There are plenty of things to do for free (or almost) when visiting Alicante, so whether you’re cash-strapped, stingy or just looking for holiday tips, we’ve compiled a list of the best budget activities to do in the city.
- Go for a stroll along the sea front
The Explanada de España is a long, palm tree-lined promenade that runs parallel to the sea front and is one of the most popular areas to visit in Alicante. The street is paved in over 6 million marble tiles that form a characteristic mosaic wave in white, blue and red, and the walk is popular with both tourists and locals alike. Cafes and food stalls line the sides of the street, and the shade of the palms makes it a great place to enjoy your morning coffee or an ice cream. If you’re feeling cash-conscious, come along to listen to the Spanish melodies drifting between the trees (played by local musicians), or catch the sun rising up over the ocean.
- Take in the sights and smells of the markets
The Mercado Central Market is a chef’s dream, and the perfect spot for any foodie looking for some inspiration or a bite to eat. Packed with all the fresh, local produce you can imagine, whether it’s fish, meat or vegetables, stop off to stock up for the week or just browse the delicacies on offer. Worth a visit in itself, the market is housed in an impressive basilica-style building, topped off with a dome-shaped roof, and contains two floors full of delicatessens, spices and various bars where you can stop for something to eat.
- View the city from above
The Castle of Santa Barbara (Castillo de Santa Bárbara) offers fantastic views over the city of Alicante below and is completely free to visit (if you’re happy to walk up the hill). This well-preserved medieval fortress was built in 400 BC and remains from the Bronze and Roman eras have been discovered here. The magnificent castle is one of the largest and best of its kind in Spain, complete with dungeons and towers to be explored. If you’re in the mood for some exercise then the reward for the hike is a beautiful panorama of the city, sea and mountains beyond, and it’s a great way to build up an appetite for some tapas and Spanish wine. However, if you don’t fancy the walk, you can take the elevator for the small fee of €2.70.
- Get lost in the old town
Exploring the narrow streets of the old city is the perfect way to discover the heart of Alicante, away from the tourist traps and busy main promenades. This charming historic neighbourhood with its maze of alleyways is the ideal place for a quiet, afternoon stroll out of the sun’s glare and visitors are welcomed with its beautiful architecture and shaded terraces. Come nightfall, the old town comes alive with bars and restaurants offering the best tapas and cocktails around (top tip: try El Coscorrón for their excellent mojitos – a must while in Spain).
- Get out of the city
Take a little break from the city with a day trip to nearby Elche (or Elx). This historic Spanish town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site twice over; first for its annual medieval play, the Misteri d’Elx (The Mystery Play of Elche, a religious re-enactment of the life of the Virgin Mary), and secondly for its 70,000-strong palm tree grove. This enormous oasis, the largest in all of Europe, dates back to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians and is still harvested every year for the dates growing on its palms.
- Work on your tan
The Playa de Postiguet is a 900m long beach right in the centre of Alicante with close access to everything you could need for the day. Ideal for a spot of sunbathing, swimming or just relaxing in the shade of a parasol (available for hire); with its golden sand, nearby bars and public conveniences, it’s obvious why this beach is a hit with both tourists and the locals.
- Take in some culture
Art lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see the fantastic collection of modern masterpieces displayed at the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante, MACA). Featuring works by the likes of Dalí and Picasso, the museum can be found on the Plaza de Santa Maria and is free of charge to visit. Despite its modern exhibition, the museum building is ironically the oldest in the city and its 17th Century Venetian Baroque architecture is, in turn, a great piece of art to see.