Choose flights to Alicante for the Costa Blanca

The Costa Blanca features some of Spain's best beaches, but also some of the country's tackiest developments. They can be sidestepped though. Take flights to Alicante to discover some of the remaining gems along this coast.

There are numerous direct flights to Alicante from most UK airports, especially in the summer months, when the charter companies and travel agents schedule their own flights.

Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) flies to Alicante from Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London Luton, London Stansted, London Gatwick, Newcastle, Manchester and Southend. Fares for London departures start £23.99 for the outward journey and £14.99 for the return leg, and similar prices are available all around the country. You will need to add on extra charges for baggage and credit card fees.

Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies to Alicante from Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Derry, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow (Prestwick), Humberside, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, London (Gatwick) and London (Stansted). Fares start at attention-grabbing low levels, but unless you are very adept at finding the lowest rate tax-free fares, expect an average £80 return flight. There are additional charges for baggage, check-in, EU levies and credit cards.

From Alicante, take some time to look around this impressive old Moorish city, then head north up the coast. You can hire a car, but train and bus services are fairly reliable if you are travelling light. They are also cheap.

Beyond Benidorm check out the less hectic resort town of Oliva. The sandy beach is long enough for walkers to escape most of the beachside development and find a relatively sedate stretch of sand to enjoy the Mediterranean.

Denia is busier, but has some of the best beaches in the region, some of them beyond the wooded cape, reachable by a taxi from town if you haven't got a hire car.

Nearby, Xabia has a pleasing old town, which gets lively in the evenings, and some romantic secluded cove beaches, backed by high cliffs. The Playa La Barraca even has its own fabulous paella restaurant for leisurely lunches by the sea.

These towns along the coast as far as Denia are all with easy reach of the airport for your return flights. Trains to Alicante won't take longer than 2 hours. For further information, visit www.costablancauncovered.com.

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