Alicante on a Budget
If you don't fancy a big lunch, many towns have indoor food markets...
Prices have gone up recently and you don't get as many euros to the pound nowadays but it is still possible to enjoy a holiday in Alicante or the Costa Blanca without blowing your budget.
Where to stay
If you are travelling with a few friends or family, you might want to consider hiring a campervan or caravan. These cost around €100 a day but it could work out cheaper than a hotel or villa if there are a few of you. You also have the additional bonus of not having to hire a car and of being able to stay at different resorts during your holiday.
A chalet or holiday home on a campsite with shared swimming pool, bar and restaurant plus entertainment can also be as little as €120 a week.
The sites vary from quiet eco resorts to large family-friendly affairs. For something a little different, you could try the Marjal Costa Blanca Eco Camping resort at Crevillente . It is 15 minutes to the beach but next to the El Hondo natural park. The park is formed of several lagoons and is home to a colourful variety of flora and fauna, such as ducks, herons, osprey and warblers. In winter you may be lucky enough to see eagles too.
If you want somewhere with children's activities, the Cap-Blanch campsite is next to Albir beach and just two kilometres from the pretty town of Altea. The site includes a social club, solarium, tennis court, playground and rock music bar/restaurant. Activities include dance and fitness classes, fancy dress parties, afternoon cinema for the children, ballroom dancing, Flamenco dancing, drawing classes and sports tournaments.
If you are travelling alone or as a couple, you may find a hostal is a cheap alternative. The hostals are good, clean hotels with private en-suite rooms (not to be confused with youth hostals and bunkbeds in a dormitory!). Prices can start at €14 per room. You can stay in a youth hostal with dorms if you prefer and these can cost as little as €11 per night.
How to travel
The cheapest way to get about is by public transport. There are buses run by ALSA (www.alsa.es) connecting most towns on the Costa Blanca and Alicante, which cost a few euros. You can also travel across Spain by bus too, which is a cheap way to see a lot of the countryside.
You could also let the train take the strain. The train service run by RENFE (www.renfe.com) is fast, clean and very reasonably priced, particularly compared to British train fares. From Alicante train station you can travel to many other Spanish cities, for example you could go to Barcelona for €51.40 in a journey which takes anything between 4hrs 45mins and 5hrs 33mins.
There are slower local trains, called trams, which also run along the coast from Denia in northern Costa Blanca to Alicante with a change at Benidorm. You'll need to allow plenty of time as the train makes many stops but it is a very pretty journey along the coast and at a couple of other little towns too. One zone is 1.25€ while travelling through all six zones is 6.67€ or €11.50 return. If you intend to travel around a lot on the train, it will work out even cheaper with a Bono 10 (for 10 trips) or Bono 30 (for 30 trips).
Where to eat
By far the best place to eat on a budget is Benidorm. Some pubs offer €1.50 a pint and all-day English breakfast from €1.80.
Tapas can be fine for a snack, particularly as many bars are now offering a small beer (caña) and a tapa for €1.50. Look on the blackboard outside the bar to see what is on offer.
Most restaurants offer lunchtime menu del dia, where you can have a three course meal with a drink and coffee for as little as €6. You will also find the many Chinese restaurants on the Costa Blanca offer cheap set menus and will often throw in a half-decent bottle of red.
Another well-known cheap place for a meal at any time of the day is Scallops in Javea. It has a brilliant location on the Arenal beach. Here you can have a three-course meal with a bottle of wine for €7.95. The real bargain is the breakfast though with a special winter breakfast for just €1.95 or a big English breakfast for €2.95.
If you don't fancy a big lunch, many towns have indoor food markets where you can pick up cheese, pate, bread and olives for a few euros to provide a quick picnic on the beach.
Things to do
Wherever you are staying you will find many bars and restaurants have live music so you can order a caña or two, sit back and listen to fine music. The beach bars also play music so you can chillout while watching the sunset.
Benidorm holds a Low Cost Festival (www.lowcostfestival.es), from July 27 to 29 with Suede and Kasabian taking star billing this year. Tickets are from €39.99 or a VIP ticket is from €125. That's a positive bargain compared to other festivals.
As you can see, Alicante needn't 'costa' lot...