In-Port Race: October 4, 2014
Leg start: October 11, 2014
Vast sandy beaches and remote coves, smart restaurants and tiny hidden bars, the bright lights of the city and breathtaking village charm – Alicante is a place to discover with all five senses.
Along with the chance to see castles, take in the history and climb mountains, the beaches are the main draw for millions who flock to the region in search of sun and sea. Over 100 beaches on the Valencian coast have been awarded the blue flag, recognition from the European Union over quality of water and sand as well as the services offered. Alicante itself has a total seven beaches – from the noisy and festive with large stretches of fine sand, to quiet and still stony coves with crystal clear water.
And the beaches are not just for sunbathing and swimming. Through its Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the local government has set aside separate areas for basketball, volleyball and football, while children's play areas and even fitness areas complete with exercise machines abound.
Alicante has an exceptional climate that is characterised by mild winters and hot summers, with an average annual temperature of over 18 degrees Celsius and around 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.
The Mediterranean is ever present, helping infuse the city with light. The new raised promenade, that runs parallel to the sea along the eastern quay, is a fantastic viewing area for the Volvo Ocean Race, while the race's newly opened museum, one of many outstanding 'museos' in the city, is free to enter all year round.
The Explanada is one of the nicest promenades in Alicante. It is lined with four rows of palm trees and its floor is paved with 6.6 million tricolour marble tiles forming a wave effect mosaic. Other local parks and squares include Canalejas Park, at the end of the Explanada, with spectacular lush vegetation including several hundred-year old rubber plants, the romantic Gabriel Miró square, and La Ereta Park, built on the slopes of Mount Benacantil and overlooking the bay and El Palmeral, on the outskirts of the city.
2014-15 will be the third time Alicante has hosted the start of the Volvo Ocean Race, and the second since the race set up its permanent HQ in the city. The race starts in October 2014 but in the mean time you can get a taste of the race at the museum, where a new photo exhibition exploring the first 40 years of this great race is on show until February. Join us to experience Life at the Extreme.
For more information, visit the Alicante Stopover website www.volvooceanracealicante.com.
Walking Tour of Alicante
There is so much to uncover while wandering Alicante. Lose yourself in the zigzagging streets of Barrio de Santa Cruz, the old quarter, which will transport you back to 20th century living. Follow the cobblestone pedestrian-ways flanked with colourful terraces to an endless stream of monuments, gardens, museums and churches that await your discovery.
Castillo de Santa Bárbara
The medieval-style fortress casts a formidable presence over Alicante. Originally built to protect Alicante from invaders, Santa Bárbara is still a major landmark of the city. Green-gardens and shaded pergolas offer a welcome oasis for those who ascend on-foot, while those who are less adventurous can take an elevator from the bowels of the castle to the pinnacle. Along with cafes, a restaurant and sweeping views across Alicante, the top of Santa Bárbara offers a unique insight into a chapter of history.
At the hustling and bustling daily food market you will find an enormous range of fresh local produce from seafood to fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish and breads. The atmosphere is as lively as the stallholders, who excite at the chance to offer you their fares. Take your time to soak in the atmosphere and fragrance of the multi-level market. While you’re there don’t forget to try Alicante’s nougat, known as turrón.
When the sun sinks beneath the horizon Alicante transforms and the city comes to life. Simply enjoy a late night dinner in the carefree ambience of the restaurants and tavernas or kick up your heels on the dance-floor at El Puerto’s clubs. El Barrio is the indisputable “it” place for nightlife in Alicante, with the greatest number of bars, pubs and clubs than any area in the city.
Isla de Tabarca
Just 20km south of Alicante lies this jewel of the Mediterranean. The boat ride to the tranquil marine reserve is as scenic and relaxing as the 1800m stretch of island that waits. The vast numbers of fish and marine life that surround this little island make it perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling. Landlubbers can check out the historic ruins dotted across the island, which was once inhabited by pirates. You can stay overnight and dine in several restaurants.
Boasting the largest palm grove in Europe this truly tropical location is considered one of the top tourist destinations south of Alicante. Elche boasts two World Heritage sites, The Palm Forest, which has landscaped groves of palms that date back to around the fifth century BC and the representation of the Mystery of the Elche. Elche also offers a plethora of museums and fabulous white beaches. It is also one of the leading producers of footwear in Europe.
Also known as “The Chocolate City” there is little wonder why the word Villajoyosa means joyful! Brightly coloured houses line the city’s beach, but behind the shoreline is where you’ll find the Museo del Chocolate Valor. The chocolate museum tells the rich chocolate making history of the village, which dates back to 1881, and offers plenty of opportunities to indulge every chocolate-lover's fantasies.
Playa de San Juan is regarded as one of the best beaches on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Stretching eight kilometres it is is shared by the Alicante and el Campello municipalities. A promenade runs parallel offering sporting areas and a wide range of restaurants and bars, perfect for taking in all the scenery.
MARQ: Museum of Archaeology
With artefacts from 100,000 years old right up to the mid 19th century, the MARQ delivers history with a bang. The extensive exhibitions showcase the various civilisations that have called Alicante home from the Iberians to the Romans, the Medieval Age and the contemporary historical periods. Exhibitions are presented with modern rigor including many audio-visuals that bring the collections to life.
Follow the spectacular ivory, red and black marbled mosaic paths along Alicante’s esplanade to discover a wealth of gastronomic delights. This stretch of restaurants offers Alicante’s famed fares including seafood, salted meats and rice (of which the region boasts more than 300 varieties). Try the tapas and the paella.
- Sweet Treats: When Vogue magazine says Las Manolitas Cupcake Boutique is a place to go, they mean it. This scrumptious establishment is filled with quaint furniture and unimaginable sweet-treats that will delight your inner-child. Created by three sisters, Las Manolitas is exactly as Vogue says, a place you simply must visit! If ice cream is more your fancy then check out Livanti Gelato di Sicilia. You may have to queue, but the 36 varieties of traditional Sicilian ice cream made by hand every day are worth any wait.
Local InfoView in Google Maps
You can take the AP 7 motorway, which runs through the province of Alicante from northeast to south-west, connecting to Valencia, Barcelona and the French border to the north and Murcia and Andalusia to the south.
You can also take the A-31 motorway connecting with Madrid.
The El Altet international airport (Airport of Alicante), which now has 2 terminals in operation, is one of the biggest in Spain and it is located just 9 km southwest of the city, within the boundaries of the town of Elche.
The airport can be accessed through the A-7 motorway and the N-332 dual carriageway, with the average journey time being around 15 minutes from Alicante city centre, rising to 30 minutes during rush hour.
For more information, visit the website www.aena.es