When you think of Benidorm, what pictures do you conjur up? Is it a resort full of stag and hen parties or is it the TV program where Jonny Vegas sits around the pool whilst Madge scoots around on her mobility scooter? Well, to be honest your not wrong on both counts, but there is so much more to this area than the bright lights, bars, skyscrappers and beaches of Benidorm.
When I tell people I’m staying near Benidorm they laugh and say that’s a bit of a come-down for you isn’t it; but we have a friend who lives on a gated community just above the picturesque village of Polop with views over Calpe, Altea and Benidorm and so rather than just sitting by the pool every day we headed out and about to explore.
Head out of Benidorm and you will find some fantastic and stunning places. We drove to El Castell de Guadalest, known usually as Guadalest, which is a small town situated in the mountains about 25km from Benidorm. It certainly is situated in one of the most spectacular locations, set high up on a pinnacle and carved out of a mountain, it lives up to its nickname of the ‘Eagles Nest’.
There are a number of car parks in the town that cost around €2 for a few hours, grab a coffee or drink in one of the cafe’s or stroll around the shops where you can pick up some gifts or souvenirs. Head up to the castle village, which is reached through a tunnel, once up there you can visit the little church, museums, cafes and shops, there is even a dungeon to explore and some stunning views over the valley below and the reservoir, you can even take a tour around the inside of the castle and the ramparts for just a few euros, you will need some sturdy footwear even though we saw a few struggle up there in flipflops and be prepared for some steep inclines.
For days when it just gets too hot then head to the Fonts del Algar Waterfalls for some fresh air and a dip in a cool pool. Situated just 15km from Benidorm, its a real natural beauty-spot which attracts visitors all over the summer from both Spain and overseas. The entrance is €4 for adults and €2 for children. There is a steep climb up wooden steps to the falls so make sure you have good shoes on, you can buy some rubber soled swimming shoes in most of the Chinese shops around Benidorm for just a few euros and don’t forget your swimwear, towel, suncream and a maybe a picnic although there are a number of restaurants around.
Whilst there are plenty of shady areas to relax, its far more fun jumping in and out of the cold running water of the falls, if your feeling brave, there are places to dive in, be warned it will take your breath away, but what better way can you think of cooling down on a hot day!
Along the coast a bit further and heading towards Calpe is the small modern resort of Albir, with only a few buildings being over 5 storeys high, tree lined avenues with shops and restaurants as well as a lovely beach, you will be glad that you visited. We had lunch in an elegant coffee shop which serves speciality coffees including the iced one that the waiter recommended I try before we wandered along browsing at the shops including a quick visit to Jakata, a beachfront boutique shop. We were then introduced to the most amazing bar/restaurant, Pane E Amore, which is tucked away up the hill with amazing views over the beach, even some of the local residents haven’t found this little gem, so shhhh, I’m trusting you to keep my secret!
This is my kind of place, with a shabby chic look and chilled Ibiza vibe, its an inviting place to spend a few hours through the day or going into the evening. I loved the pallet sofas and beds, so much that I’m getting my fiancé to make some for home. It’s the perfect place to share a bottle of wine with friends or maybe try one of their cocktails, occasionally they have live music – the food looked delicious too, we could have spend all day there and probably will when we go back!
Altea is the next town with its charming ambience, surrounded by mountains and situated right by the sea, the town has certainly retained its unique spanish charm despite an increase in tourism and offers a wide variety of restaurants and artists workshops. Head to the blue domed church of the Virgin de Consuelo in the old town amid winding cobbled lanes and you will find a delightful little square, perfect for tapas during the day when you want to get away from the heat. Down at the seaside there is a new promade which stretches from the town to the port, lined with bars and restaurants where we had lunch, there is a little maintenance work going on here at the moment.
Moraira is a picturesque coastal town which has grown from a small fishing village into an attractive holiday resort that seems to attract both European and Spanish, the surrounding region is quiet and relaxing with beautiful scenery, mountains and lots of small villages to explore. We spent a few hours on the Blue Flagged beach which is lovely and sandy and is safe for families before heading to the 18th century castle which is right by the shore and the marina beyond, head up to the lookout tower near the Cap d’Or for amazing views of the coastline.
Don’t get me wrong we did head into Benidorm a couple of times. The big Benidorm market is on twice a week, where we bought a number of goodies and presents for back home. We then treated ourselves to a full english breakfast and mug of tea before heading back to the car where we stumbled across the filming of Series 9 of the TV series Benidorm. We were lucky enough to have a quick photo with Jonny Vegas who was so lovely and charming and spent a good 15 minutes talking to us.
In the evening we headed back again and this time to the Old Town with its white washed houses, blue domed churches an maze of cobbled streets lined with bars, boutiques and shops to explore. We headed to Tapas Alley in the heart of the old Town for something a little more spanish where we tried some of the local delicacies all washed down with a glass of wine in a lively atmosphere, we caught the end of the Drag Show at Queens, which has a great roof terrace which is becoming the place to be in the daytime, we then headed back to Morgans Tavern (which is transformed into Neptunes Bar for the TV series) for a few last drinks and bit of dancing to one of the tribute bands that play the circuit.
So all in all with its great weather, a short flying time, a variety of accommodation, reasonable prices its a great escape for a few days or even a couple of weeks, although I’m not sure I could do at the height of summer.
Where to stay
Looking for a Private Villa for 2 or a family then we can help.
7 nights in October including flights From £310 pp
We love the Villa Venecia Hotel Boutique Hotel which is set in the Old Town of Benidorm with only 25 rooms and each one with a seaview
5 nights in October in a Seaview room on B&B including flights and private car transfers From £850 per person
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