With its wide, palm-lined avenues, this town was made for walking -- and that's just what you'll do! The magnificent Explanada d'Espanya, extending around part of the yacht harbor, includes a promenade of mosaic sidewalks under the palms. All the boulevards are clean and lined with unlimited shopping options. At Alicante's leading department store, El Corte Inglés, you can find bargains without being trampled by mobs, as in Madrid. Alicante is known for its parks, gardens, and lines of palm trees, and it boasts several old plazas, some paved with marble.
High on a hill, the stately Castell de Santa Bárbara (tel. 96-526-31-31) towers over the bay and provincial capital. The Greeks called the fort Akra Leuka (White Peak). Its original defenses, erected by the Carthaginians in 400 B.C., were later used by the Romans and the Arabs. The fortress's grand scale is evident in its moats, drawbridges, tunneled entrances, guardrooms, cisterns, underground storerooms, hospitals, batteries, powder stores, barracks, high breastworks, and deep dungeons, as well as Matanza Tower and the Keep. From the top of the castle is a panoramic view over land and sea. The castle is accessible by road or by elevator. Board the elevator at the Explanada d'Espanya; admission by elevator is 3€. In summer the castle is open daily from 10am to 8pm; in winter, daily from 9am to 7pm.
It is also possible to drive to the top. A paved road off Avenida Vásquez de Mella leads directly to a parking lot beside the castle. If you drive, admission is free.
On the slopes of Castillo de Santa Bárbara behind the cathedral is the Barrio de Santa Cruz. Forming part of the Villa Vieja (Old Quarter), it is a colorful section with wrought-iron window grilles, flowers, and a view of the entire harbor.
Alicante isn't all ancient. Facing Iglesia Santa María is the Museu de Arte del Siglo XX Asegurada, Plaza de Santa María 3 (tel. 96-514-07-68). Housed in the city's oldest building, it contains modern art. Constructed as a granary in 1685, the restored building features works by Miró, Calder, Cocteau, Vasarély, Dalí, Picasso, and Tàpies. Other notable artists include Braque, Chagall, Giacometti, Kandinsky, and Zadkine. You'll also see a musical score by Manuel de Falla. The museum was formed in 1977 with the donation of a private collection by the painter and sculptor Eusebio Sempere, whose works are on display. It is open year-round Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 2pm and 4 to 8pm, and Sunday 10:30am to 2:30pm. From October to May, the Tuesday-through-Saturday evening hours are 5 to 9pm. Admission is free. Note: Check before heading here, as this museum was closed for renovations when this guide was published.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.