We have just returned from our family holidays in Alicante and we wanted to share what we discovered with you.
This was an extra bonus week, thanks to Ed’s mum, so it was a bit last-minute and not a lot of research was carried out before we went. I (mum) had just returned from a quick trip to the UK at 1am of the day that we departed … sleepy was an understatement. I did manage to navigate us there though.
This is the first in a new series of trips and holidays that we plan to share with you. If you have any specific requests for places for us to visit, just drop us a line. We are always open to ideas. Read all about what we can offer you: HERE.
So, what about our family holidays in Alicante? Here we go …
How did we travel to Alicante?
As we like to take as many toys as we can, whenever we can, we decided to travel to Alicante in our van. A Volkswagen transporter. Fully loaded with clothes, toys, foodstuffs, family bikes, boogie boards, two adults, 2 children and the mother in law (Mika, our german shepherd was in the kennels this time), we hit the road as soon as the school bus dropped the children off at the end of our road.
The road journey was very easy, but not the most scenic we have driven, over 250 kilometres was on one road. We headed towards Malaga, then inland to Granada, it was strange to see so little snow left on the summits of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We then headed towards the East coast towards Murcia and then up to Alicante. A slight disagreement with our Tom Tom navigator, I am known to do this on a regular basis, bypassing the centre of Alicante caused a slight delay, but aside from that it was plain sailing.
The villa was rented through a holiday management company, Premier villas, and their representative phoned us shortly before our arrival and we met him as agreed, a short distance from the villa. Their instructions were very clear and it was a nice painless end to a six-hour drive.
Whilst Ed and his mum were given a tour around the villa, the children checked out the most important facility …
We stayed in Casa Mimosa in the sleepy village of Parcent, approximately 25 kilometres from the coast (the towns of either Dénia or Javea), in La Vall de Pop, in the Alicante region.
The villa had a great 10 x 5 metre pool which was a huge hit with the children. Lots of room for more inflatable toys …
There were lots of outside seating areas that we enjoyed at different times of the day. Early mornings and evenings on the raised open terraces, daytime sunshine was easily avoided under the large covered terrace, we even enjoyed a lunchtime bbq in the pouring rain!
The sleeping arrangements were challenging, to say the least. One of the reasons why I (mum) usually take charge of booking our trips and holidays. However, as this was a last minute treat, we made it work. Family bed swapping is always fun for the children and is often the best way to get a decent nights sleep. As the company website clearly explains, “all the bedrooms have separate, external entrances”. What we hadn’t realised was that they were not internally connected in any way. For this reason alone, we would not recommend this villa to anyone with younger children. For couples and teenagers, it would be great.
A couple of other observations we feel we need to share are:
- there was no wi-fi in the villa
- at the weekends there is a nightclub that plays music very loud until the early hours
- the glass tables are a bit of a liability for young children too
I don’t want to appear negative about the villa, but I prefer to be honest and share our thoughts.
With regards to location, we loved it!
It was very private and quiet (apart from the weekend nights!). We could go for walks and bike rides from the doorstep. The village of Parcent was a ten-minute walk away and so was the local bodega (wine shop).
Read more details about the villa here: Casa Mimosa
About the Food and Drink in Alicante:
We love to try new food and drink when we travel. We research the local produce and specialities of the region. However, during our family holidays in Alicante, we found this rather challenging.
Let me explain.
We read that, in La Vall de Pop region, the specialities included:
- ”espencat” a salad of roasted vegetables
- “cocas” pizza like savouries
- “minxos” savoury pastries
- “pilotes de dacsa” cornflour and meat dumplings
- “arròs amb caragols i naps” rice with snails and turnip
- “putxero amb pilotes” stew with meatballs
- “arroz al horno” baked rice
Unfortunately, we struggled to find the local specialities. We put this down to lack of preparation and will ensure we are better prepared for our next visit to the area. The restaurants we ended up in, some recommended by family friends, offered fixed menu style meals. Admittedly, they were good value for money, but not what we like to eat.
A rather unfortunate discovery, for our preferred taste, was this lovely looking, traditional Spanish style (or so we thought) restaurant in Alcalalí, called Casa Pepe. We should have left when we read the “Kid’s Menu”: sausages and chips, nuggets and chips, fish fingers and chips … It got worse. When, in Spanish, we asked the waiter if the sausages were English or Spanish, he looked at us in utter embarrassment and replied “Iceland sausages” i.e. the frozen food shop, not the country.
The value for money could not be questioned. Three-course meals with drinks for around only 12 to 14 euros. However, we were surprised when we discovered that it is the Nº1 restaurant in the area on Trip Advisor: Read here for more reviews. It is at this point, as on many occasions, that we need to remind ourselves that everyone has their own tastes and ours may not be the norm.
Another day we visited La Piscina on the road from Parcent to Taberna. This had been recommended by family friends. Again, it was a fixed menu at a very cheap price. A cold buffet starter reminded me of 2 star hotel dining options. The mains were better than Casa Pepe but not to our usual standard. We enjoyed a reasonable Paella a la Valenciana and dad had wild boar. Read Trip Advisor reviews here .
Needless to say, we were not as quick to eat out in the surrounding area on the remaining days. We did enjoy a great lunch in the Andalucían Meson Tresmall in Moroira and a classic fish lunch, with friends in Denia. They were our least adventurous meals but they were good. After all, we do believe that you generally get what you pay for, especially where food is concerned.
So, what about the local wine?
Much to mum’s surprise, we discovered that La Vall de Pop enjoys an abundant grape harvest and there are many wine cellars, co operatives and museums in the area. Despite not having a lot of time to sample the local wine, we did manage a quick bodega visit in Xaló. Our excitement was slightly quashed though, on seeing large plastic bottles containing, not only the locally produced wine, but also spirits such as gin, vodka and whisky. The excitement to taste soon wore off.
We did manage to bring a few home to taste though …
We decided that, from now on, wherever we go:
Dad will taste something completely different, as a local speciality, all body parts included (Challenge on! Tee hee!)
Mum will sample the local beverage (usually wine 😉 )
Joshua will learn a phrase in the local language / dialect
Francesca will discover an interesting fact and/or story about the area
Where did we visit in Alicante? What did we think of each place?
As this was only a five day break, our aim was to get a taster of nearby places in order to plan future trips and future family holidays in Alicante and the surrounding areas.
Castell de Castells: Petracos. Neolithical cave paintings. These cave paintings were declared World Heritage as they are a unique representation of macro-schematic art. Standing looking at them, it was incredible to think that they were painted over 8000 years ago.
Xàbia/Jávea was a bit of a disappointment, having seen the beautiful beaches in the tourist brochures. Our first impression was that it was a little Britain in the sun and we did not wish to investigate further. It was quite a cloudy and cool day though, so we will reserve judgement for another visit.
Moraira was an attractive area. There was a nice obvious mix of nationalities. The town itself offered great beaches, clean promenades and an abundance of restaurants. This is a place we will investigate further on a future trip.
Dénia was our favourite town/resort. We enjoyed visiting the rocky snorkelling area of Les Rotes, the view over to Ibiza, the huge harbour area and the long, sandy beaches that line the length of the resort. The water was so warm and clear. It is a great location for a family holiday. We will be back, for sure.
What was our favourite part?
Aside from a great family and friends beach and bbq day in Dénia, our favourite day was snorkelling at Platja Els Pinets in Benissa . The beach was only 20 metres wide and 6 metres deep but the scenery and surroundings were beautiful. The water was crystal clear and abundant with fish and sea life. Francesca entertained local sun bathers with her shrieks of joy resonating through her snorkel. Josh loved clambering over the rocks and feeding the resident crabs. Dad swam for miles and miles, enjoying the warm water and seabed views. Mum took lots of pics, relaxed in the sun and watched everybody having fun.
Mum was also secretly happy that the beach she’d randomly chosen, from the many options in the tourist guide, was a success.
What was our least favourite memory?
The long drive home.
Random observations and thoughts:
Although we were still in Spain, the local dialect caught us out a few times during our family holidays in Alicante. Valenciano, a variety of Catalan, is spoken in the Alicante region. This caught us out when looking for street names and locations. It did not cause any real problems though as Castillian in also spoken by locals.
We were surprised at how few local, Spaniards we met. There is without doubt a major British expat community in this area. Unfortunately, this had a negative impact on our first impression of the area where we were staying and some of the places we visited.
The towns and villages we drove through, at varying times of day, seemed very quiet. It was not unusual to see only a few individuals shuffling along the streets. Only Moraira and Denia appeared to be hives of activity and excitement.
The scenery was beautiful. The stone buildings and vineyards were reminiscent of France.
The sea is generally clear and warm and there is a wide variety of sea life to discover.
Despite our initial disappointments, the whole experience left us with a wonderful taste of the Mediterranean and a desire to return and discover more.
Can you help us?
Do you know the Alicante region well? Where should we visit? What should we do? Where should we eat? Where is seriously not to be missed?
Please add your suggestions as a comment and we will start planning our next family holidays in Alicante with your help
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