Benidorm was built compact thanks to the foresight of the town's mayor who in the 1960s saw a vision of a resort which grew upwards. Now it is slowly spreading westwards. Today Benidorm is famous for tall hotels and holiday apartment blocks, some of which are over 25 floors high. Since 2006 Benidorm has also seen a huge increase in the quality of accommodation and now attracts not just package holiday visitors but tourists who demand 5-star hotel and spa complexes. Due to the July–August crowd of young people, many apartments will insist on a refundable deposit for certain times of the year.
Tree lined wide avenues give a feeling of space where there are over 1,000 places to eat and drink and watch the town in full swing. The streets offer a very vibrant atmosphere day and night with something to offer visitors of any age group. There are over 41,000 hotel beds and modern tourist apartments. The biggest assets are the 4 km of Blue Flag** safe sandy beaches which draw people from all over Spain in the summer months and from all over Europe 365 days of the year. Benidorm is an ideal sun destination both in summer and winter due to the mild climate where day time temperatures rarely fall below 18c.
Alicante Airport is serviced daily by over 30 low-cost and scheduled airlines from most major European cities. The majority of incoming flights are from the UK which offer the best value seat prices due to high competition in this sector.
There are a number of online shuttle services from the airport to Benidorm for €10 or less each way. Private transfers operate from the terminal building with a journey time of 30–45 minutes to Benidorm.
Tram Alicante (el Trenet) operates a light rail train connecting all major settlements along the coast between Dénia and Alicante, with the exception of Xàbia. L1 (line 1) connects Benidorm with Alicante (1 hr 9 min) and Villajoyosa, while the hourly L9 connects the city with Dénia and other points between. You will need your ticket's barcode to get out of the station. For travelers with smartphones, there is a helpful official app (iPhone and Android) with a route planner and timetables. Guide dogs and small pets in carriers are permitted.
- 1 Estación de Benidorm (main tram station), Carrer de L'Estació (2 km W of town centre), ☎ .
- 2 Estación de Disco Benidorm (Disco tram statioin), Partida de Tolls, s/n, ☎ .
- 3 Estació de Autobusos Benidorm (Estación de Autobuses de Benidorm / Benidorm Bus Station), Carrer Francisco Llorca Antón, 6 (far W of town). A number of companies operate international routes to many European countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and France. Within the region, Alsa operates a route connecting all major coastal settlements between Valencia and Alicante.
Benidorm is close to the autopista A7 and well connected to the rest of Spain via the national motorway network, with both Madrid and Barcelona less than a five-hour drive away. Parking in Benidorm can be difficult as most streets have cars parked day and night on both sides of the road (some are pay spaces). A few hotels will have their own parking areas.
Discovering central Benidorm is easy on foot as that area is very compact especially the Levante Playa area which is chosen by most visitors as the area to stay. It is easy to walk a few miles and still remain in town. There are a few companies opposite the Wednesday/Sunday market which hire or sell motability scooters for the disabled and sometimes just plain lazy who want to get around town. There is an excellent local bus service which runs until midnight. Walking time from one end of the resort to the other is over an hour's walk. The Alicante to Denia railway station is nearly a mile in a slowly uphill walk from the Old Town with the bus station not far north of it.
Benidorm has two spectacular Blue Flag beaches - Levante and the more sedate Poniente, which is preferred by locals and families. The Playa de Poniente saw in August 2009 the opening of a 13 million Euro promenade including a boardwalk at beach level and easier access for wheelchair users. In total there are 4 km of safe, sandy beach in Benidorm.
As a purpose-built beach resort, everything is geared toward fun and enjoyment; there is therefore not much to see for those looking for culture. The surrounding towns and villages, which are less than 20 minutes drive by car or 30 minutes by bus are well worth exploring for anyone looking for "real Spain". In Benidorm the old town does still retain some of the quaint past, from when the town was a small village. Head for the old town church, where you will find the most interesting part of the town.
As a large resort, Benidorm offers a huge number of different activities for holidaymakers, both in town and in the nearby area.
- Aqualandia: Family water park.
- Mundomar : Animal and sealife park.
- Benidorm Palace: Las Vegas-style cabaret and dinner show seating over 2,000
- Terra Mítica (Benidorm - Signed From the motorway). Terra Mitica is located by the Benidorm hills on the Costa Blanca. Alongside the water sports park Aqualandia its a full service amusement park for the entire family to enjoy. Terra Mitica is among the biggest and most visited theme parks in all of Spain, it can be crowded in the holiday season.
- Terra Natura : Wildlife and water park.
- Blanket trips: These are free tours to nearby resorts, towns and markets. Unlike timeshare sales, there is no hard sell and if you do not want to buy anything, that is fine. The downside is that by time you have sat through two demos and had something to eat, you arrive at a place at 12:30 or later as the shops are shutting and leave 2 hours later as they are opening again. Or get there when a market is mostly over.
For those who enjoy walking there are many interesting places to walk if you take a local bus to the outlying villages such as Finestrast, Villa Joyosa and Albir or Calpe. Other easy walks are the lighthouse at Albir. The Number 10 bus takes you there. The walk is about 3 km in length and you do not have to be super fit. You also pass Ochre mines on the way. Another good walk is from the beach at La Cala. Use the number 2 bus from Benidorm, which goes to the out of town shopping malls. Here you can take an uphill walk to an old watchtower, which was once used as a look-out post for pirates and smugglers. There is a picnic site at the top. A good footpath, with benches every now and then to sit and rest. You can continue walking along the coast, through an olive grove for a few miles to Villajoyosa and return to Benidorm by tram.
There are boat trips to the Isla de Benidorm wildlife sanctuary and Calpe. You can also take a trip to Tabarca, a small but inhabited island off Alicante.
An abundance of cheap leather and shoes are on offer all year. Also look out for artisans markets which take place throughout the year during fiesta times and in July and August. At these you can buy local cheeses and produce plus jewelry, pottery and paintings. Most visitors from outside of Spain also take advantage of the cheap alcohol and cigarettes. Note that tobacco prices are set by the government in Spain so buy at any of the tobacco shops – there's no need to shop around. There are a number of bazaars around which sell products from €1 and up, and have a wide selection of essentials, knickknacks, food and other things at that price.
- 1 Mercat Municipal (Mercado Municipal), Carrer del Mercat, 1, ☎ . M-Sa 09:00-20:00. The municipal market is a good place for local produce, fish, and meat. There is also a Mercadona supermarket in the building.
- 2 Rastro El Cisne (Fleamarket), Ctra N332 (NW of town, take bus 10). Sa and Su. A large market for second-hand items and antiques.
- 3 Mercadillo Pueblo, Avda de l'Admirall Bernat de Sarrià. Su and W mornings. A semi-weekly street market for various goods, with a few vendors of local produce. Also has a few food and drink stands. Parking can be a problem so it's best to arrive early.
- 4 Mercadet de Foietes (Mercadillo de Foietes), Avda Ciudad Deportiva. W mornings. A weekly street market for all sorts of goods. Here too it's best to arrive before 10:00 if you want to find a space to park your car.
There are over 1,000 places to eat. The best area for restaurants and Tapas bars are found in the old town where you will find of course Spanish cuisine and also English, French, Algerian and Dutch food. On the Levante area food is typical tourist fare with many English cafe bars offering home style food to the English visitors. It is best to search the old town if you want some real quality local food such as the famous Jamon and excellent local wines from the Jalon valley. There are also many Chinese restaurants from a fairly large Chinese community who also have shops which sell items from China. Breakfast is a favourite of many with an ample fried breakfast starting from two euros.
- La Traviata, Avenida de Madrid, 4 (Playa Levante). Great Italian food. Three-course meal for around €15. Large servings. Staff speaks Spanish, English.
There are 800 bars selling alcohol and as such competition is huge, with happy hours, two for one, etc. There are many small bars offering bottled beer at €1 and themed bars are in abundance. You will find British pubs, Dutch bars and Irish bars plus the many Spanish cafeteria bars which offer local Spanish favourites. Basically whatever your tipple you will find it in Benidorm. Football is shown on large TV screens at many of them. There are a number of live acts and entertainment, karaoke, and of course, Sticky Vicki, now joined by her daughter Demaria Leyton.
Benidorm offers over 240 Hotels and holiday apartment complexes with 1- to 5-star ratings. Everyone will find a room to fit their budget. It should be remembered that hotels have daily maid service and apartments have a less frequent maid service (once or twice a week). Competition is massive therefore prices are some of the lowest in Spain especially out of season. Shop around for good deals. Be aware that you may have to pay a €50-100 deposit before check-in.
The most popular places to stay are the lively Levante, which is ideal for families and groups. The old town is preferred by couples and more mature visitors offering a less frantic holiday. The Poniente is ideal for beach holidays and peace and quiet. Also La Cala Finestrat on the outskirts of Benidorm is preferred by those who want a relaxed holiday away from the late nights and discos.
- 1 Camping Almafá, Partida Cabut, 25 (L'Alfàs del Pi), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 12:00. Has spaces for campervans and caravans, and bungalows for rent. Has showers, laundry, indoor and outdoor pools, fitness centre, and restaurant. Pets accepted on request for extra charge.
- 2 Camping El Racó, Av Dr Severo Ochoa, 35, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Can accommodate campervans and caravans, and also has bungalows available for rent. Facilities include showers, laundry facilities, indoor and outdoor pool, and supermarket and café. Free Wi-Fi and free parking.
- 3 Camping Villamar, Ctra del Albir, km .3, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Has spaces for tents, campervans, and caravans, and rents out large tents and cabins. Has showers, laundry, supermarket, cafeteria, and outdoor pool.
- 4 Camping Villasol, Av de l'Almirall Bernat de Sarria, 13, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Can accommodate tents, campervans, and caravans, and has large tents, bungalows, and villas available for rent. Facilities include showers and laundry, indoor and outdoor pool, and restaurant.
- 5 Hotel Montesol, Av de los Almendros, 19, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00-23:30, check-out: 12:00. Has an onsite restaurant and free Wi-Fi. Doubles €51+, including breakfast.
- 6 Flash Hotel, Av Derramador 2 (Levante Beach), ☎ . Check-in: 14:00-24:00, check-out: 06:00-12:00. Has panoramic view, outdoor pool, fitness centre, nonsmoking rooms, and shuttle service (extra charge). Free Wi-Fi, parking €11/day. Doubles €80, including breakfast.
- 7 Hotel Madeira Centro, Carrer de Esperanto, 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00-20:00, check-out: 12:00. Has outdoor and indoor pools, fitness centre, onsite restaurant, and free Wi-Fi. Parking €18/day. Doubles €81-90, including breakfast.
- 8 Hotel Rosamar, Av Derramador, 6, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00-24:00, check-out: 04:00-12:00. Facilities include an outdoor pool, fitness centre, nonsmoking rooms, and onsite restaurant. Free Wi-Fi, parking €11/day. Doubles €80, including breakfast.
- Servigroup Hotels, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates a number of hotels in the centre of Benidorm, in the Levante and Poniente Beach areas.
- 9 Gran Hotel Bali, Carrer Luis Prendes, 4, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00-24:00, check-out: 07:00-12:00. At a height of 186m this is the tallest hotel in Europe. Facilities include a pool, fitness centre and spa, nonsmoking rooms, and onsite bar. Free Wi-Fi, parking €12/day. Doubles €106+, including breakfast.
One feature over the last few years on travel forums is pick-pocketing and even some cases of mugging in Benidorm. When someone asked about "Muggers Alley", two different locations were given. Be careful in crowds, notably the Sunday-Wednesday market which has general things which you can buy as cheap elsewhere and the Sunday bootsale market which has older things and collectibles. Valuables should not be left in (empty) cars or apartments. Lock all doors and windows when leaving your apartment. Most rooms will come with a safe.
Despite these warnings visitors should remember that at peak times Benidorm hosts up to 200,000 people, therefore the true crime numbers are actually quite small. Sadly crimes are talked about around the many bars and tend to be exaggerated somewhat. In reality Benidorm is as safe as any other busy tourist resort where the majority of petty crime takes place late at night and usually involves alcohol fueled crimes. The police have a very visible presence, in cars.
Watch TVCostas in your Hotel for all up to date information about Benidorm. There are a number of internet cafés, some coin fed. Free wifi can be obtained at several pubs and restaurants.
If you hire a car you will be able to discover that the entire region is a hive of small villages and picturesque mountains. The following nearby towns are especially worth a visit:
- Altea is a quiet up-market town with a lot more Spanish culture and a stunning original old town which is well preserved. It also has a weekly outdoor market.
- Guadalest is a village that also deserves to be visited, many of the houses here are over 400 years old and there are spectacular views of the mountains.
- Wine lovers should head toward Calpe (30 minutes' drive) and take the signs for Jalon, where you will find the wine-growing region and almond groves.
- A recommended driving route to see the "real Spain" is to head toward Finestrat, just 9 km from Benidorm and drive from there into the mountains where you will find a different world.
- The Algar waterfalls near Polop are a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of busy Benidorm.
- For a great day out, the city of Valencia is a must, which you can reach by express coach in 90 minutes from Benidorm.