Alicante information

Introduction to the Province of Alicante
The Mediterranean coastal province of Alicante, in the south eastern corner of Spain forms part of the Valencian Community. This mountainous province is the fourth most populated in Spain and due to its fantastic year-round climate and beaches, has long been a popular holiday destination for not just foreigners but also Spaniards and as such has excellent transport links.

Alicante City
The city of Alicante does not lack for attractions to keep even the most discerning of visitors entertained and amused. For the history and architecture fiend, the imposing fortress of Castillo de Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara castle) from which there are spectacular and far-reaching views to be had, the 16th Century church of Santa Maria and the baroque cathedral church of San Nicolas de Bari will not fail to delight. For art lovers there is the Asegurada Museum of Contemporary Art, situated near to the town hall (Ayuntamiento) where, as an aside, there is a marker from which the height above or below sea level is measured at any point in Spain.

One of the finest seafront promenades in Spain, the palm tree-lined Paseo de la Explanada de Espana, is to be found here and El Palmeral park offers an oasis of green in the city, a perfect place for a picnic.

Of course beaches abound: town beaches, secluded beaches and even naturist beaches are all here and within easy reach of the city centre. During the summer solstice Alicante's beaches (and streets) become the focal points for the biggest and most spectacular of the city's many festivals and fiestas, the Saint John Bonfires, a week-long series of never-ending bonfires, colourful parades and jaw-dropping and eardrum-shattering firework displays.

The Island of Tabarca is the only permanently inhabited island in the Valencia Community and this beautiful, protected marine resort (that was formerly a pirates' hideaway) makes for a great day trip from Alicante by boat.

Alicante boasts great bars and restaurants, to suit all budgets, with the emphasis of the city's cuisine being of course based around the rich offerings of the Mediterranean Sea. See below for more on Alicante's gastronomy. If you want to buy your own provisions, visit the enormous Mercado Central for the freshest produce.

Around Alicante City and Beyond
The province of Alicante will come as a surprise to many people who may only be familiar with the flat, coastal stretch of the province, the Costa Blanca, with its famous tourists meccas: Alicante city itself, Benidorm (where you will find the theme park, Terra Mitica), Torrevieja, Denia, Javea and Santa Pola (with its salt flats nature reserve) all of which cater for every budget and taste.
Travel inland however and you will be able to escape the madding crowd. The mountain towns of Cocentaina (famed for its textiles) and Alcoy (famous for its Moors and Christians festival every April) are great destinations not only for day trips but also as bases from which to explore the province of Alicante.

Elche, the City of Palms, 23km inland from Alicante city, is best known for its huge forest of date-producing palm trees, El Palmerar d'Elx, fine specimens of which can also be seen in the specially cultivated Huerto del Cura or Priest's Garden.

The shabby chic city of Orihuela, known for its production of citrus fruits, pomegranates and almonds is also worth visiting.

Alicante is not just about beaches and fiestas however. Its mountainous interior offers a wide selection of natural parks and other attractions. The Caves of Canalobre are some of the most impressive, illuminated limestone caverns to be found anywhere, full of stalactites and stalagmites. The humid marshlands of the Pego-Oliva Natural Park are a famous nesting site for many types of water birds as well as turtles. Montgo Natural Park, situated between Denia and Javea is a mountainous reserve, centred around the Montgo Mountain (753m) from which the island of Ibiza can be seen on a clear day. With its varied eco-systems, it is positively brimming with flora and fauna.

The Gastronomy of Alicante
Paella is perhaps the most emblematic of the rice dishes from this region but as an alternative try Arroz y Costra, literally rice and crust, a dish made from rice, eggs, chicken and rabbit. Of course Alicante's long stretch of Mediterranean coastline exerts a huge influence over its cuisine. Mullet and mackerel, sardines and swordfish are all to be tried. Try the delicious Esmorzaret Alacanti, a dish made from salted sardines, fried egg and chilli peppers.

The nougat-like Turron from Alicante should not be missed - it's made from toasted almonds from the region and locally produced orange blossom honey and is available in hard and soft forms. La Coca Boba is a sweet spongy biscuit speciality of the area.

And, of course, don't forget the abundance of fruit that is on offer, fresh and dried - dates from Elche, cherries from inland Alicante and pomegranates from Orihuela.

Alicante province produces many quality wines. Look out for Fondillon, a world-famous wood-aged white wine from Alicante.


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