Old Town Benidorm, Spanish Costa Blanca

Gary Manners on 30 October 2015
A visit to Benidorm needn't lack contact with authentic Spanish culture. The Old Town in particular is an evocative maze of cobbled streets and inviting establishments to drink and shop in. With its blue-domed church and white houses, it manages to retain its character amongst the forest of tower blocks to the east and west. Do yourself a favour and time your visit to coincide with one of the more than 50 fiestas that occur in Benidorm every year.

If you like Levante but would prefer something quieter, then Poniente is for you. There are no beach bars and fewer hotels this side but plenty of provision is made for visitors including the opportunity to hire wind surfing boards. Life guards are on duty each day and there are ramps for the disabled. Again, the sand is spotlessly clean each morning thanks to the hard working hoover team. Poniente is also a great location to watch the sunset.

Malpas Beach is different again. Only a few hundred metres long it is sheltered and popular with volleyballs and other sportsmen and women. Don’t bring your dog though, they’re not welcome here or on any Benidorm beach. It's easy to feel a connection with something ancient and artistic in the winding streets of the Old Town. The white stone balcony at the historical centre of Benidorm affords lucky sightseers extensive views. It's also a popular spot with newlyweds for photo shoots.

The church of San Jaime looks down on all those seeking company or solace. You might also notice a plaque which commemorates the rescue of a small wooden figurehead from the ashes of ship ordered to be burnt after all the crew had perished of an unknown cause.

If you prefer the company of the living and breathing, albeit underwater, then the Benidorm Aquarium on Calle Horno will provide you with hours of entertainment. The tanks include inhabitants of the Med, more tropical specimens, sharks, turtles and even eels. (Eek!)

Tapas Alley is where you want to be. Small dishes of seafood, meat and vegetable dishes are consumed with great gusto and washed down with gallons of wine and beer along the short covered street of Santo Domingo. It can be very busy so be prepared to get amongst the throng. Ordering is easy even if your Spanish is limited – just point to what you like the look of and say 'gracias' repeatedly. We tried the "Four Seasons" which was great value and pulled in a Show on Saturday night all for 15 Euros! Amazing value!