Locals describe ALICANTE as la millor terra del mond and while that's a gross exaggeration it is at least a living city, thoroughly Spanish, and a definite relief after some of the places you may have been passing through. There are good beaches nearby, too, a lively nightlife in season and plenty of cheap places to stay and to eat. Wide esplanades such as the Rambla de Méndez Núñez and Avda Alfonso Sabio give the town an elegant air, and around the Plaza de Luceros and along the seafront paseo you can relax in style at terrace cafιs – paying a bit extra for the palm-tree setting, of course. The most interesting area is the "Barrio Antiguo" around the Ayuntamiento,
The rambling Castillo de Santa Barbara on the bare rock behind the town beach is Alicante's only real "sight" – with a tremendous view from the top. It's best approached from the seaward side where a lift shaft has been cut straight up through the hill to get you to the top; the lift is directly opposite Meeting Point 5 on the other side of the road from Playa Postiguet. For the best local beaches head for San Juan de Alicante, 6km out, reached either by half-hourly bus from the Plaza del Mar or the FEVE rail line. Still better, take a trip to the island of Tabarca to the south – boats leave from Puerto on the Explanada de España daily in summer, weather permitting.
Alicante is a university city, with various faculties and a series of technical colleges. In summer a variety of Spanish courses for foreigners are held.
The City offers an interesting range of cultural activities taking place in various centres around town, such as the Casa de la Cultura (cultural centre), which has a well-stocked library, a historical archive and keeps locals and visitors abreast of cultural movements by staging exhibitions, conferences and films. A number of financial entities also have their own Cultural Centres, offering a diversified programme throughout the year. The Teatro Principal, a neo-classical building of the middle 19th century, with an extensive programme, the exhibition centre Lonja del Pescado...
In the month of September the National Theatre Meeting "Alicante a Escena" is held, along with the International Contemporary Music Festival. In December there is an International Puppet Festival.
The calendar in Alicante is fuller than usual as far as festivities are concerned. Depending on the season in which you happen to be staying in the city, you can take your pick from an extensive variety of fiestas.
The most important of these are undoubtedly what Alicanteans call Les Fogueres de Sant Joan held at the end of June. This is the time of year during which Alicante becomes completely transformed. Dozens of monuments made of wood and papier-mβchι are assembled in the streets throughout the city. Humour, satire and criticism of daily life bring many a smile to the faces of spectators. On the night of 24 June, after a shattering palmera, or fireworks display, all monuments are summarily consumed by the flames.
These festivities, however, last until 29 June, overlapping with the Feast of San Pedro, featuring colourful processions, fantastic fireworks and revelling in the popular barracas, makeshift fiesta houses constituting the centre of attraction for locals and visitors alike, with live outdoor music and dancing every night. Another prominent festivity is the romeria, or pilgrimage, to the neighbouring village of Santa Faz, held on the second Thursday following the eighth week after Easter and attracting thousands of "pilgrims".