Known for its countless festivals year round, rich history and coastal culture, Alicante is your holiday destination for the best in Spanish and Valencian culture. Located on the Costa Blanca in southeast Spain, Alicante’s status as a port city has heavily influenced its reputation as a multifaceted, international city. As a tourist destination, Alicante provides cultural activities and interests sure to enlighten, but most importantly, entertain the whole family. The city holds host to countless independent businesses, exhibitions, projects and events where you can be sure to experience the best that this port city can offer.
Port City Life
As a port city, Alicante has allowed itself to freely embrace cultures from all around the world. From its beautiful coastal fortifications on Mount Benacantil to the extravagant and serene promenade hugging the Mediterranean sea, the city’s coastal connections has shaped what is today one of Spain’s treasures.
To get just a glimpse of this, take yourself on the 3 hour Alicante Gourmet Walking Tour where you are taken around the old town whilst indulging in delights such as cured meats, local wines, salted fish and more. Whilst on your travels in the city, it’s difficult to escape the fresh seafood cuisine and for good reason – Alicante’s seafood scene harbours countless restaurants with an appetite for your custom. After all, the area has been inhabited for thousands of years so has had ample time to perfect this staple cuisine.
Whilst the quaint cafes, restaurants, art galleries, museums and beaches may tell you otherwise, Alicante just cannot stick small-scale; the Volvo Ocean Race commences in Alicante every four years. The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world pitting the best teams in watersports against each other in a thrilling race which draws crowds without fail. Bringing in millions of Euros to the Spanish economy and creating nearly 2 billion impressions on social media, The Ocean Race is a big deal for Alicante and something you just cannot miss if you’re planning on going.
Being a port city also allows Alicante a comfortable, cool, continental climate allowing Brits abroad respite from the
incessant rain. With an average high in August of 30.8℃ and a record low of -1.6℃ in January, few can complain about these temperatures. They are simply perfect for your continental summer getaway.
History in the Streets
Alicante has been populated for around 7000 years with the occupational baton passed from Carthage to the Romans, to the Visigoths and more. However, most notably Alicante was occupied by Moorish (Islamic) rule which had a very heavy influence on the architecture of the city today. With their trademark emphasis on colour, fortification and bijou style, Moorish rule is
evident wherever you go in Alicante. Make sure to take a trip to the old town where this architecture is far more prevalent – for example this influence is very apparent (and beautiful) in my first cultural landmark, the Basilica of Santa Maria.
The Basilica of Santa Maria is an architecturally stunning building and one that is internationally recognised as an iconic Valencian Gothic building. It is the oldest church in the city dating back to the 14th century and stands at the foot of Mount Benacantil. It is, however, still an active church and holds regular services and is a significant
reminder of the presence of religion in Spain and its relevance still today. The church is based in the old town of Alicante so fits in very well with the unique and picturesque Valencian architecture and offers tourists and locals alike a unique insight into the social, cultural and religious heritage of the city.
The old town itself is based around the central-eastern part of the city and lends itself well to historical indulgence and enlightenment. Featuring architecture that reveals Moorish rule and the influence of Baroque architecture in the city. Besides the fact that the old town is visually stunning, it is also representative of a city that is not embarrassed to embrace tradition. Modern cafés and the well-known brands inhabit the same beautifully designed buildings as the family-owned tapas bars, museums and galleries. This embrace of modernity alongside the treasured tradition of Alicante shows to the world that the city is open for business and open for championing an evolving world and allows the appreciation of a really fascinating city. If you visit you will recognise that this really helps bring out the character of the city.
The city has a wide portfolio of exports historically which still make their way into the produce of Alicante today.
Goods like almonds, wool, rice, wine and olive oil are local to the area and for hundreds of years has brought trade, people and culture to the city. However, it was only in the past half a century when Alicante really hit its stride internationally. The tourist industry in the late 1950s and early ‘60s transformed the city to create today’s contrast between old and new. This allowed Alicante to embrace both tradition and progression and is key to its character as an all-encompassing city. When in Alicante, you will be sure to note the busy and unique evolution of one of Spain’s most historically insightful cities.
Santa Bárbara Castle
With origins stretching back to the 9th century, the Santa Bárbara Castle is a spectacular representation of
Alicantinian history located right in the centre of the city on top of Mount Benacantil! The mount and the castle are landmarks of the city providing the citizens of Alicante a close connection to their long and momentous past. The castle was conquered by Castillian forces in December of 1248 and then by the Aragonese in 1296. It was then bombarded by the French in 1691 and then by the Catalonistas in 1873. This means that while not all of the castle may still be present, for obvious reasons, it gives the people of Alicante a real insight into the value that the city has had historically. As a fortification, the castle was used by the military throughout history, but from the 20th-century onwards, was not needed again. It was then used briefly as a prison and then abandoned until late in the 20th-century.
It is remarkable to think that it wasn’t until 1963 when the castle was then reopened to the public. The mount and the castle now features a lift so those, who rightly, do not want to take the castle and mount by foot can make it to the top within the day. There are steps that are available to those who are eager to climb the castle to its summit by foot, but let’s face reality – why would you? And good news for those of us who are in the mindset of taking the lift; refreshments are also provided near the summit of the mount.
The castle is owned in part by the Museum of the City of Alicante which features a number of other exhibitions in and around the castle (which you can find in the ‘museums’ section).
In all seriousness, the castle, a historical and cultural landmark, is now accessible to the general public which truly is a gift to those of us who are interested in Valencian history and culture.
Lucentum Archaeological Site
Alicante really is full of it, history, that is. Only a few miles out from the centre of town in the area of Albufereta there lies, in full view, the remains of the old Roman city of Lucentum. This barebones exploration of the Alicante’s foundations covers 5 hectares of this eastern district. The excavation allows a clear through-the-looking-glass perspective of the street layout, buildings, potteries and more.
The town of Albufereta features a lovely boulevard donning palm trees and traditional restaurants and cafes for you to stop by en route to the site. The site area is served by the local tram and bus services and neighbours an ice cream shop, blocks of houses and a pharmacy; Alicante is very humble about this incredible find.
Museums and Art Galleries
Accurate records of Alicante’s rich history are documented in the local museums of Alicante. The MARQ (Museo Arqueologico de Alicante) is an archaeology museum detailing the vast human, and non-human, history of Alicante. The museum is most certainly worth a visit as it earned the European Museum of the Year Award in 2004 with judges saying that the museum had an “element of surprise” and a “perfect harmony” The MARQ features three permanent galleries: ‘Field Archaeology’, ‘Urban Archaeology’ and ‘Underwater Archaeology’. This is along with the
capacity for temporary exhibitions allowing unique visits and experiences to learn more about this fascinating city. The museum is based in central-east Alicante and is very accessible by nearby main road connections and public transport.
Next is MACA (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante/Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art) which is an art gallery that exhibits contemporary and modern art. It focuses mainly on 20th-century art and features big names such as Picasso and Dalí. This art gallery is particularly unique as it changes up the presentation of the art gallery every few months to give returning visitors a new experience with new pieces of art and design on show in Alicante’s oldest building. The museum is owned by the City Council and has been used historically as a temporary location for Alicante City Hall. This museum allows a true insight into Alicante’s embrace of fine art and culture and its recognition on the world stage as an inspired city.
Following from this, one of Alicante’s top tourist destinations is the Gravina Museum of Fine Arts which is a celebration of all things regal and grand. Set in an 18th-century palace named The Gravina Palace, the museum has held concerts, exhibitions, workshops, educational trips, provided publications, conferences and more for the general public. The museum is very active at Christmas time and holds workshops for families as well as taking part in the many festivals held in Alicante each year by providing information on the historical and cultural significance of each festival. At the time of writing, the museum is closed for renovation but will be open and new exhibitions should be added in 2019.
Tradition is never far when in Alicante; Museo de Belenes (the Nativity Scene Museum) provides a permanent
exhibition of the nativity featuring multiple different scenes. The museum does, of course, offer a primarily Catholic perspective of the nativity but also features many international variants on the interpretation of the nativity. The museum is based in central Alicante and is easily accessible by public transport.
In our next museum, tradition meets maritime sports as Museo The Ocean Race (The Ocean Race Museum) celebrates and gives insight into the history and significance that the Ocean Race has had on Alicante. The Ocean Race, as previously mentioned, is an international yacht race starting in Alicante; however, there is much more to this race than meets the eye. Through interactive and enticing methods of storytelling, you are able to learn about the history of the race and immerse yourself in this culture that you probably have never stopped to think about before.
The museum markets itself on providing visitors with an “interactive space that covers the 45 years of history of the toughest sailing competition that exists” and for those so technically minded promotes the museum’s focus on yacht design and technicality along with new innovations and technological advancements in the world of professional yachting. The museum also promotes the UN’s #cleanseas campaign and explores the commitment to sustainability that the race has shown over the years. The museum is geared to family entertainment as well: “The Ride” simulator
at Museo The Ocean Race gives participants a first-person experience of sailing in a race at 25 knots – exhilarating, I’m sure. I shall not labour the point too much longer, if you have free time in Alicante or if you are seeing the race, in particular, you cannot pass up this recommendation.
Museo de la Ciudad (MUSA) or the Museum of the City of Alicante is a museum situated in and around the Santa Bárbara Castle. The Santa Bárbara Castle is a historical landmark which is a prominent reminder of the illustrious past of Alicante. Within the museum itself, there are four areas. Firstly, the Visitor Information Centre is based in what is the Engineer Association Building. In this Centre, there are archaeological ruins on exhibition and informative videos telling you about the surrounding area. The second area, “The Former Hospital” is an exhibition which explores the cultural and historical links that Alicante has had with maritime culture. The third area is called the “Long Room” and has information on the people of Alicante and how they have lived, what has been the local
occupation, what are the most prominent local family trees and more. The fourth area is a very interesting area
detailing a little known incident back in the early 1700s during the War of Succession when French soldiers blew up a mine in Alicante. The room serves as an exhibition on the way that invasion and varying occupation has shaped
the city and has proven to expand the city’s culture and attributes. This is a lovely, quaint museum located in the momentous Santa Bárbara Castle which is certainly worth a visit if you are near.
A Coursing Love for Festivities
Alicante’s most notable passion is the remarkably high number of festivals happening year round. Many of these festivals help tourists dig deeper into the historical and social influences that have made Alicante what it is today.
Few more noteworthy than one of Alicante’s largest festivals – Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) which is held in late April. Moros y Cristianos is a set of festivals most prominent in the Valencian region which commemorates the battles between the Moors (Muslims) and the Christians during the Reconquista between the 8th and 15th centuries. Reenactments, parties, fireworks, music and more are staples of this most treasured festival.
The festival, rather the set of festivals, last for several days consisting of street celebration and cultural embrace. The
aforementioned reenactments are the most revealing of Alicante’s culture and consists of participants dressing as
Christians and Muslims and then playful fighting in the streets. Dress sense is dictated by a strict medieval code for these events; so, the Christians dress up in clothes incorporating fur, metal helmets and armour and some are on horseback. And those who are representative of the Muslims may wear traditional ancient Arab costumes and carry scimitars. Most surprisingly of all, some may be on the backs of camels or even elephants!
These mock battles are no cheap trick to impress the foreigners, fireworks and the “fog of gunpowder” envelope the city during these celebrations. To really embrace yourself within the atmosphere, you should consider bringing along costumes of your own and immersing yourself in the festivities.
One of Spain’s most popular celebrations of Moros y Cristianos is very near in the town of Alcoy just north of Alicante where the Battle of Alcoy (1275) is reenacted to huge crowds and mass celebration. This is foregrounded by music, fireworks and marching bands. This is certainly a festival you simply cannot afford to miss. Although do be careful, these fiestas are massively important to the Spanish population and those further afield too, so book well in advance.
All across Spain between February and March, there is a carnival season – a season reserved for street parties,
celebrations and festivities. In Alicante in particular, this season is taken at its word, parade after parade and party after party, Alicante truly comes alive at this time of the year. The end of Carnaval is marked by a masked ball held in the lively district of El Barrio to mark Entierro de la Sardina (the Burial of the Sardine) and brings the period of celebration to a timely close.
The origins of this season, of course, come from Lent and allow participants to indulge themselves one last time before a period of abstinence. And of course, Spain is a majority Catholic country so Carnaval still has a place in the Spanish society so if you are in Alicante during Carnaval expect indulgence, expect unadulterated fun, expect festivities and do not expect to be disappointed.
Christmas Period (Navidad)
The spirit of Christmas really manifests in Alicante during the colder months. Market after market means that you will not be short of presents to take back home to your loved ones.
For example during the Christmas period 2018-19, these are just some of the things on offer on Alicante’s Christmas programme: Santa’s grotto, museum activities for children, concerts, commerce, multiple fairs and markets, ice rinks and nativity scenes. You will not be short of things to do over Christmas in Alicante.
And if you’re staying over the Christmas period they have you sorted too as The San Silvestre de Alicante takes place
at the end of December. It is a running race around the centre of Alicante during the mild, Spanish winter weather. If you are a keen marathon runner then be sure to sign up in advance; if you are simply in Alicante to partake in the festivities, and I don’t blame you for that, you can cheer participants on from the sidelines.
Nochevieja (New Year’s)
Like in all cities, the countdown to New Year’s Day is a spectacular and memorable (or forgetful, depending on how much fun you have) celebration and Alicante is no exception.
It is a common Spanish tradition that the family eats a meal together in the early evening on New Year’s Eve. Younger members may then head out to the town to celebrate a bit more freely in nightclubs and bars with their friends. The city congregates at Plaza del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Square) for the countdown to midnight under fireworks, music and dancing. It is recommended to arrive there around 23:30 for the full Alicante New Year’s experience. Don’t panic, bars will be open later than usual on New Year’s so Nochevieja drinks will proceed unhindered by the unusually late hours. TripAdvisor names Canibal Lounge Pub as the #1 venue for nightlife in Alicante with (at the time of writing) 75% of their 68 reviews describing their experience as ‘excellent’. If that bar is too full to get in, don’t worry, TripAdvisor also names 51 other nightlife venues so you will not be stripped for choice
for your New Year’s celebrations.
Reyes Magos (Three Wise Men)
After your New Year’s celebrations have passed, you are wondering what more could Alicante possibly bring you? Well, you won’t be waiting long for the next festival as Reyes Magos arrives around 5-6th January in Alicante. The Three Wise Men festival celebrates the nativity and the arrival of the three wise men who brought gold, frankincense and Myrrh for Jesus.
This celebration starts off with Cabalgata de Reyes where there are reenactments of the arrival of the three wise men in the streets where music and dancing accompany this as standard. This is generally held on January 5th and in the evening children up and down Spain are told to leave their shoes where the three kings would be able to see them. They will also leave food for the wise men and possibly hay or dried grass if their festival featured live camels. This is of course very similar to the celebration of Christmas where children leave out food for Santa Clause – how generous. By the morning, the children will dash downstairs and will be greeted with the presents.
In terms of your trip to Alicante, general festivities carry on throughout the Christmas and New Year period and Reyes Magos, while still a domestic affair, is no exception with street parades, local produce and commerce being promoted encourages you to get next year’s Christmas shopping out of the way and gives you room to enjoy yourself and embrace your festive side.
Cruces de Mayo (May Crosses)
Welcome to Spring. Cruces de Mayo is a celebration of Spring held in Santa Cruz in Alicante’s old town. In the days
leading up to May 3rd, the people of Santa Cruz decorate the streets, their houses, porches, gardens and more with flowers. This floral flair-up is reportedly a tantalisingly beautiful representation of the advent of Spring. The smell of flowers you and I have never heard of fill the streets of Santa Cruz. Displays are judged upon in Alicante Town Hall and awards handed out to the best in show. Music, food and drink adorn the narrow, cobbled streets arousing the senses of all those passing through the city.
Don’t be mislead, Alicante still brings the party; parades and parties are held to mark this occasion allowing Alicante to appreciate the flora and fauna in a way only Alicante can – with street celebrations. This celebration is perfect for those who want a taste of Alicante and the way they run things around there; celebration, as aforementioned, runs in the blood of Alicante and this alliance of flowers, parade, music and local commerce is one of the most accurate snapshots of Alicante you can get.
Flowers, cobbled streets, food, music, party and more is what is on offer to you in Alicante in springtime; why ever would you pass this up?
Fogueres de Sant Joan (Bonfires of Saint John)
Finally, we move on to the largest festival in Alicante and the summertime too! The Bonfires of Saint Joan is a festival that is celebrated all around the world but the largest celebration by far is the one in Alicante. The festival occurs during the summer solstice and over a number of days. It comes from a belief many years ago that the bonfires would ward away evil spirits that would come during the summer solstice. This is now an international tradition with Alicante leading the way in scale, recognition and passion.
In the build-up to the 24th June, the climax of the festival, fireworks and firecrackers permeate the city along with street processions and parties in every district of the city. The setting up of the bonfire is a key part of the process named the Plantà which is then followed by the setting up of cardboard effigies. There is then a reportedly full-on firework show where a copious amount of fireworks are set off in the city. After further partying, the effigies are set alight in what is a tantalising and unique display that can be seen all over the city. There are few other places in the world with this intensity of celebration and Alicante brings it in the form of Fogueres de Sant Joan. The lucky firefighters of Alicante are then tasked with putting out any bonfires that need assistance. Don’t expect the party to be over, without a doubt you will be finding bars, pubs and clubs open later that night to accommodate for the city-wide celebrations of the largest festival of the year.
By traditional standards that is the festival over – but not in Alicante. A week later, there is a fireworks competition held on Postiguet Beach where professional pyrotechnic companies battle it out to light up the city. When the fireworks end, that is the end of Fogueres de Sant Joan, but by no means the end of celebration for Alicante. It is never a long time until your next street party, parade, celebration or festival so just hold on – the city has more waiting for you.
If the festivals and partying ever get a bit too much, you can always take a visit to the serene Tabarca. Tabarca is an island just off the coast of the Valencian Community which is administered as part of the province of Alicante. The island offers unwaveringly beautiful views as the waters surrounding it are noted to be particularly clean and unpolluted. The island’s waters contain a marine reserve which helps to preserve the unique flora and fauna of the island. To observe this, why not take a trip in a net-bottomed Catamaran which will let you take an exclusive look into these surprisingly clean waters. Snorkelling is another option – very popular with families who are looking for a trip that will educate and provide gay abandon for all.
There are 68 people living on the island of Tabarca where the general occupation is fishing. The fish caught during this time allows for many authentic seafood restaurants on the island itself giving visitors a true taste of island life. The island’s popularity really is quite amazing considering that it is only 1.75km long and its widest point is 300m. However, it is a hotbed for tourists who want to observe this unique lifestyle where cars are prohibited and nature is left to flourish. And flourish it does as Tabarca is also a Zone of Special Protection for Birds by the EU.
If you would like to experience this, it is recommended that you take a boat and have a day trip out from one of the nearest towns with connections to Tabarca (Alicante, Santa Pola and Torrevieja). If you are really committed to this island lifestyle, one of the best-rated hotels on the island is Boutique Isla Tabarca which offers tourists English and Spanish speaking accommodation, air-conditioned rooms and all rooms have a sea view. Sounds lovely, right?
Playa del Postiguet
Would you really be taking advantage of a holiday to a coastal Spanish city without going to the beach? If you want a popular recommendation then do not look any further than Playa del Postiguet which is located right in the centre of Alicante just under the shadow of Mount Benacantil and the Santa Bárbara Castle. The beach is the most popular in the city and is sure to draw significant crowds in the summer. The beach is very accessible being just a short walk from central Alicante and being accessible via tram and bus routes.
A promenade runs along the perimeter against the land made up of an eye-catching groove-based design which is broken up by palm trees. This wide promenade is popular at night as locals and tourists take to it for cool, summer evening strolls along the beachfront. Cafes, bars and well-maintained facilities adorn the promenade. The beach is reportedly remarkable clean for such a busy beach based in a city, so have no qualms, this beach will not let you down. Serene seafront walks in the evening – what could possibly be better?
A Hiking Good Time
/>Geographically, Alicante is surrounded by mountains, most of which can be accessed even when staying in the city. One of the closest places to go hiking is Serra del Maigmó i Serra del Sit, northwest of Alicante, which features numerous hiking trails that offer stunning interactions with the local landscape. Easily accessible by road, walking day trips out from Alicante give visitors breathing space from such a vibrant city. The surrounding Valencian landscape is accommodating to the most seasoned hikers and to families simply wanting a taste of the local landscape. It is recommended that those considering a walking or hiking excursion do their research beforehand to make sure they choose a venue suitable for their ability, age and timescale. On a practical level, you should hire a car if you want to go hiking/walking in Alicante as public transport is, as expected, sparse in rural areas.
Are You a Day Tripper?
One way ticket, yeah. Alicante and its province along with the Valencian Community (the Valencian autonomous area) are full to the brim with things to do. Alicante’s neighbouring towns and cities are connected well by road and rail. The trademark activities of the area give way to a true exploration of the culture of Alicante and the province. Wherever you go in the community, you cannot run out of fun packed, accessible cultural activities.
Valencian Community Arts
Like in any city, the arts are thriving and Alicante is no exception. The Teatro Principal de Alicante is a theatre based in the very centre of the city and offers theatrical shows and workshops and educational projects to entice wannabes into theatre. This venue, to my knowledge, is Spanish speaking only so only attend if you can speak the language. Or if you are learning the language, I highly recommend you attend and immerse yourself in authentic Spanish media and culture.
For something more accessible to a wider audience, maybe you should consider taking a day trip to Benidorm – the legendary English tourist destination. Benidorm is only a 55-minute bus trip from Alicante and is highly accessible for English speaking tourists. For example, Cines Colci en Benidorm is a cinema based in Benidorm that sometimes shows English films with Spanish subtitles. While this is not in Alicante, it does show how accessible the Valencian community is for tourists and how much they are willing to embrace foreign media.
Palmeral de Elche (The Palm Grove of Elche)
With around 70,000 date palm trees in the urban area of Elche alone and what is thought to be 130,000 more surrounding the city, the appreciation for palm trees in Elche is a bit obvious. The city of Elche is a 20-minute bus ride from Alicante and the city is famous for its unique take on the embrace of nature. With a population of about 228,000, Elche is a medium sized city with a love for palms. It is based in the province of Alicante so the Alicantinians can claim it as their own. The palm trees take up a significant amount of the urban space of Elche and are certainly a quiet spectacle. The palm grove is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique, transcontinental landscaping practices (the fact that actually, these palms came from North Africa). The municipal park, in particular, is a great day out from Alicante where you are able to observe the embrace of the exotic tree whilst not having to travel to Africa. This little day trip, which is recommended to be taken in the summer due to the shade that palm trees can cast, will not only let you peruse the tens of thousands of palm trees in the city but help you to understand what makes Alicante’s province tick and the unique cultures that each city provides for the region – oh and shopping, do a lot of shopping.
A half-hour drive north of Alicante will allow you an exclusive glimpse at the natural wonder that is the Canelobre Caves. Often compared to a cathedral due to its size, shape and acoustics, the caves are known to sometimes be the venue for concerts. With enough stalagmites and stalactites to fill your boots, the Canelobre Caves offer a great insight into the geology and geography of the local area. Tours are available and time to yourself is advised to truly soak up this unique atmosphere. And you can also do that thing where you shout “echo” and then hear yourself back again – and frankly, that’s the biggest attraction for me.
Admittedly not one for the whole family, but certainly a welcome surprise for those who did not know about Alicante’s wine trade. Wine tasting in vineyards around the province and community is a great way for tourists to truly interact with and gain an understanding of local produce and goods. A wine trail exists running beside the river Vinalopó. Exploring the countryside is an activity very popular with tourists to Alicante as they feel they need to escape city living at some point. There are many companies taking advantage of this trade, but I would like to highlight one to demonstrate what a true wine tasting experience is like. Bodegas Bocopa is a winery based in Petrer, a 30-minute drive from Alicante. They offer experiences that include guided tours, the tastings (some with meals to pair), an introductory video, a chance at identifying wines by their aroma and the history of the winery. A lot of this takes place in their dedicated ‘wine tasting classroom’ – don’t let the word ‘classroom’ put you off, you are going to get an education in Alicantinian culture and wine.
A wine tasting trip and a hiking day trip go hand in hand for an outer-city experience but for goodness sake please do them on separate days. A visit to vineyards and goods producers allows tourists to recognise the importance that the port of Alicante holds and has held historically to the local community and economy. There are day trips and tours that you can take with local companies (the aforementioned for example) that will take you out to the vineyards and you will be treated to a traditional lunch with wine. Broaden your horizons and maybe you will learn something about yourself or maybe you will just drink a lot of wine and I think, for these businesses, either is sufficient. For a more relaxed take on your holiday to Alicante, you truly cannot go wrong with a wine tour.