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Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Free, Castles/Palaces, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Situated on a mountaintop overlooking Alicante, Castillo de Santa Barbara is one of the largest medieval fortresses in the country. Those who make the climb (or choose to drive or take the elevator) to the top will be greeted with sprawling views of the bay. Carthaginians built the first incarnation of this fortress in 400 B.C. Romans and Arabs later used the fort and added to it with drawbridges, battery, hospitals, dungeons and more. Today, the complex is solely used for tourism. Visitors can explore the three levels of the castle. On the bottom level, you'll find a statue to a war general, and, now, a parking lot area. The middle level was completed in the 16th century and features a hall and the Patio de Armas. The top level houses the Homage Tower and offers the oldest remains dating back to the 11th century. Within the fortress, there is a museum with 10 rooms that showcase the city's history.

Admission is free, but you'll have to pay a small fee if you want to take the elevator up to the castle from the Avenue de Juan Bautista Lafora. If you'd rather walk to the top (and burn off a few paella calories), you can head east from Plaza del Carmen. There are also parking lots if you choose to drive to the castle; it's accessible by bus as well. Previous visitors recommend taking your time walking up and around the castle, so you can soak in the scenery for as long as possible. They agree the grounds are well-kept and the panoramic views at the top are priceless.

The castle is open from 10 a.m. to about 8 p.m. in the winter, but hours extend to 10 p.m. in April, May, June and September. It's open from 10 a.m. until midnight in July and August. Keep in mind that although visiting the Castillo de Santa Barbara is free, the elevator ride will cost you 3 euros (or about $3.50). There are also guided tours available that vary in price depending on length.

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#1 San Juan Beach

You'll find this stretch of shoreline just about 6 miles northeast of Alicante city. Playa de San Juan is known as one of Spain's best beaches; in fact, many recent travelers said it offers a better beach experience than Postiguet. The beach offers designated area for sports like volleyball and football. There's also a skateboarding area if you want to show off some tricks or just watch others. Not to mention, there are plenty of places to rent water sports equipment for surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and jet skiing. The beach also stretches about 2 miles, so you'll surely be able to carve out your own little space in the sand. It's accessible by tram or bus. Visitors recommend taking the L4 tram line to the Londres stop or the L3 tram line to El Campello; if you're on a bus, Costa Blanca, Costa Blanca-Milan and Plaza Coruña are all bus stops close to the beach.

Just behind the beach are restaurants, nightlife venues and even an 18-hole golf course. On a sunny day – most days – the strip is filled with people strolling. A bike path behind the beach makes it easily accessible; there is also a tram line that connects the beach with the city center and Dénia – a nearby coastal town. Public parking spaces and beachside hotels abound in this area as well. Access to the beach is free.

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