81km (50 miles) N of Murcia, 40km (25 miles) S of Benidorm, 172km (107 miles) S of Valencia, 417km (259 miles) SE of Madrid

Alicante, capital of the Costa Blanca, is popular in both summer and winter. Many consider it the best all-around city in Spain. As you amble about its esplanades, you almost feel as if you were in Africa: Women in caftans and peddlers hawking carvings from Senegal or elsewhere often populate the waterfront.

San Juan, the largest beach in Alicante, is a short distance from the capital. It's lined with villas, hotels, and restaurants. The bay of Alicante has two capes, and on the bay is Postiguet Beach. The bay stretches all the way to the Cape of Santa Pola, a town with two good beaches, a 14th-century castle, and several seafood restaurants.