The island of Tabarca is a 1 hour boat ride from Alicante. We visited as a day trip in October 2013 and the following details were correct as of that date.
Boat crossings to Tabarca are more frequent in the busier summer months, but were relatively infrequent in October. Boats operated by "Kon Tiki" leave Alicante twice a day and return to Alicante once a day. Strictly speaking, they return to Alicante twice a day, but the first of these is the return journey of the day's first outbound trip and so tends to return without any passengers on board.
Boats leave from Alicante at 11:00 and 13:30, and return from Tabarca at 17:30. We caught the boat at 13:30, arriving at Tabarca at 14:30, giving us 3 hours to explore the island. This proved to be more than adequate time for visiting what is a rather small island. We arrived back in Alicante at 18:30.
We purchased our tickets (from a kiosk at Alicante marina, next to where the boats depart) about an hour before we travelled. In October, there was no need to purchase them any earlier; in fact our boat was less than half full and we could have simply purchased tickets immediately before the boat sailed.
The cost of a return ticket was €18.
Kon Tiki have several boats. The one that we travelled on was "Kon Tiki Dos". It has an open air top deck with plenty of seating so we could enjoy the sunshine and sea breeze as we made the crossing.
Had we been better organised (and especially had it been high season), we might have explored other means of getting to Tabarca island. For example, we could have caught a bus to the town of Santa Pola, from where the boat crossing to Tabarca is only 30 minutes. This might have proven to be more cost effective (although more time consuming) than taking one of the tourist boats from Alicante. It is an option that may be worth researching.
Arrival at Tabarca is into a small and quaint harbour. The beach (and several seafood restaurants) is directly behind the harbour. Walk left to explore the "wilderness" side of the island (cacti, rugged coastlines, cicadas under feet, a lighthouse and a couple of abandoned brick buildings). Walk right to explore the small town, with a handful of restaurants, souvenir shops and a church.
During our visit to Alicante in October 2013 we used the C-6 Bus (operated by SuBus) to travel between the airport and the city centre.
The following information was correct as at the time of our visit:
Prior to our visit we had read the very important information that the C-6 bus operates from outside the airport's Level 2 (Departures) building....and not from Level -2 where the tour operators' buses depart from.
So, we followed the signs and took the escalators up to Level 2. Upon exiting the terminal building, we immediately found the bus stop that we required. It was just a few metres walk to the right of the exit and was the stop for buses to Alicante as well as buses to Elche. The next stop along (maybe 20 metres further on) was the stop for buses travelling to Benidorm.
The C-6 bus operates roughly every 20 minutes from around 06:40 until 23:00.
We purchased our tickets from the driver and paid €2.90 each for a one-way journey. Incidentally, we noticed that the price of the bus tickets to nearby Elche was €1.45.
There was ample storage space (including several luggage racks) on board the bus to cope with the demands of a bus full of passengers. You would probably expect this from an airport bus, but I've learnt from experience that you can't always take it for granted.
Our journey from the airport to the centre of Alicante (at around 17:00 on a Saturday afternoon) took about 15 minutes. We alighted at the "Plaza Puerta del Mar" stop, situated between the marina and Playa del Postiguet beach, adjacent to the Melia Alicante hotel and just a minute's walk from the Explanada de Espana promenade. The bus had stopped at the bus station on the way into Alicante and was continuing on a loop that would see it stop at "Marq" (near the foot of Castillo Santa Barbara), the train station and several other stops en route back to the airport.
At the end of our stay, we caught the bus at the same stop that we had alighted at on our arrival; Plaza Puerta del Mar. We again paid €2.90 each for our tickets from the driver.
The journey back to the airport took a little longer (closer to 30 minutes) due to traffic and more frequent stops.
As we were waiting for the bus back to the airport there was a little confusion. When we arrived at the bus stop, the digital display helpfully informed us that the next C-6 bus would arrive in 14 minutes time. The time gradually ticked down, until it reached 8 minutes, and then the bus disappeared from the screen. It was soon replaced by a message indicating that the next C-6 bus would arrive in 34 minutes time. We assumed that perhaps one of the buses hadn't left the airport (maybe due to a lack of passengers) and so we'd have to wait for the next scheduled one. The countdown jumped around erratically and, perhaps 10 minutes later, with the clock indicating that the next bus was due in 18 minutes time, it pulled in at the stop (much to our surprise!).
Details of all stops on the C-6 route (as well as daily timetables) can be found HERE
The tram connects Alicante with Playa de San Juan, Playa de Muchavista, Campello and Benidorm. There are three stations at Alicante city: Luceros (under Plaza de los Luceros), Mercado (close to the central market) and MARQ (near the Archaeological Museum).
Line 3 departs from Plaza de los Luceros, stops at the Central Market and MARQ and goes to Campello every 30 minutes. These trains stop at all the halts.
Line 1 makes the same route and continues to Benidorm. These trains stop only at the main stations.
Line 4 connects Alicante with San Juan beach.
A shuttle line (4L) connects the Postiguet beach (Puerta del Mar) with lines 1, 3 and 4 at Sangueta.
New lines are being built that will connect the city with San Vicente, the University and later on, the airport.
The tram is fast, clean and safe: you don't need to take the car and go into a traffic jam, look for parking, etc. Schedules during the summer are longer: the "tramnochador" circulates till late in the night.
Tickets can be bought at the ticket machines in the stations and in the trains. At the stations there are also counters in case you don’t manage to operate the machine.
If you are going to use the tram frequently there are some interesting choices to save money such as bonus and travel card. They can be bought at the stations and also at kiosks and tobacconists.
Mobilis card is a contactless smartcard that costs 2 €. You can buy it at the stations and charge it in the ticke machines, in kiosks and tobacconists. This card can also be used in the buses of the TAM (Transporte Alicante Metropolitano) network.
How to use the mobilis card? When you enter in the train touch the orange electronic reader with the card. If you take the tram in a station you must pass the ticket barrier where the electronic reader is. Then, you don’t have to touch again the reader in the train. In case you go out in a station, you also have to open the ticket barrier by touching the reader with the card, but don’t worry; a new travel won’t be deduced.
A mobilis card can be used by several people, touch the reader as many times as people are travelling.
For update information of schedules and fares check the web. English version is available, look for it at the bottom of the webpage.
All the stations, halts and trains are adapted for people with reduced mobility and for wheelchair users. Underground stations have escalators and are equipped with lifts.
Since August 2009 the bus line C-6 connecting the city center with the airport has been improved. There are three buses every hour and the ride is 30 minutes. The old bus covering this line has been replaced with modern ones. We took the bus the second day it was working and I can confirm it is punctual (the old one was also reliable, despite its aspect).
The price has also raised: 2.75 € the single ticket (Jan 2013).
The itinerary has improved, there are stops at the bus, train and tram stations. The current itinerary is displayed in the map in this link:
The bus starts its itinerary at the airport. When it arrives to the city it stops at the new bus station, at Muelle de Poniente, follows the seafront and stops again at Muelle de Levante (Postiguet beach, hotel Meliá). Then it surrounds the castle and takes Alfonso X el Sabio avenue, Avenida de la Estación and Oscar Esplá avenue.
If you have to connect with the tram, your stop is Luceros (end of the tram line), there is a bus stop on no. 17 of the same square.
If you have to connect to the Renfe railway station, there is a stop in the main gate.
Anyway this may change, so check the website.
Aeropuerto de Alicante - El Altet
IATA code: ALC
The new terminal is in operation since April 2011. There are national and international flights from/to the airport.
The airport is located 9 km southwest of Alicante and 10 km east of Elche, in a place called El Altet, in the municipality of Elche.
Bus to Alicante: see my tip
Bus to Elche: check www.subus.es, lines 1A and 1B
Bus to other cities: check www.alsa.es
Taxi: The service is provided by a taxi company of Elche. You can book a transfer through their web, but there are always taxis at the terminal. http://www.radiotaxielche.es/aeropuerto.asp
By car: there is easy acces from A-7 highway and also from national roads N-332 and N-340.
Parking: there is a big car parking in the airport. On the web you can calculate the price. There are also other car parkings around (see my tip).
Car rental: Nine car rental companies operate at the airport. See the airport website below.
There is a big shopping area in the new terminal. There are also cafes, restaurants etc.
What else can a traveller need? ATM, meeting rooms... desfibrillators (I hope you don't need them but just in case!)
More information on the airport:
The Alicante bus station has MOVED. I don't know exactly when this happened but all maps I took with me (and leaflets I picked up) show it at it's old possition. Ailana did mention this but the info got buried in her text.
Bus station now at:-
found at the coastal end of Avenida Oscar Espla coming down from the main train station.
Alicante is connected by bus to :
Madrid (Estación Sur): the direct bus takes 4 hours 35 minutes; stopping at Albacete it takes 5 hours 15 minutes.
Barcelona: the ride is at least 7 hours (only stopping in the main cities); longer if it stops in other towns.
Valencia: there are many buses every day, be careful because some of them stop at many towns and take almost 5 hours (the usual is less than 2 hours 30 minutes).
Murcia: The ride takes 1 hour, or 1 hour 10 minutes if the bus stops at the airport. Buses stopping at intermediate towns take 2 hours 30 minutes.
Check the web of Alsa (www.alsa.es) for schedules and prices. Go to “routes and schedules”. For long distance rides (eg Alicante – Madrid) type the origin and destination. For rides in the province or the region, select “regional services” and go to Alsa's regional services in Community of Valencia and Murcia.
The main lines connecting Alicante to other towns in the province are:
Campello - Villajoyosa – Benidorm – Alfaz del Pi - Altea – Calpe – Benisa – Teulada – Gata de Gorgos – Pedreguer - Denia
Elda – Petrel – Sax – Villena
Elche – Crevillente – Albatera – Granja de Rocamora – Cox – Callosa – Redovan – Orihuela
Monforte del Cid – Aspe – Novelda
Castalla – Tibi – Onil – Ibi – Alcoy – Jijona - Biar
This line is served by La Alcoyana: http://www.ibivirtual.com/web/transporte_publico.htm (+34) 965 130 104
There are other companies traveling to/from the Alicante bus station:
Bilman Bus: www.bilmanbus.es (+34) 965 920 693
La Agostense: (+34) 965 121 738
Costa Azul : http://www.costazul.net/ (+34) 965 924 660
The new bus station is at the port, at Muelle de Poniente.
Phone: (+34) 965 130 700
On the following link (web of Alicante municipality) you can see the destinations you can go from the Alicante bus station. Select "Transporte de viajeros">"Estación de autobuses".
If you have to go to the airport by car and don’t want to pay the airport parking fees (18.30 €/day, 14.65 from the fifth day) there are some companies that offer car parking near the airport, including transport to/from the terminal, for a reasonable price. They offer also good prices for long term parking.
Last time we flied we used Parking Express Alicante. We paid 28 € for one week. We were quite satisfied with the service. A minibus took us to the airport as soon as we arrived to the parking. When we returned we phoned them and the minibus picked us up in a few minutes.
Parking Express: http://www.parkingaeropuertoalicante.com/
Other parking sites:
During our trip to Campello we had a couple of grey days and used the brilliant tram service to get into Alicante for a look around. The service is run by F.G.V and runs up and down the coast; Denia, Alicante, Benidorm, Campello and elsewhere. Tickets machines are only available at the main / larger stations so you usually buy your ticket at a machine on the tram. We were travelling from Poble Espanyol, just outside Campello. As it was in the metropolitan area a one way ticket cost just 1.25 Euro per person and the same back again. It costs the same from Campello. There is a route map at each station showing the different lines. " lines run from between Alicante and Campello and 1 from Alicante to Poble Espanyol. The journey is between 25 and 30 minutes. The trams have security personnel on them but they seemed more than safe and very clean. An excellent and cheap way to get about. The line also runs past and stops at several beach locations.
Turibus is a hop on hop off bus that operates in Alicante.
An audio system is available in 5 different languages: English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
It works from March to December. The frequency is 60 minutes (20 minutes the days cruises dock at the port).
The price is 10 euro for adults, 7 euro for children and 5 euro for pensioners.
For further information:
On the web of SUBUS you can see a map with the route plotted: http://www.subus.es/
TAM (Transporte Alicante Metropolitano) is the system of public transport for Alicante area. It comprises urban buses, metropolitan buses and the tram system.
On the main page, select TAM. The web of TAM is quite helpful. You can find all the bus services provided by TAM as well as other bus services in the province.
There are links to:
- Mobilis card (a card you can use in Tram and buses; there are different ones: general use, schoolchildren, young people, retired…) and other travel cards and bonus.
- Alicante tourist card: it allows you to move all around Alicante by bus or tram, to use the Turibus and to have discounts in several shops and services.
Clicking on PLANO INTERACTIVO DE LÍNEAS a map will be displayed; on the same page all the lines are listed. Select one and the route will be plotted on the map.
On top of the webpage, on the right boxes you can select the line and a table with the route, frequencies and other information will be displayed.
Back on SUBUS main page, if you know the name of the bus stops you want to move to and from, click on Buscador de líneas.
SUBUS web also information of the bus services in other cities.
In case you need to go to the TAM offices, they are at Díaz Moreu Nº 6 (Rambla de Méndez Núñez with Av. Jaime II). Customer service department is open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 14:00 and from 17:00 to 19:00. Phone: 965 14 09 36. E-mail: email@example.com
Alicante is well connected by train to Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Murcia.
Madrid: 7 daily trains in each sense. The ride takes from 3 hours to 3 hours 15 minutes. Train: Alvia 130; Talgo. . Although the AVE (high speed trains) line is not yet finished, part of the route uses the new railways have reduced the time of the trip between Alicante and Madrid.
Barcelona: 8 daily trains in each sense. The ride takes from 4 hours 44 minutes to 5 hours 33 minutes. Trains: Euromed, Talgo, Alaris.
Valencia: 11 daily trains: the trains to/from Barcelona, plus 3 more trains (Regional Express, MD). The ride takes from 1 hour 36 minutes to 2 hours 4 minutes.
Murcia: 4 daily trains from Alicante to Murcia, 5 trains Murcia-Alicante (Talgo or MD). From 1 hour 4 minutes to 1 hour 19 minutes. Besides, 24 Cercanias trains.
Cartagena: 3 daitly trains from Alicante, 4 from Cartagena. From 1 h 52 min to 3 h 34 min.
Apart from the connection to these cities, the Cercanias trains (commuter rail systems) connect Alicante to other towns:
Line C-1: Alicante – Murcia. Stopping at San Gabriel, Torrellano, Elche, Crevillente, Albatera, Callosa de Segura, Orihuela and Beniel. Starting at 6 a.m., there is a train every hour plus some intermediate in peak hours. The ride Alicante - Murcia takes 1 hour 20 minutes.
Line C-3: Alicante – San Vicente, stopping also at the Universidad de Alicante (working days). 16 daily trains. 10 minutes.
For narrow gauge railways, see my tip about the tram.
On the initial booking of our flights from Canada to Spain, we had ended our flight reservations in Madrid. I was thinking that I would pick up a rental car there and enjoy a scenic countryside drive to the coast somewhere in the Malaga area, similar to what we had done in Lisbon, Portugal five years earlier. However, when my wife's sister booked her flight from England to meet us way up the coast in Alicante, I realized that too much driving would be involved.
After debating whether to take a train, bus or flight from Madrid to Alicante, I came to the conclusion that a flight would likely be the simplest and fastest way to go, given our lack of Spanish while trying to figure out all the details of the other modes of travel. Surfing the internet, I managed to find the "EDreams" website based in London - an outfit that offers cheap tickets for sale. They were fast and efficient, charging me 32 Euros (including cancellation insurance) for the booking fee and securing us two round-trip seats on Spanair for another 98 Euros. The total price of 65 Euros each for round-trip tickets seemed quite reasonable by Canadian standards!
The flights themselves were on-time and smooth with very good service on the McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aircraft servicing this route, with a flight time of 1-hour. I was really pleased that we decided to fly to the coast - had some great views coming into Alicante as well.
In anticipation of starting our driving trip in Alicante and heading southwest from there to the Costa del Sol region, about a month earlier I had managed to book a Ford Focus station-wagon rental (capable of handling three suitcases between Sue's sister and us) for the 3-weeks we would be spending in Spain. However, our decision to leave Madrid the day after first landing there meant we would arrive in Alicante two full days before we were supposed to pick up that car, but the rental agency would not let us advance our booked date.
Once again, since there was only Sue and I to deal with for those two days, I shopped around on the internet and had no problem arranging a two-day rental of a small diesel Renault Clio III through the "Auto-Europe" booking agency. At Alicante airport, the actual paperwork and keys were handled through the Record Go rental desk with a total cost of 32 Euros (C$53). It turned out to be a great little car for the tight European parking spaces, driving around the congested streets of Alicante and for our enjoyable trip up the coast to the scenic Moraira area near Cabo de Sant Antonio. The Clio required 14 Euros of fuel to top it up from the 300-km we put on the odometer. Once our time was up, we swapped it at the airport for the Ford and headed off on the 'real' part of our vacation!
The cheapest and most convenient way to move around Alicante is to get a Bonobús. It's a transportation card that allows you pay only 0.65e per trip instead of 1.10e (regular ticket). You can use Bonobús in all city busses and in the tramway up to El Campello. Moreover, if you take two busses (or a bus and a tram) within an hour after paying for the first trip, you wont pay for the second one. Enjoy the ride!