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Gateway to the revitalised resorts and beaches of the
Costa Blanca, the port of Alicante is one of the fastest-growing cities
in Spain. Reflecting its long and turbulent history, the city is well
fortified – its main castle, Castillo de Santa Barbara, is perched high
above the city on Mount Benacantil.

With a full programme of festivals and entertainment,
the city offers a lively nightlife scene, especially during the summer
at the Playa de San Juan. Held at the height of summer, the key
festival of the Bonfires of Saint John is followed a few days later by
a week of firework and pyrotechnic competitions at the Playa del
Postiguet. Framed by the sea, the International Music, Dance and
Theatre Festival is held in the superb Plaza del Puerto Viejo in July
and August.

On the slopes of Mount Benacantil, under the castle
for protection in wilder times, like the Old Quarter’s honeycomb of
lanes and alleys; its medieval walls can be traced back to late Roman
times. These days, it offers a vibrant nightlife, known as “el barrio”.
Explore the Plaza de la Santisima Faz behind the Town Hall, climbing up
to the Plaza de Quijano, one of the oldest squares in Alicante.

In the Calles de Toledo, San Luis and Diputado Auset,
you can stroll by the colourful houses, smothered with flowers and
featuring ironwork decoration and mosaics, ancient fountains and steep,
narrow lanes leading to the 18th century hermitage of Santa Cruz.

Down at the modern marina, there’s a different
atmosphere with restaurants, bars and cafes and plenty of shops. Enjoy
a meal or a drink looking out over the exclusive yachts and be
entertained by the street musicians in the summer.

On the food front, turrones, a honey and almond
nougat, is a speciality of nearby Jijona, although locals are
particularly proud of their paella and seafood. Local specialities can
be explored through the small plates of “tapas”. “Montaditos”, small
delights on bite-sized pieces of bread, originated in Alicante and
spread throughout Spain; try the area near the town hall and down to
the Plaza de Montañeta.