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It is a can't miss recipe for an ideal setting: combine a seaside location with a mountainous backdrop and join the likes of Vancouver and Cape Town in the world's scenery stakes. Cheap flights to Alicante land a visitor in the centre of the Spanish Mediterranean's Costa Blanca, where those ingredients and add a dash of flair with their wondrously stable climate that ensures average annual temperature are a comfortable 18 degrees.

With its setting in place, Alicante also combines the finest elements of the new with the old in a mix of rich history and modern beach resort that together produce one of the perfect holiday settings to be found by any visitor arriving from flights to Spain.

First a little background to the history of the place that will go a long way to helping visitors understand the present. This part of Spain has a more than a thousand years of history behind it and Alicante's first settlements huddled around Mount Benacantil, which combined two elements important to the locals of the day: proximity to the sea and the safety of an elevated position.

Today it is the site of Castillo de Santa Barbara, one of the largest medieval forts in Europe named after the December 4 patron saint on whose day in 1248 Alicante was taken from the Moorish occupiers. Indeed the Moors developed much of the area and ensured its place as a trading port of some consequence. Although it no longer depends on the sea trade for the bulk of its income, Alicante gained much of its character during the 19th century when trade in the area flourished. It is during this time that much of its cosmopolitan air was acquired as a variety of influences found their way to the area on the back of its trade routes.

In modern-day Alicante, tourism has replaced the sea trade as the area's primary industry but it continues to be concentrated along the town's shoreline, though different parts of it. These days, visitors tend to be focused on the area's sandy fringes where beach culture thrives.

Thanks to the amiable climate, these are in use throughout the year and there is no shortage of ones to choose from. The closest is El Postiguet, a city beach located at the foot of Mount Benacantil. Slightly further afield you will find La Albufereta but the king of the area's beaches is La Playa de San Juan, which at more than five km (3 miles) long offers a seemingly endless stretch of a beach lover's sandy paradise.

Remember to consider the area's festival schedule when planning a trip to Alicante. The standout is surely the local version of the Fallas festival celebrated in Valencia. Les Fogueres de Sant Joan is much the same in that it features the parading of giant wood and paper mache depicting a variety of scenes and culminating in the burning of the lot in late June. A dazzling fireworks display is also part of the celebration and turns the air blue to the cheers of the thousands of locals gathered in the area.

Remember to see the travel guide to Alicante for an in-depth outline of the town and its environs or for a detailed overview of the country check out the travel guide to Spain.