Benidorm is where the package holiday was invented more than 50 years ago. It is still a magnet for sunworshippers and families seeking a fun-filled holiday. Its iconic skyscrapers have been compared to Manhattan and Miami. It's big, it's beautiful and it has something for everyone – sandy beaches, water sports, family entertainment, restaurants, bars and hotels to suit every budget.
The millions of Brits who holiday here love the all-day English breakfast, English TV and great British pubs and nightlife. However, there is much more to Benidorm than that.
Benidorm boasts more hotel and apartment rooms than any other Mediterranean resort with more than 41,000 beds. It caters for everyone. Families love the all-inclusive package deals while others enjoy the new five-star hotel and spa complexes which have sprung up in and around Benidorm.
Its balmy climate and location have turned Benidorm into a top tourist spot throughout the year. Families head to Benidorm in the summer while the winter months are popular with older holidaymakers who enjoy the winter sunshine. The British comedy Benidorm, which is filmed in the resort, is also attracting more holidaymakers. It is just 45 kilometres from Alicante Airport and has a good rail, road and bus network.
If you fancy a day away from the beach, there are five theme parks in Benidorm to keep the entire family amused. There is also a big indoor shopping centre on the edge of Benidorm where you can buy clothes, souvenirs, food and drinks.
The four kilometres of Blue Flag safe and sandy beaches are the main attractions which draw people from all over Europe. The two main beaches are Levante (sunrise beach) and Poniente (sunset beach) which are lined with restaurants and cafes, shops and entertainment.
The Old Town retains a more traditional feel. It is still possible to see traces of Benidorm's past as a sleepy fishing village. You can also enjoy a panoramic view of the resort from the Balcon de Mediterraneo between the two main beaches.
Benidorm has hundreds of bars and restaurants offering traditional dishes, English, Chinese, Indian and Thai meals, to name but a few. It is well worth trying one of the tapas bars in the Old Town for a taste of Spanish dishes without breaking the bank. The nightlife is rich and varied from karaoke to a night at the casino.
Whatever your taste, let Benidorm bewitch you....
Terra Mitica takes you on a rollercoaster ride through history. Walk through ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and Iberia while enjoying the adrenalin rush of a carousel, rollercoaster or the Inferno where you are hurled through the air at 60kms per hour while upside down, sideways or spinning like a ball. More than 35 shows are put on every day with gladiators, acrobats and Greek gods just waiting to entertain you. The park has a number of restaurants offering everything from fast food to a steak.
Terra Natura is a modern wildlife park which has been specially designed so there does not appear to be any barriers between the visitors and the animals. There are more than 200 different species of animals, some of which are close to extinction, as well as 160 types of trees and plants. It's an entertaining family day out with a bit of education thrown in.
Have a splashing time at Aqualandia. It's a perfect place to cool off. Benidorm's Aqualandia was the first water park to open in Spain and is still one of the largest in the world. Enjoy one of its many water rides, slides and splash pools before deciding which of its several restaurants to visit.
Next to Aqualandia is the award-winning Mundomar animal park providing fun for all the family. Different shows are put on where the animals are the stars. Watch the antics of the sea lions, dolphins or parrots. Take time to see the feeding of sealions, lemurs and penguins. You can also see flamingoes, turtles, tortoises, seals, otters, lemurs, monkeys and tropical birds.
The award-winning Benidorm Palace really puts on the glitz for a magical, musical night out. Different shows are put on throughout the year where you can enjoy a dinner while sitting back to enjoy a night of flamenco, music from the movies or some other spectacular extravaganza. Put on your glad rags for a glamorous night at the Palace at least once during your stay.
The bullring is a great entertainment and music venue attracting international stars such as Peter Andre in the past. Alternatively Benidorm football stadium has also played host to top stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Brian Adams in recent years.
Sierra Helada Natural Park
The Sierra Helada or Ice Mountain is a national park and mountain between Benidorm and Albir. There are several different walks to choose from, depending on how fit you are or how many calories you need to burn off! Nine kilometres long and 438 metres high, it is home to a range of flora, fauna and wild birds.
Gran Hotel Bali
In a holiday resort full of skyscrapers it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. The four-star Gran Hotel Bali has achieved just that by being the tallest building in Europe at a whopping 186 metres high. The hotel is in C / Luis Prendes, just off the Avenida de Finestrat.
Benidorm has two weekly markets held on Wednesdays and Sundays where you can pick up leather bags, shoes, clothes and household goods at a knockdown price.
The La Marina indoor shopping centre is on the edge of town by the AP7 motorway and is a shopping paradise. Stores include C&A, H&M, Mango, Gerry Webber, Guess, Zara and the London Emporium. There are also restaurants, bowling, a cinema and a play area.
Benidorm rocks at night. Whatever you like, Benidorm aims to please with tribute bands, karaoke, cabaret, country and western, discos, shows and musicals. Head for the bright lights and let Benidorm entertain you. You may fancy a relaxing drink, cocktail or a meal. No problem. Benidorm has hundreds of bars and restaurants serving cuisine from around the globe. Try a traditional Spanish dish, a beautifully-prepared paella, a selection of tapas or maybe you fancy an Indian, Chinese, Italian or even Norwegian meal. Whatever your taste, whatever your budget, Benidorm comes up trumps.
Benidorm is not short of bars either. There is the English strip with plenty of traditional British boozers serving English beers, Guinness and spirits along with an all-day English breakfast or cracking Sunday roasts. The promenades are alive with Spanish bars offering cool beers, Sangria, cocktails or coffees galore.
Benidorm also boasts a thriving gay scene centred around the Old Town, where you will find many gay-friendly bars and cool nightclubs. The Old Town is also the scene of the annual Gay Pride carnival in September.
Benidorm has several watersports clubs where you can try scuba diving or water skiing, for example. You could also charter a boat to see Benidorm from a different angle and dive into the deep blue Mediterranean to cool off. There are also tennis courts and golf courses, designed by Nicklaus Designs, including pitch and putt.
Some photos courtesy of www.comunitatvalenciana.com
Postiguet Beach, Alicante
Javea's beautiful coastline
Calpe's imposing Ifach Rock
Fiery end to the fallas fiesta
Alicante Old Town
"A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles" - Tim Cahill