Alicante is a top picked destination for tourists all over the world due to its stunning Mediterranean beaches, historical castles, and paradisiacal sunny weather. However, by being so alluring, it and its surrounding coastline are consequently crammed with foreigners and natives alike all trying to get that holiday tan. So why not step off the beaten path and get some stretching space while still experiencing the Spanish allure? Especially when everything on this list is 100% free (and can also give you that much-wanted tan)?
Reina Sofia Parque in Guardamar
You probably already guessed by the picture that this park isn’t your average picnic spot with its shady trees and wooden tables. What you can’t see, though, are the mulititudes of ducks and turtles chilling out in the three man-made ponds and the number of peacocks browsing the parks. There’s even on occasion, the optimistic heron looking for fish to eat.
You can feed every critter here and if you’re patient, you can even get the squirrels and pigenos to climb on top of you to eat out of your hands. However, and I cannot express this enough, please do not feed any of these species bread as it seriously damages them. There are a number of ducks here with deformed wings due to eating the yeast and living on the small amount of nutrients bread provides.
The best time to visit Reina Sofia Parque so you can feed the animals is on the weekends when it’s less busy – for despite living in the middle of a town, all of these animals are wild.
Cruz de Enmedio near Orihuela
There are numerous mountains to choose from south of Alicante and inland of Torrevieja, but the one that hogs the spotlight is Cruz de Enmedio.
It might not be one of the bigger mountains, but this hike is not for the faint hearted. It’s a tough challenge almost from the beginning as the well-defined path quickly turns into a guessing game of directions. There are markers every so often, but the loose rock and the constant dips make it difficult to see where they all are. Luckily, however, you’re climbing a mountain so your route is either up or down – and with only two choices it’s hard to get seriously lost. Though there is a free hut at the top with some blankets (but no water) if you get stuck out overnight.
In addition to having a proper mountain trail, Cruz de Enmedio also sports amazing views that go all the way out to sea in one direction and straight into the surrounding mountains in the other. Wild goats also call this place home and you can’t walk up without spotting a least a few.
For the complete out-of-shape beginner, this hike will take four or five hours. For the more experienced and fitter hikers, it’ll take only one and a half.
Easy Care Horse Rescue Centre in Rojales
Located forty minutes south of Alicante by car, this place is home to many abused horses found within the region. It’s only open to the public on the first Sunday of the month from 13.00 – 16.00, but if you’re planning on visiting Alicante during this time, it’s definitely worth the visit. They hold free tours around 14.30 where they tell you the sorrowful tales that lead to these horses being here. But though these stories are sad and hard to hear, they are also inspiring as you see what this place has done to save them.
They also run a small concession stand that sells quiches, chips, and deserts, and a raffle where pretty much everyone who enters is a winner.
Any of the Coves Along Torrevieja
Everyone crams into the beaches along La Marina, Guardamar, and Torrevieja, but relatively few are aware of the hidden gems of Torrevieja’s coves. There are a number of them that dot the coastline and each one is also a fantastic snorkelling spot that contains an underwater garden full of fish. It might not be as bright as the unbleached areas of the Great Barrier Reef, but these coves are full of life that make for a great holiday or weekend experience.
Many coves have ladders and easy paths down, but even on these you must tread carefully as the rocks are slippery – especially the grey patches.
To read about Cove Zorra specifically (the one seen in the photo), check out my post: Snorkelling at Cala de la Zorra
A secluded swimming hole in the middle of a gorgeous canyon, this spot is definitely the number one must see on this list of free attractions south of Alicante.
It’s a short return hike of only a few kilometres that passes through bamboo forests and alongside the occasional cave, so even if the river does run dry (though I wouldn’t base your guess by what you don’t see at the start) then this walk is still well worth the effort.
For more free attractions near Alicante check out my post 22 Free Things to Do around Alicante.
After spending time at any (or all!) of the above free attractions, you’re undoubtably going to be hungry. My advice would be to pop in to one of the many Spanish markets to do so, especially if you want to make your own meals. Not only are the prices here cheaper than even the low-budget supermarkets, but their fresh produce lasts 2-3 times longer! And of course, there’s the added bonus of experiencing a Spanish market.