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AlicanteValencian Community, Spain

For an authentic Spanish experience and some of the country’s finest beaches, head for this historic harbor city.

Alicante offers a charming blend of traditional architecture and cuisine, international galleries and museums, and fabulous beaches. The harbor city is located on the Costa Blanca, a 125-mile (200-kilometer) stretch of white-sand beaches that wrap around the Spanish Mediterranean. While many come to the Costa Blanca region to be pampered in its resorts, Alicante offers a more authentic Spanish experience.

Begin your Alicante visit with a bird’s-eye perspective of the area. Perched high above the city on Mount Benacantil is the Castle of Santa Bárbara. Walk, drive or take the elevator to the ramparts for commanding views of the town and harbor.

Below the fortress, explore the streets of Old Town, an area filled with art museums and historic buildings. The San Nicholas Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish baroque architecture, while the Basilica of Santa Maria is the oldest active church remaining in the city. Visit Alicante’s civic heart at the Alicante Town Hall and admire lavish interiors that were once common in the region.

You don’t need to travel far to enjoy Alicante’s beaches. Follow the mosaic tiles of Explanada de España to reach Postiguet Beach, located at the base of Mount Benacantil. Or take the tram to Playa de San Juan’s sweeping bay for a day of sailing, volleyball and windsurfing.

Sample fresh produce and mingle with locals at Central Market. Head to Alicante Harbour, where the restaurants are renowned for seafood dishes, including paella and arroz negro, a rice dish blackened with squid ink.

Alicante is compact, with most attractions within walking distance from the historic city center. A growing network of trams and buses will take visitors farther afield. Even in the depths of winter the Mediterranean climate provides mild temperatures. Rain is particularly rare.

The harbor is a popular gateway to the city, with many visitors arriving by ferry and cruise ship. An international airport is located 20 minutes by bus from the city center. High-speed trains run frequently from Barcelona and Madrid.

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