Since I really enjoyed this one week in Alicante with the kids, let me share with you some of the best places from this epic family trip to Costa Blanca.
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Our Holidays in Costa Blanca
As you might already know – I´ve been an expat in the Valencian Community for the past 10+ years, so exploring local hidden gems via day trips has always been a huge part of my Spanish weekends. However, I should admit that I have mostly had my eyes set on Valencia and Castellon.
If you are not familiar with the region of the Valencian Community (or La Comunidad Valenciana in Spanish) yet, let me highlight that it consists of the 3 Spanish provinces – Alicante, Valencia, and Castellon. While the last two have been featured on the blog multiple times, there´s still a gap with the Alicante travel content which I am about to fill up in the nearest future.
Why visit Alicante
What I have always loved about Alicante is the fact that it combines a traditional Mediterranean getaway (the very same you can enjoy on Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca, or even the Greek Islands, Cyprus, and Malta) with an interesting sightseeing agenda, traditional Spanish food, and numerous road trip ideas.
Spending holidays on the Spanish islands definitely adds some relaxed vibes to any vacation, but at the same time, your sightseeing plans are always limited. While in Alicante you can easily rent a car (sometimes even take a train or bus) and visit the nearest Spanish regions via day trips.
Also, I have always felt like Alicante is one of the best places to enjoy Spain with kids. While the region is obviously well-established on the tourist track (and I have a thing for Undiscovered Spain), somehow I loved our week in Alicante more than our trip to Cambrils / Catalonia and Costa Brava Road Trip (both took place during the off-season and were packed with tourists).
The coastal area of Alicante is called Costa Blanca, and it´s full of beautiful calas (small shell-shaped bays). But in this post, I won´t cover the Alicante beaches, as this time we were mostly interested in sightseeing (after our relaxing weekends in Benicassim at Costa Azahar).
My trips to Alicante
Except for this week in Alicante, the rest of my numerous visits to the province were one-day stops on the road to other Spanish regions. Let me highlight here my Alicante travel history:
- 2015: had a quick stop in Calpe to see Peñon de Ifach and discover its legend
- 2016: spent a day in Alicante to catch a flight to Iceland
- 2017: enjoyed an afternoon in Benidorm on the way to Andalusia and Algarve
- 2018: made a stop at Torrevieja (to see the otherworldly landscape of the Pink Lake) on the road to Mojacar and Almeria
- 2019: celebrated New Year´s Eve with kids in a hotel SH Villa Gadea / Altea
- 2020: made a stop at the secret vintage museum of Ibi while heading to Murcia
- 2021: visited the stunning gardens near Denia to get on a ferry to Formentera
So, when you put it all down this way – you probably get it why it took me so long to plan an actual trip to Alicante and Costa Blanca. Somehow, I was unintentionally ending up there at least once per year. Therefore, I felt way less excited about spending a week in Alicante, than heading to the Spanish Pyrenees or Northern Spain.
Where to stay in Alicante
Via this map you can check & compare prices for the top hotels in Alicante and its surroundings:
Unique experiences to book in Alicante:
- Alicante Secret Flavors Food Tour
- Roundtrip to Tabarca Island
- Alicante and Santa Pola Tandem Paragliding Flight
- Alicante 3-Hour Coastal Catamaran Cruise
- Vineyards of Alicante – Wine Tasting Tour
- Alicante City and Beach Bike Tour
- Canelobre Caves Tour with Transport
This week in Alicante
Nevertheless, on this Costa Blanca holiday I was aiming to visit Alicante for the region itself (and it won´t be my last trip, for sure). We booked a hotel in Alicante city and traveled across the province to discover new places every single day. This week in Alicante happened in June and we were on the road with two kids (3 and 4,5 years old). You can check more details about Benidorm in this post.
One week in Alicante with kids
Day 1 – Alicante
Santa Barbara Castle
There´s no better way to start your week in Alicante than to get a first panoramic glimpse of the city from Santa Barbara Castle.
This place has always been of great strategic importance due to its hilltop location. The castle got its name thanks to Prince Alfonso de Castilla, who had conquered it from the Arabs on St.Barbara´s Day. While this castle won´t make it to my list of top Spanish dreamy castles, the views were undeniably stunning. I also loved the fact that the entrance was free (which makes it a great stop for those who are in Spain on a budget).
Additionally, at Santa Barbara Castle there are lots of interesting events one can enjoy – from guided tours and indoor exhibitions to culinary experiences and concerts. You can check the 2023 agenda here.
The city of Alicante
Another popular stop in Alicante is Explanda de España, a pedestrian walkway near the waterfront surrounded by palm trees. After an enjoyable walk and lunch, we headed to Kinepolis cinema to relax and watch an animated movie with the kids. By the way, they usually have movies in English every week (which is not very typical in Spain).
Day 2 – Benidorm and Terra Mitica
There´s no week in Alicante without visiting Benidorm, the Spanish skyscraper capital. The city is known as one of the main Spanish touristic hubs with 27 buildings above 100 meters.
Well, you know how much I love avoiding crowds… But this time we had a good reason to stop by, as it was the first opening weekend at Terra Mitica. You literally can´t travel to Alicante with kids and ignore its biggest theme park. During this week in Alicante, we did not spend time in the city of Benidorm (as we previously visited it a few times).
However, if you enjoy an occasional citybreak, don´t mind meeting new people, and love visiting trendy restaurants and nightclubs – you´ll love Benidorm. Don´t miss Balcon del Mediterraneo, Iglesia de San Jaime, Cala de Tio Ximo, and Parque de Elche.
What I also do want to check out next time are the Antiques and flea markets of Benidorm, since they are famous in Spain (I´ll share the details with you as soon as I get a chance to visit).
Although, if I were to compare Terra Mitica to other popular Spanish theme parks – Parque Warner Madrid and PortAventura, I´d have to admit that I liked Terra Mitica less. While in June it was still ok in terms of waiting lines (way better than PortAventura), the rides and park were a bit old-fashioned. Here, I´d have to admit that I´m especially picky since my trip to Orlando in the States.
Anyway, my kids would not agree with me on this one. Our oldest daughter adores stories about Egypt and Greece, and Terra Mitica had rides and decorations related to both. Therefore, my kids were sold right from first minute.
Although, next time we plan to make a stop at another popular spot in Alicante with kids – Magic Robin Hood. But for this week in Alicante, I honestly felt like visiting two theme parks would be too much (obviously for me only, not for the kids).
Day 3 – Novelda – Sax – Villena
For this week in Alicante, I´ve set my eyes on the castles of Sax and Atalaya: the first one is known for the spectacular hilltop setting, but the second does not actually stay behind any of the top Spanish dreamy castles.
As castles often involve interesting Spanish legends – my kids always enjoy playing princesses and dragons inside. Even if there´s no official mysterious story related to a castle – we simply invent it, like it was with the unknown Castle of Gaibiel in Castellon.
Before visiting the castles, we made a quick stop on the road at Novelda to see the peculiar local church Santuari de Santa Maria Magdalena, and the tiny museum Casa Museo Modernista.
Both places were really unique. However, there was a no-picture policy inside the museum, which I absolutely did not get. I mean, no-flash is understandable. But isn´t the aim of any touristy place to promote itself online better in order to get more visitors? This brings more jobs, businesses, and investments to the nearby area.
That´s to say, lots of people inside the museum were still secretly taking pictures despite the rule, so I couldn´t see the point of their secrecy.
The Sax Castle has Islamic origins, like many other Spanish ancient buildings across the Alicante region. It was conquered by the Crown of Aragon in 1239. There´s not much to see inside, but the views were nice. In order to visit Sax Castle, you´ll need to book in advance one of the 3 daily slots.
Castle of Alataya in Villena
Another place I really enjoyed during this week in Alicante was the Atalaya Castle in Villena.
It is also known as Castle of the Pies Negros (e.g. black feet) or simply Villena Castle. This place was once a military building of Arab origin but got renovated and extended in the XVth century. Atalaya Castle is also home to the Treasure of Villena, a collection of 59 gold, silver, iron, and amber pieces dating back to the Bronze Age. It is the biggest gold tableware found in Spain and the second biggest in Europe.
Day 4 – Elche and Rio Safari
While Elche often gets overshadowed by its famous neighbors, Alicante and Benidorm, the city is home to the largest palm grove in Europe. You can check more photos from my visit in this post.
The origins of Palm Grove, also called El Palmeral, date back to the Xth century and the Arab times in Spain. You can´t miss Parque Municipal (e.g. The Town Park of Elche) which is literally one of the most beautiful gardens in the whole of Spain.
After a pleasant stroll in the park, we headed to Elche´s Cathedral Basilica de Santa Maria. The views from the top were simply stunning, but as it usually happens, there were many stairs in-between. So, it might not be a match for kids or seniors – but the rest should not miss out.
Rio Safari Elche
In the afternoon, we decided to take the kids to Rio Safari Elche. You might already know that I´m not a fan of zoos from my Tenerife post. But I´m usually outnumbered, as my husband and kids always want to go. So, for now, I settle for explaining to the little ones why I do not enjoy the zoos myself (without any visible comprehension from their side, at least for now).
Day 5 – Villajoyosa and Altea
You can´t spend a week in Alicante and miss Costa Blanca´s iconic coastal towns. Both Villajoyosa and Altea are absolute must-stops in the Province of Alicante.
With its cute white-washed houses Altea embodies the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle. This small town is locally known as the Cupula of the Mediterranean, due to the striking blue dome of the town’s main church.
Altea is very touristy in the summer peak season and hard to find parking spots. Therefore we made it a quick morning stop and headed to Villajoyosa.
Located a few kilometers south of the famous Benidorm, Villajoyosa is known for its lovely sandy beach and colorful fishing houses, running along the seafront. It´s one of the prettiest small towns of the Costa Blanca and one of the most colorful villages in Spain.
But there´s even more to the story.
Fans of local food souvenirs will be happy to find out that Villajoyosa is also known as the Spanish Chocolate City. All thanks to its 3 chocolate factories: El Valor, Chocolates Perez, and Calvileño (the first two offer free guided tours).
Once exploring the neighborhood, don´t miss La Vila Museum.
If you like Medieval fairs in Spain – late July is a great time to visit Villajoyosa, as the Moros y Christianos festival will be taking place.
Day 6 – Aitana Safari
Aitana Safari was definitely a highlight of this week in Alicante for the kids.
This place offers a unique experience to go on a safari without heading to faraway Africa. You access the park with your own car and drive around while making stops in places where the staff is present (otherwise you are not allowed to leave your car). They also organize private tours, for those seeking a more exclusive wildlife experience.
Aitana Safari Park is one of our current favorites with kids in Spain. Such a great place to learn and experience more about wildlife and to see some exotic animals from the comfort and safety of your own car.
Day 7 – Guadalest
Due to its unique natural setting, the small town of Guadalest deserves its place on the list of the most beautiful villages in Spain. While this small town is touristy, it has lots of tiny museums to keep one busy for a day: Nativity Scene and Dollhouse Museum, the Museum of Micro-miniatures, the Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakers, the Collection of Historic Vehicles, the Ethnological Museum, and the Medieval Museum.
However, most of the visitors definitely come to Guadalest for the stunning views.
More Alicante Travel Ideas
As always, I´ll add here a few of my Alicante bucket list experiences left for future visits. I hope it will be helpful for those of you who plan to stay in the region for more than one week, or maybe want to change something in my Alicante itinerary:
- panoramic views of Benidorm: Gran Hotel Bali (43rd floor), Mirador de La Cala, Mirador de la Isla de Benidorm, Mirador de la Cruz, Mirador Serra Gelada
- one of the top hikes in Spain – Relleu Dam Walkway
- more castles in Alicante: Bañyeres, Biar, Petrer
- a few cool hikes in the Alicante region: Punta de Cavall, Punta de l´Escaleta, Far de L´Albir, Torre de l´Aguilo, Font del Moli, El Forat, Font de Paetegas, Arcos de Piedra
- waterfalls Fuentes de Algar
- calas (coves or bays) in Alicante: Cala Ambolo, Cala Portixol, Cala Moraig
- if you love Spanish Medieval Fairs and your dates overlap – at the beginning of May there´s usually an impressive fiesta Moors and Christians of Alcoy
- A day trip to explore Valencia with kids
Top Alicante Day Tours:
- Guadalest Valley and Algar Waterfalls Tour (check availability)
- Charming Villages Tour – Villajoyosa and Altea (check availability)
- Chulilla and the Hanging Bridges Day Trip (check availability)
- Cullera Old Town and Albufera Natural Park (check availability)
- Bocairent and Covetes dels Moros Day Trip (check availability)
- Xativa and Anna Guided Tour (check availability)
- Coastal Cliffs & Beaches: private full-day tour (check availability)
Planning to stay in Spain for more than one week? – You can combine your Costa Blanca holidays with my Ultimate 7-day Valencia Road Trip Itinerary
Blog Subscribers can download a freebie list of hikes for the Valencian Community to explore the nature of Alicante.
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