On a Western Mediterranean cruise, few ports of call embody the au natural, beachy goodness the way Alicante, Spain does. Like most Spanish cities, Alicante comes alive at night after 9pm, when lively tapas bars fill up with locals and beach bars blare music you can really dance to. When you cruise Alicante, share a bottle of wine among friends, eat delicious paella, and explore the city’s signature sights like the Castillo de Santa Barbara or shop at the enduring Mercado Central.
Arts and culture have their place in Alicante, too, whether you decide to immerse yourself in contemporary Spanish art at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante or uncover interactive archaeological wonders at Museo Arqueológico de Alicante. Stroll down the Explanada de España before venturing out via tram to some of the further away beaches. The sand here is deep gold and deeply Mediterranean, and snorkeling and swimming at Playa de San Juan or a quick boat ride to the islet of Tabarca promise clear waters you won’t soon forget. On a cruise, Alicante offers the excitement of Spain’s larger cities without the city congestion for a much-needed combination of sun and sea.
Head to the top of Mount Benacantil, the mountain that overlooks Alicante, and you’ll find a centuries-old fortress called the Castle of Santa Barbara. Once you get to the castle, reward yourself with a coffee or ice cream. There’s a restaurant at the castillo, plus lovely views of the Mediterranean.
Head a short ways northeast to Benidorm and you’ll come to Levanta Beach, which offers a stretch of beach to lay on, a promenade brimming with restaurants and shopping, and a beach volleyball court. Grab a volleyball and join a game.
From a cruise, Alicante may not immediately seem like a town where hundreds of years of history coincide with beautiful beaches, but you’d be wrong about that. Check out the Basilica of Santa Maria while you’re here, a Gothic church in the city center that’s over 500 years old.
Canalejas Park, one of the most popular parks in the city, is a close walk to the port when you cruise Alicante. Grab some shade from the park’s well-protected ficus trees and rest after a long afternoon of exploring Alicante, or take the kids to the small playground area nearby.
Alicante’s central market, which dates back to the 1920s, is a bustling, special place to go shopping. There are nearly 300 vendors operating in this colorful and busy market. Mercado Central is the definitive place for locals to buy their vegetables, fruits, fresh flowers, and other goods each week.
If you’re itching to get away from the mainland of Costa Blanca, take a short boat ride to the islet of Tabarca. Swim and snorkel the surrounding waters, head onto the islet for paella and drinks for lunch, and explore the local marine preserve there.
It’s a mouthful to say, but the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante is one of the top modern art museums in the region and a must-stop for art enthusiasts of all kinds. The focus is on Spanish artists, and there are even some rare works from Dali here, too.
Address: Calle Tomás López Torregrosa 13, Alicante, Spain
Tapas are the name of the game at this popular spot, which is open from 1pm to 4pm and 8pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 8pm to 11:30pm on weeknights. Spanish craft beers, cheese plates, and plenty of smoked fish rule the menu.
Address: Plaza Músico Óscar Tordera Iñesta, 3, Alicante, Spain
Velvet is a fusion spot where you can get delicious Catalan pizza or simply fill up on bar snacks. It’s a great lunch spot to grab some no-frills, high-quality food before heading out to explore the city.
Pesca al Peso
Address: Calle Mayor 22, Alicante, Spain
If there’s one thing you should take away from Pesca al Peso, it’s that this is a seafood joint and that’s their specialty. Shrimp paella, mussels, and other fish mains are menu staples. Skip the non-seafood items and choose a local catch instead.
People have lived in this part of Spain for thousands of years, including the Romans and Moors, throughout the early days of the city. Over time, Alicante became known as a hub for trading and commerce across the Mediterranean. Situated along Spain’s Costa Blanca, Alicante has been a popular travel and beach destination for the past few decades and has recently started to make concerted efforts to attract more international tourists to the area. The primary language spoken in the area is Spanish, so it’s handy to pick up key phrases before you go.
The Port of Alicante is a popular cargo and commercial port, and you’ll notice a steady thrum of activity here when you cruise Alicante. The port is equipped with standard amenities like a tourism information desk, a coffee bar, souvenir shops, and free wifi.
The best way to get around Alicante is by foot. It’s a 15-minute walk from the cruise port, or you can take a free shuttle bus to the city center. Taxis are easily hailed from the cruise port, and there’s a popular tram that can take you to the area’s more popular beaches.
Souvenirs abound by the Alicante cruise port, especially knick knacks and beachy finds. Head into the city center for leather goods stores, clothing boutiques, and other chic spots within walking distance of the town’s major attractions.
The official currency of Spain is the euro, and you’ll find ATMs throughout Alicante. Most spots in town accept debit and credit cards, too. Tipping in Alicante is optional and not required in most places, but when taking a taxi ride, it’s polite to round up to the next euro. At restaurants, leaving as much as a 5% tip is considered very kind.