In the minds of many, Alicante (ALACANT) is often lumped together with the other brash Costa Blanca resorts. It shouldn’t be. Valencia’s second-largest city, the thoroughly Spanish Alicante has a decidedly elegant Mediterranean air. Seafront paseos and wide, breezy esplanades, such as the Rambla Méndez Núñez, are peppered with cosy bars and terrace cafés; a series of well-curated museums feature everything from ancient archeology to contemporary art; the city’s cuisine scene is making a name for itself, just as its healthy nightlife did long ago; and its long, sandy beaches are sunkissed for much of the year.

Founded by the Romans, who named it Lucentum (City of Light), and dominated by the Arabs in the second half of the eighth century, Alicante was finally reconquered by Alfonso X in 1246 for the Castilian Crown. In 1308, Jaime III incorporated Alicante into the kingdom of Valencia.

Today, the main fiesta, Las Hogueras, is at the end of June, and ignites a series of cracking celebrations second only to Las Fallas in Valencia.

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