By Christine Medina
The truth is, I knew nothing about Alicante before deciding to camp in the surrounding countryside for nine days. Though I had been planning a more ‘rustic’ getaway this summer to take advantage of some of Spain’s beautiful camping resorts, going to this part of Spain was a decision made on a whim. Between its cosmopolitan feel, perfect summer weather and great beaches, I was easily won over by Alicante’s other charms.
Alicante can easily be done in a day, but I would recommend stretching it out over a weekend so you can leisurely squeeze in some sunbathing on the beach and experience its legendary nightlife.
Discos and beach-time aside, there are plenty of things to do in Alicante:
EAT: A good paella (Spanish rice) isn’t just found in the province or city of Valencia. In fact, the entire Comunitat Valenciana is proud of this saffron-infused rice dish. In Alicante, they have their own interpretation of paella called Arroza a Banda, which is distinct from the seafood and rabbit mix that is the most famous.
Arroz a Banda is made from rice soaked in a seafood-based broth, fish, ñoras (small red chilies) and topped off with garlicky alioli. I ate a delicious plate (or two!) of Arroza a Banda at El Buen Comer (C/Mayor 8).
SEE: The main historical sight of Alicante is easily the Castillo de Santa Barbara, a medieval fortress overlooking the city. Climb up (or alternatively, take the lift) for a panoramic view of Alicante, or enjoy it from down below when it’s lit-up at night. For art-lovers the Museo de Arte Moderno offers a good Spanish-centric collection of works by Dalí, Picasso, Tàpies and Miró.
SHOP: Every Thursday and Saturday from 9am-2pm, a market is held by the Plaza de Toros (bullfighting stadium). For typical products like turrón (a sweet typical all over Spain), cured salted fish, and wines try Cuquet de Llum (C/Carratalá, 20), Espí (C/López Torregrosa, 17) and Bodegas Selection (C/Italia, 4). Alternatively, find refuge in the shade, and walk along the open-air shops on Rambla Mendez Nuñez for a selection of local products, artisan fares and tacky souvenirs.
How to get there: Fly in to Alicante’s airport, named El Altet, take a train that will end up at one of the city’s three train stations, catch a bus (ALSA provides most connections within Spain.) Check out more options here: http://www.zadorspain.com/