Tourists seeking year-round sun will not be able to find a better destination in Europe than Alicante. At least that’s the conclusion of a study by holiday rental search engine Holidu, which found that the capital of the Costa Blanca enjoys the highest number of sunny days of any city in Europe.
Another study, by prop-tech company Sonneil, also named the Alicante coast as one of the top-three happiest destinations in mainland Spain, in part thanks to its sun-blessed climate but also taking into account the area’s high level of tourist services and infrastructures.
As a commemoration of the International Day of Happiness, Sonneil created the Spain Happy Index, which takes into consideration such aspects as pleasant weather, friendly people, good food, peace and quiet, social life and nature to map the happiest places in Spain based on quantitative data from sources such as the Spanish Meteorological Agency and the interior ministry.
The index data includes Blue Flag beaches (Alicante heads the national Spanish ranking), hospitals, distance to airports, and weather details such as average temperatures, windy days, rainy days and days of sunshine per year.
According to Sonneil, after measuring all these parameters, the index identified the happiest places in Spain to be Alicante, Almería, Málaga and the islands of Formentera and Tenerife (in the Canaries).
“There are many studies that relate the sunlight we receive to our physical and mental well-being,” noted Sonneil. “For example, sunlight activates our body’s production of serotonin, the so-called ‘happiness hormone’, which regulates our mood and the quality of our sleep.”
In Alicante, according to Holidu, there is certainly plenty of this hormone: an average of 349 hours of sunshine per month. Another six Spanish cities also made the list, including Murcia in the neighbouring province and region.
The study took into account World Weather Online statistics covering the number of hours of sun per month, to determine the following top-11 (last two placed joint 10th): 1. Alicante, 3 Murcia, 4 Málaga, 6 Valencia, 8 Las Palmas, 9 Granada and 10 Sevilla (in Spain), 2 Catania, 5 Messina and 10 Palermo (Italy), and 7 Nice (France).
“Alicante is the definitive destination for travellers seeking sun,” concluded Holidu. “The city is known for its impressive Costa Blanca coastline, which offers expansive public beaches where you can take in the sun on the sand or head into the water to enjoy nautical sports. And, if its sunny climate is not enough, Alicante is a stunning city. With its picturesque Old Town, numerous museums, historic attractions, variety of excellent restaurants and vibrant nightlife, Alicante always has something to offer all kinds of travellers.”
Returning to Sonneil’s study, the company noted that, when it came to “climate benevolence” (another factor included in the Spain Happy Index), the average temperature along the Valencia region coast (which includes the three provinces of Alicante, Castellón and Valencia) is up to 18 degrees Celsius.
Referring to clients planning to move to Spain permanently, Sonneil added, “In terms of services and infrastructures, tourism on the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol has meant that in recent decades priority has been given to the proximity and accessibility of facilities such as hospitals, shopping centres, airports and schools, among others, even in the most remote areas of urban centres. This is a plus when it comes to choosing a place of residence.”