Over the years, Alicante has become more famous for its stag weekends and stories of Brits on the run from the law than for its merits as a family holiday destination. We take look at the real Alicante and explore the truths behind the myths that have made Alicante what it is today.
The myth: It’s a haven for British fugitives.
The reality: While Alicante may have been an appealing location to lay low for British criminals in the past, it’s no longer the hideaway haven it once was. The introduction of European Arrest Warrants has given police an effective way to extradite villains who, in the late 70s, had taken advantage of the breakdown in Britain and Spain’s extradition agreement. The warm climate and quality of life remains, but Spain and Alicante are no longer top of the destination list for Britons on the run.
Want to know more about the real history of Alicante?
Visit the Archaeological Museum of Alicante which explores how Alicante has evolved through the ages, with each room immersing you into different civilisations from Alicante’s past.
Adult tickets: 3 Euros. Children under 15: Free
Photo via Wikipedia
The myth: All the restaurants serve chips and greasy fry ups.
The reality: Since the early days of the package deal, Spain’s promise of sun, sea and sand at bargain prices saw us all flocking to the Spanish mainland for our summer holiday. The natural outcome was for local businesses to offer tourists a ‘home-from-home’ option of a decent cuppa and some English grub.
So while you will find some eateries serving fry-ups, the Alicante region has many local speciality dishes to sample in a wealth of excellent restaurants. Try eating at the Arrocerias, speciality rice restaurants, especially for most famous of all Spanish rice dishes, paella. Also try the ‘blanquet’ a type of sausage produced in the mountain region close to Alicante. Or, for a Spanish take on a British seaside tradition, there’s turrón – nougat flavoured ice cream, a local favourite.
Photo by Jonathan Pincas via Flickr
Want to eat like a local? Try these restaurants:
La Tabernica Iberica: Fresh local cuisine, served by the friendly local owners. Struggling with the menu? They’ll bring a sample of tapas and other dishes for you to try.
Calle Pedro Sebastia, 7 | Casco Antiguo, Historico, 03002 Alicante
Restaurant Capri: Serving fresh homemade tapas Mon-Sat. Don’t let the modern décor put you off, Capri serves authentic Spanish food at great prices. The gambas (prawns) are not to be missed.
C/ San Ildefonso, 6, 03001 Alicante
Photo by Jonathan Pincas via Flickr
Tip: To eat in the best restaurants on a budget look out for ‘menu of the day’ boards offering set meals with a couple of courses and a drink at a reduced rate. Alternatively visit the market in downtown Alicante for fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.
The myth: Alicante’s shores are maintained with imported sand.
The reality: This rumour dates back as far as 1970 when a cheeky tour rep told the ‘story’ to holidaymakers that had just landed at Alicante airport. The tale of sands imported from Morocco captured their imagination and has been retold ever since. The truth is the Alicante region has over 240 kilometres of natural golden beaches dotted with beautiful bays and hidden coves, making them ideal for fun family days of beachcombing, sunbathing and swimming.
The best beaches?
El Postiguet Beach: Alicante’s main beach close to the main hotels and amenities. There’s also a lift up to Santa Barbara Castle at the top of Benacantil mountain.
Playa Del Saladar (Also known as Playa del Urbanova): South of Alicante, this quieter beach offers a respite from the busy tourist beaches closer to town. Calm waters, beautiful views and vast stretches of sand make it ideal for couples and families.
The myth: Alicante is not a family holiday resort, just a place for boozy stag parties.
The reality: Any European destination with great flight deals and bustling nightlife is going to attract people looking for a stag weekend to remember. While the Alicante club scene does cater for the 18-30 crowd, there’s also plenty on offer for families looking to avoid noisy nightclubs and boozed-up Brits abroad.
Where can you find family friendly activities?
Calle de Explanada de España: This promenade hosts free concerts on summer Sunday mornings. Popular with local residents, it’s a great place to stroll along the palm tree lined seafront and soak up the atmosphere.
Terra Natura and Aqua Natura: These two theme parks, situated next to each other, offer a joint ticket option to visit both parks and save money. Terra Natura is home to over 1500 animals from 200 different countries while Aqua Natura has wave pools, slides, a spa and sun deck, meaning there’s space for parents to relax while the kids have fun.
Aitana Safari Park: This lesser known park involves a drive into the mountains, but is well worth the visit. Local families enjoy coming here to feed animals such as hippos, giraffes and ostriches, or get up close to the resident elephants.
Start planning your trip to Alicante today: