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Alicante Travel Guide

Flights to Alicante

Alicante's place at the heart of Spain's second coast, the Costa Blanca, is undisputed. As the entry point for the region, with many airlines flying here, it is always easy to find cheap flights to Alicante. The excellent transport links make travel easy to other nearby resorts such as Benidorm, Denia and Altea.

Its status also ensures that Alicante is the commercial and cultural hub of the area, meaning that away from the Explanada, the city's seaside promenade, lies a living city. While this is good news for anyone hoping to do a little shopping on their holidays, it also means that Alicante has drawn artists and performers from the area to its environs and created a setting for them to thrive. Good news for visitors to the area who can peruse their wares at leisure and enjoy lively performances as they make their way through the city.

An unusually diverse number of churches also graces the area and many are well worth a visit though two stand out. Built around the 15th century, Iglesia de Santa Maria is the oldest in the town. Its construction was followed by the building of the imposing Cathedral de San Nicolas in the 17th century and features a chapel built in the Spanish baroque style.

Many of the churches in Alicante and indeed much of Spain served different uses under the reign of the Moors. Remnants of their presence are woven into the culture of modern Spain and Alicante is one of several places to host the Moors and Christians Festival to mark their departure. This is staged at different times of year across many parts of Spain and features the re-enactment of the battles between the Muslim Moors and Christians that once raged across the region. Tourists who book flights to Spain will experience colourful displays featuring mock armies dressed in appropriate uniforms and waging battles across town squares provide a memorable spectacle.

In addition to the churches, parks, gardens and plazas abundantly strewn across the city, holidaymakers arriving in Alicante can hardly help but notice the huge structure perched atop Benacantil Mountain at the edge of the city. This is Santa Bárbara Castle, one of the largest medieval forts in all of Europe that covers the entire summit of the mountain. It was originally built by the Moors but takes its name from its conquest by Christians some 300 years later that took place on Saint Barbara's day (December 4, 1248).

Regardless of your particular interests, be sure to check the travel guide to Alicante for the excellent Insider Tips on the town before setting.

Travellers not short on time can also consider two day trips in the immediate area. The first involves a short boat ride (17km or 11 miles) to the fascinating Island of Tabarca. It is not big (about 1,800 metres long and 400 metres wide / 6,000 by 1,300 feet) but features a hefty historical significance. It was once used by Barbary pirates as a hideaway while the Spanish used it to house Genoese prisoners but in recent times it has become a snorkeller's playground with clear waters and an abundance of marine life.

Another worthwhile outing off the beaten path could involve a trip to nearby Elche where one of the holdovers from the Moors' reign over the area is a date-palm forest. There are close to 200,000 date palms within the area and although that number is dwarfed by the million or so that once grew here, the survivors are protected by law.

Finally, it would be folly to miss out on the beaches on offer. This is the Costa Blanca, after all, and seaside life here has plenty to offer. The Playa de San Juan is one of the best known and at 5km (3 miles) of sandy stretch, it will not disappoint. Hotels, restaurants and bars are all part of the scene and ensure that each visitor's every whim is catered for.

This still leaves the question of Costa del Sol versus Costa Blanca: one has for years enjoyed unrivalled status as Spain's No. 1 tourist destination while the other has used its reputation as an undiscovered paradise to build a local following among discerning travellers. Which is right for you? Why not check out the this travel guide to Spain to help you decide.