If we were to be honest 24 hours in Alicante is absolutely not enough time to fully experience the city.
There is certainly more to see, more to enjoy, and a damn sight more to eat. However, we recently had a visit from my parents whilst we were living in Santa Pola (just south of Alicante) and they said they wanted to spend a day there. So, we decided to put together a fantastic day out in Alicante when you only have as little as 24 hours.
Arrival – bus/train/flight
No matter your mode of transport Alicante is well equipped. With train station and bus station very centrally located, the airport (maybe you have a layover, or Alicante is where your journey begins) just 40 minutes away by bus and a vast number of places to park a car. We found Alicante one of the easiest cities to get to and get around.
The 1st stop on your 24 hours in Alicante is the marina.
Just 5 minutes from the bus station, and 15 from the train station. If you arrive by car I would advise parking as close to the marina as possible.
The crystal clear waters of the harbour are packed with the beautiful yachts and speed boats of Alicante’s elite. A brief walk down past the yacht club and a small shopping centre brings you to the front of the marina and a fantastic view of a real, and floating, Spanish galleon, just keep an eye out for the masts if you can’t find it.
The ship is by no means huge by todays standards of cruise ships, but it is astounding to see the size of the ships that could have been held a wealth of treasure and become an inspiration for the novel Treasure Island (once again a reference to my pirate obsession). If you wish, you can purchase tickets to actually set foot aboard the galleon (unfortunately it wasn’t open when we visited) the best way to buy them is online but make sure to book well in advance in the main season so that you don’t miss out.
Stop number 2 of your 24 hours in Alicante is the Promenade
The short walk from the galleon to the main promenade through Paseo de Canalejas could make you think you’re in another world as you find yourself surrounded by gigantic, towering rubber trees (Ficus macrophylla). These trees are astounding! We were both reminded of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books. They just feel magical, almost out of place and like a secret at the same time (even though you cannot miss them due to their size). They are a protected species and the council braces the branches when they are in danger of becoming too heavy.
The Promenade of Alicante is famous for its vibrant red and white mosaic boulevard. Walk along the mind bending striped floor and you will come across colourful market stalls, a bandstand for live music, and a huge variety of restaurants and bars.
Around halfway down the promenade is the opening to the Rambla Méndez Núñez, a road brimming with wonderful restaurants, bars and your next stop.
Stop number 3 of your 24 hours in Alicante is the Soho Bar
Remember those glorious rubber trees on Paseo de Canalejas? It’s time to relax and have a coffee (or a beer, we don’t judge at Independent Atlas), and what better place than a little park surrounded by rubber trees with a tiny café booth in the centre called the Soho Bar. You can sit and enjoy your drink and a pastry whilst sitting back, relaxing on the wicker chairs and soaking up the atmosphere of the quite secluded park as busy Alicante bustles around just outside. It’s easy to lose a couple of hours here just people watching so just remember you only have a day in Alicante!
After your refreshments in the Soho Bar it’s time to head up Rambla Méndez Núñez. Known as one of the busiest streets in Alicante La Rambla has some great boutique shops selling everything from jewellery and shoes to the cloyingly sweet and tasty turrón this region is famous for. Eventually you will find that the road splits off into a fork. Keep left and wander up Calle Tomás López Torregrosa and just across the road at the top you will find the next stop on your list.
Stop 4 on you 24 hours in Alicante is the Mercado Central.
The Mercado Central is a food lovers dream stacked full of the freshest, brightest, colourful produce; unique artisan products, cheeses, fish, meat, wine; little tapas using the fresh market produce; and even a sushi bar! The busy, bustling Mercado stretches over 2 floors and three huge rooms showcasing the best that Alicante and the surrounding towns has to offer. This is where the locals come if they want the finest ingredients for their home or restaurant. There is something for everyone here and even if you don’t buy anything, you have to go just to marvel at the colours and sheer energy of the place.
Trust us, it’s almost impossible not to be hungry by the time you leave such a place? So, luckily it’s time for your next stop - lunch!
Stop 5 on your 24 hours in Alicante is a Hidden Gem.
Just up the escalator behind the market and surrounded by flower vendors is the frankly unassuming but incredible La Rotonda, a real hidden gem! Want to go where the market stall owners go to eat when they close up? Then this is the place. We recommend the Menu Del Dia - at €11.95 for 3 courses - you will not be disappointed.
Now it’s time to walk off your substantial meal. A short walk along Avenue De Jaime II near the base of the Benacantil Hill is the next stop and it’s time to get cultural and some reprieve from the sun.
Step 6 on your 24 hours in Alicante is the Museo Arqueológico de Alicante MARQ
History is written by the winners. A statement I wholeheartedly believe in. Not only that, but everything you learn in school or college is based upon what happened to or influenced your own culture. Of course, we have heard of the medieval era in the UK, how the Romans became one of the superpowers of the ancient world, and the wars/civil unrest that happened closer to home. But do you know how those events affected Spain? Spend some hours marvelling at these stories and more history through Spanish eyes. It is truly fascinating to hear a different side to history that you already know.
Ready for a hike? Remember the base of the hill you walked around earlier? It is time to visit to Castell de la Santa Bàrbara. Not one of the easiest walks in the world but I suppose if it was it wouldn’t be a very good castle as it would be easy for enemies to reach.
There are 4 options available to you:
- Take the road – There are buses but if you don’t fancy taking one it’s a pretty long and steep road with limited pavement to walk along.
- Through the forest – Take to nature and channel your inner explorer as there are no particularly quick routes through the forest and you do need to climb a few steep routes then you can follow the road way on the pavement.
- The Adventure – Find your way through the forest and then once you reach the road you can head round to the sea facing side of the castle and take the challenge of the 100’s of steep, stone, steps winding all the way up the side of the hill.
- The Thrillseeker – Approach the castle from the Old Town and take the thrilling climb across the bridge of the main gate and along the crumbling castle wall. Be sure to stay in the centre, even though it has walls, because it’s a long way down!
P.S - There is one more option, but it wasn’t available to us when we visited so make sure to check when you arrive in Alicante. There is an elevator! Located in front of the Postiguet beach, on Avenida Juan Bautista Lafora. It costs €2.70 and is a much quicker and easier route should you not fancy the hike. (If you are registered disabled or a senior citizen then it’s free!)
Welcome to step 7 of your 24 hours in Alicante Castell de la Santa Bàrbara.
The Castell was originally built in the 9th Century but artefacts have been found there that date back as far as the bronze age. It is actually one of the biggest and best examples of a medieval fortress in Europe. Similar to the Alhambra, this Moorish fortress has a powerful history and was a strategic stronghold of the Moors until the Christian Visigothic Kingdom took control. In fact, it was only renamed Santa Bàrbara because an invasion which took place on the Saint’s day (4th December) when the castle was captured by the Castilian army. It was originally known as Banu-lQatil, which comes from the Arabic words اَللَقَنْت pinna (summit) and ألَلَقَنْت al-laqant (white).
The Torreta the top is the oldest part of the fortress still standing. There is so much to explore up here - beautiful panoramic views, a keep, remains of a 14th century hospital and the Governor’s house. Further down you can find 16th century buildings and the museum which when we visited had a fantastic exhibition of old photographs from what looked like the Victorian era, it was incredible to get an insight into the culture and lives of people from so long ago, there was definitely the equivalent of a selfie or two!
Time to make the descent back down to the bustling city. You have no doubt worked up an appetite. Time to head for some dinner. Pick your choice of route for the descent and make your way over to Alicante Old Town.
Head for Plaza San Cristobal. Welcome to Step 8 of your 24 hours in Alicante
There is a great choice of fantastic restaurants to pick for dinner. We highly recommend Bonobo Gastrobar an extremely friendly and popular establishment specialising in great food, a fantastic ever-changing Menu Del Dia, Cocktails and the nicest craft beers from all over the world.
Click here for their site
And that brings us to the end of your day in Alicante. Of course, now you have 2 final options; head back to your accommodation, or, if you fancy more of a lively night, head just down the road from Plaza San Cristobal to the Munich bar on Calle San Pascual and start your own journey from there!
Have you been to Alicante? If so we would love to hear from you – So please comment below!
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