When Commodore Norrington dismisses Captain Jack Sparrow as “you are without doubt the worst pirate I have ever heard of”, Sparrow retorts “Ah, but you have heard of me.” And the same can be said of Benidorm. Love it or hate it, there are few Brits who haven’t heard of it, and for a town of only 70,000 residents in a surface area of just 14 square miles, that’s pretty impressive.
Spain’s third busiest resort attracting five million visitors annually, Benidorm is about as unpretentious as it’s possible to get and for every brick bat you throw at it, Benidorm will catch a pearl. Try insulting it by describing it as ‘one big theme park’ and it will smile and agree – a town where you can never get bored, a pleasure dome for holiday makers it will grin back at you. Roll your eyes at its mini Manhattan Benidorm skyline and it will tell you that its towering skyscrapers encourage an uplifting and optimistic view of life and then proudly point out its title of having the tallest building in Spain and the tallest hotel in Europe.
Growing up around the fishing village whose roots date back to 1355, the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town where hardware, souvenir and shoe shops sit cheek by jowl with the tables and chairs of tapas bars and crowded restaurants is where you’ll find Benidorm’s heart. When the heat of the day has cooled enough for locals to venture into the streets and mingle with the thousands of tourists, life peaks until the early hours.
Leave the old town and head along to La Calle Mallorca and you’ll find yourself transported to a Britain where heat has replaced rain, where bars pump out rock music and Karaoke, where the drinks flow and the cash registers and hotels ring up the takings that make Benidorm one of Spain’s top three tourism income generators.
And outside of these two extremes is a seaside holiday resort with 12.5 kilometres of white sand fringed coastline, backed by two Sierras and Piug Campana mountain which between them keep the cold winds out in winter and maintain Benidorm several degrees hotter than the rest of the Costa Blanca region – in itself a cast iron guarantee of getting year round sunseekers.
Buzz Trips Opinion
Like many people, my perceptions of Benidorm before I visited were that it represented the very worst of Brit abroad culture, an opinion mainly taken from the UK sitcom which parodies all-inclusive Spanish package holidays. In some ways Benidorm didn’t disappoint expectations but in others it threw me a curve ball.
Benidorm is a purpose built tourist resort and makes no pretension to be anything else. The reason many of its five million visitors return year after year is because Benidorm delivers precisely what they’re looking for and it does it with a sense of pride. But don’t assume your ears will be filled with British voices, when I was there the majority of visitors were Spanish with a generous helping of French, Italian and Eastern European. Spend your time in La Calle Mallorca and you’ll be falling over All Day British Breakfast signs, but stay around the old town and you’ll find cuisine dominated by Basque tapas bars and Asturian and Andalucian restaurants.