Situated a little way in land and to the south of Alicante, Elche is around a half an hour drive down the A-70.
It’s undoubtedly worth making the trip down and hiring a car is the best way to do it.
The drive down is very pleasant and it’s not hard to know when you are approaching Elche as the roads are lined with the palm trees that have made the area famous.
There are plenty of amazing things to see in Elche, so don’t hesitate to plan a day trip during your stay in Alicante.
Palmeral of Elche
The city is home to the Palmeral of Elche, Europe’s only palm grove and one of the largest examples in the world with more than 200,000 specimens of the date palm – it’s a truly impressive sight.
Palms were initially planted by the Phoenicians more than 2,500 years ago in order to grow dates, which were a main staple of their diet.
Some specimens of the tree can grow to more than 30 metres tall and live for more than 300 years, so this really is a sight that is worth seeing.
One of the real pleasures of visiting Elche is the chance to walk around the centre of town and admire the buildings and monuments.
You can see the strong Moorish influence and North African architecture on show throughout the city. Many of the churches were originally mosques or were built over the top of existing Moorish buildings, which gives them a completely unique look.
One fine example that should be on everyone’s must-see list is the Bascilica of Santa Maria. You can enter for free or pay a small fee to climb the tower for a fine view of the surrounding area.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Thanks to the palm grove and architecture, along with its cultural traditions, the city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. It was chosen as it is a wonderful example of North African landscape and culture that has been transferred to a different continent.
Fascinating cultural experiences
Elche also has an excellent selection of cultural experiences and activities to explore. One of the best places to get stunning pictures of the palm trees is in the Parque Municipal and it also makes for a lovely area to stroll around.
You’ll also find a number of museums ranging from the Museo del Palmeral which offers an insight into the history and evolution of the famous palm grove, to the Palaeontology Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art – there is something to suit just about every cultural taste.
Every year the city also hosts medieval play Misteri d’Elx (the Mystery Play of Elche) in the aforementioned Basilica of Santa Maria – this has been declared one of the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.