30 Free Things to Do Around Alicante, Spain
20 May 2016 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond
Valencia, Spain is a beautiful region that's full of mountains, towns, and cultural events that all seem to be catered toward creating the perfect holiday for everyone. Not only does the region offer something for the whole family as well as solo travelers, but it does so at the most affordable price of all: 100% free. So if you're looking for a budget travel destination that's also packed full of wild adventures and lasting moments in the hot Spanish sun, then you'll definitely want to delve into this list of free things to do around Alicante, Spain. Here you can discover the local secret of the canyon hike in Rio Chicamo that ends in a wild swimming hole, swim amongst hundreds of colorful fish (and the occasional octopus) when you go snorkeling in Torrevieja at the hidden gem of Cala de la Zorra, and experience the magical waters of Torrevieja's pink lake as you float into the final sunset of your envious holiday.
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Free things to do in Alicante & surrounds:
- Castillo de Santa Barbara – A 9th century castle on the coast of Alicante that's sopen to the public from 10.00 – 22.00 seven days a week. The entrance to the grounds is free, but the elevator lift and any tours require a small fee per person. Though even if the castle is closed during your visit, the walk/drive up (there is free parking at the top) hosts amazing views of Alicante town.
- La Salina de Santa Pola – Unlike the other salt lakes in the area, this one has a small path open to the public all the way around it. There are multiple places to stop and take a look at the flamingos, ducks, and other migrating birds on the way, complete with information boards (in Spanish). There is also a free information centre at one end open from 9.00 to 14.00 every day of the week.
- Santa Pola's south beaches – The town's two most southerly beaches are major hotspots for kitesurfers. But even if you don't participate in this water sport, why not pack a picnic and enjoy a lunch with an acrobatic show. Date night anyone? :P
- Volvo Ocean Race Museum - Located near Alicante's docks is a fantastic, albeit small, museum that's dedicated to the history of the Volvo Ocean Race. The photography shown in the back room is amazing, though given it's the best out of 22,000 photos it's no wonder. The exhibits here are in English as well as Spanish (the videos are native English with Spanish subtitles) and the guys at the front desk are great for a chat. (: Hours: 10.00-14.00 Tue-Thur, 10.00-18.00 Fri, & 10.00-14.00 Sun (winter); 11.00-21.00 Tue-Sat & 11.00-15.00 Sun
- Els Archs – An easy hike with a wonderful view a bit off the main loop. This one and any other points of interests are small returns. We personally know that even though they look like they might link up, they do not.
- Guadalest – A unique village that's seemingly built into the rockface it's sitting on top of. There is also a castle here with free lower grounds and multiple hikes nearby that give stunning views of this 'Eagle's Nest' village.
- Ifach Rock, Calpe – A giant rock only 35 minutes north of Benidorm that offers some good climbing (supposedly – haven't climbed it myself). However, quite a few people have needed rescue from here over the years, so only climb this if you absolutely know what you're doing.For those that don't want to climb up the sheer face of this cliff, there is also a hike all the way to the top. NOTE: The walk around the bottom does not ever meet up with the one that goes to the top; actually, it doesn't even go all the way around the base so... Not that it's not a nice place for a picnic – just watch out for the many seagulls and their flying, stinking poop.
- El Palmeral - A free attraction situated right in the heart of Elche. Despite the numerous other palm trees you can see all around Spain, El Palmeral is still worth a visit (as we found out first hand after months of not bothering to visit!), especially if you're lucky (or skillful) enough to pluck a few wild dates. Along with the large number of palm trees, this park also offers a bare river covered with beautiful paintings, gorgeously decorated fountains (both drinking and non), and other exotic plants. It is also located fairly close to the historical church, which though isn't free to enter (2 euros/adult), is a marvel to look at anyway. Parking nearby is only free on Sundays.
- Novelda, Santa Maria Sanctuary - A beautiful church that was erected in the --th century ontop of a cliff overlooking the beautiful surroundings. There is a free carpark at the top, as well as a restaurant and ruined castle. Numerous trails branch off from here, passing many old huts (or maybe sheds?) along the way. However, if anyone is allergic to cats, then maybe bring some medicine as this place has quite a few (they roam free, but are fed and cared for).
- Silla del Cid – An easy hike that can be done either as a return or a loop (though the latter is a bit harder due to the looseness of one of the paths) with amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges. For those with gear, there is also a via ferrata that climbs all the way to the top. However, we haven't climbed it personally and have heard it might be in need of a few repairs.
- Lo Pagan Mar Menor Mud Baths – Despite their foul smell, the mud here is reputed to help cure numerous skin affiliations (including acne) and even relieve the pain of arthritis, rheumatism, and gout. To take advantage of this mud's healing properties is a simple process: 1. head out on one of the numerous piers leading to the best mud pits, 2. hold your nose, 3. slip into the 6 inch deep mud and apply it where needed, 4. let it dry in the sun and then wash it off in the same lake, not at the beach, and presto! You'll be left with wonderful looking skin and a family member/friend yelling at you to stay away. Lols. Actually haven't smelt it ourselves, but those are the stories.
- Reina Sofia, Guardamar – A lovely park that is situated within a few hundred meters from Guardamar's beach. However, it's not its close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea that has it listed here, but rather its fantastic opportunity for you to get up close and personal with its wild squirrels. And if you bring some natural, unsalted peanuts (those in shells are better for you, given their teeth and claws are sharp), you can even lure them down from the trees and onto your arms! An added bonus to this place are its three man-made ponds full of turtles, ducks, peacocks, and the occasional heron. You can also feed the peacocks and pigeons bird seed, but PLEASE DO NOT feed any birds bread as it destroys their wings.
- Rojales Cave Houses – Located near the three crosses, the Rojales cave houses or Cuevas del Rodeo are a fantastic place for a short mooch. The path that links them all is also dotted with metal artistic structures that represent objects in everyday life. Their hours are: 1 Oct. - 30 Jun: Mon – Fri (9.00 – 13.00 & 15.30 – 18.00) and 1 Jul – 30 Sept: Mon – Fri (9.00 – 14.00). All year Sat (10.00 – 13.00).
- Rojales Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre – Open to the public for free only on the first Sunday of the month, this place is a sanctuary for abused horses in the area. They hold free tours around 14.30 where they fill you in on the heart-wrenching tales of their occupants and a raffle (where pretty much everyone is a winner) at the end. There is also a small stand that sells quiches, cakes, and other nibbles to help fund their continued rescue.
- Torrevieja Cala de la Zorra - An amazing snorkeling spot right off the shore of Torrevieja's coastline. Follow either of the two steps down to the ocean and slip into the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. You can swim either to the left or the right, it makes no difference as the abundant sea life is everywhere. There are numerous different types and schools of fish swimming around the seagrass beds and cool-looking sponges. There is also the occasional octopus and cuttlefish to marvel at...just make sure you don't accidentally touch one of the beautiful pink jellyfish as according to Google, their stings really hurt!
- Torrevieja's Park of Nations – Though you can't really see it from the ground, the lake in the centre of this park is supposedly shaped like the western part of Europe. However, the most interesting thing about this place in my opinion, is that all the flags erected on its lands are from those nations that have previously sacked the place. I mean, who takes pride in that? Lols. There is also a children's playground here and lots of chickens, peacocks, ducks, and other birds to view, but PLEASE don't feed them bread as it seriously damages their wings.
- Torrevieja Salt Flats – Though there aren't any paths to walk around here due to them all being fenced off by (whom I suppose is) the salt corporations, there are two pull-ins along the road on the right hand side (when coming down from Alicante) that are good places to birdwatch, especially for flamingos. One pull-in is a proper slip road near the remaining fort with an information board and the other is a bit further south on a patch of dirt and gravel. Binoculars, chairs, and sunscreen are advised.
- Torrevieja Pink Lake - With an equal salt density to the Dead Sea, one doesn't have to travel far from Alicante to experience what it's like to float on water. Barely more than knee deep, the pink lake in Torrevieja makes for a great day out even for those who've never learned how to swim. There's also some mud smothering stuff nearby.
Free things to do in Murcia:
- CIMAR Aquarium – CIMAR aquarium has free entry and was built to honour and educate people about the fishing history of Aguilas – a dedication that can be easily deciphered by the 19 metre trawler docked outside/ontop of this building. The fish species here are those that can be found both in tropical waters and the western half of the Mediterranean sea. In addition to all of this, this place contains one of Europe's largest privately-owned seashell collections.
- Four Coves - Another wonderful and free thing to do near Aguilas (besides visiting the free CIMAR aquarium) is to go swimming at one (or all) of the bays that make up Four Coves. Our special recommendation would be to snorkel Cala Cerrado not just for the abundance of marine life lurking right off the beach, but also for the colorful maze of bolders off on the right hand side.
- Cartagena's Walled Inner City – A classic stroll across the historic cobblestones of Cartagena as you marvel at the place's architecture and bright colours of old. You can either do this walk on your own or book one of the tours with Free Tour Cartagena to hear all about the historical legends of this place.
- Bolnuevo's Rock Erosions - This free attraction in Bolnuevo is also known as the "enchanted landscape" - a nickname that doesn't require any explanation once you see it for yourself. Carved over millions of years, these unique and cool looking rock structures almost look as if they were sculpted by an artist creating a landscape for a sci-fi world. A clear path to the top is accessed around the back of Bolnuevo's erosions (though it doesn't feel very stable at every point so take care). And afterwards, why not take a quick dip into the sea not even two hundred metres from these unique rocks?
- Estrecho de la Arboleja - One of the very few hikes in Spain that can actually be attempted in the hot summer months without having a heat stroke. Estrecho de la Arboleja is a fairly deep canyon that offers a cool shelter from the blistering heat of the sun, both for humans and plants alike. The cool dampness it contains makes it an ideal habitat for green plants, moss, and frogs. The main section is fairly short and a bit wet even in the dry season of July. Though the hike itself is not very long, one could easily spend hours at Estrecho de la Arboleja climbing up sketchy rock ladders, squeezing through old irrigation tunnels, crossing very narrow bridges (made for water, not humans), and of course just marveling at the awesome structure of the canyon. Just remember to explore safely. (:For those that wish for a longer hike, you can continue to head south down the rest of the canyon. It's about a ten kilometre loop, with the way back following a road. However, I would only recommend this way if you're an experienced climber or canyon-er and have a rope. It is possible to do without, but some of the drops are fairly big and you're in the middle of nowhere so safety should be your utmost concern. Though there is an continued amount of shade through here, it's still smoking hot so bring a heck of a lot of water with you. One more note: the best wild camping spots are within about 600 metres from the start of Estrecho de la Arboleja.
- Castillo de Orihuela – Located right on the edge of the Orihuela town, this ruined castle is estimated to have been built sometime during the Moorish period. However, as there aren't any documents concerning its construction, its start date ranges anywhere between 711 and 1243 – or maybe even a bit before. There is also a cave within the walls of the castle called Cueva de Calor.
- Cruz de Enmedio – A rugged hike up a mountain home to many semi-wild goats. There is a small hut at the top (I'm assuming it’s used for camping), but no water (or rather, none drinkable) so make sure you bring enough with you. The ridge requires some scrambling and on one side it has a good drop overlooking gorgeous views.
- Cueva de Calor - A narrow cave located on top of Castillo de Orihuela. It's a small hole that quickly tapers down into a narrow tunnel that requires maybe twenty feet of crawling and slithering like a snake. It then opens up into a slighter wider cavern with a few rock features. However, one needs a rope, caving buddy, and experience to safely carry on from here. A flashlight/torch will be needed within six feet of the entrance and though the rock doesn't look very stable, there is clear signs of constant use. HOWEVER, how you decide to use this information is entirely up to you, though I would seriously recommend not dying from a rock fall.
- La Cueva de Escalericas – An ancient burial cave located on the outskirts of Oriheula. You'll need flashlights/torches to explore this historical place as it plunges a good 50m down. No other equipment is necessary, but I would recommend only visiting with a friend as the floor is loose and the ceiling looks a bit uncertain.Directions to La Cueva de Madaria: Park at 38.1185225, -0.9654259. Walk up the road to the top of the small hill and keep carrying on along the irrigation pond. The path will turn from concrete to dirt and near the end of the pond, it will have a branch on the left-hand side leading towards the mountains. Take this path for about 150m or until you see a stone wall built into a semi-circle. A much smaller path will lead up to it. Continue on past the semi-circle of stones for roughly 20-30m until you see the cave entrance.
- Rio Chicamo – Search for Casa Cueva El Chicamo on Googlemaps, NOT Rio Chicamo to find this canyon walk that's only an 45 minute drive from Murcia. I would also recommend doing this as a return instead of as a loop – unless you just follow the road on the way back. Check our blog: The Local Attraction of Rio Chicamo to find out why. Lols.
Free things to do in Valencia:
- Turia Gardens – Nine kilometres of parkland is interconnected by bridges designed with different eras of architecture in mind. There are a five 'definitely worth seeing' according to those that have visited, one of which is the San Jose – a bridge designed in accordance to the style of the 15th century. Hours: Jul – Aug (10.00 – 14.00, 17.00 – 21.00) Rest of year (10.00 – 20.00)
- City of Arts and Sciences – Though not everything in this futuristic 'city' is free, a good section of it is. For instance, the lower floor of El Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe (Prince Phillip's Science Museum) is completely free to explore and so is L'Umbracle – a garden and art structures landscape. And of course, just wondering around looking at the artistic, futuristic-styled buildings is also completely free!
For even more fun things to do here for a bit of cash, then check out this list of 15 Best Things to Do in Valencia by The Crazy Tourist. From UNESCO sites to giant aquariums to bustling markets, this post includes all of the must sees of this historical Spanish city!
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