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Exploring Alicante's Surroundings: Unveiling the Top Day Trips

text and images taken from the happylife.es blog

When visiting Alicante, a vibrant Spanish city by the sea, you'll want to venture beyond its borders. Fortunately, Alicante provides an excellent base for exploring nearby destinations. From quaint coastal villages to breathtaking natural landscapes, the region offers various day trip options catering to diverse interests. Here are six captivating spots that deserve a place on your itinerary:

1. Altea: Whitewashed Charm and Azure Waters

Merely 11 kilometers from vibrant Benidorm lies the charming town of Altea. Its medieval center, with whitewashed houses adorned by blossoming bougainvillea, emanates an alluring old-world ambiance. As you climb towards the ancient quarter, panoramas of La Marina's azure Mediterranean Sea meeting verdant landscapes unfold. Altea's palm-lined promenade overlooks Playa de Altea, a pebbly beach with crystalline turquoise waters. Although not a typical sandy paradise, it offers a tranquil seaside retreat. When the sun sets, Altea transforms into a captivating haven. Soft lamplights illuminate its streets. Locals and visitors gather at charming restaurants and cafes, savoring delectable cuisine and fine wine. Extend your stay to truly immerse yourself in Altea’s authentic Spanish ambiance.

2. Canelobre Caves: A Natural Wonder

The Canelobre Caves stretch far inside Spain's underground depths, spanning over 5 kilometers in total length. As you delve deeper, awe-inspiring geological marvels reveal themselves, formed across millions of years. The main chamber is the Sala de las Maravillas (Hall of Wonders), its arched ceiling soaring to incredible heights of 70 meters - one of Spain's loftiest cave chambers. You can explore these caves through guided tours, learning about their captivating geology and history from knowledgeable guides. They lead you through narrow passages and vast chambers, pointing out remarkable formations like the Organ, Witch, and Altar. Along the way, you'll hear tales of ancient civilizations that once inhabited the area and the legends and myths that surround these mystical caves.

Outside the caves, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the viewing platform situated high above the entrance. The rugged peaks of the Sierra de Cabeço d'Or provide a stunning backdrop, inviting you to linger a while and soak in the tranquility of the mountain landscape.

3. Murcia (Capital): A Cultural Delight

Venture slightly further afield and discover the vibrant city of Murcia, the capital of the region of the same name. Rich in history, culture, and culinary delights, Murcia offers a wealth of attractions to explore. The city's roots can be traced back to Moorish times, and its diverse heritage is reflected in its architecture, cuisine, and traditions.

Begin your journey through Murcia at the breathtaking Cathedral of Santa Maria, a gem located in the city's heart. A masterwork of Spanish Baroque design, this architectural marvel features an imposing facade adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures that captivate the eye. As you step inside, towering ceilings and ornate altars greet you, but the true highlight is the magnificent stained glass windows. Among them shines the renowned "Golden Window," bathing the interior in a warm, radiant glow.

From the cathedral, wander through the picturesque streets of the old town, where you'll encounter a fascinating mix of architectural styles ranging from Moorish to Renaissance to Modernist. Admire the elegant facades of historic buildings, explore hidden courtyards and plazas, and stumble upon charming cafes, tapas bars, and artisan shops tucked away down narrow alleyways.

No visit to Murcia would be complete without sampling the local cuisine, which is renowned for its freshness, flavor, and variety. Head to the bustling Mercado de Verónicas, where you can browse stalls overflowing with fresh produce, seafood, meats, and cheeses, and indulge in a culinary feast of traditional Murcian dishes such as zarangollo (a savory vegetable stew), michirones (a hearty bean and pork stew), and pastel de carne (a meat pie filled with pork, beef, and spices).

4. Guadalest and Algar Waterfalls: Nature's Bounty

Perched high atop a rocky outcrop, the medieval village of Guadalest offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the shimmering waters of its reservoir. Explore the town's historic castle, wander through its charming streets, and discover its fascinating museums, including the Micro-Gigantic Museum, which showcases miniature sculptures and optical illusions that will delight visitors of all ages.

One of the highlights of a visit to Guadalest is the opportunity to explore the imposing Castle of San José, which dates back to the 11th century. Climb to the top of the castle's tower for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including the turquoise waters of the reservoir below and the rugged peaks of the Sierra de Aitana in the distance. Inside the castle, you'll find a museum dedicated to the history and culture of the region, with exhibits ranging from archaeological artifacts to medieval weaponry.

5. Benidorm: Sun, Sea, and Entertainment

No list of day trips from Alicante would be complete without mentioning Benidorm, the bustling resort town known for its sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife, and plethora of entertainment options. Whether you're looking to soak up the sun on the beach, indulge in some retail therapy at the numerous shops and boutiques, or experience the adrenaline rush of the city's theme parks and water parks, Benidorm has something for everyone. Don't forget to catch a glimpse of the iconic skyline dominated by towering skyscrapers before heading back to Alicante.

6. Calpe: A Coastal Paradise

A day spent in Calpe offers sunshine, the sea, and breathtaking landscapes. The town is distinguished by the awe-inspiring Ifach rock, a soaring limestone formation extending into the waters. Calpe features unspoiled beaches, charming waterfront walkways, and a vibrant fishing harbor. Ascend to Ifach's summit for sweeping vistas of the coastline. Unwind on Playa de la Fossa's golden sands. Savor fresh seafood at one of the town's numerous seaside eateries.

In conclusion, the region around Alicante is a treasure trove of scenic spots, each offering its own unique beauty and charm. Whether you are drawn to the historic parks of Altea, the wonders of nature at Canelobre Caves, or the tropical weather of Benidorm, there are memorable experiences waiting to be discovered. So pack your bags, hit the road, and take an unforgettable journey in this remarkable Spanish location.

















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  Click HERE to read the blog of the Fall 2010 Research Methods in Marine Ecology course taught by LMRCSC Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Matt Ogburn.  


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