Alicante (population 290,000) – is a fantastic little city! It is like a mini version of Barcelona but without the tourists. It is very Spanish and therefore more authentic and much better value. Recently it has become a major sailing mecca, hosting the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2008 & 2011 and 2014.

The night life in Alicante is superb, “The Rough Guide” says it is the best in Spain, and you will find a great atmosphere in the many restaurants, cafes, music bars and nightclubs. The Alicantinos are very open and friendly people and there is virtually no street crime. The weather and climate plays a major part in this and the locals like nothing better than eating out, meeting friends for a drink, spending the day on the fantastic beach or just promenading along the Esplanada as only the Spanish can.

The city is full of history. Before Costa Blanca Sailing arrived in 2003 the Celto-Iberians were here in the 4th century BC, followed by the Phoenicians and then the Greeks. Along came the Romans who stayed for 400 years and then the Visigoths who governed Iberia for the next 300 years. The Moors arrived and over the next 600 years had a major influence which can still be seen today. The Reconquista, which was completed in 1492, established Spain as we now know it. The latter centuries saw Alicante besieged by the British Navy, occupied by Napoleonic troops and it was the scene of the final defeat of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. The local history & art museums, plus the castle, are excellent attractions and very easy to visit using the new tram system.

If you like to indulge in retail therapy a visit to the Mercado Central is an absolute must. The “Corte Ingles” department stores are also worth a visit as well as the dozens of small specialist shops concentrated just behind the Esplanada. There are amazing bargains to be had with all manner of leather goods and shoes and if you like Paella you can sample the delights of an Alicante one and listen while the waiter tells you why a Paella from Alicante is even better than a Paella from Valencia. We still don’t know what is best but rest assured we will keep trying to find out. Whichever one you choose, wash it down with a bottle of local Reuda and life does not get much better.