Still very much a commercial city which has for most of its life left tourist development to its neighbours, over the last couple of decades Alicante has changed its style and launched itself as destination to discover the historical and shopping side as well as relax on its beaches.

A major Spainish transport hub

With one of Spain’s busiest airports only 12km away, serving flights to 20 different countries, a port that links to European and African cities, a railway station that connects to both the national and international networks, a bus station in the heart of the city that links with all the main Spanish and European cities, as well as Morocco, Alicante is one of the hubs of the Spanish transport system.

A sense of history

The ‘Cota Cero’ line on the first step of the main staircase in the Town Hall, an 18th-century Baroque Palace, marks the height about sea level for the whole of Spain. The historic building is one of just many, all within a short walking distance of each other in the Old Town, from the Convento de las Mongas de la Sangre, The Convent of the sisters of Blood, to the castle of Santa Barbara, that glowers over the city from one hundred sixty six metres, at the top of Mount Benacantil.

Island life

Eleven nautical miles offshore from Alicante, Tabarca is the only inhabited island in the Valencian region. Only 1,800 metre long and 400 metres wide, it was once the home of Berber pirates, until in the 18th century King Carlos III ordered a town to be built there for Genovese families that had been rescued from the Tunisian port of Tabarka, hence the island’s name. The waters of the island are a marine reserve, due to the wide range of sub-aquatic flora and fauna to be found there. Regular ferry services link the island with Alicante.

Taking a paseo

The Explanada de España is one of the city’s emblems. Running parallel to the port, it is lined with palm trees, and the six million six hundred thousand tricolour marble tiles are laid to create a wave effect mosaic. The perfect place to indulge in the evening paseo, it is lined with cafés, restaurants, ice-cream parlous and bars, and during the summer the Municipal Symphonia offers open-air concerts in the auditorium.