It has a large Spanish population as well as a large retired British population. 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 4kms of Blue Flag** safe sandy beaches which draw people from all over Spain in 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.
There are daily flights to Alicante Airport from most major European cities serviced by over 30 low cost and scheduled airlines. 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 also many low cost airlines flying from various UK airports which offer great prices. There are a number of online shuttle services to Benidorm for 10€ or less each way.
The station is quite some distance uphill (Av Beniarda), or the next stop towards Alicante at Hiper Finestrat, at the far south end of town. Benidorm is served by fast trams from Alicante (journey time 1 hour 9 mins) which connects to the rest of Spain through the national rail network. High speed trains offer connections through France and the rest or Europe via Alicante. Intending passengers should note that in Alicante, the trams terminate at Mercado station, about 1KM from the main (RENFE) station, and in Benidorm the station is about 2KM from the town centre. You will need your ticket's barcode to get out of the station. There is also an hourly train service from Benidorm to Denia. Travellers should buy a return ticket. The Alicante and Denia trains arrive at Benidorm at the same time, making an onward transfer easy.
Benidorm has a good local bus service which connects to local towns such as Altea, Alicante and Calpe. A new coach and bus station opened in 2008 with International routes to many European countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and France is situated at the far west end of town. Most visitors pre-book with the many transfer companies who offer cheap transport from Alicante airport direct to recognised Hotels.
From Alicante airport Licensed taxis operate from the terminal building with a journey time of 30-45 minutes to Benidorm. As taxi drivers have to pay a heavy fee to get a taxi licence, this is reflected in the fares charged.
Benidorm is well connected to the rest of Spain via the national motorway network. Madrid and Barcelona are under 5 hours drive. Benidorm is close to the Autopista 7. 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 Poniente Playa has just seen the opening of (August 2009) a new 13 million Euro promenade including a boardwalk at beach level and easier access for wheelchair users. In total there are 4kms 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 when the town was a small village. Head for the old town Church where you will find the most interesting part of the town.
Walking: 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.
Boat Trips: 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.
There are a number of internet cafes, some coin fed. Free wifi can be obtained at several pubs and restaurants.
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 August. At these you can buy local cheeses and produce plus jewelery, pottery and paintings. Most visitors from outside of Spain also take advantage of the cheap Alcohol and Cigarettes. Note Tobacco prices are set by the government in Spain so buy at any of the Tobacco shops no need to shop around. There are a number of Bazaars around who sell products from 80 cents and have a wide selection of essentials, knicknacks, food and other things at that price.
There is a large market Sundays and Wednesdays which mostly has things you can buy elsewhere. There is also a Sunday boot-sale market (El Cisne) to the NW of town on the Altea Valencia road (N-332). Car, taxi or number 10 bus.
Easy walks are to The EL Faro lighthouse at Albir. The Number 10 bus takes you there. The walk is about 3kms 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 or town shopping malls. Here you can take an uphill walk to an old watchtower. 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 old olive grove for a few miles to Villajoyosa and return to Benidorm by tram.
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.
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 art many of them. There are a number of live acts and entertainment, karaoke, and of course, Demaria Leyton (Daughter of the now retired Sticky Vicki).
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 50 to 100 euros deposit before check-in. The most popular places to stay are the lively Levante; 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.
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.
The towns nearby are 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. For a great day out the city of Valencia is a must which you can reach by express coach in 90 minutes from Benidorm.
If you hire a car you will also find the entire region is a hive of small villages and picturesque mountains. A recommended route to see the real Spain is to head toward Finestrat just 9kms from Benidorm and drive from there into the mountains where you will find a different world. For wine lovers head toward Calpe (30 minutes drive) and take the signs for Jalon where you will find the wine growing region and almond groves.
The Algar waterfalls near Polop are a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of busy Benidorm but go on a nice day in summer.
Towards the themepark Terra Mítica you have several km of walking/running/biking lanes along the road. The area is great for running early morning or evening in summer.
Serra Gelada Natural Park, bordering Rincón de Loix, includes the hill of Serra Gelada towards Albir (Alfaz del Pi), direction to Altea. The walk from Albir Beach to Albir Lighthouse is easy and the hike from Albir to Benidorm a bit harder.