From delicious gastronomy to historic performances, beautiful beaches, unforgettable walks and much more, Elche is a destination that offers something for everyone.
Elche will take you aback with all the experiences you can live and beautiful places you can visit in the town. However you enjoy spending your time, there is something for you. From Misterio de Elche - a play that is on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity - to stunning scenery, the civilisations that settled in Elche have created a fascinating town that is a joy to explore. Let’s take a look around.
What to do in Elche
First things first: how can you get to Elche? Well, the town has a high speed train connection (AVE) from Madrid and is on the local train network (known as Cercanías) that links Murcia and Alicante. If you’re driving, you can take the A7 motorway.
Elche is as old as time itself, dating all the way back to the Neolithic. The location of present-day Elche was inhabited by different civilisations until the 5th century BC, when the Iberian town of Ilici was founded. The enigmatic sculpture of Dama de Elche dates to this period. The bust is one of the most important archaeological findings in Spain.
After the Iberians came the Romans who were then, in turn, followed by the Moors. The latter introduced irrigation and initiated a site that Elche is best known for today: Palmeral de Elche. This palm tree forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest of its kind in Europe, though it is thought to have been even bigger during the Arab period.
The Palmeral is divided into different areas: the municipal park, Huerto de Abajo, Huerto del Cura and Huerto del Chocolatero. Taking a stroll under the canopies of the date palms is nothing short of absolute joy. If you’re lucky, you might just spot a palmerero doing their traditional work, making your hair stand on end as they scale the towering trunks of the trees.
Around the year 1250, Elche became part of the Kingdom of Castile. Not long after this date, Misteri d’Elx was written. Experts believe the play to date back to the year 1265. And that’s not the only important date around this time. In 1370, a sculpture of the Virgen was found in a wooden ship close to Santa Pola.
Misteri d’Elx, known as the Mystery Play of Elche in English, is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. The sacred musical drama tells the story of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and is known for its beautiful staging and music. The play has been performed for centuries on the 14 and 15 August and is a spectacle that you should see at least once in your lifetime.
Museo Arqueológico y de Historia de Elche (MAHE) is a good place to start your exploration of the town, taking you on a journey into its history and archaeological findings.
Elche’s beaches are the next place you should head. El Altet is defined by stunning dunes and native plant life, and is a great place to while away the hours. Arenals del Sol beach, meanwhile, boasts similarly beautiful scenery, but with the added bonus of offering access to people with disabilities.
Then there is La Marina beach and El Carabassí, which is a nudist beach. If you’re looking for a wild and natural stretch of the coastline, make your way to El Pinet and El Rebollo. You’ll be taken aback by the beauty of them both.
Lovers of gastronomy will enjoy feasting on traditional dishes in Elche. Make sure you try arroz con costra (rice with a crispy topping), arroz con pollo y conejo (rice with chicken and rabbit) and puchero con pelotas (a stew). You should also leave some room for dates as well as fig bread and almond cake.
If you’re looking for traditions and festivals, you can take part in the Moros y Cristianos festival (held days before Misteri d’Elx) and discover the artform made from palms during Holy Week. Elche, as you can see, is a great destination with a lot to offer. Start planning your getaway now.
Sign up to a Palma Blanca workshop in Elche and learn a craft that dates back centuries.
Check out Sala Tramoia’s programme of events, which is bursting with pieces your little ones will love.