Benidorm, on Spain’s famous Costa Blanca, is one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations for visitors from all over Europe. And for good reason. There’s sunny, mild weather all year, a long strip of sandy beach and plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants. But as well as sun, sea and partying til dawn, there’s plenty more to see and do on your trip. Here’s our top ten.
The classic Benidorm picture postcard image is of a wide arc of golden sand, dotted with blue parasols and backed by the promenade with its many bars, restaurants and hotels. This is Levante, the main beach of Benidorm, and it’s at the heart of most people’s holidays here. It does get busy in the summer but you can always find a spot on the sand.
If you prefer a quieter, more family-firendly atmosphere on the beach, head for next-door Poniente. It’s clean and perfectly safe to swim here, and thanks to recent investment it’s now fully accessible with plenty of boardwalks.
Plaça del Castell
At the point of the promontory between the two beaches sits the little terrace of Plaça del Castell, with its iconic chequerboard tiles and white balustrades. It’s on the site of the former Benidorm castle, which stood here for centuries before it was destroyed in the Napoleonic wars. There are amazing panoramas on both sides, and it’s got to be the best spot in Benidorm for an Instagram-worthy photo. Plus the bars above are positioned in a perfect suntrap, a great place to soak up the Benidorm sunshine over some sangria even in winter.
Benidorm famously has plenty of international restaurants. But if you’re interested in trying some local flavours, don’t despair – Benidorm has plenty of those, too. Tucked away in the Old Town, the small, covered alley of Calle Santo Domingo is lined with tiny tapas bars, where legs of jamon serrano swing above the heads of the (mostly Spanish) customers and incredible local vino tinto costs about two euros a glass. There’s a great selection of tapas and pinchos available, so we recommend doing as the locals do; sampling a glass of wine and a tapa from each bar and sitting at the low tables out in the alley.
One of Spain’s biggest and most famous theme parks is right next to Benidorm. Its three areas are inspired by the ancient civilisations of Rome, Egypt and Greece, and feature huge rollercoasters, rides and all kinds of live performances including choreographed street shows. It’s suitable for all but very young children.
If you’re looking for a fun place to cool off on a hot summer day in Benidorm, head for the famous Aqualandia, one of the oldest (but also best) water parks in Spain. It grows a little almost every year, and is filled with rides, slides, Jacuzzis and pools filled with desalinated water straight from the Mediterranean. Don’t miss the huge wave pool, which is big enough for thousands of people.
Right next door to Aqualandia is Mundomar, the Spanish version of Sea World, and you can buy combined tickets for both attractions. It’s a fairly modern sealife centre with penguins, sea lions and dolphins, and even birds and monkeys housed in large, well-kept enclosures. They offer special experiences which you can book in advance, such as swimming with dolphins.
La Cruz de Benidorm
If you want to do something a bit more active after days of lounging on the beach, what about a 45-minute hike up to catch some of the area’s best panoramas? The viewpoint, to the west of Benidorm, is known as La Cruz as a large wooden cross was carried up here in 1961. Some say it’s there to redeem Benidorm for some of the less-than-pure goings on in town. It’s best to go in the cooler months, or early morning, as there’s not a lot of shade, but the views mean the walk is always worth it.
Every summer towns and cities across Spain come alive with music festivals and Benidorm is no exception. It hosts the indie-focused Low Festival (shortened from its former name, “Low Cost”) at the end of July every year, the party starts at sunset and goes on until the early hours.
For another active day out there are plenty of bike hire shops around town which are reasonably priced and can give you route maps for great bike rides along the stunning Costa Blanca, where you’ll see colourful flowers and trees, tiny villages and ancient ruins along with the stunning sea vistas.