The relaxing atmosphere of the Mediterranean
The thoroughly Spanish Alicante has a decidedly elegant Mediterranean air that you can get a taste of on your holiday cruise to southern Spain: close to your cruise ship the city offers seafront paseos and wide, breezy esplanades, peppered with cosy bars and terrace cafés.
What is more, a series of well-curated museums feature everything from ancient archaeology to contemporary art; the city’s cuisine scene is making a name for itself, just as its healthy nightlife did long ago; and its long, sandy beaches are sunkissed for much of the year.
The rambling Castillo de Santa Bárbara, an imposing medieval fortress located on the bare rocky hill above the town beach, is Alicante’s main historical sight. Best approached from the Mediterranean Sea side – the lift entrance is on Avenida de Jovellanos – it’s easy to reach from your cruise ship. Almost opposite are the Iberian and Roman remains that have been found on the site.
The city’s well-maintained beach – Playa del Postiguet – is perfect for another shore excursion too.
Elche (Elx), 20km inland and south from Alicante, is famed throughout Spain for its exotic palm forest. The palm trees, originally planted by the Moors, are still the town’s chief industry – not only do they attract tourists, but the female trees produce dates, and the fronds from the males are in demand all over the country for use in Palm Sunday processions and as charms against lightning.
A cruise excursion can also be an opportunity to discover Guadalest, one of the more popular tourist attractions in the area. The sixteenth-century Moorish castle town and former Muslim settlement is built high up in the surrounding rock, and you enter through a gateway tunnelled into the mountain.