For me, no holiday is complete without a heavy dose of local art and culture – this is the best way to understand the heart, soul and history of a destination. The sunny port city of Alicante on Spain’s southeastern Costa Blanca is a superb place that is bursting with culture.
It is sometimes viewed as merely the gateway to the coastal resorts as it hosts the nearest airport, but upon closer inspection it is a fascinating, beautiful and cultural city. It could be a great place to spend a few days exploring before venturing on for plenty of sun, sea and sand at one of Spain’s resorts.
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Alicante is home to a handful of unique art galleries and museums that any culture vulture will enjoy. Here are a few of my favourites that celebrate the rich history of the city.
This fascinating museum pays homage to the bullfighters of Alicante and is located inside the city’s impressive bullring at Plaza de Toros de Alicante. The museum displays former costumes, swords, trophies won by legendary bullfighters, portraits of these winners and even stuffed bull’s heads (perhaps avoid if squeamish!). In addition to the colourful artifacts, Museo Taurino also regularly holds intriguing interviews with bullfighters and conferences, plus there is also a library and audio-visual room with an enormous wealth of bullfighting material.
Whilst it is certainly a controversial part of Spanish culture, bullfighting is also very important part of their history and identity – this makes the museum an important place to visit.
Museo de Fogeures
Fogueres de Sant Joan, or Bonfires of Saint John, is Alicante’s biggest festival and a big part of the city’s cultural identity. If possible, I recommend co-ordinating your trip with the lively, colourful and artistic festival, which takes place in late June and sees vibrant papier-mâché effigies engulfed in flames whilst the locals party in the streets.
A museum documents this centuries-old festival, so head there to learn about the event’s origin, see mock bonfires, watch films of previous festivals and even see collections of “pardoned” ninots (effigies). The museum is located at Av. Rambla de Mendez Nunez, 29.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Art lovers will adore the Contemporary Art Museum (MACA), which contains one of the finest collections of contemporary art in all of Spain. In addition to this, the collection is inside a stunning Baroque property built in 1685 that is Alicante’s oldest surviving civil building.
Entrance is free and you can take your time walking through the impressive rooms, which contain historic pieces from the likes of Dali, Picasso, Miro, Bacon and Cocteau. In addition to the permanent collection, MACA is also home to regular exhibitions, so keep an eye out for what is coming up. The museum is found on Plaza de Santa Maria in a beautiful part of the city.
Archaeological museums have a tendency to be, well, a little old fashioned, but this is not the case for Alicante’s Museum of Archaeology (MARQ). The winner of Europe’s best museum in 2004, this is an absolute must visit and a unique way of exploring important archaeological findings from the region. The historic collections are brought to life through accompanying audio-visuals and artistic lighting for a fun, fascinating and special experience.
The collections are arranged chronologically and include the first human occupation from 100,000 years ago, through to the Roman era, and onwards up until the middle of the nineteenth century. The museum is located on Plaza Dr Gomez Ulls in the city’s former hospital.
How to Get There
Reaching Alicante from London is very simple as it has its own airport which hosts many flights, as it is the closest airport to the popular coastal resorts. There are 121 flights made from London every week from airlines that include easyJet, and a return could cost as little as £37. The average flight time is 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Pre-book a Shuttle Direct transfer from Alicante (ALC) and one of our friendly local drivers will be waiting at the airport to take you to your hotel.
Where to Stay:
Hotel Sercotel Spa Porta Maris – Brilliantly located 100 metres from the historic city centre and a 3-minute walk from the beach, the entirety of Alicante is at your fingertips here. You can enjoy lovely views of the ocean whilst tucking into dinner at the onsite restaurant, which previous guests have spoken highly of. The hotel also features a gym and spa (at additional cost) that features a heated pool, thermal circuit and massages.
Hospes Amérigo – Boasting superb views of the cathedral and Santa Barbara Castle, Hospes Amérigo is also just a short stroll to the beach. One of the key selling points is the cool rooftop spa, which includes a pool, sauna and gym. The spacious rooms feature old-world decor and high ceilings with huge windows, creating a very open and bright feel. The rooftop lounge bar is a great spot for a drink, whilst the lobby bar serves tasty tapas and light meals.
Sercotel Suites del Mar – Again just 3 minutes from the beach and with amazing views of the ocean, this hotel also allows you to indulge in luxury at the onsite spa and pool on the first floor. The panoramic terrace is a charming spot for relaxing with a coffee, whilst the restaurant offers scenic views out to sea and fresh Mediterranean dishes. You have everything you need here and you are right by the popular landmarks, city centre and the beach.
About Shuttle Direct:
Eliminate the stress of onwards travel by pre-booking a Shuttle Direct transfer. As the leading airport transfer provider in Europe, you can get your break off to a smooth start with affordable, reliable and efficient passage between airports, hotels, train stations and cruise terminals.
Book online today and their expert team will handle the logistics of your journey.