Before the tourist boom of the 1960s, and all inclusive all inclusive in Benidorm was born it was a sleepy angling town. Today it’s Spain’s largest destination. More than a million British guests come here all year, from different groups enjoying a low priced sunny holiday in Benidorm – from pensioners soaking up the winter sun to young singles hanging out the night away.
Benidorm’s distinctive skyline of high-rise places to stay can easily be seen for miles close to, a bit including a Land of Oz rising above the Costa Blanca. It towers over a broad, exotic bay that’s split in two by a high rock promontory which was once topped by a castle. Below are two beaches: Levante for the east and Poniente to the west, which together offer nearly three along with a half mls of a number of the finest fantastic fine sand and cleanest seas in the Med.
Having a round-the-clock recreation, inexpensive holiday escapes and all inclusive in Benidorm are sometimes compared to Las Vegas. And it has something for everyone, from grannies to kids, with tea dances as well as disco watering holes, comedy, music and cabaret. Making use of amazing theme parks, Beach Parks and a host of enjoyable trips, there’s never a dull moment.
Playa de Levante Benidorm’s wide, sandy east seaside is the majority of common, backed by a string of cafes, clubs and eateries along the promenade. Its name means ‘Sunrise Beach’.
Playa de Poniente Around the western side of the promontory, ‘Sunset Beach’ has equally good sand, and is longer and less crowded. The towering palms of the Parque de Elche behind the beach give it a sultry air.
Mal Pas More of a soft sand cove, this little seaside lies between the cliffs of the promontory and port, before the start of the Playa de Poniente. The majority of boat trips and aquatic sports events leave from here.
La Cala de Finestrat smaller destination just towards the southern area of your cheap Benidorm Holidays All Inclusive, along with on the list of finest beach locations on this stretch of the coast. This is large, exotic, and backed by its own promenade.
Albir For a change of scenery, this destination is 6 kilometres from Benidorm, making use of long pebble beach backed by cliffs and coves.
Sunbeds and umbrellas for shade may be hired all along the shorelines. You will be given a receipt as proof of payment.
Aqualandia This impressive waterpark, among the largest in Europe, qualities giant beach slides, thrill rides, inner tube floats, private pools, waterfalls and stunning gardens. You will find also clown and diving shows daily. Open daily May to mid-October, 10am-6pm daily. People € 16.11 (£9.87), youngsters € 9.48 (£5.81). Rincon de Loix, Tel 96 586 4006 or 4007.
Mundomar Delightful sea and spectacular animal park, with dolphins, seaside lions, turtles, penguins and vivid parrots. The dolphin, beach lion and parrots put on entertaining shows. Open daily year-round, 10am-6pm. Next to Aqualandia, Tel 96 586 9101 or 9102/3. € 13.25 (£8.12) individuals, € 8.25 (£5.5) young children.
Terra Mitica Huge theme park based around five ancient civilisations: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Iberia as well as the Islands due to re-creations of the Acropolis, Circus Maximus and other sites. Ride the Cataracts of the Nile or Magnus Colossus, the largest solid wood roller coaster in the Mediterranean. Open all year long. Set just outside Benidorm on Camino del Moralet. Also direct bus and train services. Tel 902 020 340. Adults €30 (£18.39), kids €22 (£13.48).
Funfairs Festilandia (Avenida Mediterraneo 20) and Mediterraneo Parc (opposite at Avenida Mediterraneo 29) are two funfairs along with rides for the younger young children. Free entrance, pay per drive. Open late in sunshine. Sightseeing Trains Open-sided miniature trains make a circuit about Playa de Levante out of the front of the funfairs on Avenida Mediterraneo. Rides last 25 minutes.
Museo de Cera Benidorm’s wax museum qualities familiar favourites from Elvis and Dracula to John Lennon, Charlie Chaplin and Salvador Dali. The Old Lead Soldiers Museum can be here, due to countless figures depicting battles in several regions. Open daily 10.30am-10pm. €5 (£3.7) individuals, €3 (£1.83) kids. Avenida Mediterraneo 8, Tel 96 680 8421.
Aquarium Creatures of the deep are on display, from sharks and Mediterranean fish to crocodiles and tortoises. Open all year. Calle Horno 5, Tel 96 680 1252. €4 (£2.45) individuals, €2 (£1.22) kids.
Mini-Golf There are several mini-golf courses about town. The most central is on Avenida Mediterraneo, near the corner along with Avenida Almeria. Bowling Centre Indoor recreation for older kids. In addition to ten-pin bowling you will find swimming pool area tables, Ping-Pong and other games. Next door is the Festitron video games arcade with pinball and video games. Avenida Mediterraneo 22, Tel 96 585 4187.
The Spanish love youngsters and they are welcome in the majority of dining establishments. But it may be difficult to find babysitters check along with your luxury hotel foyer.
Benidorm is infamous for its profusion of dining establishments serving mediocre English food aimed at the tourist market. It’s worth seeking out the authentic Spanish dining places serving regional specialities. These range from tasty tapas, which may be made into a meal in themselves, to paella and other rice dishes, the speciality of this region. Fresh sea food and seafood, grilled meats and cured hams are other excellent bets, as are fresh salads and vegetables. The menu del dia (menu of the morning) is generally great value, with two courses, dessert, bread and generally wine included.
TexMex Mar (Pasaje La Gavina 14, Tel 96 680 5508). A rusty wooden cart and rattan canopy mark this energetic cantina, just off the Levante seaside. Inside are vibrant murals within the walls and long wooden tables, where spicy-hot Mexican-style recipes are served, from nachos and guacamole to tacos, fajitas and burritos. Open from 7pm daily. Cheap €5-9 (£3-6).
La Cava Aragonesa (Plaza de la Constitucion, Tel 96 680 1206). A great many rate the tapas here as the best in town, temptingly displayed under glass beneath hanging hams and served along with wines and cava by the glass. Behind the seashore in the old town. The diner opposite has delicious casseroles as well as fish and meat dishes. Affordable to Medium. €5-18 (£3-12)
Magic Roundabout (Edificio Los Gemelos IV, Calle Ibiza. Tel 96 585 1839). One of the better places to get great British fare. BBQ spare ribs are a speciality, and also the steaks are fantastic too. Sunday lunch with each of the trimmings is highly very popular, so book ahead. Inexpensive to Medium. €5-18 (3-12 pounds)
Aitona (Calle Ruzafa 2, Tel 96 586 7090 or 585 3010). It may seem touristy due to the giant paella pan and prawn advertising its fare, but the atmosphere inside is pleasant due to large brick arches and pretty tiled bar, and an outdoor patio. Excellent for regional rice cuisine, grilled meats and fish. Affordable menu of the morning. Low-cost to Medium €8-18 (£5-12)
La Rana (Costera del Barco 6. Tel 96 586 81 20). Comfortable, family-owned dining establishment, one of the first in Benidorm, along with dark wood furnishings, a large bar and great old-fashioned cash register. Set in an old building up a small flight of steps opposite Plaza de la Constitucion. Authentic Spanish recipes and tapas, fresh species of fish, meats from quail to kid to sirloin steak. Discounted to Medium €8-18 (£5-12)
Casa de la Portuguesa (Calle San Vicente. Tel 96 585 89 5839). Cosy, pleasant family-run bistro in the Old Town serving superb rice dishes with seafood, fresh fish and grilled meats. Just off Placa de la Senyoria behind the Mirador. Medium €9-18 (£6-12)
El Llandero (Avenida Andalucia, Tel 96 585 3475). Set amidst the orange groves above town, this eating place is really a wonderful place to escape the bustle of Benidorm. Regional specialities, including excellent paella. Closed Thursday. Medium €9-18 (£6-12)
Ulia (Paseo Maritimo, La Cala, Tel 96 585 6828). Set by the beach due to lovely scenery. Paella, arroz negro (black rice) and other rice recipes are specialities of this Med kitchen, as are the fresh species of fish recipes. Medium €9-18 (£6-12)
La Palmera (Avenida Dr Severo Ochoa 48, Tel 96 585 32 82). Lovely bistro, very desirable along with the locals for their excellent paella and other rice cuisine. Out of the area hub, beyond the Benidorm Palace. Expensive €18-40 (£12-25)
Tiffany’s (Avenida Mediterraneo 51, Tel 96 585 4468). Benidorm’s most luxurious restaurant, serving Spanish and imported food, accompanied by piano music. Evenings only. Reservations advised. Expensive €18-40 (£12-25)
Meals are taken much later in Spain. Lunch is normally served from 1pm to 3 or 4pm, and dinner from 7.30pm until 11pm or 12 midnight. But in tourist areas you will find restaurants serving foodstuff throughout the morning.
A number of tourist accommodations provide night-time leisure during high season. This can easily range from flamenco and folk dancing, to tango or salsa occasions where customers join in. Comedians, singers, musicians and other acts perform on a rotating basis.
Benidorm Palace The grandest variety show extravaganza in town. Three hours of fun, including flamenco and Spanish dancers, to vivid Las Vegas-style floor shows, to singers, magicians and theatrical acts. Avenida Dr Severo Ochoa, Tel 96 585 1660 or 1661. Tuesday to Saturday. Dinner and show €35 (£21.45), Show and first drink €21 (£12.87).
Castillo Conde de Alfaz (7km from town off the N332 to Altea, Tel 966 86 5592 or 5593). A medieval feast in the mock castle of the Count of Alfaz, due to court jesters, knights in armour duelling and jousting on horseback, along with a chamber of horrors. Show days vary all through the year. €31-€34 (£19-£20.84) adults.
Fiestas Festivals take place year round, with parades, processions, bonfires, fireworks and conventional music and costumes as part of the celebrations. Two of the biggest are the Festa de la Creu (1 May) and also the Bonfires of Saint John (culminating on 24 June). Moros y Cristianos, which re-create battles between the Moors and Christians, is really a very popular festivity throughout the Costa Blanca, held in Benidorm the last week in September. Check due to the tourist office for details of these and other activities.
Bullfighting It’s not for everyone, but Benidorm provides a bull ring (Plaza de Toros) should you wish to sample Spain’s national activity. Bullfights take place typically in summer and during festivals – festivals will be advertised on posters around town. Charges vary according towards the reputation of the bullfighter and where you sit (shady spots cost a bit more). Calle Austria. Tel 966 802 405 or 966 808 424.
Concerts Different stars and rock bands perform at the bull-ring, the Foyetes football ground or the Parque de Aiguera. Concerts of antique and baroque music are held once a month (except June-September) at the church of San Jaime. Concerts, films and plays are also presented at the Cultural Lounge of the Cam, Calle de Alameda 17. Check with the tourist office for details.
Parque de la Aiguera During July and August, concerts and cultural festivals are held in the auditorium and auditorium. A number of are free. A pamphlet listing events is available from the tourist office at the end of June.
Molino Benidorm Flashy comedy and music show, offering a male strip tease act. Shows nightly except Mondays. Avenida Beniarda 2, Tel 966 802 308
Casino Mediterraneo (7km southern area of town around the N332 at Villajoyosa, Tel 96 589 0700). Contemporary gaming room along with French and American roulette, Blackjack, Poker, slot machines and other video games. Restaurant, two bars and live music. Minimum age 18, passport required. Casual smart dress. Open all year round 8pm-4am.
Teatro Key de Alicante Alicante’s theatre is the closest place for classical wining and dining. Theatre, music, opera and ballet productions are staged here (in Spanish), boasting national and global performers. Plaza Ruperto Chapi, Calle del Teatro, Alicante. Tel 965 202 380. www.teatroprincipalicante.com
Casa de Cultura Situated just 6km from Benidorm in the hotel and resort of Albir, the ‘House of Culture’ has a variety of celebrations year round, from art exhibitions to theatre to concerts of jazz, rock and classical music. It also hosts a film festival in early July as well as a jazz festival in October. Tel 96 686 7022 (tourist information).
Free publications which are distributed about the hotel accommodations are an excellent source of information about what’s on about town. The weekly newspaper Costa Blanca News also has leisure listings and advertisements.
Isla de Benidorm Also recognised as Peacock Island because of the aviary here, Benidorm’s island is just a 10-minute boat ride offshore. Descend in the Aquascope for a look at the underwater arena. Port of Benidorm, Tel 96 585 0052. Departs hourly 10am-4pm. €9.50 (£5.82) adult, €7.50 (£4.59) children.
The Lemon Express A delightful ride through picturesque coastal countryside on a single-gauge train to Gata de Gorgos, where you could tour a guitar-making factory and visit the wicker shops in the town. Tuesday through Saturday. Tel 96 680 31 03. €17.73 (£10.86) individuals, €13.22 (£8.10) children.
Calpe Coastal All inclusive cruise A lovely one-hour cruise all inclusive northern along the region to Calpe, a chaotic port and resort. The dazzling Penon de Ifach, a volcanic rock over 300 metres high, towers offshore. You can climb towards the best (enable one hour) for stupendous scenery. Trips daily except Tuesday and Sunday from the port of Benidorm. Tel 96 585 00 52. Individuals ‘€14 (£8.58), kids €10 (£6.14).
Cuevas de Canelobre The Caverns of Canelobre contain one of the highest interior vaults in Spain along with such great acoustics that concerts are occasionally performed here. Fantastic and weird rock formations. 40km southern area west of all inclusive in Benidorm at Busot. Tel 96 569 92 50. Open year-round.
Guadalest The majority of photographed hamlet within the Costa Blanca, perched high atop a rock outcrop, topped by its famous bright bell tower. As well as the old Arab fortress there are several museums and a mansion to see.
Altea You will find organised coach excursions to Altea’s Tuesday morning market, but the resort repays a much longer visit having its pretty, whitewashed old town, blue-domed cathedral, art galleries and pleasant cafe-terraces. Cactuslandia, on the outskirts, has 1,000 species of cacti and succulents as well as parrots and amazing birds. Tel 96 584 22 18.
Alicante The provincial capital is really worth a trip, either by coach excursion or on your own. Explanada de Espana, the waterfront promenade, is on the list of the majority of stunning in the country. Towering above within the hilltop is the Castle of Santa Barbara, which has a museum of artefacts, fashionable sculpture and splendid scenery over Alicante’s great beach. The superb new archaeological museum, MARQ, having its innovative multi-media exhibits, is worth seeking out, as is the Museum of 20th century art in the Barrio Santa Cruz.
Elche Prominent for its palm grove, the largest in Europe, due to over 300,000 plants. The highlight is the Hort del Cura (botanical garden) and its enormous Imperial Palm with seven trunks. Also Arab baths, a basilica and an historical museum.
Valencia The regional capital is an impressive mixture of conventional and modern architecture. Coach organised excursions generally include visits for the Cathedral, which claims to contain the Holy Grail, the Basilica of the Virgin and the Fallas Museum. Other highlights include the old town hub due to the Silk Exchange (La Lonja) and central market, the National Ceramics Museum in a splendid baroque palace, and the new City of Art and Science.
Safari Parks If you contain young children, there are various animal parks in the area: Rio Safari near Elche (tel 96 663 8288), Safari Aitana, near Penaguila (Carretera Villajoyosa-Sella, tel 608 52 04 09) m, and El Arca de Noe near Guadalest (tel 96 597 2359).
Numerous organised tours could be booked through your resort or tour representative. Selecting is essential for very popular trips that include the Lemon Express. Not all activities operate on a daily basis, so plan ahead.
Buses The regional transport company Alcaraz operates a bus facility about town, due to main stops at Plaza de la Hispanidad (Triangle Square), Rincon de Loix and Parque de Elche. It also serves nearby areas that include the shorelines at Albir and Finestrat, and Guadalest. Tel. 96 585 4322.
Intercity Buses An outstanding group of regional tours is operated by Ubesa-Alsa. Vehicles are contemporary and comfy, and faster than the train. There may be an hourly services (half-hourly for much of the day) to and from Alicante; the journey takes about 45 minutes. Seats are numbered during chaotic periods so arrive early or buy your ticket in advance. There is really an exclusive service to Alicante Airport four times a week, as well as service to regional towns and a daily services to Barcelona. You will find two stops, one on Europa Avenue at Calle Gerona, having the ticket office downstairs in La Noria shopping mall. Tel 96 680 3955. The other stop and ticket office is on Avenida Jaime I, tel 96 681 3120.
Trains The Costa Blanca Express, operated by F.G.V. (Generalitat Valenciana Railways), is actually a narrow-gauge train which in turn runs between Alicante and Denia, stopping at Benidorm and a variety of other towns along the way. There may be stunning scenery along the route, but be aware which in turn despite its name, the journey is really slow. The trip to Alicante takes over an hour. The stop can be quite a ways out of the seashore and town hub, almost towards the bypass, so a taxi is the best way to get there. Tel 96 585 1895.
Taxis Taxi ranks are located in the major areas of town. Taxis are bright and azure, that has a green light indicating which in turn they are free (libre). In town fares are metered, though lengthier distances are charged at a set price. Always agree within the price in advance. Taxis are available within the clock, though fares are higher at night and there is also an added fee for bag. Tip the driver 5 to 10 per cent. You can easily also call for a taxi from your accommodation. For a Radio-Taxi tel 96 586 1818 or 2626.
Car Hire A car is the appealing option to discover the amazing countryside of the Costa Blanca. The N332 is the main road that connects every one of the major towns and cities along the coastline. It operates roughly parallel towards the autopista (motorway) A7. Inland, the mountain roads are great but take care on the sharp, often slender curves. Car hire is relatively low-cost in Spain. Minimum age is generally 23. Theoretically you need a passport and an Different Driving Permit, though a British licence is usually accepted.
When approaching the toll booths around the motorway, take care to get into the proper lane well in advance as some booths do not accept coins, only toll cards.
El Mirador del Castillo (the Castle Viewpoint) Set atop a rock promontory which in turn divides Benidorm’s two main beaches, this was once the site of a formidable castle. From the pretty tiled balcony you have a panoramic view out across the bay.
The Geiser Also called the Beach Fountain, this off-shore sea spout shoots a stream of water high into the air when the wind is right. It is visible all along the shore, but the best view is coming from the Mirador.
The Promenade This tiled walkway operates alongside the Playa de Levante (east beach) from the old town to the beach’s end at Rincon de Loix. Lined with cafes, venues to enjoy a drink and restaurants, it’s a wonderful place for individuals watching.
Seaside sculptures Seashore artists create huge, impressive pillow soft sculptures every 24 hours on the Playa de Levante, ranging from castles to horses to Christ around the cross. You may see them from the middle to western end of the promenade.
High-rise Skyline On the list of best regions from which to appreciate Benidorm’s sweep of high-rise accommodations is out of the viewpoint atop Rincon de Loix, the rocky hill which marks the eastern end of the Playa de Levante.
The Old Town The thin, sloping streets of the old Spanish quarter are clustered about the rock promontory, as well as the little 18th century church of San Jaime. If you ignore the signs promoting the English places and dining establishments which contain taken over a great many of the buildings, you could get a feel for what a family holiday in Benidorm was like before the high-rise days.
Parque de la Aig’era Built along a dry river valley, this dazzling civic space was designed by noted Catalan architect Richard Bofill. It contains a modern showground and is lit by blue and whitened neon at night. Also on the grounds is an agricultural museum with a delightful sculpture garden.
Benidorm Panoramico The easiest way for you to notice the highlights of Benidorm is out of the comfort of a sightseeing bus. Choose from a double-decker open-top bus (J. Alcaraz, Tel 96 585 4322) or the Bus Turistic tramway bus (Transavia Tours, Calle Alameda 12, Tel 96 680 9874). €3.31. Closed in winter.
The Foothills Tear yourself beyond the seashore for a 24 hours to discover the beautiful mountain landscape that lies behind all inclusive Benidorm holiday breaks. You will find picturesque drives across the Serra de Aitana to Alcoi, to Guadalest as well as the Fonts de Algar waterfalls, and upper all over the splendid Coll de Rates viewpoint.
The paseo, or stroll, is often a fantastic Mediterranean sea tradition. In the evenings, and especially before lunch on Sundays, nearby couples dress in their best and amble along the Promenade to greet their friends. It’s the place to notice and be seen.
Map of Benidorm
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