Europe > Spain > Alicante ( ALC )
Generally, we would say that a hire car is a good idea if you are flying into Alicante and then heading for one of the various coastal resorts in the area, and would say that it’s more the case here than it is in any other destination in mainland Spain.
Do I need a car in Alicante? Introduction
Why rent a car in Alicante?
- We would advise getting a rental car in Alicante for all of the obvious reasons you would expect here – Alicante car hire is cheap, the roads are of a good standard, and with a rental car, you will have a huge amount more flexibility to get around.
- In terms of specific places to visit when you hire a car in Alicante, this is mainly a matter of exploring coastal scenery and beaches in either direction from the city, but a car can also be useful for exploring inland, and particularly for heading to attractive local towns like Teruel (See also Valencia – you can do some of this by train).
- There have been some improvements in the tram network around the city of Alicante in recent years, but there’s still nothing stretching out as far as the airport. Most of the more recent holiday resort development has been very much based around serving tourists who either have their own hire cars, or who are more likely to use and taxis and resort shuttles.
Why not? Visiting Alicante without a car
The one place where you really will find that public transport is more than adequate is in the city of Alicante itself. If this where you choose to stay, you will feel very much like you are visiting real Spain, rather than just another tourist resort.
- With the tram work network having expanded massively in recent years, as is the case in many Spanish cities, you should have no problem getting around using either this system or the local buses. However, there is a sharp decline in service standards the moment you get outside the city.
- Historic Alicante is also easy enough to walk around, and various bike hire options are ideal for gentle cycling along the beach. Since you will often be walking in narrower medieval streets, there’s always plenty of shade – but be warned that much of the old town is hilly.
- Alicante is popular with road cyclists, but there aren’t so many off road trails, and designated cycle paths are limited to a few areas around the waterfront, and a limited number of urban trunk routes.
- Most of the central area in Alicante is also either pedestrianised, or on streets which are closed off for through traffic.
- The local trains might not take you to anywhere particularly useful, but you can certainly fly into Alicante and then continue on by express train to other parts of Spain, especially if you are looking for a fast link to Madrid or Barcelona, or if you want to take a day trip to Valencia (see those pages for further details).
- Alternatively, you can also travel onwards from Alicante to any of the Balearic Islands by ferry.
- To reach Benidorm from the airport, you can take an hourly coach service, bookable online from ALSA – https://www.alsa.com/en/web/bus/home. The same company also offer direct buses from Alicante to Murcia via the airport. In both cases, the airport transfer will take about an hour.
- Local buses and suburban trains are also more than adequate for reaching some of the nearby coastal towns.
A key factor to consider when trying to get around Alicante without a car is whether or not public transport services are well integrated with each other.
Generally, in Alicante, this really isn’t the case, although with a bit of research, you’ll find your way around easily enough.
- The centre of transport in Alicante is the main station, which will be labelled “Terminal” or “Estacion Intermodal”. This station has been expanded to cater for new fast AVE services to Madrid, taking around 2 1/2 hours.
- Local mainline train services will all use the Terminal station.
- However, the train to Benidorm (change there for Denia) is operated as part of the tram system. By all means take it to enjoy the ride, but the bus is much quicker!
- Trams currently terminate in an underground station at Luceros, which is around 300m walk from the main station. There is a plan to extend this to the main station, but this project is currently on hold due to budget constraints.
- There’s a bus station at Avenue Loring. Again, this isn’t quite at the railway station, so allow time for a short walk.
- The old railway station next to the bus station is now an impressive arts space and tourist centre – but you won’t find any trains here, so don’t fall into this mapping trap!
- You’ll see the Alicante-Murcia mainline just behind the car rental lots at the airport – but the nearest station is at Torrelano, about 2.5km / 30 minutes walk away. Generally, buses will be quicker for getting from the airport to Murcia, but if you want to take the train, budget for a short taxi ride.
- Unless you are planning on spending most of your time in the city of Alicante itself, then everything in this region lends itself towards getting a hire car.
- Because so much of the tourism here is centred on resorts like Benidorm, rather than on the city proper, if you want to do anything other than shuttle to and from the beach, then an Alicante hire car is going to make sense.