Benidorm is one of those destinations that people endlessly preconceive; an English home from home riddled with pot-bellied boozers and sun-worshippers. Sure you’ll be able to tick off a couple of clichés, but the economy of taking in this Spanish town on holidays to Spain, especially in the off season, means these clichés might just work in your favour. If it all gets too much, there’s always the day trip.
Just ten minutes north of Benidorm, a quaint historic retreat beckons. With its stratified, whitewashed houses clambering up the hillside bisected by winding cobbled pathways, Altea is a place you should see. With a marina, beachfront promenade and its labyrinthine Old Town, it’s packed with pretty diversions and worth a visit just for its beautiful, blue-roofed Russian orthodox church.
The Caves of Canelobre
Explore this natural wonder concealed in the nearby Cabezón de Oro mountain ridge. From its 70-metre-high vaulted ceiling drip stalactites and rock formations twisted and etched by time into the beautiful candelabra shapes its name suggests. Its acoustics often attract concerts, and if you can time your visit to coincide with a performance you’re guaranteed an epic evening’s entertainment.
Callosa Waterfalls of Algar
Visit this convergence of plunging pools and dazzling spray for an alternative to the packed waterparks in central Benidorm. Around a 15 kilometre drive out of the resort near Alicante, an altogether more tranquil experience beckons. Swim the ice cool waters under the beating Spanish sun, take a picnic or barbeque and visit the nearby cactus gardens.
For some more cultural respite, Alicante lies 22 miles to the south, a city above which towers the imposing Mount Benacantil and the sprawling Castle of Santa Barbara. Cathedrals, a baroque basilica and a treasury of museums containing art, history and archaeological remnants will leave no visitor feeling bereft of civilization. If you’re around during the summer solstice, the Bonfires of St John will light up an evening’s excursion with firework and pyrotechnic competitions.
With pristine beaches, 300 days of sunshine per year and over 4 million visitors each year, remember that the main reason Benidorm has garnered a bit of a reputation is down to its popularity. If you take advantage of its brash charms and just go with the flow, even the most sceptical traveller won’t fail to enjoy themselves.