I was able to explore Spain and the Costa Blanca during an internship abroad. Tapas, Paella, many bars, really friendly people and a great atmosphere – just to name a few of the memories I have from my time there. Apart from that, temperatures can be around 30°C in November. It’s no wonder many people from North or Middle Europe have their winter homes here.
It’s a quite calm region normally. But not in summer, when Benidorm becomes party hell.
However there are a few nice towns and places, you have to see when here.
Alicante is the second largest city in the Communitat Valenciana. Because it has only few tourist attractions, it’s untroubled by mass tourism like Benidorm (which has no attractions but party and drinking). Alicante convinces with natural Spanish charm and a relaxed attitude to life.
Actually there are a few things to see here. For example the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, which you can easily spot from the Platja Postiguet Beach. The castle is enthroned 166m high on the Monte Benacantil. Opposite of the Platja Postiguet is the elevator which brings you up to the castle. It only costs a few euros. You can also walk, but who really wants that?!
Another beauty of the city is the Calle de l’Explanada de España along the harbour. It is one of the most beautiful palm tree promenades in Spain. It’s made of six million colourful mosaic stones forming waves. Together with the Castillo, they’re the city’s landmarks.
The Iglesia de Santa Maria de Alicante was built in the 14th to 15th century and is the city’s oldest church. It’s located in the El Barrio, Alicante’s Old Town which is another highlight of the city. The former slum is today Alicante’s place to bewith a lot of restaurants and bars.
If you want to meet Spanish people and not only Erasmus students, you have to go out for dinner really late and partying even later. There are a few bars at the port as well. Spanish people know how to do Fiesta!
And (telling in Grandma mode): Back in those days, prices in Alicante were totally acceptable. As Alicante is a student’s town, I think this didn’t change a lot. At least, I hope.
As many Spanish cities, Alicante is full of beautiful Plazas. For example, Plaza de los Luceros with its beautiful fountain built in 1930.
Or the actually totally busy street Avenida Alfonos el Sabio. Unspectacular, but the sunsets here were a pleasure for me every day.
From Alicante its worth making a day trip to Palmtree City Elche, which is the third largest city in the Communitat Valenciana. Founded in 600 B.C. , the city got its name from the Moors in the 8th century. Today it’s an industrial city and has many shoe factories.
Why do they call it a Palmtree City? Because Elche has Europe’s largest Palmtree Garden – 200,000 palms distributed all over the city’s gardens. They’re all protected. Since 2000, it’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Besides the palm tree gardens, Elche has a historic Old Town. You can see for example the Basilica Santa Maria built in the 16th /17th century. Yeah, maybe every church in Spain is named after Maria.
I was here with friends. For seeing the Old Town and one of the gardens, an afternoon was totally enough. Depending on what you want to do, you can of course spend more time here.
Altea is a wonderful idyll at the Costa Blanca. It’s part of the Communitat Valenciana, too, and it’s an absolute contrast to Benidorm, no skyline at all. Instead you’ll see cute white houses, stairs, alleyways with flowers and orange trees – a little paradise for people, who can afford it. Wealthy Spanish people, artists and pensioners live here.
The only classic sight worth mentioning is the Nuestra Señora de Consuelo Church. The white and blue tiles on the cupola are quite impressive and it’s located up on the hill. From there, you’ll have an amazing view over the town and port.
Apart from that, it was just fun walking around the idyllic alleys with the beautiful white houses. There were only a few tourists here! The more you walk up the better the view!
Altea’s beach is gravelly and clean. The sea is crystal clear. But in November it was definitely too cold to swim. There were a few cute cafés at the promenade.
Altea is one of the places, you imagine for your retirement. Beautiful, calm and way too boring for young people.
Have you been to Costa Blanca yet? Did you like it? Are there any other places you would recommend for a visit?