On the southeastern coast of Spain, Alicante (Alacant in Valencian) is an intoxicating coastal city known for its contrasts: a beach resort ringed by mountains, a resort with a cosmopolitan flair, a nightlife destination that’s just as interesting during the day. Modern high-rises tower above architectural treasures dating back centuries. Nothing rises above the Castle of Santa Bárbara, looming above the city on Mount Benacantil.
The area has been inhabited for over 7000 years, but it was a Carthaginian general who established the first fortified settlement here. Roman and Visigoth rule followed until the time of the Moors, beween the 8th and 13th centuries. After the reconquista, the Kingdom of Castile and the Crown of Aragón fought over the city for decades but the last Moor farmers were not expelled until 1614. During the civil war, Alicante was the last city loyal to the Republican government to be taken by Franco's troops on April 1, 1939, and many Republican officials fled the country from the harbor here. From the 1960s this region of the Costa Blanca was in the vanguard, as Spain made a dramatic cultural shift from the social conservatism of the Franco era. Tourists began flocking here from all over Europe, and a building boom changed the face of most of the coastline.
The gay scene is present year-around, but can’t be beat during the summer. Boys in the briefest swimsuits flock to La Marina, the gayest of the local beaches. At night they head to El Barrio, where you’ll find most of the gay bars. It’s a friendly scene where men of all ages can feel welcome.
Alicante Airport is a popular destination for Europeans, especially during summer months, so there is good coverage from several low-cost airlines as welll as the major carriers. International flights from North America might often require a transfer in Madrid or London. To get from the airport to Alicante center find the Line C-6, at Bus stop number 30. It takes 40 minutes, with departures every 20 minutes, and costs around 3 euros. At the end of the C-6 line the Plaza Puerta del Mar station has tram connections to other Costa Blanca cities (see Benidorm).
Arriving at the RENFE Estación de Madrid (train station) there are inexpensive rail connections from Murcia (80 minutes), from Valencia (about 3 hours), and from Madrid (under 4 hours).
The Alicante city bus station is a main hub for coaches serving Spain's Mediterranean coastline. Alsa is the largest of these companies, with a dozen or so trips from Valencia (3 hours), seven from Madrid (5 hours), and eight trips from Granada (5.5 hours) - among the many cities they connect.
Alicante has a compact old city called El Barrio that is made for strolling. There are also city buses, and tram lines with ticket machines at each stop. Signs might be in either Spanish or Valencian (much like Catalan), but the local language is seen here less often than in parts of the Valencian Community to the north. For an overview of regional public transportation see the English-language AngloInfo website.
Currency and Money
Spain’s currency is the euro. There are ATMs in every almost bank all around the city, so you won’t have trouble getting cash. But check ahead with your home bank as using an affiliate bank here will save on service fees.
Media and resources
Alicante Spotlight has general tourist listings for hotel, nightlife, restaurant and shopping tips.
The main post office has Western Union, and offers international phone calls for a fraction of the cost of street pay phones, hotel or cell phone rates. If your home handset isn't international band, a basic 20 euro cell phone from one of three major companies keeps you reachable from home, connected with new friends, or able to call a taxi with ease. Unlike in North America, incoming calls aren't charged against the pay-as-you-go balance. Top off most anywhere/anytime, cash or card.
Four Points Villa Guesthouse (Camino Noria de Sargueta, 85, Aspe; Fourpointsvilla.com), restored country farm house, by gay men for gay men, wine production area, en suite bedrooms, one bedroom apartments, easy reach of Alicante and La Marina nudist beaches, clothing-optional pool and Jacuzzi.
Hospes Amerigo Alicante (Rafael Altamira 7), 5-star comforts, austere architectural beauty in former convent, fine restaurant.
Hotel Goya (Maestro Bretón 19), central but quiet location, comfortable rooms, 2-star prices, Mediterranean restaurant with terrace.
La Pensión (Calle Segura, 20 Bajo), small central hotel, twin and double beds with terrace; apartments/studios - bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, washing machine, terrace, garden, ac.
Alicante has a lively gay scene of clubs but they come and go faster here than in most cities - so ask around once on the ground; there is certain to be a brand new hot spot in town. The clubs are very laid back, and most mix all-ages, all types, genders and orientations together comfortably. A few are men-only, with dark rooms and heavy cruising. On weekends some places stay open well into next morning daylight hours.
Caníbal Pub (Camarada César Elgueza, 26), gay pub on two floors, mostly young guys, open to all, theme parties, contests, male strippers, DJs, retail store.
La Cúpula Azul (Avenguda Óscar Esplá, 2), neighborhood music bar, drag shows, late crowd, popular darkroom.
Dark (Avinguda del Doctor Ramón y Cajal, 9), nightly men's leather and bear bar, dark room, Sunday underwear parties, drag shows.
Divina (Montegon 7), dance club and party bar, energetic young gay/lesbian crowd.
El Forat (Plaza Santisima Santa Faz), oldest gay bar in Alicante, El Barrio square behind city hall, popular still, diva wall posters, relaxed mixed crowd.
Enigma Pub (Arquitecto Morell, 23) men's hardcore backroom sex bar, lively mix of all kinds.
Grizzly Bar (Sant Joan Bosco 8), bear bar, dark room, dance floor, video lounge, home to big AlicanBear party as July slides into August.
Mil+Lenni (Virgen de Belén, 15), party bar, high-energy young gay/lesbian mix, events and holiday specials.
Mogambo (Gravina 4), former Paparazzi, upscale party bar, mostly men, fashion, drag shows, go-go dancer nights, talent contests.
Odiseo (Doctor Just 33), men's cruise bar, dark room, Fridays and alternate Sundays naked nights, underwear nights, snacks.
Basaky Club Spa (Calle de Murcia 2), gay men's luxury spa, saunas, cruise area, labyrinth, maze, video lounge.
Ipanema Thermas (Calle de Espronceda, 12), steam and sauna fun on three floors, 3 Jacuzzis, bar/cafe, porn video lounges, dark rooms.
Sauna Steam (Calle del Cardenal Payá, 17, basement), Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, bar, porn videos, dark room cruising.
Intimen (César Élguezabal 22), underwear, beach and swimwear, casual attire and accessories for men, store at Canibal Pub.
Outlet Fashion (Av de Elche 187; Outletfashionalicante.com), just south of the city off route N340, liquidation fashion store, top brand names at bottom end prices.
For information on the regional big city, see Valencia.
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