I’ve been to Benidorm before, but only for a brief drive-by. So when a friend invited us to Benidorm to help celebrate his birthday, we decided to make a long weekend of it. After all, we reasoned, it’s off season for the Spanish east coast, and the hotels were really reasonably priced. To add to the adventure, we decided to take a bus that travels directly from Valencia to Benidorm for an incredibly cheap ticket fare.
We were very pleasantly surprised when we arrived! Unlike Valencia, which is relatively flat, Benidorm has some interesting terrain due to the nearby mountains. The weather was fantastic, and while it was a little chilly, it was not too cold with the appropriate clothing. Being in the sun really helped, and added to the sensation that we were on a mini-vacation!
Speaking of vacations, the British culture views Benidorm as an inexpensive getaway, which makes some of the people we encountered kind of… interesting. There are stores, restaurants, and bars where no Spanish can be heard. There are people who are exchanging their winter-white skin for an alarming red color (use sunscreen, people!!!). And there are people who act like typical tourists, like demanding things in loud voices in languages other than Spanish.
Benidorm is an interesting city, and in the Valencian Community. It’s a popular vacation spot in Europe, and a special favorite of British people. There’s even a TV series, Benidorm, that explores the British experience in Benidorm. As a typical tourist-centered beach town, the number of shops selling a wide (and weird) variety of items surrounds the beach. Tourist food and conveniences are easy to spot, including a Burger King on the beach and a 7-11 nearby.
The main attraction here is the beach. It’s quite lovely and I admit that I understand the attraction. There’s a wide boardwalk and plenty of scenic sections of the beach. Stopping and enjoying the weather and the waves, especially during the day, is lovely. Doing that while enjoying a cup of coffee or a beer? Sublime.
During the off season, a number of people from northern Spain, northern Europe and the United Kingdom arrive to get some sun and have vacations of their own. Unfortunately, many of the people visiting Benidorm have a distinctly British way of looking at things, like never trying to speak any Spanish or walking on the “wrong” side of the sidewalk (in Spain, cars and pedestrians move on the right, not the left). We witnessed one interaction that made us very glad that we are functional in Spanish and did not just get louder or rude to people doing their jobs.
The vast majority of people on the streets were retirement-age, and I am guessing that many have long-term or even permanent residences here. Many people appear to have regular bars and cafes that they visit daily. During the summers, you’ll also see family vacationers here, which explains the wide variety of candy and sweet shops in the city.
There are quite a few restaurants that cater to the international crowd, offering “Full English Breakfast” and “American Pancakes” for people who want to eat like they are at home while they are on vacation. There are also a number of ethnic restaurants that provide a different flair. We enjoyed Ramen and Indian-Asian food when we wanted a little variety. However, the local restaurants really go out of their way to deliver pleasing meals to people on holiday. Restaurants here, especially traditional Spanish ones, work very hard to serve the best of Spanish cuisine. Incredibly fresh vegetables, great bread, and a variety of interesting plates.
To celebrate our friend’s birthday, we took a taxi to the Finestrat area of Benidorm that is a little removed from the main town. It’s much calmer, and while there are still tourists, there’s a more local vibe and another lovely beach area. Our friend has a lovely place that looks out onto the ocean. We met some delightful people and had a great time eating and talking, and then eating some more.
Benidorm is a great place to visit. I don’t think I would be so thrilled if I was there in the summer, but for spring and fall, there’s a lot to see and enjoy!
All that aside, this was a fun little getaway, and I would be happy to do it again in the future!