The province of Alicante is emblematic of the "Mediterranean feel" with miles of long sandy beaches coupled with a pleasant climate and lively nightlife - the formula for an ideal relaxing holiday! The capital city, Alicante, is Valencia's second largest and, as in the rest of the region, has long been popular with both foreign and national tourists.
The city has just renovated its old quarter, reviving its Roman and Moorish influences with the reverence that the region typically pays to the Christian and Moorish struggle during the various fiestas throughout the province. The most notable of these is the 3-day fiesta which takes place in Alcoy around April 23. The main fiesta in Alicante, however, is 'Las Hogueras' in June where, like 'Las Fallas' of Valencia, wooden effigies are burnt after being displayed in processions; an agricultural tradition to celebrate the longest day/shortest night.
A few miles up the coast lies Benidorm, perhaps better known for its high-rise eye-sores and intense nightlife rather than its old sea-fishing village heritage and quaint old quarter with blue dome church. The area is extremely popular with European holidaymakers who, after having spent years vacationing in hotels in the area, are now investing in their own properties. This has led to more prosperity in the area, and hence more care is being taken to keep the place clean and aesthetically pleasing.
To the west of the capital lies Elche (Elxe), famous for having successfully cultivated the only date-palm grove in Europe and for being home to one of the earliest examples of Iberian sculpture - a stone bust known as the Dama de Elche.
Orihuela, on the road to Murcia, has managed to preserve its provincial charm and is worth visiting to marvel at the medieval cathedral with its idiosyncratic spiraling pillars and corkscrew-rib vaulting. Also worth a visit are the the Baroque monastery and some of the fine 19th century palaces, some of which house worthy art collections including works by Velázquez, Vicente Lopez and Salzillo.
It is no surprise that Alicante has developed as a tourist area given its ideal climate and surroundings. For limited budgets and large groups or families, Alicante is good destination, with good weather practically guaranteed all year round. In addition to many pretty little villages nearby, such as Alcoy, Javea, Altea, Villajoyosa, Elche and Orihuela, there are also many fun things to do, including the "Terra Mitica" fairground, golf courses and many, many tennis courts.