Benidorm may be known for splash-tastic resorts like Aqualandia, oceanfront skyscrapers and cabaret shows catering to a temporary summer population of thousands, but you don’t need to look as hard as you may think to find traditional Spain here on the creamy white beaches of the Costa Blanca. Minutes away from historic towns plus hilltop fortresses and host to countless fiery fiestas throughout the year, this Spanish resort town has its own thriving local scene for anyone wanting to squeeze a few drops of culture from their Benidorm holidays.
Benidorm Old Town
In fact, you don’t even need to leave town to find a taste of traditional Spain. Walk up to Balcon del Mediterraneo and examine the 14th century ruins of the castle that used to preside over this once-sleepy village. Admire the Neoclassical columns and blue tiled roof of the Church of Saint James and wander among the café-lined plazas and cobbled lanes of the Old Town. Seek out authentic eats in ‘Tapas Alley’, or catch one of the Sunday flea markets at El Cisne: this is a Benidorm far removed from the party-going crowd along the shoreline.
A good day trip when you need a change from the popular Levante and Malpas beaches in Benidorm, seaside town Altea has bags of charm in and around its whitewashed stone houses, patterned cupolas and wrought-iron balconies, as well as a good handful of soft-sand beaches all of its own. Descend to the waterfront and the old port from the Plaza de Nuestra Señora del Consuelo to get the best view over the town, and the beautiful blue bay reaching towards the horizon.
Around half an hour’s drive inland from Benidorm is the fortified town of Guadelest, with its dramatic mountain seat and stone buildings that seem as ancient as the rock itself. Actually a town of two halves, you can access the old portion beyond the walls via a rocky, natural tunnel on the slopes, and grab tremendous vistas of the Guadelest Valley and lake from sights like San Jose Castle and the Bell Tower. Though much of the settlement was built during Moorish occupation in the 12th century, the ‘Moors Town’ refers to the dwelling houses on the slope side separate from the main town and the newer resorts on top of the plateau. Here, you’ll find handicrafts to take home and a collection of small museums to explore.
Fiestas in Benidorm
Time your Benidorm holidays to coincide with a fiesta outwith the normal summer season, and you’ll see the town explode into life. March is the time to celebrate the ‘Fallas’, commemorating the miraculous 18th century discovery of the wooden Virgin of the Suffrage statue – which was found intact in a ship that had been burned in case of plague. Days of parades build to a spectacular fireworks display, feasting and revelry on St Joseph’s Day. Alternatively, come in November to celebrate the patron saints of Benidorm at Las Fiestas Patronales during a whole week of open-air concerts, sports competitions and processions filled with flowers, striking costumes and theatrics. There’s really no bad time to plan holidays to Benidorm if you’re in search of traditional sights, sounds and flavours, it’s just a case of getting to know the attractions that have stood for decades, as well as the wider area of Valencia and the Costa Blanca. That’s if you can tear yourself away from those banging beach bars and plush hotel swimming pools!