Benidorm is decidedly Spain’s most un-Spanish destination, catering mostly to British tourists seeking sunshine on the Mediterranean coast. Benidorm spells entertainment, any which way you want it. It’s a popular destination for families, stag and hen nights, and couples all at once. If you’re easily offended, stay away from this anything-goes resort town.
When to Go
July and August are the peak season, when Benidorm is at its hottest and swarming with people. Consider May, June and September, when the weather is quite warm but fees are lower and the lines are fewer.
Before You Go
American and Canadian citizens can spend up to three months in Spain without a visa. But non-Europeans need a valid passport to enter any European country. An international driving permit is required to drive in Spain.
Pack light to avoid inter-European flights’ extra charges. Consult your airline’s website for baggage restrictions.
Non-European travellers on a budget should fly to either Paris or London and from there take one of Europe’s inexpensive flights to Alicante Airport (ALC). Popular discount airlines include Ryanair, easyJet and Spanair. Once in Alicante, several charter buses take you directly to Benidorm. Since the city is pedestrian-friendly and buses regularly go to attractions outside Benidorm, renting a car isn’t necessary.
Where to Stay
Benidorm hotels are known for all-inclusive plans rather than luxury. Still, there's swanky to be found. Hotel Villa Venecia is a five-star right on the coast, with sea-view rooms. Customer reviews praise Venecia's restaurant and decor. The three-star Sandos Monaco Hotel & Spa is known for its generous drink and meal plan, prime location between the beach and Old Town, and its spa. The four-star Hotel Deloix Aqua Center has a modern Mediterranean look and a sizeable pool. Hotel and restaurant staffs all speak English.
Where to Eat
Benidorm restaurants are hit-or-miss, especially the ones lining the beach. The best thing to do is to walk around until you find something interesting. The Spanish buffet at the Belroy Hotel is frequented by Spanish patrons, which is always a good sign. Try tapas at La Cava Aragonesa, another local favourite. And affordable fine French dining is what The Vagabond is all about.
What to Do
Benidorm’s famous skyscrapers line the city’s main attraction: the 3.1-mile-long Playa Levante beach. Just don’t expect it to be quiet.
With more than 800 bars, clubbing is Benidorm’s big draw. Cover charges are rare, and drinks aren’t expensive (roughly £3 a pint in 2010). There are also cabarets with tribute bands or karaoke. The legal drinking age in Spain is 18 years old.
You’ll find plenty of family-friendly outings, like Terra Mitica, Aqualandia, Mundomar and Terra Natura. The picturesque Algar Waterfalls are nearby.
Shopping thrives around Passeig de la Carreterra, with its bazaars and clothing boutiques bursting with inexpensive stock. Don’t bother bringing beach supplies since all convenience stores sell them.
To see Spanish architecture, take a bus or train to Alicante (about 36 miles away) or Valencia (about 65 miles away).
Nudity and Sexuality
Prostitution is legal in Spain. If you’re propositioned and not interested, a simple “no thank you” will do.
While you can’t be completely nude at the main beach, topless women are not an unusual sight. The nearest nudist beaches are Playa de Poniente and Raco Conil.
Benidorm is home to the infamous Sticky Vicky show, wherein a stripper pulls various items from her body. There are also playful stripteases and “live sex” shows. These play from 11 p.m. onwards. If that's not your cup of tea, go to a different bar. The shows only lasts 15 minutes and hop around most of the main bars.
There are strip bars as well, but these aren’t “showy” like the performances mentioned above.