Alicante, Spain combines superb shopping and miles of exquisite sandy beaches. The second largest city in Valencia, it boasts a population of more than 250,000 but still retains all the charm of a small village. Locals are fond of walking the paseo just for the sake of strolling and seeing who else is about. Shopping in the city center ranges from handmade local ceramics, bags and wicker baskets, leather products, designer clothes and everything from wedding gowns to gift items. The Paseo de la Explanada, Alicante s seafront promenade, is home to Parisian-style street cafes set among four rows of impressive palms. If you want more than just shopping there are fiestas and other cultural activities, museums and ancient monuments that reflects the area s 3,000 year history. The archaeology museum is one of the best in Spain. Among its historic treasures is the Castillo de Santa Barbara, a huge medieval fortress over looking the city from the north. Several ancient churches are interesting to visit and hold art and artifacts worth investigating. A very important festival, the Bonfires and Saint John occurs during the summer solstice and is capped off the following week with seven nights of fireworks demonstrations and contests. Many quaint villages and towns lie within driving distance of Alicante and provide interesting day trips and sightseeing. The Mediterranean climate of the area means frequent days of sun and very little rain, making it ideal for sun worshippers. Whether you just enjoy clear blue skies or plan on taking advantage of a day that combines sun and the beach you ll love the weather. For those who do want beaches, Playa de San Juan is one of the finest in Spain with 5km of golden sand, three small coves, water sports, hotels, bars and restaurants. Come play in the sun and immerse yourself in the culture of Spain.