Things to do in Costa Blanca

The myriad attractions of the Costa Blanca's beach resorts hardly need elaboration, as everybody can understand the appeal of gorgeous beaches, turquoise Mediterranean waters, white sand and a rollicking nightlife. Those intent on doing some actual sightseeing in the region should explore some of the more authentic villages just inland, some of which host weekly craft markets.

Of the famous resorts the charming Altea is the least commercial and the best place to get a taste of real local culture. Altea has a renowned craft market every Tuesday, between April and September, and La Nuncia, just north of Altea, has a good Sunday market. Tourists wanting some culture should also take advantage of Alicante's historical attractions.

The formidable Moorish Castell de Santa Barbara looms over Alicante and visitors can explore some of the tunnels, dungeons, towers and chambers that make up the impressive fortress. The tiny, picturesque Isla Tabarca, is a popular excursion from Alicante, and the city of Elche, inland from Alicante, is also an interesting excursion, containing Europe's only palm forest.

For amusement park thrills and spills, instead of culture, visitors should head to Spain's largest theme park, Terra Mitica, just outside of Benidorm.

Castell de Santa Barbara photo

Castell de Santa Barbara

The impressive Santa Barbara Castle has its origins in the Muslim rule of the 9th century, towering over Alicante on top of the Benacantil Mountain. Most of the chambers that can b…

Castell de Santa Barbara

The impressive Santa Barbara Castle has its origins in the Muslim rule of the 9th century, towering over Alicante on top of the Benacantil Mountain. Most of the chambers that can be explored today date from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The fortress is massive, encompassing moats, drawbridges, tunnels, cisterns, and dungeons, not to mention a stately tower and keep. It has endured many attacks, rebuilds, and renovations during its long history and was opened to the public in 1963. Today it houses the Museum of the City of Alicante. From the top of the castle superb views over the bay and the city can be enjoyed.

Website www.castillodesantabarbara.com

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante photo

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante

In the Plaza de Santa Maria stands Alicante's oldest building, a former granary dating from 1685. Ironically the city's oldest building contains its most notable modern art collect…

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante

In the Plaza de Santa Maria stands Alicante's oldest building, a former granary dating from 1685. Ironically the city's oldest building contains its most notable modern art collection, donated by painter and sculptor Eusebio Sempere in 1977. The Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante is commonly referred to simply as MACA. Among the noteworthy paintings on display are those by Dali, Picasso, Calder, and Miro, and one of the highlights is the section dedicated to Sempere's own geometrical, moving sculptures. As other famous modern art galleries have realised, the contrast between an old building and a colourful modern art collection is striking and interesting.

Website www.maca-alicante.es/

Elche photo

Elche

Just 12 miles (19km) inland west of Alicante is Europe's only palm forest, forming a lush oasis around the city of Elche (Elx). The city boasts several beautiful parks, public gard…

Elche

Just 12 miles (19km) inland west of Alicante is Europe's only palm forest, forming a lush oasis around the city of Elche (Elx). The city boasts several beautiful parks, public gardens, and palm groves. The Palmeral of Elche, an orchard of more than 200,000 palm trees, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Parque Municipal is one of the most popular places to enjoy the trees, with the palms interspersed by grassy promenades and children's playgrounds. The most beautiful palm garden is the Huerto del Cura, filled with trees, water features, and bright flowerbeds. Another attraction in the city, located right next to the municipal park, is the Altamira Castle, which was built in about the 12th century and was renovated in the 15th century.

Isla Tabarca photo

Isla Tabarca

The tiny islet of Tabarca is becoming an increasingly popular day trip destination from Alicante or Santa Pola, with its quiet fishing village offering an old fort, several very re…

Isla Tabarca

The tiny islet of Tabarca is becoming an increasingly popular day trip destination from Alicante or Santa Pola, with its quiet fishing village offering an old fort, several very reasonably priced fresh seafood restaurants, a rocky beach with clear turquoise water, and several coves and tidal pools ideal for bathing. Tiny and picturesque, Tabarca is the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain and can very easily be explored on foot. The islet is part of a marine reserve (Reserva marina de la Isla de Tabarca) and promises varied marine life, clear unpolluted waters, and a healthy bird population.