With its fine sandy beaches and rich in entertainment nightlife, Benidorm is one of the most sought after places by tourists of all ages. Its cultural activities, festivals, water sports activities and especially its quality of life is what makes Benidorm the perfect place to enjoy the holidays.
Benidorm has three major beaches: Levante, Poniente and Mal Pas, all having a blue flag since 1987, the highest quality standard recognized by the European Union.
Set on the Mediterranean coastal area called Costa Blanca, in the province of Alicante, Benidorm is the center of the bay that bears its name and thanks to this exquisite geographical position is provided with a special microclimate, which makes the winters mild and moderate and summers tempered by sea breezes.
In this way you can enjoy a nature that has been mixed with the emergence of a modern and pleasant city. It is surrounded by mountains: the Tossal de la Cala to the west, the Natural Park of Sierra Helada, on the east part, Sierra Cortina and Puig Campana, to the north, protecting the city from the cold north winds, which could alter its pleasant climate. As a result, Benidorm has 3400 hours of sunshine a year.
History of Benidorm
Benidorm was little more than a tiny village until the Moors (Arabian Muslims) arrived from the Iberian peninsular and North Africa in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Moors were dominant in Benidorm until King Jamie I conquered the area in 1245 and pushed the Moors out for good. Christians soon moved into the area and became the dominant population.
The following years were very tough on the village as the whole area was subjected to attach after attack from pirates and the Turkish in particular. A fort was built in order to repel these regular raids, however, it was destroyed more than once and in the end the locals abandoned it and the population soon dwindled.
The construction of an irrigation system vastly improved the area’s prosperity in 1666. The town became a very popular producer of lemons, oranges and olive oil. Work began in the church of St Jaime in the 18th century and the town prospered with the newly found trade. It was in the early 18th century that a boat was found on the sand of Playa Poniente by some of the locals.
People were wary of the plague at the time, so the town’s residents decided to set the ship alight. A statue of the Virgen del Sufragio was discovered in the burnt out remains of the ship and to the locals amazement, it was completely undamaged. The Virgen became a patron saint of the town and the event is still celebrated to this day.
Benidorm quickly became a huge fishing port with famous fisherman based there for many years. The catch of the time was tuna and the locals had perfected the art of ‘almadraba,’ a complicated maze of fishing nets placed to catch the tuna as they migrated across the Mediterranean. The local agriculture and fishing industry allowed the town to flourish during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The dawn of the 19th century saw the start of the tourist boom in Benidorm. A railway was built to the town which brought tourists from Alcoy and Madrid. A road also linked Benidorm with Alicante. World War Two and the Civil War temporarily halted the growth of the town, however, that was soon to change in the 1950s.
The fishing industry was in decline and the town’s planners gave the go-ahead for development plans designed to make Benidorm the Spanish capital of tourism. Alicante Airport opened in 1967 and tourists from all over Europe made their way to Benidorm for their annual holidays.
The 1970s saw Benidorm become the biggest tourist resort In Europe. 12 million people visited Benidorm in 1977, which is still a European record!
Benidorm is easily the largest tourist destination anywhere on the Mediterranean coast, with 4 million visitors every year. There is a tourist trade all year round with many elderly people staying in the resort for several weeks in the cold winter months.
The exciting and vibrant nightlife attracts younger groups, families and couples. The autumn and winter months see a large influx of older couples from northern Europe. There are 70,000 permanent residents of Benidorm, of which a very high proportion are British.
Places to Visit in Benidorm
Benidorm enjoys fantastic weather all year round and one of the biggest attractions is the nightlife and entertainment found all over the area. However, Benidorm is much more than that and there are plenty of places to visit.
Parque de L’Aiguera
Used widely for concerts and festivals, the Parque de L’Aiguera consists of beautiful sea front promenades, lined with palm trees.
La Isla de Benidorm
This tiny, uninhabited island attracts swimmers and snorkelers to enjoy the clear, warm waters. The island can be reached by a regular glass bottomed boat service.
Standing on the site of the former Benidorm Castle, this is now a picturesque square surrounding by fantastic coastal views and beaches.
Iglesia de San Jaime
The blue tiles used on the domes of St James’ church make it one of the most recognised symbols of Benidorm.
This water park is a great day out for families and is located just outside the town centre. There are plenty of scary water slides and more sedate attractions for mum and dad. There are also a number of shops, bars and restaurants meaning there is something for everyone.
Designed along the lines of the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean, this is a huge theme park, packed full of white knuckle roller coasters and attractions for all the family. This is a great way to spend a day as the park also includes more gentle rides, restaurants, bars and shops.
Mundomar Marine Animal Park
Just a short distance from the centre of Benidorm, Mundomar is well known for its dolphins and is a great way to see some of the Mediterranean sea-life close up.
There are also a number of other local attractions including the Terra Natura Safari Park. Hundreds of animals are housed in the park including elephants and python snakes!
Church of San Jaime – Plaza de San Jaime
It is situated at the top of the old part of the town, on the peak of Canfali hill. It was built between 1740 and 1780 after the discovery of the Virgen of the Suffrage, patron saint of Benidorm. The Church of San Jaime, patron of the city, is of a neoclassical style refined with a blue dome in the Mediterranean style. Inside lies another symbol – the Virgin of the Suffrage, the patron saint of Benidorm. The Virgin has a chapel there, where it can be visited the small sculpture that was found, as the story tells, in a boat adrift at sea.
Punta del Cavall Tower – Natural Park of Sierra Helada
Relic of the past declared good of Cultural Interest, Punta del Cavallo Tower is a watchtower from the 18th century, from where the guards were watching the horizon to avoid the numerous pirate raids. Located on the Punta de les Caletes or Punta del Cavall, the tower is also known as de les Caletes (Tower de les Caletes).
Tossal de la Cala – At the end of Poniente beach
At the end of the Poniente beach, is the Iberian settlement of Tossal de la Cala. Built between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC, is a late Iberian settlement that falls within the activity area of Benidorm as a commercial trading point and a dock used since ancient times. You can see the restored area by going up at the end of the Poniente beach and looking for the intersection of La Cala and from there you can follow the signs leading to the area.
El Mirador de la Punta del Canfali – El Castillo
On the big rock that divides the two beaches stood the fortress that was used to guard against invasions from the Algerian and Barbary pirates, between the 14th and the 16th centuries. After that, the castle was abandoned, currently remaining only a few ruins of the walls, which linger on the lookout rocks, also called by the name of “Balcony of the Mediterranean.”
Maritime Cultural Centre Paseo de Colón – next to the Port of Benidorm
The Maritime Cultural Centre of Benidorm is a permanent exhibition of model ships and other nautical motifs. It is also a memorandum to shipping companies carried out by the Benidorm people in the past.
City Council – Ayuntamiento Plaza SS.MM. los Reyes de España, s/n
The City Council is located at the entrance of L’Aigüera Park and is a very different building with its modern architecture. Its unusual structure has attracted the attention of architects and for that reason receives multiple visits. This bridge – building serves as a door to the green area of L’Aigüera. The construction is elevated and travelers can go under it. The atrium of the building was covered with thick blades in which are written the names and surnames of more than 60.000 citizens.
L’Aigüera Park – Avenida de L’Aigüera, Plaza de SS. MM. los Reyes de España
If you travel to Benidorm, you cannot miss a visit to the park L’Aigüera. It was designed by architect Ricardo Bofill and displays the purest neoclassical style. This park divides the extension of a recently built area. It has two amphitheaters, serving for cultural celebrations throughout the summer and also has an area that is specially prepared for the fairs that are held together with different parties. The long tour of the park serves to value the old valley and below ground are water pipes that channel the runoff water.
There is a truly international flavor to the cuisine in Benidorm with so many choices, no one will feel left out. The Calle De La Palma has a number of fine dining restaurants together with many more ‘run of the mill’ restaurants, including several places serving traditional ‘pub grub.’ There are also Spanish, Italian and French restaurants all within a short walk.
As will all Spanish resorts, Spanish cuisine is alive and well and amongst the healthiest in the world. The use of fresh local seafood, locally grown fresh vegetables and the liberal use of olive oil provide a nutritious and very tasty cuisine. There are also Irish, Indian and Chinese restaurants in the town, making Benidorm the Spanish town for international cuisine.
Benidorm sometimes suffers from an image problem with people making the assumption that the town only offers a cut-price holiday with no frills. The town isn’t just tower blocks and skyscrapers however; the old town offers a quaint and pretty alternative for accommodation – ideal if peace and quiet, away from the busy bars and parties is required. Whilst some people will revel in the party atmosphere of Benidorm, those looking for a more laid-back and quieter time should look no further than Playa Poniente.
Benidorm offers a huge selection of accommodation for absolutely every budget. While the tall tower block hotels offer the majority shelter, there are also a huge number of apartments and villas in the outlying areas of Benidorm. There are also a number of campsites for those on a budget holiday. The five star Hotel Don Pancho, surrounded by beautiful waterfalls, offers holiday-goers some real luxury.
The weather in Benidorm is pleasant all year round. The Sierra Helada Mountains protect the town from the cool winds and rainfall is sporadic, consisting of mostly showers. The light breezes from the ocean provide a little relief from the heat of the summer months.
Summers in Benidorm are very hot with very little rain. With an average temperature of around 30C, temperatures go well beyond this at times and reach the high 30s regularly. Blue, cloudless skies are the norm with humidity peaking in the summer months.
The mild winter temperatures in Benidorm bring in many visitors during the off-season. It is rare that temperatures drop below 12C and there are usually still cloudless blue skies. Rainfall is highest in January during the winter, although any rainfall is usually only in the form of showers and blue skies follow closely behind. Visitors can expect around 5 hours of sunshine per day in the town.
Getting Around Benidorm
The best way to get around Benidorm is by taxi. If a holiday doesn’t include a bus transfer, there are plenty of taxis waiting at the airport and like most Spanish taxis, they are very competitively priced. There are a number of buses but the affordability of a cab in Benidorm, particularly for groups and families, mean the flexibility and convenience of grabbing a taxi make for a less stressful holiday. There are a number of car hire companies for those that want to venture further afield, all at very affordable prices.
A good place to visit on foot would be the old town of Benidorm. Also, if it comes to enjoying the beach, a visit to Benidorm is not complete without a stroll along the promenade of Avenue d’Alcoy, Playa de Levante, which is 2 km long and is the site where there are located the majority of large hotels, restaurants and bars of the city. This promenade is full all the time, being the place to see and be seen.
On the other side of the old town is the Parque de Elche beach and Poniente beach, the most secluded beach, ideal for those who want peace in their walks and enjoy the serene spectacle of the sea.
Urban bus – city bus
To reach any part of Benidorm is very easy to catch the bus. The bus service is provided by the company Llorente Bus. The bus network has 17 bus routes and a tram line that connects the entire city. A single ticket is 1.25 €, but you have the possibility of getting a card that is valid for 24 hours and has unlimited rides on all bus lines.
Visitors who use the bus service on a regular basis may find it useful to purchase a ‘Bonobus 20’, instead of paying for each individual journey. The bus transportation in Benidorm is reliable and there are timetables located at each bus stop. Tourist buses are also available.
Benidorm has a good taxi service at reasonable prices, although at night the price increases. Every taxi has a counter faced to the public that applies the exact fare in urban transportation. There are taxi stops throughout Benidorm and taxis are easy to spot because they are white with a blue stripe.
The train service runs between Alicante, Benidorm, Altea, Denia and many other stations. The trains are in the Benidorm Train Station and the journey between Benidorm and Alicante takes about an hour. This is a nice way to travel and discover new places of interest in the area, while enjoying panoramic views of the coast.
A great day out can be enjoyed on the tourist train “Lemon Express” which travels from Benidorm along the coast of the Costa Blanca all the way to Gata de Gorgos, visiting natural places that would not otherwise be reached. On arrival at Gata de Gordos, visitors can enjoy a visit to a guitar factory. On the return trip back to Benidorm, passengers are invited to a glass of wine. These trips are very popular and advance reservations are recommended.
The “Trensnochador” travels the coast but only on summer nights. The FGV “Trenet de la Marina” travels along the coast, from Altea to Alicante, with its attractive route, there are many transport options to move around comfortably and the frequency of trips is high.
The city has a number of boat trips leaving from the port to nearby destinations along the coast, including the island of Benidorm.
Airplanes and the airports
Alicante International Airport (ALC) is the nearest airport to Benidorm, about 10 km from the city of Alicante and 60 km from Benidorm. The airport offers a wide variety of services including ATMs, exchange office, post office, duty free shops, food and drinks establishments, newsagents, a pharmacy and emergency services.
There is a wide range of car hire companies at Alicante airport including Hertz, Europcar, Avis, Europe Car and Record Rent a Car. The taxis are located outside the arrivals hall. Bus transportation is also available at the airport, the buses departing from in front of the arrivals terminal and, also, there is a transport service to Benidorm from Alicante’s bus station.