Elche (Valencian: Elx) is a city in the province of Alicante, Spain. Elche is a historical city with a prominent industry, being footwear its main economic motor. From the visitor point of view the city is renowed for its palm trees: the Palmeral of Elche, with more than 200.000 palm trees, is one of the largest palm groves in the world, and is listed in the UNESCO Heritage Sites list.
Elche has another UNESCO Heritage, the Mistery Play of Elche (Valencian: Misteri d'Elx). It dates from the Middle Ages and its declared one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Elche's history dates back to the 5th century BC, as an iberian setlement. The iconic Lady of Elche (currently hosted in the National Archeological Museum in Madrid) has been dated between the 5th and 4th century BC. When the romans took the city they called it Ilici, being the demonym ilicitanos still in use to refer to the inhabitants of the city.
Under muslim rule new irrigation systems were introduced, allowing the creation of an oasis in Elche. In honour to the holy city of Medina, founded next to an oasis with palm trees, the city of Elche started its singular palm grove at the end of the 10th century AC. Even being a muslim symbol the oasis was respected when the city passed again to christian's hands due to its economic value.
Alicante's El Altet Airport (ALC)  is actually located within Elche's municipality, but 15 Km of the city center. Buses 1A and 1B link the airport with the city center. Tickets are bought from the bus driver (1.50 € from the Airport to the city). Be careful if departing early or arriving late as the service starts at 6:35 and finishes at 21:35.
Elche is a common day trip from Alicante and other cities in the surroundings. Currently Elche has two train stations: Elche-Parque (Valencian: Elx-Parc) and Elche-Carrús (Elx-Carrús). Elche-Carrús would be the best option for arriving, its in the center and close to the main attractions. A new station is expected to start operating in 2015, serving the high speed trains.
Elche-Parque is a stop in the Talgo long-distance train from Murcia to Catalonia, and some medium distance (Valencia, Zaragoza). It's also included in the Alicante - Murcia short distance train network. . Elche-Carrús only receives medium and short distance trains.
Here is a list of orientative prices from the RENFE web site:
The Autovia del Mediterraneo (A-7) goes all the way throught the mediterranean coast. National road N-330 links Alicante with the center of Spain, N-340 connects Elche with Alicante, Orihuela and further to Murcia; and N-332 connects Elche's coast with other places on the coastline.
Elche is a compact city but the beaches are between 16 - 20 Km from the city itself. There are buses connecting them to the city, but they may not go so often.
Buses 1B (departing from Carrús) and 2 (from the bus station) go to Arenales del Sol, El Altet and Carabassi beaches during the whole year.
A direct bus runs on Sundays and holidays to La Marina, El Pinet and Pesqueres.
BiciElx  offers a service of renting bikes along the city. It's possible to make the registration online and then take a bike from one of the 34 bike stations. The service is available daily from 06:00 to 00:00.
Elche is perfectly walkable. A Palm Grove Walk is clearly marked, passing throught the most significant spots.
The tourist information office is located at Plaza Parque 3. The web-page  includes plenty of information in various languages. A Museum Pass can be purched at the tourist information for 8 €. The pass grants free entrance to the museums.
El Palmeral de Elche
The Palm Grove is formed from more than 200.000 of date palms. It was laid out by the muslims who erected the city of Elche in its current location. The Palmeral is in fact an oasis made with the new irrigation and agricultural production technics brought from North Africa. The Palmeral is included in the UNESCO Heritage Sites list as an example of a typical North African landscape and culture transfered to another continent, being the irrigation system, still functioning, of remarkable interest.
El Palmeral it's not a natural park, but part of the urban landscape of the city. Having an agricultural purpose in origin the palm trees were planted to delimite different orchards (Spanish: huertos, Valencian: horts). Nowadays the palm trees have spread and the huertos are (mostly) public parks where one can relax walking surrounded by palm trees and hearing the water coming throught the irrigation. Several huertos can be visited but the most important ones are included in the 2.5 Km-long Palm Grove Walk (Ruta del Palmeral) route.
Along with the palm trees another species have been introduced, coming from mediterranean orchards (like orange or fig trees) or subtropical landscapes. There is also a collection of cactus.
The Mistery Play of Elche (Spanish: Misterio de Elche, Valencian: Misteri d'Elx) its declared one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO. The play is performed every year on the 14th and 15th of August in the Basilica of Santa Maria since, at least, 500 years. Its included in Elche's festival season.
The coast of Elche is several kilometers (15-20 Km) away from the city center, but its possible to reach the beaches by bus. The north beaches (Arenales del Sol, El Altet and El Carabassi) are separated from the south ones (El Pinet, La Marina and Les Pesqueres-El Rebollo) by the town of Santa Pola.
Five of the six beaches have a blue flag recognition for quality. The north beaches are more suitable for water sports (especially windsurf), meanwhile the south ones are more wild and ussually relaxed. All of them have parking, restaurants in the surroundings and other services.
For buying food the Central Market next to the Town Hall is the ideal place. Fresh dates are available on season (October to January) on several shops, mostly connected to the families who pick them up. Other than dates and products related Elche is popular for the manufacture of white palm leaves, mostly used for the Palm Sunday, but an interesting souvenir to take. Most workshops only open from October to the Holy Week, out of that season may be difficult to find.
The Ciudad de Elche shopping center is located within the city at avenida Alcalde Ramón Pastor 2. It contains an Hipercor supermarket. For other shopping centers a car would be useful. Ruta Outlet, located 7 Km away from the city in Parque Industrial, can be reached by buses 1A and 1B (direction airport).
Elche prepares several products made from dates and date's liqueur. Delicias de Elche is a tapa made up of fried dates, bacon and almonds, it can be ordered anywhere in the city. Aside from dates Elche produces a delicious variety of pomegranate known as moller. The tortada de Elche is an almond cake and pan de higo (also typical in Malaga and other places) is a dessert made from dried figs.
Arroz con costra (egg-baked rice) is the traditional dish of Elche. Rice with rabbit or snails is also common on Sundays along the locals. Lot of restaurants offer them in the city. The restaurants on the beach tend to be considerable more expensive.
Aside from liqueur of date, the paloma or nugolet is a traditional anisette dissolved in water with lemon and sugar, but nowadays is mostly relegated to old people.
The center of Elche has a very active nightlife, from pubs to disco-clubs. Calle Blas Valero and Avenida Juan Carlos I host a number of spots of all kind. Crossing the Parque Municipal there is an area with disco spots, like Rompeolas (Carrer Fatxo 3) or Blue Hand (Sant Agatàngel 3).
Budget travellers may want to look Alicante for real hostels. Anyway Elche has got plenty of other sleep options, but prices can go high, especially on the beach. Check  for a good list from the city's tourism information.
EU citizens can get free or reduced cost medical treatment on presentation of an EHIC card and passport.
Virtually the whole province of Alicante is accesible from Elche, and several other places from Murcia and Valencia. Costa Azul buses covers the whole Costa Blanca from Alicante to Cartagena, stopping in Elche's bus station.