8 reasons you'll actually love Benidorm

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

Benidorm* is one of those places that everyone thinks they know even if they have never even been. Some people bizarrely dismiss this wildly popular resort out of hand even though almost two million people now holiday here every year.

Benidorm from the Sierra Helada Natural Park
Benidorm from the Sierra Helada Natural Park © Michael Shannon - Adobe Stock Image

If you've never been, or maybe you just haven't been in a while, grab a cuppa as I share the reasons why you'll actually love a budget-friendly Benidorm break.

Getting to Benidorm: don't miss the latest online offers on breaks to Benidorm and beyond with TUI*.

Beautiful Benidorm

Yes, seriously. This resort mini Manhattan has a skyline strewn with skyscrapers, some of which are striking in themselves; others are verging on historic architectural appeal.

But it's the natural setting that is especially beautiful here: Benidorm sits in the middle of a breathtaking natural amphitheatre.

Kilometre-high mountains soar up behind the resort and the Sierra Helada hills peer down on Benidorm from the east.

Then there's the cobalt Mediterranean, the sea of Phoenicians, Romans and Catalans, stretching out to the horizon and beyond.

Soft, sandy beaches

It's no wonder that the owners of the shiny new jets that first enabled frozen north Europeans to afford to flee south in search of sun picked Benidorm. The resort is fringed by ribbons of sand that roll down to shallow, calm waters, whose balmy temperatures invite a dip.

The wide sweep of Levante Beach
The wide sweep of Levante Beach © Xiquinhosilva - Flickr CC BY 2.0

Choose from the big hitter of Levante Beach, a forest of blue parasols and bronzed bodies, or the slightly quieter family-friendly Poniente Beach, with its boardwalks and newly accessible access area. Both offer myriad watersports if swimming and chilling are not enough.

Party town

Ok, the elephant in the room here for some people is Benidorm's rather exuberant reputation for liking a bit of a party. There is no getting around the fact that lads' holidays, lassies' escapes, stags and hens all love a bit of Benidorm.

The resort fully sates these tastes and desires, as you find out if you set off for an early morning ascent of La Cruz de Benidorm meeting people still coming home from the night before.

These days, however, alongside the raucous nightclubs and bouncing bars, there are chilled cafés, lounge bars and cocktail haunts catering to more sophisticated tastes.

And it is not all banging dance music either as each summer Benidorm hosts the Low Festival (the name comes from the idea of it being 'low cost'), a celebration of rock and indie music. Star performers to have graced the roster include Belle and Sebastian, Interpol, Placebo and Suede.

Time & space to unwind

One of my aims on a trip is to find pockets of space and beauty where you can just slow down and appreciate where you are and just be.

There are two spots I love in Benidorm for this. One is right in the heart of the action at the Balcon de Mediterraneo. Sitting on a headland that struts out between Levante and Poniente beaches, this was the site of Benidorm's castle until the Napoleonic wars did away with it.

Approaching sunset at the Balcon de Mediterraneo
Approaching sunset at the Balcon de Mediterraneo © Vadreams - Dreamstime.com

Today, it's a great spot for a view of Benidorm and the seemingly endless Med. Best at sunset, when your chill time is accompanied by the gentle patter of selfie sticks and excited giggles. The other spot I'm almost loathe to share.

Take a hike up to La Cruz de Benidorm (also known as the Benidorm Cross) before breakfast and you might well be the only people there. It's a magical spot peering down from where the Sierra Helada starts to rise, offering epic views of Benidorm and its deeply dramatic setting.

Affordable, stylish accommodation

When I first came to Benidorm in the 1990s it was for a post-university lads holiday. We paid next to nothing for a simple shared room and a package that included flights and transfers.

And there are still some great knockdown holidays available. Benidorm, though, these days is all things to all people with a real range of accommodation. With my kids, we recently stayed at Melia Villaitana* in the foothills of the mountains just back from Benidorm, a €10 taxi ride away.

The epic Melia Villaitana
The epic Melia Villaitana - photo courtesy of Melia Hotels International

This epic resort was fashioned in 2006 to mirror the architecture of the local towns and villages. It's like one of them, but alive with half a dozen restaurants, too many pools to count and a legion of smiley can-do staff. A far cry from my first hotel in the 1990s, but an exemplar of the variety Benidorm offers today.

Much more than British breakfasts

Yes, you can ease your hangover in multiple spots with a full British fry-up and the good news is it probably will cost you less than at home. The even better news is that there is much more to eating and drinking in Benidorm these days.

Eat like a Spanish monarch at La Mejillonera Benidorm, where I tucked into both local paella (Valencia is close), as well as fideua (Barcelona is close too), and a superb but cheap bottle of Alicante region wine.

At Restaurante el Barranco I chose which of the fresh fish of the day to have expertly grilled for dinner as I overlooked the sands. It was a waterfront view again for more seafood at Posada del Mar.

Topped the day off with a meaty pizza with Spanish serrano ham at Duetto. All were superb. And in these cash-strapped times, all offered great value.

Theme parks ahoy!

There's plenty in Benidorm to keep the whole family active and entertained, starting with Aqualandia, which is tremendous fun. One of the country's oldest parks has it nailed with Big Bang, one of the tallest water slides in Europe.

Vertigo meanwhile does what it says on the tin, sending the senses snapping as you hurtle along at speeds of up to 100 km/ph! The wave pool is massive too. If you're worrying about wasting all this water in parched Spain* relax as it's all desalinated seawater.

Whooshing down the waterslides at Aqualandia
Whooshing down the waterslides at Aqualandia - photo courtesy of Aqualandia España

Terra Mitica meanwhile is one of Spain's biggest theme parks, set around various themed areas. Zoom from Egypt to Greece, from rollercoaster to plunge pool, and above all, have a blast!

The mountains are calling

The Alicante* region overflows with hulking limestone hills and mountains. Just to the east of Poniente Beach, you can slip right into the Sierra Helada Natural Park.

Sunset from La Cruz de Benidorm in the Sierra Helada Natural Park
Sunset from La Cruz de Benidorm in the Sierra Helada Natural Park © Helena Garcia - Adobe Stock Image

A tougher adventure awaits deeper inland tackling the Puig Campana, the 1,406 m peak (higher than any mountain in the UK) that looms over Benidorm.

It's a brilliant hike with remarkable views back down to Benidorm far below. Being up here, you appreciate the resort's epic setting which, along with the weather and those beaches, drew tourists here in the first place.

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie is a Scottish travel writer, author and broadcaster. He has visited over 100 countries and regularly writes about Scotland and the Canary Islands. As well as frequently contributing to Weather2Travel.com, Robin writes for publications including The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and Wanderlust, and has authored more than 30 guidebooks.

Posted on Wednesday 12th July 2023 in: Beach City Europe Summer

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