|August 24, 2016||No Comments|
Benidorm has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain since the 1960s, and with very good reason. Located in the Alicante province, Benidorm used to be a sleepy village with the majority of inhabitants making a living from selling fresh produce, or spending many months a year away from the town working as deep sea fishermen. These days Benidorm is the fifth most populated town in the western Mediterranean part of Spain.
For the same reason that hundreds of thousands of tourists love Benidorm, there are probably almost the same number who hate the resort. The raucous nightlife centred around a completely Anglophiled strip is not going to be everyone’s cup of British tea, and not everyone wants to visit a town where fish ‘n’ chips and Sunday roast dominate three quarters of the town’s menus. However, there are others that love this atmosphere, and if you are prepared to get your walking shoes on and explore, you will find Benidorm is so much more than that.
The skyline of Benidorm has changed dramatically since the 1960s, and these days you could almost think that you were in the United States due to the number of uncommon for Spain tall skyscraper buildings in Benidorm. Until recently, Benidorm was home to the tallest construction in Spain; the Gran Hotel Bali is an impressive 186 m tall. However, even with the skyscraping apartment blocks and hotels, Benidorm continues to be protected and dwarfed by the massive mountain range that surrounds the town, which is called Puig Campana; and reaches 1406 m at the highest peak.
Benidorm is unusual, in that it is split into two principal areas; each one being fronted by a wide and lengthy sandy beach. The beaches are called Levante and Poniente. The Levante beach part of Benidorm is where you will find the main tourist shopping areas, hotels, restaurants and bars. Poniente beach is far quieter and a perfect option if you would like to holidayor live in this resort without the hustle and bustle of the Levante.
Things to do and places to visit in Benidorm
Regardless of your age, gender, social and activity preferences, you will never be bored or stuck for something to do in Benidorm.
The town is well known for its vibrant nightlife, ranging from tacky karaoke bars to top-class elegant nightclubs, but there is plenty more on offer. You will find tea dances in many locations with live band music, which is very appealing for the older generation.
Bars range from typical Spanish taverns and bodegas to expat bars run by British, Germans and Dutch, all catering to the needs of their fellow countrymen. There are no end of cabaret acts, stand-up comedians, and nightclubs will host famous DJs during the summer months. It is possible to enjoy a completely different type of entertainment for every night of your holiday in Benidorm, due to the huge diversity of shows and music provided by local bars and hotels. Benidorm Palace is internationally known for its exotic dancers and fine food, so try to keep the night free to enjoy this top-class entertainment.
Daytime attractions include several family orientated theme parks, such as the Terra Mitica, a spectacular park with many attractions and water rides which is less than 10 miles from the town centre. Another favourite for families in Benidorm is a trip to Mundomar, where children can enjoy the exotic wildlife and aquarium. There are scheduled shows with sea lions, dolphins and parrots.
For those who come to Benidorm to relax, you can either laze around on the beach and take a dip in the beautiful warm Benidorm sea, or use the pool provided with your Benidorm accommodation. The majority of Benidorm apartment blocks have a private pool for the residents of the block, which is likely to be more peaceful than the beach. Benidorm provides a huge choice of water sports including catamaran sailing, jet skiing, paragliding and scuba diving. An unusual sport that is not seen in many Spanish resorts is the cable ski, which allows you to water ski without a boat. Water sports can be booked from ticket booths along Levante beach.
Exploring Benidorm by foot is quite fascinating. The old part of Benidorm has several museums, as well as cobbled narrow streets with some charming shops selling all types of clothes, souvenirs, local products as well as famous brand names.
Whatever your tastes in food, you are going to be spoilt for choice in Benidorm. The Rincon de Loix, which is located about 5 minutes from Benidorm Palace is home to numerous bars and restaurants owned by British expats that offer plain English food such as Sunday roasts, pies, English breakfasts and sausage and mash. While this might not seem very exciting for those who want to try more exotic foods, it is a great option for those who have young children, as the younger children might not take too well to unfamiliar Spanish food. For those who want to be more adventurous there are many international and Spanish restaurants that sell Mediterranean food typical of the region.
A Jeep Safari which explores the mountains and surrounding countryside of Benidorm sets off early every day during the spring and summer season. This will provide you with a view of the city that you would not realise even existed from the lower levels of the town centre.
Lying near the shore of Benidorm is an uninhabited island that gives the horizon a dramatic central focus point. Known colloquially as Peacock Island, this large protruding rock is now a nature reserve with a protected peacock population. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Peacock Island by boat, and once there you can follow some beautiful nature trails, as well as observe the spectacular Benidorm skyline from this unusual angle. There is a cafe on Peacock Island that offers snacks and a full menu. Those who want a real adventure can take a submarine ride to the island, an experience that children especially will love.
Another day trip you should take advantage of if you have enough time is the Lemon Express. For years the Lemon Express referred to a small antiquated train that would take visitors on a 30 mile journey down the coast through dense orange and lemon groves. The train is not running at present, although it may be restored in the future. However, the same journey is covered by minibus. As the attraction for the Lemon Express was not the mode of travel but rather the delightful scenery, you will still be able to enjoy the trip as hundreds of thousands of people have done for decades.
Getting to Benidorm from the Airport
The nearest airport to Benidorm is Alicante Airport, and from there you can catch a bus that will take you directly from the airport to Benidorm centre. The journey takes around 45 minutes. Alternatively, there are plenty of companies offering car hire, or you can book a shuttle service at the same time you book your flight. You will find a number of companies offering shuttle services from Alicante to Benidorm online.
Surrounded by high mountains, Benidorm is well protected and even during the winter cold winds are rare. Summertime can be extremely hot as the mountains do not allow for much breeze and temperatures frequently exceed 30°C.
Ideal temperatures can be experienced in June and September, where you are likely to have an average temperature of around 25°C.
As an Expat Location
There are so many English speakers, and bars, cafes and shops to cater for the British in Benidorm, you could easily feel you had never left the UK when you land in the town; if it were not for the marvelous climate. However, although many young people travel to Benidorm for the summer months to look for work, and competition for even low-paying, cash-in-hand jobs can be fierce, that are relatively few expats living in the town, as most tend to prefer the nearby smaller villages such as Altea, Albir, and the further afield resorts of Torrevieja to the south, or Denia and Javea to the North.
Every year, dozens, if not hundreds of people will move to Benidorm from the UK, with the idea of starting a business. However, opening a small bar in the resort when you have little if any bar experience and do not speak the local language is rarely a good idea.
All in all, with property prices fairly high in Benidorm and work hard to come by, Benidorm is only a viable town for those who have an income or pension, who furthermore feel they would enjoy living in such a busy resort all year round. This is a good time to remind you that visiting a town on holiday, an actually living there, are two entirely distinct scenarios!
While Benidorm is a fabulous resort for a short visit, it is probably not the best or easiest town to create a satisfying lifestyle for a family, or indeed as a working-age couple. Although practical for retired people or those who can support themselves without working, and who also wish to spend plenty of time partying and socialising, for most people looking to relocate, Benidorm won’t meet their needs as a permanent home.