Alicante as a place to live in Spain
When we had researched different places to live in Spain, Alicante had been pretty high on our list. In theory it looked good: it has a busy international airport located only 12 km from the city center, it has high speed trains to Madrid, it has a great tram network around the city, it has beaches minutes from the city center. It’s a popular place for expats.
We spent 11 days in Alicante and realized pretty quickly that the city is not for us.
We just didn’t find Alicante to be a very inspiring place.
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If you like beaches then you’ll like Alicante. The whole coast is lined with beaches and they’re very nice. What’s amazing is that you can take the tram from the city center and be at beautiful San Juan beach in 10 minutes (even less if you chose to go to Postiguet beach which is right by the city center).
The city center has a nice promenade and some historic buildings. There are some pretty squares around the city.
Santa Barbara Castle sits on top of the city and has spectacular views of Alicante and around.
People are friendly. We met a lot of nice people in Alicante.
I think Alicante is worth visiting for a day or two.
Why didn’t we find in inspiring?
Overall, Alicante is not an attractive city. Outside a few large boulevards in the center, lined with palm trees, most of the city’s neighbourhoods feature tight streets lined by ugly apartment blocks. That includes much of the center.
Michelin Guide says Alicante’s Old Town is “one of the most charming anywhere”. I don’t get it. Alicante’s old town is among the least impressive of the Spanish towns and cities we’ve visited.
I read a few reviews on Trip Advisor about the “beautiful Marina”. Since when is a parking lot of boats beautiful?
When writing about Malaga I mentioned that it was unfortunate that the unattractive Marina/harbour/port dominated the city center. The same is true in Alicante. The difference is that Malaga has a much more attractive old town than Alicante.
Summing up Alicante
The city is worth visiting for the castle and the promenade in the center. Other than that I don’t really have anything to add about Alicante. For those of you used to my long posts I’m sorry. I’m trying to pull some inspiration out of my butt but it’s not happening…
I’m not trashing Alicante, it’s a a fine city and better than many places we’ve visited on our travels. I’m sure residents enjoy it’s proximity to nature, it’s great transport system (the tram is great), and its low key nature. But since this whole exercise is about finding a base in Spain I just have to be honest that Alicante is not a place that made it very high on our list.
Note: We’re in Valencia right now. Beautiful city which I’ll write about in the next little while. For all those googling “Valencia or Alicante?” – well, there’s really no comparison.
Related: Valencia (Spain): could this be the place we choose to live in Spain?
Related: Choosing our Spanish home: How the Pandemic changed everything
Related: How to Get a Spanish Non-Lucrative Residence Visa (a step-by-step guide)
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Interesting post. I spent 10 weeks in Spain this summer and visited Alicante twice, the second time for 2 weeks in a Hostal! That was great fun……and I met some great young people which coloured my view of course. Since back in NZ I have gone off the idea of settling there after imagining myself there under various circumstances. Lovely place for a holiday but for an old girl like me I think a bigger city might be better. Cadiz I loved…..but too windy and a small city. I love Madrid….too expensive and too cold in winter. Oh dear……what to do! Good luck in your venture and choice. Jo
Alicante is beautiful rich in culture and super friendly. Valencia is full of gypsies between be beach main Town and frankly many ugly areas full of south americans. The beach is also pretty ugly compared to Alicante. I honestly think those putting down Alicante and praising Valencia need your heads checking plus live there as I have as there is a massive difference. I think you all didnt find the epic parts of Alicante. I could show you. It’s a shame this post exists as totally misleading and not representative of reality. If you dont like Alicante then you didnt explore properly and shouldnt live in Spain period!!
“If you dont like Alicante then you didnt explore properly and shouldnt live in Spain period”. Ha, that’s a bit of a wacko statement if there ever was one. Lots of beautiful places in Spain, unfortunately Alicante wasn’t (for us) one of them.
We do expat interviews on our other blog Mapping Spain. Are you willing to write about Alicante? Because I’ve had people say the same as you but when it comes time to actually write about what a great place Alicante is they disappear…
What Wacky is your narrow-mindedness and lack of depth in your review of the place. Because you dont like it dosnt mean it isnt right for others. Isnt your blog about letting people know about places of interest in Spain…..an opinion of whether you think its worth living or not is really neither here or there. It works for many but if not for you then fine…but your opinion shouldnt be within a guide as its quite irrelevant.
Actually, a blog doesn’t work like that. People want an opinion because there are too many wishy-washy bloggers who won’t be honest about their true feelings, and too many other websites who just want to sell you a dream. It doesn’t help anyone if I’m not honest, people don’t want to waste their time. Some people won’t like it, but others who’ve followed the blog for a while trust my judgement (as you see from other comments).
Well said Frank. I appreciate your honest assessment and opinion.
Thank you for sharing your views about Alicante. I find it useful to learn many perspectives and then decide for myself. I would be grateful to understand what inspires you and which cities have those qualities you seek. Thank you.
Hi John. I think if I chose a city it would Seville, Granada or Valencia. Old style Spanish cities with a lot of beauty. Granada might be atop my list because of the natural beauty surrounding it. I’m personally not big on beaches, so if someone wants to be by the beach they obviously won’t pick the same places I would 😉
Funny thing is we ended up in Nerja, on the coast. I think I’ve been to the beach once in 2 years. But what I like is the hiking. Some beautiful nature here. We came here during Covid and were a bit rushed to find a base which is probably the biggest reason we are here. Maybe not our forever home but good for now.
I think people need to have a list of what’s important to them. But no matter how good something sounds, you have to get your feet on the ground and check out a place. That’s why I wrote the Alicante post. In theory it was high on our list. Of course not everyone will agree but they might have a totally different criteria than we did.
All the best in finding a base in Spain!
Agree. I also visited Alicante with a view to buy a place there. When arriving along the coast and the boulevard, I thought I’d found my future home. It was really pretty. After one day walking around in the city I came to the same conclusion as you.
Thank you for the comment Sabine. Yes, after all I’ve heard about Alicante I wasn’t impressed one bit…
This is definitely some advice I’m going to be using as I prepare to travel to Spain in September. Thanks for sharing!
interesting. your photos are actually really beautiful…
I should have taken more ugly shots. I tend to focus on the pretty. Shows you though how deceivingly you can portray a destination…
I have to agree with your assessment. We only passed through it with our RV last year, we did not feel like stopping there at all. But perhaps we’ll return for a couple days in the future. We absolutely loved Valencia, I could imagine myself living there. Good luck with your ongoing research for a home.
Thank you very much Gilda 🙂
Yeah, we had pretty much the same take on Alicante. We were there twice, for a total of 6 or 8 weeks. We liked it, enjoyed the beaches and the coast; we are of an age where we could get a tram pass and for 10 Euros a month had unlimited travel. We explored the coast north of Alicante and found many pleasant suburban communities (generally populated by Brits and Scots). There’s a lot to like about Alicante, but, like you, it did not hold us.
Oh, and by the way, you mentioned Alicante is good for a couple of days–yes, if you’re on your three-week European tour! For us slow travelers, it was a pleasant place to stay for a while. But, we didn’t settle there. (Instead, we’re in Montpellier, a mid-size city in the south of France.)
I read your post. We live in Sérignan , south of Béziers ,5 km from the beach, settled down there upon retirement. Quite nice. A few Brits too. Do you know the place ?