Costa del Christmas

Alicante Travel Blog

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Main thoroughfare attraction (Alicante; Spain)

Question: Why do so very many travellers fly into Alicante/Elche airport all year round? Answer: More than likely to get to big, brash, brazen-faced Benidorm, the king of the package trip Spanish Costa scene. Well, in my view, despite their virtual guarantee of a holiday in the sun, albeit coated in thickly-applied tourist sheen, if it is genuine Spanish culture which they seek, they're better off reconsidering what lies closer to their first point of arrival. Alicante is a medium - large-sized Spanish city which has easily enough in the way of features to make for an enjoyable festive break, and then some. The city's star-studded cast is fronted by the sizeable castle of Santa Barbara, a piece of history perched atop a hill, which appears to offer the greatest vantage-point views which they city is able to offer.

Harbourfont scene (Alicante; Spain)
For my money, the Old Town area of Alicante appears to have most charm, and with features such as the town hall and the Casco Antiguo, wandering through the area reveals a few sides to the region which makes you realize that this is simply not a synthetic purpose-built resort town. If it is beach-lazing that you seek though, then Playa del Postiguet is your best bet for a convenient zonk, flanked by the distinctive paving of the Explanada de Espana promenade, and the numerous eateries and bars lining the promenade. The main commercial street of Alicante is known as Alfonso X El Sabio Avenue, along which you'll find the city's landmark central market hall, in keeping with Spanish architectural styles which pervade among prominent city buildings. Just beyond the castle area is the city's largest mall, Plaza Mar 2 where you'll encounter the all-under-one-roof style shopping realm which is perhaps less essential in a city with a comparatively low annual rainfall record.
The Palm Grove (Elche; Spain)
So just when Alicante had been experienced on a whistle-stop tour, the next move was onto the central station to catch a train bound for the nearby city of Elche. The key word here appears to be 'green' and greenery here abounds, mostly in the form of Europe's largest palm grove, known as 'el Palmeral'. This mass of palm grove forest is evident the moment you exit Elche's central station, and the existence of a couple of key features within the palm groves, such as the tower, along with the walking paths and the overall landscaping, have earned the palm grove the title of a Unesco world heritage site. If it is great architecture which you seek, then my advice is to look no further than the Basilica de Santa Maria, with a facade so carefully crafted that you'll realize that trips to lesser-acknowleged destinations in Spain can also yield rewarding and arresting sights.
Basilica de Santa Maria (Elche; Spain)
The historical and archeological museum of Elche scores points for looking like a fortress, and drawing the visitor in purely out of intrigue rather than a focused sense of interest, but the variety of shops and eateries within the city limits comes across as the city's attempt at being a 'one of everything' kind of place, providing your needs do not outstrip what you would expect to purchase in a city of this magnitude. In the midst of all this, Christmas came and went, and without the festive decorations and street lights, it might never have been made apparent that this was indeed the Christmas period, albeit to the backdrop of warm daily temperatures and a healthy dollop of what a true Iberian cultural setting could be expected to deliver.

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Main thoroughfare attraction (Alic…
Main thoroughfare attraction (Ali…
Harbourfont scene (Alicante; Spain)
Harbourfont scene (Alicante; Spain)
The Palm Grove (Elche; Spain)
The Palm Grove (Elche; Spain)
Basilica de Santa Maria (Elche; Sp…
Basilica de Santa Maria (Elche; S…
photo by: Julie-Sensa