When you hear about the Costa Blanca you probably think of beaches, blue skies and lovely weather the whole year round. It's true, but that's not all. The villages have every modern facility you can think of but without losing their traditional charm. After a ten minutes' drive inland you will find quiet areas with breath taking landscapes. There are mountains to climb, valleys with almond and orange trees to enjoy and local dishes and wines to try. And, what's more, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the climate of the Costa Blanca one of the best on our planet.
Alicante is the Spanish province with the most blue flags: 71. This shows that Alicante has many, daily cleaned, beaches with perfect water quality and services. The coastline in the Marina Alta region, in the north, has both long sandy beaches in for example Denia, Jávea and Calpe, and impressive cliffs with small bays. Altea and El Albir are known for their pebble beaches, with marvellous views over the bay. In Benidorm the popular sand beaches are used even in winter, while Villajoyosa, El Campello and Alicante offer long beaches and smaller bays with 'chiringuitos' where you can have drink with your feet in the sand. South of Alicante there are endless sand beaches with dunes and pine trees in Guardamar del Segura and Elche and salt ponds in Santa Pola and Torrevieja.
Alicante is the second most mountainous province in Spain. The mountains are so close to the coast that it is possible to drive from sea level to 1,000 meters in half an hour. The Sierra de Aitana is with her 1,558 the roof of the province while the Puig Campana, with her remarkable notch, is visible from the Benidorm beaches. The mountain areas have unique flora and fauna and are ideal for hiking. From the top of the Cabeço d'Or behind Busot, where you can also visit the beautiful Canelobre caves, the views are incredible.
Between the mountains there are beautiful valleys, with almond and cherry orchards, ruins of ancient castles and ravines. And just off the coast of Alicante you can visit the smallest inhabitated island Spain, Tabarca, by boat.
Walking through historic town centers is discovering the Mediterranean essence. The steep streets, sometimes with cobblestones or steps, the whitewashed houses, adorned with bougainvilleasor sweet smeling jasmine, hold a timeless charm. Many villages were once protected by a wall or a castle and in Busot part of these castle ruins were recently restored. The view from the towers over the mountains is stunning. It is also possible to find traditional washing places, a drinking fountain and other legacies of the Moorish past in the villages. An extra attraction are the 'mercadillos', like the 'Vintage market' in the first weekend of the month in Busot and the fruit and vegetable market every wednesday in El Campello and Mutxamel.
Alicante can be proud of her gastronomy. The province has no less than twelve restaurants with Michelin Stars and the wine produced in the growing amount of bodegas gets more recognition each year. The Mediterranean kitchen is healthy and tasteful, with lots of fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil from the area itself. Several products have earned the Denomination of Origin seal. For example the wines of Alicante, the níspero (medlar) of Callosa d'En Sarrià, the turrón (nougat) of Jijona and Alicante, the cherries of the mountain of Alicante, the grapes of the Vinalopó-vally and the pomegranate of Elche.
The Spanish love their 'fiestas' and there is no village that does not have their own celebration or tradition. At the Costa Blanca the fiesta of the Moors and Christians is one of the most important. These celebrations are inspired by history and the parades with the colourful costumes and stirring music are unforgettable, for example in Alcoy where these celebrations have acquired the title 'Fiestas of International Tourist Interest'.
Another important celebration is the 'Hogueras (bonfires) of San Juan', a Spanish version of Midsummernight, with spectacular monuments, bonfires at the beach and fireworks. The demure and intense processions during the Holy Week also attract a lot of visitors, as do smaller local celebrations such as the 'night of the candles' in Busot in July.