Oh, Benidorm. The Spanish city has a special place in the hearts of many British people. But like many truly great things, its real value goes under-appreciated.
Look past the high rise hotels, British pubs and scooters and you’ll find one of the most interesting spots in the Costa Blanca. From wineries to festivals to some of the country’s most stunning natural sights, Benidorm is hiding more than a few secrets.
So many, in fact, we asked Jet2holidays – the UK’s second biggest tour operator and winner of Which? Travel Brand of the Year – to help us discover the city’s hidden gems.
The gay-friendly beach
Benidorm doesn’t often do small and secluded, but this beach proves it should more often. Raco Conill is a nudist beach about 6km out of the city. It may not be gay-exclusive, but it attracts a healthy LGBTI community. Which is just an extra reason to visit, alongside the stunning cyan sea.
Explore the wine region
While there’s a time and a place for tequila shots, if you want to really refine your palette, you need to visit Jalon Valley. The wine and almond region is absolutely stunning. In spring, the almond trees blossom in pink and white, coloring the entire valley.
Then come summer, harvest time means there’s plenty of wine to taste. The region is only 25km from the city and can be reached easily by car.
Immerse yourself in history
The tourism boom brought modern developments on an unprecedented scale, but Benidorm still holds fragments from its beautiful history. Much of the architecture comes from the age of the Ottoman Empire, making a visit to the remarkable Placa del Castell in Old Town an ideal photo-op.
Otherwise, you can visit the stunning Iglesia de San Jaime y Santa Ana. While more simple, this church is a hit with tourists and architecture nerds alike. Also, the views get even better with the Ermita Virgen del Mar. The chapel here is cute, but the views of the whole city are absolutely spectacular
Eat at 8 Michelin Star restaurants
Michelin Star restaurants? In Benidorm? Don’t be so surprised. Spain is a country of divine food and this city is no different.
While some think a Full English Breakfast is the height of culinary delights, there’s so much to explore in these high-end restaurants. From traditional Mediterranean food in the family-owned, 100-year-old El Xato, to traditional Spanish food at the fancy Abiss. It’s best you make use of the 22kg baggage with Jet2holidays, though, as you might want to dress a little fancy.
No one quite parties like Spanish people and their November fiestas are a sight to behold. Every town has its own Patron Saint to celebrate, with festivities shutting down all commercial activity in exchange for live music, sports, and fireworks. Benidorm honors the Patron Saints of Virgin of the Suffrage and Saint James the Apostle.
Then if you don’t want the party to stop, the very next day British tourists host a Fancy Dress party. A little less authentic, a lot more silly.
Where to stay
Now that you’re prepped and ready to discover the secrets Benidorm has to offer, you need a place to stay.
This is definitely not a problem. Jet2holidays has a range of wonderful two to five star hotels, which are all ABTA and ATOL protected with a low £60 deposit. The one thing they all have in common is a little touch of luxury.
Villa Venecia Hotel Boutique Gourmet
This beautiful five star Indulgent Escapes property isn’t just pretty on the inside. It’s amazing location in Old Town makes it the perfect stop as you explore Benidorm’s tourist highlights. But it also overlooks the Balcon Del Mediterraneo, giving the property a permanent look at the jewel-like sea.
Hotel Villa Del Mar
Sitting beside Poniente beach and just 200m from Benidorm Old Town, this is another property that benefits from a spectacular location. However, its sleek design and rooftop terrace bar – which transforms into a chic cocktail bar at night – provide the edge for those demanding style with their stay.
Hotel Agua Azul
This property sits on the edge of the bustle in Benidorm, with Old Town just 200m and Levante Beach 500m away. But this stylish four star property has another peaceful point going for it: the property is adults-only. Amazing for those that want time for just the two of you.
Found in the center of the action in Benidorm Old Town, this three star property is the ultimate pitstop. Think a gorgeous rooftop pool, modern and bright rooms, and just a short walk from even more relaxation at the award-winning Levante Beach.
After a luxurious makeover, this four star property is back with a modern, more adult focus. Boasting a sleek, contemporary restaurant bar, alongside a stunning pool, there’s reason enough to stay at this hotel. Add in its wonderful location just moments from Levante Beach and the resort center and you’ve got the perfect place to stay.
Jet2holidays is a client of Gay Star News.
All of Jet2holidays packages include flights with 22kg baggage allowance, hotels and transfers, so there’s less time spent stressing and more time enjoying everything Benidorm has to offer.