The Costa Blanca is best known for its sunny climate and many beautiful beaches. But that does not mean that only sunbathers can find their liking there. There are plenty of fun and varied day trips possible on the “white coast” in southeastern Spain.
Culture in Alicante
Alicante is a port city, seaside resort and it is also the capital of the Costa Blanca. If you want a day of culture, Alicante is the place to be. One of the most impressive sights is the Castillo de Santa Barbara from the 9th century. It sits atop the 166m-high mountain’s summit Benacantil. The panoramic views are not to be sneezed at! It is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe where you can admire church ruins, a veritable moat and even cannons. In the castle you can visit the dungeons, watchtower and palace. Also worth seeing is the Museo de la Ciudad: learn all about the history of the city and the castle.
On foot, by car or by elevator, you can go back down to the historic center of the city: Barrio de Santa Cruz. Time has stood still in this colorful neighborhood! The narrow houses are set against the mountain and the narrow streets are decorated with flowers and flags. From there you can continue down toward the port via the Explanada de España. This is one of the most beautiful promenades in Spain crafted with more than 6.5 million marble tiles. This beautiful boardwalk was built on what used to be the port’s breakwater. Now you will find market stalls, stores, street performers and terraces and be immersed in the Spanish atmosphere.
Taking the tourist tour in Benidorm
Benidorm is a prime example of mass tourism. Everything revolves around tourists: accommodation, food and drink, entertainment, activities and you name it. The skyline is filled with apartments and hotels, mostly made of glass and concrete. During the day you will find all those tourists on one of the three main sandy beaches: Playa de Mal Pas, Playa de Levante and Playa de Poniente.
In the evening, you will find the mostly British, German, Belgian and Dutch tourists in the many bars and clubs. Nightlife in Benidorm begins in the tapas bars, followed by cabaret acts and often concluded in the clubs. There used to be frequent complaints about drunken nuisances, but with the many checks and large police presence, Benidorm has become much safer and family-friendly.
More and more families are therefore moving to Benidorm. The nature park and zoo Terra Natura is more than 32 hectares and houses more than 200 different animal species from all over the world. Terra Mitica is an amusement park in the style of the ancient Mediterranean civilizations of Greece, Egypt and Rome with attractions for young and old. And finally, there are the amusement parks Aqualandia and Mundomar. The first is a water park with 15 water attractions: slides, pools, whitewater rivers and more. The second park is right next to it and is a zoo for families. You’ll find mammals, birds and reptiles, but the highlights are undoubtedly the dolphinarium and sea lion shows.
Unwind in nature in Elche
Elche is also one of the Costa Blanca’s larger cities with nearly a quarter of a million inhabitants. The center is just over 10 km from the Mediterranean Sea, about 20 km south of Alicante. Unlike Alicante, tourism is not its main source of income. The economy here revolves mostly around … shoes. You can find more than 1,000 factories making shoes in Elche, so perfect for those who like to shop for shoes!
But that’s not the reason why Elche does warrant a day trip. The Palmeral of Elche is very impressive to see. It is a grouping of orchards where more than 70,000 date palms can be found, or even 200,000 if we include the orchards outside the city. Since 2000, the Palmeral has even been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. One of these orchards is the Huerto del Cura botanical garden, with about 500 date palms and also other Mediterranean a tropical plants. This one is worth visiting because of the Imperial Palm, a very rare date palm. You can recognize it by the trunk that splits into 7 branches. The Imperial Palm was named after Empress Sissi after her visit to the Palmeral in 1894.
Guadalest, bent in the mountains
This small village has less than 200 inhabitants yet attracts 2 million every year.oen visitors to. This is because of its very unique location: you can only reach the village through a tunnel in the rocks. The village is built around the castle of Guadalest, built by the Moors as a defense against the Spaniards. The nearly 1,000-year-old village is thus a crow’s nest rising above the rocks. In that old village center you will find not only the castle, but also a beautiful town hall, baroque church, attractive square and two museums.
The original castle and accompanying mansion Casa Orduña are well worth a visit, but it is mainly the panoramic views that are the main attraction. As you can imagine, here you will find breathtaking views of the mountains on one side and the reservoir of Guadalest on the other. This reservoir was built in the 20th century and supplies much of Alicante with drinking water.
Have you descended again and want to seek refreshment? Then pass by the Algar waterfalls on the way back – halfway between Guadalest and Benidorm. The Algar River comes down from the rocks there in a number of beautiful waterfalls. A number of natural pools were formed at the bottom of the falls. Around it is a nature reserve where you can also enjoy Mediterranean fauna and flora, including an arboretum.
Sports on the Costa Blanca
Of course, the Costa Blanca offers more than sun, sea, beach and day trips. Those who want to do some good sports here will also get their money’s worth.
Not only can you enjoy beautiful beach walks on the Costa Blanca, the mountainous hinterland is also ideal for the hikers among us. There are several options for both experienced hikers and beginners. Beautiful views, small to high elevations, olive groves and ravines will all be encountered during your hike in this beautiful area.
The mountainous landscape of the Costa Blanca, of course, does not only lend itself to hiking. There are also several opportunities for mountaineers. In Calpe you will find the famous Toix sea cliff: climbing routes with different levels of difficulty and you can also do abseiling. Alcalali is also a very popular area for climbers. In Lliber, for example, you have the Peña Roja, a climbing wall with more than 40 routes.
You can also rent bicycles on the Costa Blanca. Bike tours with or without a guide, mountain biking in the mountains, even cycling is among the possibilities! Walk into the nearest tourist information point for more information around renting (electric) bikes or the best natural parks to go off-road mountain biking. In Calpe in winter, for example, you are very likely to encounter professional riders. Experienced cyclists can make wonderful day trips there, with or without mountain climbs included.
The Costa Blanca is a coastal region, so naturally there are numerous options for boat trips. In Alicante, for example, you can take a boat to the pirate island of La Tabaraca, a marine reserve where there is great snorkeling. From Benidorm you can sail to the towns of Altea and Calpe, or you can visit the Isla de Pavo Real. The “peacock island” is home to numerous bird species, and you sail there in a glass-bottomed boat so you can admire marine life as well. Also in the mountain village of Guadalest, you can take boat trips on the Guadalest reservoir.
It doesn’t stop there, of course. From the various beaches on the Costa Blanca, you also have access to a whole range of water sports: kayaking, snorkeling, water skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, sailing, jet skiing, and so on.