The ancient Romans who first landed here gave this coastal town its current name, Lucentum (which means “Place of Light”). The area’s favorable weather and stunning location on a wide bay continue to attract visitors today.
Alicante, on the Costa Blanca, is a popular vacation spot year-round because of the Mediterranean’s turquoise seas lapping against the city’s sandy coastline.
Alicante has the perfect mix of fun things to do and interesting historical sites. Common activities include soaking in the sun on the sandy beaches, taking a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, and visiting world-class museums.
Alicante is geared toward tourism; hence the city has several tall hotels situated close to the port and the beach. Lush gardens and sophisticated palm-fringed boulevards are spread out around the city to break up the monotony of concrete.
Top 9 tourist attractions in Alicante
Find out what to see and do while in Alicante by consulting our handy list of the city’s greatest attractions.
- Explanada de España
- Castillo de Santa Bárbara
- Museo Arqueológico de Alicante (MARQ)
- Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante
- Mercado Central de Alicante
- Ayuntamiento (Town Hall)
- Plaza de Gabriel Miró
- Basilica de Santa María
- The old town of Alicante or Santa Cruz
Explanada de España
Alicante’s pedestrian Esplanade de espaa is one of the city’s most well-known attractions, thanks to the wave-like pattern it features underfoot. The Esplanade, Alicante’s pedestrian Boulevard, is a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors alike.
Both sides of the Esplanade are lined with tall palm trees, making a stroll there a cool and pleasant experience. Many restaurants and cafés dotted one side of the Boulevard, while souvenir stores lined the other. In the evenings, street performers play music on the Esplanade while residents and tourists stroll, dance, and dine at outdoor eateries.
Castillo de Santa Bárbara
Downtown Alicante is home to the castle of Santa Barbara, which can be found atop the 166-meter-tall Benacantil or Benakantil (Mount Benacantil) and is easily accessible on foot from the city’s beach, promenade, and other central attractions. There are two routes to reach the top of the fortress: walking the free route through Santa Cruz’s historic district and the parklike Park de La Ereta or paying extra to use the Fast Elevator and getting there in a second.
This castle represents the city of Alicante’s rich history and culture. The idea of exploring the fortress’s museums, galleries, centuries-old defenses and winding hallways is intriguing. At night, local musicians dress up like historical figures from Spain and play performances at the citadel. Moreover, there’s no cost whatsoever to enjoy these amenities. This place is sure one of the best attractions in Alicante.
- Address: 03002 Alicante, Spain.
- Wednesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
- Sundays from 10 AM to 2 PM.
- Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Museo Arqueológico de Alicante (MARQ)
The exhibits at this world-class museum of archaeology span more than a hundred thousand years. Artifacts from prehistory, classical antiquity (including Greek, Roman, and Iberian pieces), and the Medieval Ages are all represented here. This museum is one of the best tourist attractions to visit in Alicante.
The ancient coins, the Tanit figurine, and the Iberian pottery are the highlights of the collection. The collection of over 300 artifacts from the Middle Ages on display is quite remarkable. A recreation of Roman life is depicted in another fascinating exhibit.
Much of the museum’s antiquities were unearthed at the Sanctuary of Pla de Petracos, but visitors may also learn more about the ancient cities of Lucentum and Illeta.
The museum does more than just display artifacts; it also gives visitors an inside look at the methodologies used in undersea archaeology, urban archaeology, and field archaeology. Exhibitions also demonstrate how historians use artifacts to reconstruct previous events.
- Address: Pl. Dr. Gómez Ulla, S/N, 03013 Alacant, Alicante, Spain.
- Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 7 PM.
- Sundays from 10 AM to 2 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante
Housed in a Baroque structure from the 17th century, the Alicante Museum of Modern Art has a great collection of avant-garde 20th-century art, and it is one of Alicante’s top tourist attractions.
The museum first opened its doors in 2011, and it now has a permanent collection of 177 pieces of modern art. Famous painters, including Picasso, Miró, Dal, Gris, and González are all represented in the collection.
Two prominent Alicante painters also had exhibitions at the museum. The Juana Francés exhibition honors the work of this trailblazing female artist. More than five hundred pieces by the Alicante artist best renowned for his geometric shapes and optical illusions are part of the Eusebio Sempere collection.
- Address: Pl. Sta. María, 3, 03002 Alicante, Spain.
- Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM.
- Sundays from 10 AM to 2 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
Mercado Central de Alicante
The Alicante Central Market is a hub of activity and one of the city’s most visited attractions. Being the city’s primary marketplace, Mercado Central serves as a major economic hub. Fresh, fried, and smoked seafood, as well as a wide variety of other fruits and vegetables, Spanish wines, olives of varying shapes and sizes, baked goods, savory meats, and cured hams may all be found at the market.
The building market is one of Alicante’s top tourist attractions due to its convenient location and the wide variety of goods it sells. The city wall from the seventh century provided the foundation for the central market. The exterior is a blend of modern and eclectic design features. Stone bas-reliefs and mosaics depicting animals and plants serve as ornamentation, and a grand staircase rises directly from the entryway.
- Address: Av. Alfonso El Sabio, nº 10, 03004 Alicante, Spain.
- Monday to Saturday from 7 AM to 2:30 PM.
- Closed on Sundays.
Ayuntamiento (Town Hall)
The Town Hall of Alicante is an impressive building located behind the park of the Explanada de Espaa and next to the Plaza Puerta del Mar. This magnificent Baroque structure features a Churrigueresque front and two 35-meter towers.
A Spanish altimeter, installed on the stairwell going up to the structure, serves as a vertical reference for all visitors. This structure is sure one of Alicante’s top tourist attractions.
The public can visit the site since it has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Both the Capilla del Oratorio (chapel), where Mass is held, and the Salón Azul (Blue Chamber), which is furnished in the style of Queen Isabel’s time, are must-sees for visitors.
- Address: Plaça de l’Ajuntament, 1, 03002 Alacant, Alicante, Spain.
- Monday to Thursday from 8:30 AM to 5 PM.
- Fridays from 9 AM to 2 PM.
- Closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Plaza de Gabriel Miró
This lovely square is named for Gabriel Miró, a famous Alicante native and novelist. The square is decorated with a bust of Gabriel Miró and a fountain with figures reminiscent of the classical era.
The Plaza de Gabriel Miró is an urban paradise located close to Alicante’s historic district. Guests may unwind on the patio or take a leisurely stroll around the manicured grounds. This park is one of the best tourist attractions in Alicante.
Basilica de Santa María
The Basilica de Santa Mara, located in the Barrio Santa Cruz historic neighborhood (Old Town), is the oldest church in Alicante and was built to replace the city’s major mosque during the Moorish era. The first church was erected in the 14th century, and the Catholic Monarchs renovated it in the 15th. It is now one of the best tourist attractions in Alicante.
The basilica’s Gothic interior and exterior were replaced with a Baroque design in the 18th century. The facade has a monumental sculpture of the Mary by Juan Bautista Borja.
The two bell towers flanking the entryway are another striking feature; they have constructed centuries apart, in the 14th and 18th centuries, respectively.
- Address: Pl. Sta. María, 1, 03001 Alicante, Spain.
The old town of Alicante or Santa Cruz
That’s where you want to be, but a stroll through Alicante’s historic district is a must anyway. The only real draw is the prospect of experiencing life as a true Spaniard in the olden days. No wonder this neighborhood is one of Alicante’s top tourist attractions!
Central to the city, at the base of Mount Benacantil, is the neighborhood of Santa Cruz. Everything about the hilly, historical neighborhood with its twisting lanes and colorful, low buildings is attractive, except for the fact that you’ll almost certainly be walking alone.
When you’re strolling through the historic district of Santa Cruz, it’s easy to be swept away by the allure of rural Spain and forget that you’re getting further and further from your destination; sometimes, fever even takes hold, and your subconscious draws the illusion that here and now, out of the gate POPs bandoleros, and you’re their victim.