Benidorm may not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re searching for all of the attractions of a massive scale resort there are few better. 5,000,000 visitors cannot be wrong. It is a common parable that Benidorm is nothing apart from a lot of Brit bars tempting thousands of rowdy beer louts. Wrong.
Benidorm pulls visitors from every part of Europe and is an intensely family oriented resort with something for everybody. Actually the commonest language you can hear as you ramble the streets is Spanish as the resort caters well for its own folks. Tourism dates back to the early 1960s when Benidorm was not more than a tiny fishing port centred on a domed church next to Piazza del Castillo.
Today Piazza del Castillo is known as Placa del Castell thanks to the expansion of the Valencian language but the usual church remains on its rocky headland surrounded by an impossible to believe number of hostels, studio blocks, bars and cafes a visitor might be forgiven for believing they were in Las Vegas instead of on the coast of Spain. The tallest building is the Gran Hotel Bali at 186 metres. The old church of San Jaime is the ultimate spot from which to describe the geography of Benidorm as it is the center of the old city which splits the resort into 2 parts.
To the north is Playa Levante, a 2km long beach of golden sand with proscribed traffic access along the promenade and the livelier of the resort’s 2 main beaches.
To the south of the old city is Playa Poniente which is 3km in length, also has golden sand but is narrower with far less hostels and a road separating them from the beach. Of Benidorm’s beaches Playa Levante is more preferred than Playa Poniente with north Continentals as here’s where a lot of bars and eateries are found.
Playa Poniente has a tendency to attract old Spanish crowds and families searching for a quiet time and isn’t the beach of choice for lots of foreign visitors. A striking feature of the first stretch of Playa Levante as you start the 2km walk from the old city to Rincn de Loix at the farthest point of the beach is the quantity of classy bars and cafs. Actually nothing like the tacky places you may be expecting.
There are some fine Spanish eateries with superb sea perspectives like Restaurante Rias Baixas, a fine Galician restauarant serving up common seafood dishes from northwestern Spain as well as local beef specialities from that area. Bargain drinks bars next to McDonalds sell 2 bottles of San Miguel for just two as well as lots other two for the cost of one bargains. Pick one as you amble along this stretch as there’s no scarcity of bars to choose between including La Cerveceria and the Guinness Bar.
The walk along the front is very agreeable thanks to the promenade which is virtually traffic free along the entire distance of Playa Levante. It’s obvious the quantity of folks in wheelchairs who are interested by Benidorm’s long, flat promenade in choosing their holiday spot. The bars which make up this first stretch of Levante beach shortly clear out and are typically replaced by tiny hostels, residences, cafs and present shops.
The few bars you come across have a tendency to have Dutch or Scandinavian owners but most conglomerates are Spanish owned. The beach itself is lovely with pretty, golden sand and clear waters. Constantly around 10pm Benidorm council’s beach cleaners start work. They collect each piece of litter and each cigarette butt, rake the sand then enormous sand ploughing machines go over each metre of the the beach so it is in positively spotless condition the following morning. There can’t be a cleaner beach in Europe and their efforts have earned both Playa Levante and Playa Poniente the ECU blue flag award which only goes to beaches which are flawlessly clean, safe, well managed and which have seawater quality of the best standard.
There are sunbeds to rent across the length of the beach and varied novelties e. G the amazing sand sculptures which appear to get bigger and more inbuilt each summer. The one of Jesus celebrating the Last Dinner is fantastic. Spare 1 or 2 coins for these true artists.
Another fascinating spot is the Biblioplaya, a library actually on the sand which has a tendency to generally attract retired folks to the shade where they can have a read or play a game of chess. There are regular play areas for youngsters with intricate climbing frames.
As we approach the far end of Levante more foreign pubs begin to appear. La Amsteleria is a great Dutch joint where you’ve a lager pump at your table and serve your self. The meter on the pump tells the waiter how much you have drunk when you ask for the bill.