For many visitors, Alicante is the gateway to the beaches and resorts of the Costa Blanca, but it is also a fascinating and historic city in its own right. Alicante's Moorish heritage is reflected in its distinctive architecture, while its warren of narrow streets is the ideal place for a tour of tapas bars after a day at the beach. Flights from Southend provide a good alternative to many of the other London airports especially for those resident in the east of London.
A temperate Mediterranean climate makes Alicante an attractive destination at any time of the year, although the mercury soars in the peak tourist season of July and August. Calendar highlights include the midsummer fiesta of St. John, lasting 3 days from 20th June, which is marked with bonfires, fireworks and the burning of elaborate papier-mache effigies. In April, the Moros y Cristianos pageants from the 21st to the 24th feature spectacular reconstructions of medieval battles and plenty of family entertainment.
When the main city beach gets too busy, there are quieter alternatives within easy reach, like the old fishing harbour of Playa del Coco or the scenic coves of Cabo de las Huertas. Another way to escape the crowds is an excursion to the car-free Tabarca Island, with the chance to explore an atmospheric walled town and a nature reserve. The Costa Blanca area is renowned for its paella, but authentic restaurants follow local custom and only serve the dish at lunchtime. Restaurant prices are around 45% lower than London's and many places offer economical 3-course set menu deals which include wine. Time in Alicante is set one hour ahead of time at home to comply with CET/CEST.
From the Alicante airport departures terminal, the C-6 city bus makes the 20-minute journey to the train station and centre, with tickets around €3.85. The service starts around 6:40 am and continues until 11 pm. There are also bus services from the airport to Elche and Costa Blanca destinations including Benidorm and Torrevieja. A taxi from the airport to the centre costs around €25. Single bus tickets cost about €1.35, but 10-journey rechargeable cards are a more economical option. Taxis are less expensive than in London, although city traffic can slow progress and the old centre of Alicante is easy to explore on foot. The light tram route is a convenient way to reach the main resorts of the Costa Blanca, connecting Alicante with Denia.