Costa Blanca continues to draw millions of holidaymakers every year, lured by its miles of sandy beaches, mild Mediterranean climate and its leisure and recreational facilities.
But, away from the beach there’s still lots to enjoy on package, or all-inclusive, holidays to the Costa Blanca. Choose from these great options aimed at helping make your getaway memorable.
Explore historic Alicante
Spend the day in Alicante, a historic port that retains its old town core and has a castle, several excellent art galleries, a vibrant food scene and one of the most lovely promenades in Spain. It also stages a two-month long cultural festival in the summer.
Amble through the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a colourful quarter in the old town, where small houses crowd the streets that climb up the hill to the walls and castle. Stop on the way for a coffee, glass of beer or tapas at one of the many bars and taverns.
The Castle of Santa Barbara looms above the city on Mount Benacantil, which has yielded evidence of Bronze Age, Iberian and Roman occupation. If you don’t want to reach it on foot, there is a lift.
The castle is made up of three parts: La Torreta, which dates to the 14th century; the mid-level enclosure, which dates from the 16th century and is home to the Salon Felipe II hall and guardhouse; and the lower reaches, which date from the 18th century.
The castle, which affords panoramic views over the port and town, houses a museum dedicated to the history of Alicante. Guided tours in English are available.
For more information about the rich history of the city, visit the award-winning Archaeological Museum of Alicante in the old town. Two historic churches worth visiting are the Basilica of Santa Maria (14th-16th century), which is built in a Gothic style, and the Co-cathedral of St Nicholás de Bari (16th-18th century), both of which were built over mosques.
Another highlight is the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art, located in the 17th century Baroque Casa de la Aseguruda, the oldest building in Alicante.
This houses around 800 pieces, including art by Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Picasso, Juan Gris and Julio González.
Head for Calblanque Regional Park
Another option is a visit to Calblanque Regional Park in the Murca region, which preserves one of the last unspoilt stretches of Mediterranean coastline in Spain.
This provides superb walks with access to lovely sandy beaches, sandbanks, hidden coves and mudflats that support a variety of flora and fauna.The latter includes badgers and martens, four different species of lizards as well as peregrine falcons, flamingos, storks, egrets and sandpipers.
Cool down in the picturesque hilltop town of Guadalest
The hilltop town of Guadalest, which is about 25km inland from Benidorm and an hour from Alicante, boasts one of the most spectacular locations of any town in Spain.
Known as the Eagle’s Nest, the town of 200 people is carved out of a mountain summit, and was a military stronghold of major importance during the Moorish reign. Its narrow lanes are lined with shops, bars and restaurants, making it perfect for a tranquil lunch and some shopping for souvenirs such as crafts.
There are several museums such as the Torture Museum, a Historical Vehicles Museum and Orduna House Museum. You also won’t want to miss the remains of the 11th century Castle of L’Alcazaiba, the 12th century dungeon and jail, and the attractive Baroque Church of Mare de Déu de l’Assumpció.
Take a boat trip to the island of Tabarca
If you’re booking hotels on the Costa Blanca, you may want to consider adding a boat trip to Isla de Tabarca to your itinerary. Located around 20km from Alicante, the island was a refuge for Barbary pirates as recently as the 18th century, and St Paul is said to have disembarked here.
Today it’s a marine reserve and a Zone of Special Protection for Birds. The status of the marine reserve that draws so many scuba divers and snorkelers, and it’s well worth packing some equipment if you have any.When you’ve worked up an appetite exploring all the marine life, you can enjoy lunch at one of the numerous seafood restaurants or taverns.
To reach Tabarca you can catch one of the ferries that leave Alicante, Torrevieja or Santa Pola daily. The journey time from Alicante is around one hour, and departure is at 11am.