Off Season Alicante – a Road Trip Adventure
Coast and culture are some of the big draws of this busy city in the Costa Blanca region of Spain. If you fancy a short break away from the crowds where the sun is warm but not too hot, and the scenery can’t help but make you smile, then why not consider an off season road trip from Alicante? It’s really not what you think. This post is part o our series of Adventure Ideas for European family road trips, brought to you in conjunction with Avis Car Hire.
Off season road trip: Alicante
The fourth of our road trip ideas takes us back to Southern Spain and effortlessly fuses city, coast and mountains. We recommend you don’t go in peak summer, when the heat and crowds do their worst. Leave it until the autumn, or even later in the year, and you’ll have much more freedom to mingle with the locals and enjoy the ambiance of off season Spanish life.
Gateway to the sun
Alicante is the gateway to many of the mainstream Spanish beach resorts on the Costa Blanca. But this sunny city in the region of Valencia is also a popular holiday destination itself with its trademark alleys, palm trees and historic harbour. This time lapse video gives a taste of what you can expect…
When you’ve spent a little time exploring the city, then your road trip really begins. And while you begin and end at the coast, there’s a packed itinerary in store including high mountains, traditional Spanish villages and some surprising attractions. Ever seen a painting on a grain of rice? You will.
Beach Benidorm and beyond
If you’re a beach person you’ll enjoy the first stop on our suggested route. Benidorm is the home of the package holiday, and knows how to do sea and sand, and you can beach hop to your heart’s content. If you want to fit in a few fun family attractions, try Aqualandia Water Park or go on a journey to exotic places in Terra Natura wildlife theme park.
It’s onwards and upwards now! The town of Altea is perched up on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s your next stop and you’ll definitely want to pause and chill out on the promenade which stretches all the way to to the next town of Albir. Altea has a hill top church and a picturesque old town. It’s an arty little place, with lots of craft shops, and in summer a night time handicraft market.
Switch back for switch backs
After Altea it’s time to switch back, in more ways than one. First you retrace your tracks back to Benidorm, and pick up the route CV70. As it winds up into the mountains this becomes a seriously scenic road, with too many hairpin bends to count. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted. Stop for a day in Guadalest and appreciate the amazing views. Guadalest is surrounded by the Aitana, Serella and Xorta mountains and is a ‘Monument of Historical and Artistic Value’. The settlement is basically a village within a large castle on a rock. The C12th castle was very important once for its strategic position. And it still is, but these days the strategy is to attract tourists rather than repel invaders.
While in town you can visit the 12th century prison and water tank, located at the town hall and carved out of rock. The prison is no longer in use but is atmospheric and open to visitors. In Guadalest you can shop till you drop for Lladro. Just make sure you don’t drop the Lladro! But the star of the show, especially if you have kids, is a Miniatures Museum with exhibits like a bullring on a pin and an ant playing the violin. Oh and that masterpiece on a grain of rice. How do they do that?
A Toy Town and Treasure Castle
After a quick stop at Alcoi, the city of bridges, carry on to the mountain town of Ibi. Forty kilometres to the north of Alicante, Ibi is a top destination for toddlers. Why? One word; Toys. A family in Ibi started producing toys in 1905 and since then the town has been one of the most important toy producers in Spain. The local toy museum houses a huge and valuable collection with over four hundred exhibits including model planes, train and tea sets. Ibi is also known as the headquarters of the Reyes Magos, the Three Kings of Orient, probably the most famous bringers of gifts in history. Although admittedly they didn’t bring toys but perhaps the factory was still being built.
Our next stop, Castalla, is no toy castle but is full of storybook legend. At Castalla, deep in a valley, surrounded by forest and mountains, an impressive castle presides over a characterful settlement. Does it sound like a fairy tale opening? Well, according to legend, the castle was packed with treasure, so why not imagine you’re a knight in shining armour and go searching.
Stretch your legs in the hills
There are more mountainous treats in store as you move into the Serra de Maigmo. Maigmó Mountain (1296 m) is a bit of a challenge on foot. But it’s worth it. The Balcón de Alicante offers a fabulous panorama of the Castalla Mountains and the Alicante plain and on a good day (and most are) you can see the Mediterranean glinting in the sun.
At the foot of Maigmo, and just 18km before your final destination is Agost. There are perhaps a dozen potteries scattered around the town, so it’s a great souvenir stop.
Then back to where you began
If you have any time on your return to Alicante, visit Castillo de Santa Bárbara, a medieval fortress to die for. (They probably took this quite literally in the past!) It could provide one last mini adventure, as well as one more chance to be a knight, before you head home.
Have you been to Alicante? Got an idea or suggestion for a place to eat or visit, something interesting to see or do? Why not share it with us as a comment.
Disclosure Note: This post was brought to you thanks to the support of Avis Car Hire. All the research, ideas and opinions remain, as ever, entirely our own.