On the Spanish Mediterranean coastline of Costa Blanca is the dynamic, delicious, picturesque, and laid back city of Alicante. With a castle standing guard, the handsome old quarter, and long stretches of waterfront and beach, here's what a 5 day Alicante itinerary looks like.
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Where to stay in Alicante?
Table of Contents
Looking for something specific in this Alicante itinerary? Jump to the section that you're interested in.
Here's what we're covering:
- Alicante highlights
- Alicante 5 day itinerary
- Optional add-ons to the itinerary
- Quick Alicante travel guide
- Frequently asked questions
- The Alicante Itinerary Experience
When people think about the Mediterranean, you automatically start thinking about the Greek Islands, Amalfi Coast and maybe even Southern France but somewhere that often gets overlooked is the Spanish coastline.
You might not know this but Spain actually has one of the longest coastlines in the Mediterranean.
One of the star coastal regions is Costa Blanca and one of the best ways to explore it is by flying into the city of Alicante and getting to know what makes this a favourte vacation spot for many.
Here are the top 5 highlights from Alicante that made us fall in love with this city in the Costa Blanca coast of Spain.
- Santa Bárbara Castle
- Illa de Tabarca
1. Santa Bárbara Castle
5. Illa de Tabarca
Alicante 5 day itinerary
As a bit of background, this trip to Alicante immediately proceeded our 8 day Iceland itinerary. It was a match made in heaven because we got all of our adventure out of our system in Iceland which allowed us to turn on relaxation mode afterwards.
While you'll find a lot of sleep-in time and late starts to the day, you can certainly plan more things in the schedule and I'll get to that at the end with some optional add-ons.
5 days seems like a lot but trust me it'll go by quickly and you'll wish you had more time in Alicante.
Trip planning map
One of the cornerstones of our itineraries are maps with all points of interests marked as you'll also find in the French Polynesia 2 week itinerary, Greece island hopping itinerary, 5 day Puerto Rico itinerary, and New Zealand 3 week itinerary.
With this map, you'll be able to take this to go and have it ready for you on your phone or use it as part of your itinerary planning. I've always found this to be a nice quick-reference for when you travel especially for Alicante where you might have a few restaurants in mind that you want to eat at.
Tip: View the 5 day Alicante trip planning map in full screen and create a copy (this step is key) for yourself. Make tweaks for your own trip and in Google Maps, you'll be able to view it by going into the menu, selecting “My Places” and the “Maps” tab.
Day 1 – Exploring the City
Assuming you arrived the day before, you'll have a full day to get familiar with your surroundings and the city of Alicante.
Depending on where your hotel is, I encourage you to walk around and look for a local bakery to grab breakfast.
We were based in an Airbnb behind the train station and we found a sweet local bakery by the name of Panadería Rojas San Blas. This became part of our daily routine as we became addicted to their empanadas.
You'll spend the day getting to know Alicante by meandering through the streets, taking a look at the local art work and pass by the beautiful fountain at Plaza de Los Luceros.
Ultimately, you'll be aiming your sights at the castle of many names – Santa Bárbara Castle, Castle of Santa Bárbara, Castillo de Santa Barbara, and Castell de Santa Bárbara. Regardless of what you call it, it's still one of Spain's largest medieval fortresses and stands at 166 metres tall.
As the city's prominent feature, you can't miss it but the secret to it is to get there by walking the fortification walls right above the old city as it'll give you a real sense of scale and also beautiful views on approach.
Once you officially enter the castle, you'll be able to discover the three enclosures from the distinct periods of the fortress and the empires that ruled here.
While walking the battlements and eventually reaching the very peak, you'll learn many interesting and well-preserved buildings and their stories.
The view from the crown of the bastion has the best view of the entire city, being able to see far out into the Mediterranean Sea and the city below.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Monte Benacantil. S/N Alicante
- Winter (October to March): 10:00AM to 8:00AM everyday.
- Summer (April, May, June, September): 10:00AM to 10:00PM everyday.
- Summer (July, August): 10:00AM to midnight everyday.
- Elevator opens at 10AM and last elevator going up at 7:20PM and last elevator going down at 7:40PM.
Price: Free but there is a fee to use the elevator from the beach-side entrance which is 2.70€ per person.
- How difficult is the hike up along the wall? There is a moderate incline with some steps so it is recommended for those that are comfortable with a hike.
- Is there parking at the castle? Yes there is a parking lot at the entrance and is free.
- Where is the elevator located? Lifts are located opposite the Postiguet beach, on Avenida Juan Bautista Lafora.
- Are there bathrooms at the castle? Yes, there are 3
- Is there restaurants at the castle? There aren't restaurants but there are several cafes available serving beverages and basic sandwiches.
- I recommend at least 3 hours here to give you ample time to see everything and take breaks along the way.
- Guided tours are offered by the castle. You can either reserve ahead of time by emailing [email protected] or you can show up at the designated meeting point at Sala del Cuerpo de Guardia, en la Plaza de Armas. The tours are 5€ for adults, 3€ for seniors and children, and free for kids under 6. The schedule is:
- April – May: 5:30PM
- June – September: 10:30AM and 6:30PM
- October: 5.30PM
- November – March: 11:30AM
- In the summer you should check their events calendar to make sure there aren't any special events happening there that might cause an early closure.
Depending on what you're feeling, you can either take the elevator down to the beach or take the walking path back into the city.
Either way you do it, you'll be able to round out your day taking a leisurely stroll through the main street of Alicante named Rambla de Mendez Nunez, take a peek at what beach life looks like at Playa del Postiguet, and walk along the lively pedestrian-only street Esplanada d'Espanya with its market stalls, cafes, and restaurants.
You can see as much or as little as you want as there'll be plenty of opportunities to come back.
For dinner, head into old city, also known as El Barrio, and have one of many incredible tapas meals you'll have on your trip. The restaurant I recommend is Sento Barrio.
As your first day, I also recommend picking up some grocery supplies at somewhere near your accommodations such as at the supermarket Supersano. Think about breakfast, snacks, and upcoming beach picnics.
Day 1 Summary
What you'll see:
Where you'll eat:
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Day 2 – Beach Day
While the city's local beach is pretty awesome with its view of the castle but it often gets pretty packed. The secret is to head over to a larger beach that'll feel like a getaway within a getaway.
Start your morning eating breakfast at your hotel or B&B or picking up something on the go. Also think about putting together your own beach picnic if you haven't bought anything yet.
You'll be spending most of the day chilling out at Playa de San Juan. I love coming here because it's a long stretch of beach lined with plenty of restaurants and cafes. The sand and water is also extremely clean.
Getting to the beach is surprisingly easy with Alicante's tram, making it a stress-free process. Starting at the Costa Blanca stop, this beach gives you a true sense of what this part of the Mediterranean is best known for – beach and sun.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Avenida de Niza, 03540 Alicante Spain
Price: Free. Sun beds are roughly 14€ per bed
Beach amenities: Sun bed rentals, umbrellas, first aid, lifeguards, public bathrooms, playground, and fitness equipment.
Beach length: 2900m
Sand type: Fine
Directions: From the city center, take Tram Line 3 and get off at the Costa Blanca stop. It's easiest to purchase one-way tram ticket from the machine for 1.35€ each way. Costa Blanca is still within the same Zone A.
- Bring your own beach gear to make your beaching as comfortable as possible. You can look around Alicante for cheap bamboo mats, beach towels, and umbrellas if you didn't pack your own.
When you're ready to come back, take the tram back into the city and either drop off your things or get off at Mercado station. From here you can grab dinner at El Colmado, you can head back down to the esplanade along the water, or you can do both!
Day 3 – Day Trip to Altea
A trip to Costa Blanca wouldn't be complete without a visit to the picturesque white-washed alleyways of Altea. You'll be expanding your exploration zone and soon find out why they call this the “Santorini of Spain”.
With your customary empanadas in hand, make your way to the tram like the previous day. The difference this time is that you'll be taking Line 1 and crossing into Zone D.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Price: To get to Altea by tram costs 4.85€ each way since you'll need a 4 zone ticket.
Directions: From the city center, take Tram Line 1. The tricky part is that this train ends in Benidorm. From here, you'll need to change to a different train that goes towards Dénia (on a different platform). Altea is 5 stops from Benidorm.
- How long does it take to get to Altea? It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes by the Alicante tram.
- When is the last tram back to Alicante from Altea? The last one I'd recommend taking is the 9:14PM train. After that, you'll have to take a bus from Benidorm.
- How much time should I plan for Altea? Plan to roam around for 3 hours.
- Is there a beach at Altea? Yes, there is a stretch of beach near the train station but it isn't as nice as Playa de San Juan or Playa del Postiguet
The pretty pueblo of Altea is another getaway where the masses of resort-goers subside and give way to the maze of pebbled walkways on a hilltop, the charm of small cafes, the village church, and small boutique shops.
You're free to explore the town. The only thing I recommend is for you to make a “sweet-stop” at Pastelería De Sabors.
You can stay in Altea for dinner but with so many good restaurants in Alicante, I'd opt to head back into the city by way of the tram.
Like the previous day, if you have additional time, feel free to stroll through the Ramblas or Esplanada d'Espanya.
For dinner, change things up a bit from tapas and try Liberty Kitchen, a highly reviewed restaurant with really good food whether it's their fish, burger, quesadilla, Philly cheese steak, or anything for that matter on their chalkboard menu.
Day 3 Summary
What you'll see:
Where you'll eat:
Day 4 – Tabarca Island
While it's hard to say that this is a secret island, those unfamiliar to the region might not immediately put this in their Alicante itinerary but I'm here to tell you that it's a must-do.
Tabarca Island or Isla de Tabraca is an islet in the Mediterranean that's only an hour boat ride from the port of Alicante. What makes this the perfect day trip is that you have hiking trails around the island, beaches to camp out at, and local food to try.
From your accommodations, walk down to Esplanada d'Espanya and to the Kontiki Cruises, the local Alicante cruise operator to the island. On your way down, I recommend you pick up a few snacks and beers.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Passeig Màrtirs de la Llibertat, S/N, 03002 Alicante
Schedule: Departure Alicante 10:00AM, 11:00AM and 12:15AM and Return Tabarca 5:00PM and 7:00PM Monday to Sunday.
Price: 20€ round trip and free for children under 5.
- How long does it take to get to Tabarca Island? It is a 1 hour boat ride.
- Are there bathrooms on the island? Yes, there are a few public bathrooms but they are not well maintained. I'd recommend the restaurant bathrooms if I had a choice.
- Do you have to pick a return time? No, this is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
- How long do you need on Tabarca Island? This depends on the activities you want to do on the island. If you're exploring by foot, doing a bit of casual beaching, and grabbing lunch, I recommend that you get on the 10AM departure and come back at 5PM.
- Bring your own food to have your own picnic on the beach.
- Bring your own beach and snorkel gear.
- Buy your tickets online ahead of time or you can buy tickets in-person at the kiosk up to 45 minutes before departure.
- Make sure you're at the dock 20 minutes before departure.
The boat ride will be a smooth one our trip and you'll arrive in the main part of the island that has a large beach that lead into the village of restaurants, shops, and local residential buildings.
The far side of the island is more interesting and this is where you'll get into some of the history of how the island used to be a refuge for Berber pirates and was later fortified by King Carlos III.
Make sure to explore the gates of San Rafael, San Miguel and San Gabriel, the churches of San Pedro and San Pablo, the lighthouse, and make the coastal walk that's well-marked.
For a hideaway beach session, I recommend finding a spot on the south side of the island. While you're not going to find fine-sand here, it's still a great spot to go for a dip and cheers to San Miguel.
As you make your way back to the developed side of the island, walk around the grid of streets with their shops and views.
For lunch, look out for Casa Ramos we we had a delicious plate of paella but Restaurante Gloria is also highly recommended. Yes, the restaurants here are going to be a bit more touristy but the food is still very good.
Round out your time on the island by relaxing on the beach by the port so that you'll be able to quickly make your way when the boat pulls in.
When you get back to Alicante, stroll through the downtown quarter and any areas you haven't been to yet before dinner at the chained tapas restaurant, Lizarran.
Day 4 Summary
What you'll see:
What you'll do:
- Kontiki Cruises
Where you'll eat:
Day 5 – El Barrio and More
5 days zip by insanely fast. Whether it's a partial day because of a flight or a full day, this is your chance to turn back towards the city after a couple of days of day trip excursions.
If you're like us and need to check out of your hotel or Airbnb early and need a place to store your bags, the Alicante RENFRE Train Station has storage lockers.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Av. Salamanca, 1, 03005 Alicante, Spain
Price: There are 3 sizes: large (5.20€), medium (3.60€) and small (3.10€) for a 24 hour period.
- How does it work? Put your luggage in first. Close the door and put the exact amount of coins in Euros. The locker does not return change. Once you've paid, pick up the ticket and store it in a safe place.
- Take a photo of your ticket in case you lose it. You only need the secret code.
When you're done, walk over to the Old City or El Barrio and spend the afternoon exploring the quiet maze of quaint streets. The architecture you'll find here is a wonder to see and you'll also find the ornate tiles, and hues of blue to be very picturesque.
In a bit of choose-your-own-adventure, you can decide to visit Town Hall of Alicante, MACA Contemporary Art Museum of Alicante, and/or Museo de Aguas de Alicante.
For the rest of the day, you can get more beach time in at Playa del Postiguet, fill the time in with areas you didn't get to explore, or perhaps go shopping at El Corte Inglés shopping mall.
For dinner, order a jug of sangria, your favourite selection of tapas on the outdoor tables of El Buen Comer.
Craving the octopus at El Colmado, we went back for more.
Day 5 Summary
What you'll see:
Things to do:
- Playa del Postiguet
- El Corte Inglés
Where you'll eat:
Optional add-ons to the itinerary
There's an endless amount of things to see and do in Alicante and since we barely scratched the surface, here are a few additional things to check out and do.
Places to go
In the City
- Mercado Central – I can't believe we never made it but the timing never worked out. A must-visit! They are open Monday to Friday: from 7AM to 2:30PM and Saturdays from 7AM to 3PM.
- Museo The Ocean Race – The only museum in the world dedicated to a race considered the Everest of Sailing.
- Museo Arqueologico de Alicante – This has the distinction of being the first archaeological museum of the 21st century.
- Plaza de Toros y Museo Taurino de Alicante – Learn the history of the bull ring and get a chance to go inside.
Altea is an easy day trip to do from Alicante which is why we picked it but if you do a bit more planning you can definitely find ways to fit in these postcard destinations.
- Guadalest – Mountainous town where you'll find an ancient castle with stunning views of the valley. Algar springs/waterfalls is also nearby.
- Benidorm – This is a major hub of resorts in Costa Blanca with water parks, beach, zoos, and an old town.
- Calpe – A coastal city north of Altea with Roman ruins and scenic nature parks.
Activities to book
Here are a couple of activities that you should think about booking ahead of time to spice up your vacation plans.
Sunset catamaran cruise – Admire the landscape of Albufereta and Cabo de la Huerta with tapas, drinks, and the option to snorkel in this 2 hour experience.
Vineyards of Alicante wine tasting tour – Visit one of the best wine-producing region in Alicante in this small group tour.
Half-day tandem paragliding – An extreme adrenaline rush flying with the mountain and coast views of Costa Blanca.
Guadalest Valley and Algar Waterfalls Tour – 6 hour small group tour to the village of Guadalest and the spring pools of the Algar Waterfalls.
Alicante charming villages tour: Villajoyosa and Altea – Wander the colorful streets of Villajoyosa, and explore the whitewashed lanes of Altea in this 5 hour tour.
Market tour and paella cooking class – Walk through Alicante's Mercado Central before heading into the kitchen to make the Alicante-style version of paella.
Gourmet Alicante walking tour – Discover Alicante's products and flavors in each one of the 9 tasting stops.
Alicante evening tapas tour – Go off the beaten path with 3 of the best tapas bars in the city with a local guide.
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Alicante, you have a ton of options in the city. We stayed at an Airbnb (no longer available) which I talk about in the Alicante Airbnb guide but I definitely considered these properties as part of the itinerary planning.
Centric Rooms Mercado
Located just north of the Central Mercado, this hostel features private rooms with shared bathrooms for an extremely affordable price which makes it perfect for backpackers and budget travellers. Rooms feature a terrace and free wifi. Communal kitchen available for cooking.
Hotel Maya Alicante
At the foot of Santa Barbara Castle is this sweet hotel that is packed with features like an outdoor pool, gym, cafe, 5 minutes from the beach, and minibar in the room.
The C-6 airport bus stop is just 2 minutes from the hotel.
Tryp Ciudad de Alicante Hotel
Centrally located in the city center, it puts you within striking distance to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Town Hall and is pretty much right along the waterfront to get you to the port and beach. Rooms are modern and comfortable with free wifi. The C-6 bus stop is also minutes away.
It doesn't get more picturesque and convenient than being in the middle of the action and right along the waterfront. As one of two Melia properties here, you'll be treated with a large pool, next door access to the casino, comfortable suite, and good restaurants.
Quick Alicante travel guide
There are a couple of key things that are good to know as you ramp up your trip planning for Alicante.
Money – The local currency in Alicante is the Euro or EUR. This isn't going to be too difficult to get in your home country or exchange for when you land. You might also be coming from another part of Europe so this may not be a big deal.
When is the best time? – It's honestly good all year round as the Mediterranean temperatures remain mild throughout the year around 20ºC (68ºF). That being said, the coldest times of the year is December to February where it's in the low 10ºC (50ºF). Summers (July-August) are hot and the busiest but to avoid the crowds, May-June and September-October are definitely sweet spots.
Getting here – Alicante-Elche Airport (ALC) is the primary international airport and a gateway for those coming from other parts of Europe. It is also serviced by many discount airlines including EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Vueling, and others. Alternatively, you could be on a road trip travelling up and down the Mediterranean coast of Spain in which case you'll definitely want to know about coupon codes to save you money. Lastly, you can also take the national Renfe train from other cities such as Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid.
How do I get around? – If you have something like 5 days or less in Alicante, I wouldn't really recommend renting a car because it's so convenient to use public transit to get anywhere that you would need to go and this also includes a few day trips I didn't feature such as Benidorm, Guadalest, Calpe, and others. Otherwise, everything within the city itself is highly walkable.
Where should I stay? – I've listed all of the recommended accommodations above but in general when it comes to where to stay in Alicante, Booking.com is going to be your best bet to find something that fits your budget. If Airbnb is more your thing, remember to sign up for a new account to get free credit and take a look at my recommended Alicante Airbnbs in the city.
Do I need travel insurance? – As always, travel insurance is highly recommended. My philosophy is that you want to make sure you're covered in case the unknown happens. With the amount of travel that I do, I always get basic travel insurance that's good for multiple trips and lasts the full year. If you're from Canada, I always check Kanetix to make sure I get the best rates. If you're anywhere else in the world including the US, World Nomads is my preferred insurer.
Frequently asked questions
The cheapest way to the city is with Bus C-6 which is located on the upper level (come out of arrivals, turn right, and just before you come to the exit doors, go up the escalators). It costs 3.85€ and takes roughly 20 minutes.
The most convenient way into the city is by taking a private transfer.
Siesta is typically between 2PM to 5PM.
Big car rental companies such as Hertz, Europcar, Sixt, and Avis are represented at the airport and if you book with them, make sure to use car rental coupon codes. Alternatively, smaller companies such as COYS and Lara Cars are good value.
It will cost you about 25€ to get to the train station.
D´Tablas Alicante is the place to go for great tapas at cheap prices
The Spain Travel Health portal has individual forms you can fill out 48 hours before arrival where you'll get a QR code that you can download or print.
There are a lot of complaints against DoYouSpain.com so I would avoid them for car rentals at all costs.
Most ATMs in Alicante have a withdrawal fee added on by the local bank which is unavoidable but one thing is to make sure you withdraw by allowing your local bank do the conversion (Euro rate or “no conversion”) instead of converting it to your home currency on the fly. This also applies to point of sales machines when paying by credit card.
The best time to go to Alicante is May-June and September-October.
The Alicante Itinerary Experience
I think back on all of our coastal and island adventures from the past number of years and I have to say that this one was the most laid back and enjoyable getaways we've had.
As someone that loves to pack the itinerary, Chantelle will also tell you that I didn't go crazy on this one and that came with two thumbs of approval.
An interesting thing I noticed about coming to the Costa Blanca region was just how vacationers from the UK come here. Not to say that this is bad thing at all but this is the first place in Europe where there was a noticeable migration of tourists from one country.
This 5 day Alicante itinerary was the perfect warm up to the wet and dreary Iceland and a new region of Spain that is just another reason why I love the country so much.
So there you have it! This covers all 5 days of what a very chilled and relaxed vacation to Alicante, Spain can look like. I'd love to hear your thoughts for those that have been to Spain and if you have any questions about planning, don't hesitate to drop a comment.
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