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Visit Alicante

How to Spend Your Downtime in Alicante

One of the most valuable assets found in places that offer Spanish courses in Spain is the number and diversity of activities available for students to embark upon, alongside the academic classes that provide the foundation to anyone learning the language. It is crucial to enjoy the process of learning a language and also to find as many practical situations as you can to actually employ the language and therefore aid and accelerate fluency.

In this regard Alicante is a privileged destination, which boasts a wide range of activities and excursions to nearby locations to choose from. Whether you are inclined towards the high-brow end of cultural affairs, or more interested in the intricacies of daily life among the locals, Alicante has a fascinating array of things to do and see that will satisfy even the most demanding of tastes.

The Alicante Hogueras

There is one tradition that dwarfs every other in the regional hierarchy of importance: the Alicante Hogueras de San Juan. Celebrated as part of the country-wide feast of St. John, Las Hogueras have a particularly deep-rooted influence in the Levante end of the country, where the festivity is celebrated with huge bonfires, traditionally built on the beach or a nearby communal area.

The Alicante Hogueras are not made of simple wooden structures, but rather of colossal icons of amazing proportions that tower upwards as high as ten metres and that are lit during the night in each of the neighbourhoods of the city. Together with the enormous bonfires also come popular street parties or verbenas where local DJs entertain the public at large while food and drinks booths keep the night running until the wee small hours of the morning.

The Alicante Hogueras are celebrated on the feast day of St. John, which also happens to be the Summer solstice, so if you can skip the yearly pilgrimage to Stonehenge just this once and turn up at Alicante on June 21, it won´t be regretted. And even if you can't, you can still be witness to the activity, effort and extravagance involved in these parties through a visit to the local museum dedicated to the festivity, where you will be able to trace the development of the tradition and see samples of the icons burned during the bonfires and plenty of photographs and videos to give you a good feel of the atmosphere during this special celebration.

Other Museums in Alicante

Like most places in Spain over the past decade or so, Alicante has seen a tremendous surge in the artistic scene, not least through government-sponsored initiatives to fit the city with an extraordinary art collection, housed in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Gravina. As staggering as the collection itself is the building, an old palace built between 1748 and 1808, formerly property of the Count of Lumiares, which is seamlessly integrated in the museum, to the point where it might be one of its most popular attractions.

The variety of museums in Alicante is extensive, and it goes well beyond the traditional artistic scene. Of particular interest, for instance, is the Archeological Museum of the Province, which boasts a vast collection that dates all the way back to the I century. Benefiting from the eclectic past of the city of Alicante and the traces found of numerous different civilisations in and around the city centre. Additionally, the prominence of the Archeological Museum places it within a circle of important museums worldwide, whose travelling exhibitions always make a stop in Alicante.

Most Alicante city guides will not tell you about it, but among museums in Alicante there is a particularly quaint one, which offers an insightful look into the traditions that are deeply rooted in the Spanish culture specifically, and Latin culture in general: the Nativity Museum. Displaying dozens and dozens of the typical representations of the manger, the Nativity Museum offers an exquisite opportunity to taste first-hand the craftiwork and dedication of the Latin people towards their faith.

Excursions in Alicante

Both within and outside the city, there is much to see and visit in Alicante. There for everyone to see is, of course, the Castle of Santa Barbara, crowning the rocky formation that is Mount Benacantil. Originally built by the Moors in the IX century, the castle has been under siege, damaged, restored, modified and extended over the years, until it reached the impressive shape it has today, as the undisputable master of the city.

Another fascinating area to spend your free time while studying Spanish in Alicante is the small, ancient neighbourhood of El Barrio, right underneath the shadow of Mount Benacantil and its imposing castle. This is the place to go for trendy shopping and fashionable dining and a few hours in this area will leave you no option other than to interact with the locals in their own language.

Needless to say, the beach is a favourite hang-out spot for most people, whether they be locals or tourists. Playa San Juan, just a few miles north of the city is a particularly trendy spot, not least for its soft, sandy beach. For those who prefer to stay away from the beach, there is the Terra Mítica theme park nearby, as well as easily carried out day trips to the provincial capital, Valencia, or to the groves of Elche, the largest palm grove in Europe.

In short, there is a bit of something for everyone in Alicante, and there are excellent Spanish immersion schools that will organise activities, accommodation and all the rest for you to feel comfortable while living abroad. Think about it: this might just be the right place for you!