage storage at Alicante bus terminal. If memory serves me right, it was about €5. So, down to business here’s our top tips for spending the best one day in Alicante.
Where to stay in Alicante
We stayed at the cheap & cheerful Ibis Alicante, which is as I mentioned before is 6km from Alicante city. We choose the Ibis Hotel because it is very reasonably priced (approx. €30). Also, we had an early flight to catch to the airport the next morning and this hotel is on the route to the airport. The airport bus service stops just across the road.
If you book any of the hotels listed here through these links – I will get a tiny commission (to continue my travels) & you will get the best available rate!
We also highly recommend the following hotels in Alicante:
- Casa Alberola Alicante – a stylish luxurious adults-only hotel located in the city centre.
- My Flats Luxury Downtown – luxurious self-catering apartment with a terrace.
- Suites del Mar by Melia – located right on the main beach in Alicante & with spectacular views. And a rooftop pool!
- Hotel Almirante – a large outdoor pool and epic beach views from most of their rooms. This hotel is located at San Juan beach, a 10 minute drive from Alicante.
- Urban Hotel by MC – this is very reasonably priced considering its location in the central district. The rooms are clean and minimally styled and there are loads of bars & restaurants nearby!
You can search all the best hotels in Alicante here via booking.com!
Getting to Alicante
Alicante Airport is 9km from the city and is the 6th largest airport in Spain. It serves a variety of routes within Europe.
You can also reach Alicante via train from the larger cities of Barcelona and Valencia. Detailed information on trains to Alicante.
Have I convinced you to visit Alicante (for just one day)?
In short, Alicante is a quintissentially ‘Spanish’ city. The Castillo de Santa Barbara is beautiful, the harbor area very sophisticated with cool bars and restaurants. But the best part for me are the quirky flower-filled streets of Barrio de Santa Cruz underneath the Castillo. Tell me, how did you find our guide to one day in Alicante?
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