Benidorm is the grand-daddy of package holiday resorts, visited by more Brits than anywhere else in Europe, but despite its popularity most of us would turn our noses up at the idea of going there.
The image most people have stuck in their head is probably not the most favourable but maybe it’s time to talk about the other side of the city too.
So how much truth is there to the long held prejudices? Here are 6 reasons that might entice you to find out for yourself.
The architecture is one of a kind
Ok, so a beach backed by high rise apartments isn’t everyone’s idea of beauty but after a while the quirky skyline grows on you.
This former fishing village boomed in the 60s and 70s and at one point more than 100 buildings were being constructed at the same time. It was a pioneer and very possibly the first low cost resort in Europe.
Benidorm has been left with a crazy mish-mash of skyscrapers, all reaching higher than each other to get better views of the sea and beach. In fact there are more high rise buildings in relation to population than anywhere else in Europe.
Home to the tallest residential building and the tallest hotel in Europe, it is often nicknamed ‘Little Manhatten’ or ‘Beni-York’. Some of the buildings are even so retro the architecture is starting to become cool again.
There is something for everyone
Young or old, rich or poor, on a massive hen party or travelling with kids. Benidorm really does cater to everyone. Even those who like to be completely alone shouldn’t fear – you can still find solitude in the surrounding hills, with quiet villages and plentiful hiking just outside the city.
There are a dizzying array of attractions packed into the area, Aqualandia waterpark, Terra Mitica theme park, and Terra Natura park to name but a few.
Those here to party can dance til dawn at some of the best clubs in Spain and foodies will have a delightful time. Accommodation covers the whole spectrum, there are even a handful of super luxury resorts that have seen Penelope Cruz, Bruce Willis and Bruce Springsteen within their walls.
The best thing about all this is the melting pot it creates, everyone going about their day full of holiday spirit. If you like people watching this is the place to come.
The rain in Spain falls mainly far away
What better way to spend a day than basking in the Spanish sun? Here you have 330 chances a year, as the surrounding mountains create a very favourable microclimate with average annual temperatures of 19°C.
This is the driest beachside in all of Europe, you might even fancy getting back to the rain after so much sun. Maybe. The twin crescent moon geography of the beaches also means you can get your fill of rays from dawn to dusk.
Some of the best beaches on the coast
The main beach is 6 km long and fairly wide, so it‘s surprisingly easy to find a spot on the beach without sitting in your neighbours lap. Three more blue flag beaches make this one of the finest bits of coastline on the Costa Blanca, with plenty of quieter parts to explore further afield.
It’s really really fun
As we’ve already mentioned you can come here and party til dawn. There is always something going on and even when the clubs close at 7 you can head to the notorious ‘British corner’ where the nightlife never sleeps. However if that is completely not your scene you can also avoid it.
There is a chic side to Benidorm too, with civilised cocktail lounges and roof top bars. You will also eat especially well here, it’s not all British pub grub. You will find a plethora of authentic tapas bars and paella stands, as well as food from most other nations under the sun.
We haven’t even started on the jam packed calendar of fiestas and street celebrations. The long and short of it is that there is more fun to be had here than you can poke a stick at.
There’s more cultural heritage than you might think too
Behind the brash exterior there are pockets of traditional Spain still to be found, especially in the old town. Visit the church of Saint James with its beautiful blue dome or the old fortress that dates from the 14th century. Just a short drive or bus trip out of town and you will come across tiny villages and the calm of rural life.
Benidorm is applying for UNESCO world heritage listing too. Yep, it’s true. Those behind the push say it should have the recognition is deserves as one of the most sustainable and best designed cities of the Mediterranean.
Quoted in the Guardian, Mario Gaviria said ‘“During the past 50 years, some 250 million visitors have enjoyed Benidorm. It’s a symbol of harmonious coexistence that happily brings together people of all nationalities and languages.”
As the old saying goes ‘don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.’ We are inclined to agree.