The 1950's and 60's saw the start of tourist development along the Costa Blanca. Benidorm, long a British favorite, is Spain's largest resort. From a distance, its high-rise skyline shimmers like a mirage, announcing an oasis where everything is geared to entertainment.
Some 4 million visitors each year are testament to the resorts amazing organization and facilities here. With more restaurants, clubs, shops, pubs and bars than you could fit in a lifetime the facts are plain to see; Benidorm really does offer something for everyone.
Of course, this thriving resort would never have developed the way it did if it weren't for its beautiful setting with two wonderful sandy bays separated by a rocky promontory that offers great views in each direction to Poniente and Levante beaches. A towering offshore fountain adds to the 'big resort' spectacle.
Old Benidorm meanwhile lives on in the narrow streets near the castle, where English-owned pubs and bars have long been part of the scenery. But for a taste of Benidorm at its most cutting edge head for the nightclubs, discos, pubs and cafes spreading out to the east or the Levante beach, not forgetting the major attractions focused in the Rincon de Loix area.
Once in Benidorm, you should visit the mysterious rock looming offshore, popularly known as Peacock Island because of the birds there. The 10-minute boat ride from the port gives you splendid views of Benidorm's skyline. The waters around the island are a marine reserve, and you can journey beneath the waves in the Aquascope for a mesmerizing look at the schools of fish and colourful underwater life. Afterwards, visit the bar or the peacock aviary or hike the island trails. Boats return to Benidorm roughly every hour.
For the best views of the coastline, in summer you can take a boat ride from Benidorm to Calpe. There's time to wander around the port beneath the majestic Peñon de Ifach before your return journey.
If you enjoy water sports, you've come to the right place. During high season the Cable Ski operates at the Rincón de Loix. And there are many opportunities to hire boats, jet-ski's, or have a diving course. Benidorm offers plenty of choice for mini golf fans as well. The Old Lead Soldiers Museum - complete with 2,000 figures - is also worth a look.
Benidorm offers two main choices of beaches: the easterly Playa de Levante (Sunrise Beach) which can get very crowded in high season and is backed by a broad promenade, bars, cafes and other eateries, and the longer Playa de Poniente (Sunset Beach). The latter is a touch quieter, has no rocks and has the added bonus of great sunsets. Mal Pas is a smaller beach beneath the port and the castle cliffs.
Other quiet sandy beaches include La Cala and some surroundings.
Your own hotel is often a good starting point at night, many offering high quality live entertainment from cabaret to jazz, rock and dance.
Make for the Levante side if you like it lively, where countless disco pubs and cabaret bars are clustered and if you're from the north or the south you'll soon feel at home with the relaxed northern club circuit humor. Look no further for a holiday if you like a good sing along or are brave enough for karaoke!
The Square, behind hotel Marina, is where you'll find buzzing disco pubs aimed at a younger, more international set.
When it comes to the Old Town take your pick from countless small pubs in the C/Sant Vicent and other narrow streets nearby.
To see Benidorm at its biggest and brashest, head for Benidorm Palace where a glittering 3 hour, Las Vegas-style show awaits your delectation. Spanish dancers and flamenco, jugglers and magicians are just some of what's in store, along with a live dance band/orchestra to fill in the gaps between acts. Show admission includes the first drink and you may also have dinner there if you wish.
The Costa Blanca Casino is one of the largest casinos in Spain, and you'll find it on the road between Benidorm and Villajoyosa. There's also a restaurant and bar. Dress is smart casual. There's an admission charge, and you'll need your passport. Open 8pm-3am.
The Medieval Tournament on the outskirts of Benidorm offers feasting and merrymaking medieval-style for all ages. Armoured knights on horseback joust and duel before the king and queen. Sing along with court jesters, or descend into the Pit of Terror. There's a disco following the entertainment.