Alicante is not exactly an off the beaten track location- it is a large-ish city in Spain, and is also a province on the East coast of Spain. It is home to some not-so-hidden-“gems” such as Benidorm and Torrevieja, however, it also boasts some beautiful, lesser known locations that this post will focus on, such as Altea, a mountain-top town with beautiful architecture and views, Tabarca, a tiny island off the coast, and San Juan de Alicante, a town whose glorious 6km long beach boasts the restaurant with the best paella I have ever had (and no, this is not an exaggeration).
Where to Stay
Both times I visited, I stayed in San Juan de Alicante to avoid the crowds and be close to the beach. The town isn’t anything exceptional, however, location wise, it was great. I will say that I have only ever been here in the summer (June and July), during peak summer season. If you choose to visit during the off-season, keep in mind that some places may be closed and the area may not be as lively.
What to do
Go to Altea- Altea is a bit of a touristy stop, however it is so beautiful that it is worth the visit! The city’s architecture is beautiful, as the buildings are well maintained and many are topped with a striking blue-ceramic-tiled dome, a style that is common in this region. There are street vendors, musicians, and artists set up all over the city. Altea can be made into a day trip, or a short stop to walk around, window shop, and grab a drink with a view!
Go to Tabarca- Tabarca is a small island off the coast of Alicante, so small that it is barely visible when looking at a map. Just a few miles off the coast, it is easily accessible by ferry (in the summer months) from Alicante, Santa Pola, and Torrevieja. This island with a population of about 60 people, was historically a refuge to Barbary pirates until around 1760 when it was repopulated and developed. The towns infrastructure still remains today, and relies on fishing and tourism for its survival. The island is home to numerous beaches and coves with pristine water (perfect for snorkeling) and a few restaurants. I took the ferry from Santa Pola (prep yourselves for a bumpy ride), and enjoyed a day full of beach-hopping and sun. Keep in mind that the island’s beaches can get crowded, especially on a windy day, when there are some wind-stricken beaches and others that are wind free. Although you definitely won’t have the island to yourself, I would 100% recommend Tabarca for a day trip!
Eat at Restaurante Tere, or Restaurante Casa Gloria, and be sure to reserve well in advance – there are limited options on the island and tend to fill up quickly on the weekend!
Where to Eat
Churros (con chocolate or con azúcar, my fave) at Churreria Chocolateria San Juan for breakfast
Paella at Restaurante Casa Julio– hands down the best paella I have ever had, and it is right on the beach. Be sure to reserve way in advance (a week should be good) BUT if you can’t get a reservation, you can eat at the “bar” which is an outside area with high tables that are first come first serve, and you can order paella there, and eat it with an ocean view!
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