When saying the name ‘Benidorm’, thoughts immediately go to a general (and erroneous) stigma. Yes, we can speak of mass tourism and there are many pensioners who love to spend the winter there. But this town with its skyscrapers and hotels has much more to offer. Sun-drenched sandy beaches, a charming old shopping plaza, attractive terraces, a lively promenade … that is Benidorm!
In the early 19th century, fishing was the most important source of income for the inhabitants. Tuna and sardines were especially popular. It was during this time that the beach resort acquired its own coast guard and the first tourists came to visit.
In 1885, Benidorm opened its first tourist accommodation: ‘Hostal La Mayora’. Slowly, more accommodation was added and 15 years later a link with Alicante was made through a motorway. This was also the start of the promotion of Benidorm as a tourist attraction. This town was fully occupied by tourists for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the middle of the 20th century, the fishing industry began to suffer. Income dwindled and the inhabitants of Benidorm had to search for a different way in which to make a living. In 1956, Pedro Zaragoza, the mayor at the time, submitted his tourist master plan for approval. The beach resort would become a ‘vertical town’, dominated by skyscrapers.
It was not until Alicante’s airport opened, however, that tourism really began to grow to its current proportions. European tour operators began offering package holidays and charter flights, resulting in mass tourism in Benidorm.
Today, this beach resort is one of the top destinations in Europe, with 5 million tourists visiting annually.
Benidorm has acquired a less than good reputation because of its popularity. It had become a cheap holiday spot, popular among senior citizens who came to winter there.
The age of many of the skyscrapers did not help the general impression either.
But the town has invested heavily in a better impetus. Buildings have been renovated, often with fabulous bars or restaurants on the roofs with phenomenal views.
It will never become a cultural pearl or synonymous with an idyllic Spanish location. Whoever has an open mind when exploring the town will, however, notice that Benidorm does have a lot of good things to offer.
‘Vamos a la playa’
The 6-km long strip of coast with its golden sand and clear blue sea can be divided into three sections. Authenticity is synonymous with ‘Poniente’ beach. This small sandy beach is very inviting and considerably quieter than the most well-known ‘Levante’ beach.
‘Levante’ is very popular among the many tourists. It has all of the assets for a fun day at the beach. From a promenade with pleasant bars, restaurants and shops to a variety of possibilities (jet skis, surfing, diving, snorkelling, etc.) for water enthusiasts.
If you have children, we recommend the ‘Mal Pas’ beach. A small, pleasant beach among the rocks of old Benidorm and the marina. The sharpest rocks have been removed and the location means that the sea is very quiet.
A day out?
Go exploring and take the boat to Tabarca, Spain’s smallest permanently inhabited island. It used to be a refuge for pirates. Today it is a protected island with an abundance of flora and fauna.
Visit Mundomar, a zoo with a large variety of mammals, birds and reptiles. Enjoy the many shows and experience the unique opportunity to swim with sea lions or dolphins.
Wild water fun in Aqualandia! This fantastic water park is one of the largest in the world. It has 15 attractions that will please the smallest and the toughest among us, from a children’s playground to a 33-m-high slide where speeds above 100 km/h can be reached. Do you have the guts?
Terra Mítica. This is a beautiful amusement park with the history of the cultures around the Mediterranean Sea as its main theme. This includes: Greece, Rome, Iberia, Las Islas and Egypt. Who says that history is boring? 😉
A fantastic decor and a wide range of attractions will seduce both young and old.
Terra Natura is a unique zoo, equipped with the most modern gadgets, where you are immersed in the world of animals. You will find tarantulas, snakes and poison dart frogs that could fell an elephant with one drop of sweat. The cheetahs, tigers, lions, monkeys and birds are only a small selection of what this zoo has to offer.
Benidorm has not one but two water parks. Aqua Natura offers fantastic swimming pools, exciting slides and pleasant green gardens.
The Algar waterfalls, ‘Fuentes del Algar‘, are also worth visiting. These waterfalls and their national park are located near Callosa d’en Sarría and are therefore only a short distance away from Benidorm. Do remember to bring your swimming trunks, because, on a hot day, it is good to cool off in the fresh water.
The pleasant Guadalest is 25 kilometres away from Benidorm. This well-hidden village in middle of the mountains has been integrated beautifully into the rocks.
For those wanting to experience some culture and the atmosphere of a picturesque mountain village, this is a must.
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