Thought Benidorm was all fry ups, mobility scooters and karaoke? After seeing the TV show, that’s the impression I had. In fact even without the TV show, I’d always heard people speak of Benidorm as a destination that attracts ‘Brits Abroad’ – the ones who want to feel like they’re in England when they’re in a foreign country, only with sunshine and a beach.
But last month I went to Benidorm with Visit Benidorm and Cheapflights to explore the other side of Benidorm – a side with incredible beaches, mountain scenery, biking, golfing, jet skiing, wineries and Spanish food. Could it be that Benidorm has had an unfair reputation all these years? It would seem so.
Yes you can see the Brit Abroad stereotypes around town. Yes you will see some British pubs and lads getting drunk in the sunshine on Benidorm stag weekends. But I found that if you get out and about there’s so much more to explore. No matter where you go in the world, everywhere has culture. Sometimes, all you have to do is go out and look for it.
Numerous airlines fly between various UK airports and Alicante, which is the nearest airport to Benidorm. I returned to the UK a complete #BeniLover and I’d have no problem recommending the place to my parents for a holiday. So why should you go? Here are 8 great reasons to visit Benidorm:
1. Stunning Scenery
Our first activity in Benidorm was riding electric bikes from Tao Bike through Sierra Helada Natural Park. I’d never ridden an electric bike before but once I got the hang of it, I was really glad for the extra power pushing up those hills! We followed a windy road up through the hills, passing some stunning beaches along the way. The views were breathtaking and it was really nice to get some exercise while exploring the surrounding countryside.
If you want to get up into the nearby mountains, a Jeep Safari is the way to do it. Our driver (who was Dutch but living in Benidorm) was extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the area, taking us to some scenic viewpoints and quaint villages along the way. As we wound our higher and higher, I had to pinch myself as I looked out at the scenery. Your hair might be a little bit of a bird’s nest by the end of the trip but it’s definitely worth it for the ride!
2. Beautiful Beaches
I really wasn’t expecting Benidorm to have such clean and beautiful beaches. Not long ago I went to Bournemouth in England and I was saddened by the amount of litter on the beach, but here in Spain, the beaches were lovely.
Levante Beach is the most popular and can get quite busy, but my favourite was definitely Poniente Beach – a long, beautiful stretch of sand with a promenade running along it. We also rode electric bikes along a scenic coastal road in Sierra Helada Natural Park, where we saw some picturesque coves like Tio Ximo beach.
3. Heaven for water babies
If you love the water you’ll find an array of water activities in Benidorm, including banana boats, jet skiing, diving, snorkelling and parasailing. Our jet ski tour to Benidorm Island with Carlos Water Sports was one of the highlights of my trip. Although we were driving the jet skis ourselves we did have a guide with us, which made me feel safe knowing there was someone there to lead the way and show us the ropes.
Afterwards we took a boat back out to the island for a diving lesson with Diving Stones. I usually get problems with my ears and a little claustrophobic, so I sat this one out and did some swimming and snorkelling instead. They supply all the equipment for you, so all you have to bring is yourself and some swimwear.
4. 5-star resorts
Benidorm isn’t a place that springs to mind when you hear the word ‘luxury’ but I was surprised to find two incredible 5-star resorts here. We stayed at the Melia Villaitana, which is like its own little Mediterranean village with Spanish/Moorish architecture. Everything about this hotel was gorgeous – the pools, the view, the spa, the rooms…I only wish I had longer there!
Meanwhile Asia Gardens has played host to numerous celebrities, including Bruce Willis and David Guetta. As we toured the hotel I felt like I’d been transported to Thailand, a million miles away from the high-rise buildings of Benidorm. With luxury suites and lush tropical gardens boasting more than 3,000 species from Asia, it’s no wonder celebrities choose this hotel as their sanctuary.
I’m not a golfer but if I were one I think I’d love Benidorm for this reason. The Melia Villaitana had two pristine golf courses with ocean views – and my room happened to overlook it all! I saw lots of big groups checking in with their golf clubs, so the resort is clearly popular for golfing retreats.
Just as a little taster we had our own group lesson, learning how to tee off and use the putting green. I wasn’t particularly great and I’m not going to be the next champion any time soon but it was fun all the same! You can read more info about the golf courses here.
6. Yummy Spanish Food
When we touched down in Alicante we headed straight for a welcome paella at Restaurante Ulia on Poniente Beach. The dish of paella was enormous! I absolutely love Spanish food and drink – give me tapas, pintxos and sangria any day of the week – and there are plenty of chances to eat all those things in Benidorm. Of course there are all sorts of other fantastic foodie spots too, including Villa Valencia and Asia Gardens, which we dined at during our visit.
On our final night we took part in a tapas cooking class with Benidorm Cooking Experience. I’ve been to some cooking classes on my travels but I didn’t enjoy them as much as this one. The difference with this particular class is the owners, Jesus and Miriam, who are just the nicest people you’ll ever meet! They taught us how to make a variety of tapas dishes, including Patatas Bravas, garlic prawns and aubergine stacks, which all tasted incredible. What I liked about this class is that instead of creating each dish individually, we all chipped in to create each dish as a group. So one person would chop an onion, one would grate the tomatoes etc etc. Team work! The kitchen was spacious and absolutely spotless, plus we got to have some Spanish Cider, white wine, cheese and sausage while cooking.
8. Family Wineries
Spain is well known for being a great producer of wine with thousands of wineries throughout the country. Bodega Mendoza is a family run bodega offering tours of its cellars and wine tastings, so it’s a great spot for any vino lover. Sometimes with wine tastings they’re quite sparing on the alcohol but at Bodega Mendoza they give you 6 very generous pours of red and white wine, all paired with cured meats and cheeses. To end the tour we were also given a fantastic sweet wine paired with chocolate too!
When I told my hairdresser I was going to Benidorm he looked at me, let out a giggle and said “Benidorm?! What are you going there for?” Personally, I don’t think anyone should turn their nose up at someone’s holiday destination choices. I actually LOVE visiting destinations that people say harsh things about, just because I want to prove them wrong.
A holiday is what you make of it and Benidorm actually has a lot to offer from beautiful mountain scenery and water activities to luxury hotels and cooking experiences. Plus the #BeniLover inside of me was bursting to get up and sing some karaoke!
How do I get there cheaply?
Cheapflights, the experts in finding the best value flights, have seen searches for Benidorm increase steadily since last year, indicating a growth trend for the destination. According to Cheapflights, the most popular time for Brits to travel to Benidorm is June. Whereas the quietest time to travel is during January, when the best flight deals can be found. Numerous airlines fly between various UK airports and Alicante, which is the closest airport serving Benidorm. Prices start from £54 return in January and are subject to change by the airlines. Visit www.cheapflights.co.uk for the cheapest and most up to date prices.
If you haven’t visited Benidorm yet I hope I’ve changed your perceptions! And if you’ve already visited Benidorm, I’d love to hear your #BeniLovers stories below!
*My trip to Benidorm was sponsored, however to be fair to my readers, I’m always honest with my opinions.