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Benidorm hasn’t always had the best reputation. Many people think of it as Britain in the sunshine; British pubs, karaoke bars, football shirt-wearing tourists, lads on stag parties…the destination is synonymous with the “Brits abroad” stereotype. There’s even a TV sitcom with the same name.
Thought Benidorm was all fry ups, mobility scooters and karaoke? After seeing the TV show, that’s the impression I had. In fact even without the TV show, I’d always heard people speak of Benidorm as a destination that attracts ‘Brits Abroad’ – the ones who want to feel like they’re in England when they’re in a foreign country, only with sunshine and a beach.
But last month I went to Benidorm with Visit Benidorm and Cheapflights to explore the other side of Benidorm – a side with incredible beaches, mountain scenery, biking, golfing, jet skiing, wineries and Spanish food. Could it be that Benidorm has had an unfair reputation all these years? It would seem so.
Yes you can see the Brit Abroad stereotypes around town. Yes you will see some British pubs and lads getting drunk in the sunshine on Benidorm stag weekends. But I found that if you get out and about there’s so much more to explore. No matter where you go in the world, everywhere has culture. Sometimes, all you have to do is go out and look for it.
While Benidorm does have those things, there’s so much more to the city than that. There’s a whole other side to Benidorm I knew nothing about, and I enjoyed my trip so much that I would happily go back.
There are lots of things to do in Benidorm other than holding a pint and singing along to the karaoke machine – you just have to dig a little deeper.
Best Things to Do in Benidorm
Levante Beach is Benidorm’s main beach and can get very crowded.
Benidorm’s main beach Levante was admittedly rather crowded with the over 60s, but there are plenty of beautiful beaches to explore too.
I particularly liked Poniente Beach, which is located a bit further along to the west of Levante. This sweeping stretch of sand has far less people and is a nice place to spend the afternoon. We also came across some nice secluded coves on our bike ride through Sierra Helada Natural Park.
Take a cooking class
One of my favorite activities in Benidorm – the Benidorm Cooking Experience – is run by two of the nicest people ever.
Jesus and Miriam will teach you how to prepare a range of Spanish tapas, including Patatas Bravas and prawns with a garlic butter. The kitchen is ultra modern and well-equipped, plus you get to drink wine and have some little tastings of cheese and Spanish sausage while you cook.
What I liked about this class is that instead of creating each dish individually, we all chipped in to create each dish as a group. So one person would chop an onion, one would grate the tomatoes etc etc. Team work!
The traditional Spanish cooking class costs €60 per adult and €30 per child, or the tapas cooking class costs €45 per adult and €25 per child.
If you love the water you’ll find an array of water activities in Benidorm, including banana boats, jet skiing, diving, snorkeling and parasailing. Our jet ski tour to Benidorm Island with Carlos Water Sports was definitely a highlight of the trip.
Although we were driving the jet skis ourselves we did have a guide with us, which made me feel safe knowing there was someone there to lead the way and show us the ropes.
Afterwards we took a boat back out to the island for a diving lesson with Diving Stones. I usually get problems with my ears and a little claustrophobic, so I sat this one out and did some swimming and snorkeling instead.
They supply all the equipment for you, so all you have to bring is yourself and some swimwear. Diving Stones offers diving courses, or you can try diving at either Benidorm Island or in the crystal clear waters of Cala del Mal Pas. You’ll start with a ‘diving Baptism’ to get you used to being under the water and there’s usually a ratio of one instructor to every two clients.
Jeep Safari in the Mountains
Costa Blanca has some brilliant mountain scenery, and if you want to get up into the mountains, an off-road adventure is the way to do it. We took a Jeep Safari with Marco Polo Expediciones up into the mountains, stopping off at lookout points and driving through cute villages along the way.
If you want to see the ‘real’ Spain, this is how to do it! If you opt for their jeep safari it’s an all day excursion you can also opt to swim in the Algar waterfalls, so don’t forget your swimming costume and a towel.
Our driver (who was Dutch but living in Benidorm) was extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the area, taking us to some scenic viewpoints and quaint villages along the way. As we wound our higher and higher, I had to pinch myself as I looked out at the scenery.
Your hair might be a little bit of a bird’s nest by the end of the trip but it’s definitely worth it for the ride!
Play Golf at Melia Villaitana
Benidorm’s luxury Mediterranean resort – Melia Villaitana – has two beautiful golf courses, attracting golfers all year round. The microclimate in Benidorm makes it the ideal place for golfing enthusiasts to play a round of golf here while enjoying the natural surroundings.
I myself am not a golfer, but I did try a lesson while I was there. We learnt how to tee off and use the putting green but I can’t see myself being a pro anytime soon as I could barely hit the ball! However, I could see the attraction of a place like this – the views were stunning.
The Melia Villaitana had two pristine golf courses with ocean views – and my room happened to overlook it all! I saw lots of big groups checking in with their golf clubs, so the resort is clearly popular for golfing retreats.
Ride Electric Bikes In Sierra Helada National Park
Not that confident at biking? The cool thing about electric bikes is that you don’t have to worry about those uphill climbs as the bike will take care of all the legwork for you.
I was a little bit nervous at first but once I got the hang of it it was fun. We rode the bikes through Sierra Helada Natural Park along a windy coastal road, and the scenery up here was really magical. It was so quiet I could hardly believe I was in Benidorm at all.
The Cross at the Top
An absolute must-do in Benidrom is visiting ‘The Cross at the Top’. You’ll find this crucifix on the top of a mountain in Sierra Helada Natural Park and the panoramic views from here are breathtaking.
If you’ve been to Rio de Janeiro then it will probably remind you of visiting Christ the Redeemer!
Visit a Winery
Love wine? Bondega Mendoza is a family-run winery where you can tour the cellars, learn more about wine making (did you know the cork is really important for flavour?) and taste some of the wine yourself.
They served 6 very generous pourings – so much so that I couldn’t keep up! The wine was paired with delicious local cheeses and meats, and at the end of the tasting we were also given a sweet wine with chocolate. Yum!
Balcón del Mediterráneo
This is Benidorm’s most Instagrammable spot! Separating Poniente Beach and Levante Beach, Balcón del Mediterráneo is one of the city’s most famous attractions and serves as a popular meeting point. With its white stone balustrade, the balcony is incredibly pretty and contrasts beautifully against the bright blue of the ocean.
From the balcony you can enjoy views of the bay, the Mediterranean and the city skyline.
Terra Mitica is an adventure theme park themed on the ancient civilizations of Greece, Egypt and Rome. There are numerous rides and roller coasters, or if you want to do something more relaxing, you can take a boat ride or watch a show.
One of the scariest rides is Titanide – an inverted rollercoaster that reaches a speed of 100km per hour and makes both vertical and horizontal loops as well as dizzying drops. There’s also Synkope – a disk that turns at 90 km/h at a height of 35 meters.
Aqualandia is a water park situated between Levante Beach and Sierra Helada National Park. It boasts Europe’s highest standing slide and the world’s highest capsule slide, plus plenty of other fun rides for all age groups
Day tickets for the park start at €26 and can be purchased online at the Aqualandia website.
Bar Crawl on Calle Gerona
Calle Gerona has bars running all down the length of the street, so when night falls, this is where you’ll find all the nightlife. Spend an evening bar hopping, discovering Benidorm’s taverns, karaoke bars and discos.
If you want to do plan a day trip from Benidorm, check out Gaudalest, which is a small village that sits on top of a mountain in the Alicante province. It takes about 30 minutes to drive there so you could easily do it as a half day trip.
The village is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Costa Blanca and appears on many postcards. There are two main buildings to visit here – Guadalest castle (Castell de Guadalest) and the white bell tower, Penon de la Alcala.
The village itself features cobbled streets, small squares and a few souvenir shops selling local crafts. As you can imagine the views from up here are breathtaking!
Getting to Benidorm
To travel to Benidorm you can fly into Alicante Airport which is around 36 miles away. If you’re coming from the UK there are direct flights with airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 and British Airways from Gatwick, Luton or Stansted.
For the best Alicante airport transfers the company Solhop has excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. Or if you plan to hire a rental car, try Kayak or Rentalcars.com.
Where to Stay in Benidorm
Here’s a selection of some of the best hotels and resorts in Benidorm:
Melia Villaitana – I stayed at Melia Villaitana, which is like its own little Mediterranean village with Spanish/Moorish architecture and its own golf course. Everything about this hotel was gorgeous – the pools, the view, the spa, the rooms…I only wish I had longer there!
Asia Gardens – This resort has played host to numerous celebrities, including Bruce Willis and David Guetta. As we toured the hotel I felt like I’d been transported to Thailand, a million miles away from the high-rise buildings of Benidorm. With luxury suites and lush tropical gardens boasting more than 3,000 species from Asia, it’s no wonder celebrities choose this hotel as their sanctuary.
Hotel Helios – Located just 450 meters from Levante Beach, Hotel Helios features spacious modern rooms that all have terraces. Hotel facilities include a large outdoor pool, gym, restaurant, spa and bike storage space, should you wish to go cycling.
Hotel Presidente – A modern 4-star hotel situated just a stone’s throw from Levante Beach. The hotel boasts and outdoor pool with whirl pool baths and Balinese sunbeds, plus numerous on-site bars, including an art deco basement club called Phillippines 10.
H10 Porto Poniente – If you’d prefer to be located closer to Poniente Beach check out H10 Porto Poniente, which is a four star hotel located on the sea front. The hotel features maritime-inspired design and elegant rooms equipped with state-of-the-art amenities. On-site you’ll find two plunge pools, a rooftop bar with sea views, a spa center, heated swimming pool, gym and restaurant.
Melia Benidorm – This hotel is located in the quieter part of Rincón de L’Oix and features a beautiful lagoon-style pool set in 9,500 square meters of tropical gardens.
Best Time to Visit Benidorm
Located on the south coast of Spain on the Mediterranean, Benidorm experiences mild winters and hot summers.
If you’re a sun worshipper and love the beach then you’ll probably want to visit Benidorm between the months of June-August when the weather is warm and sunny.
Obviously these months are the most popular and crowded, so if you’re looking for cheaper hotels and fewer crowds, then you may want to plan your trip in April-May or September-October.
Your FAQs About Benidorm, Answered
Benidorm does attract a lot of British tourists and expats looking for sun, sea and sand. However, you don’t have to look far to find Spanish culture and beautiful scenery too. Yes there may be Irish pubs and restaurants serving full English fry ups, but there are also Spanish restaurants where you can try paella, tapas and other Spanish foods.
It’s impossible to give an exact number of Brits in Benidorm because not all are formally registered. According to a publication called ‘Benidorm in figures’ (Benidorm en Cifras) published by Benidorm City Council, there are 71,237 people living in Benidorm and 2,946 are from the UK. Brits make up 4.14% of the population.
A taxi from Benidorm to Alicante should cost around €65-€70. You can also organize shuttle transfers or hire a car to get to Benidorm.
The New Town of Benidorm is full of high rise hotels and apartments, and it’s where you’ll find all the cabaret bars, pubs and clubs. It’s mainly British and caters to British food and entertainment. The Old Town is located on a small headland between Levante and Pontinente beaches and feels more Spanish, with narrow streets and plenty of tapas restaurants.
Benidorm is popular with British tourists and has a TV show with the same. The city is known for its beaches and nightlife, plus attractions such as Sierra Helada National Park and the Balcón del Mediterráneo.
A Final Word..
OK OK, I’ll admit – after a few glasses of wine at dinner I did want to go sing some karaoke! I couldn’t help but want to embrace my inner Brit and get into the #BeniLover spirit, mobility scooters and all.
I really developed a soft spot for this place and I didn’t realize how beautiful some of the beaches would be. Earlier in the year I had visited Bournemouth during a heatwave in the UK and the beach was covered with litter, so I imagined something like this but in the sun. Gladly, that’s not what I was greeted with at all.
If you’re looking for a place with a short flight time, year-round sunshine and sandy beaches then definitely try Benidorm at least once – hopefully your perceptions will be changed too!