5 ways to fall in love with Benidorm, beyond the beach
enidorm: hedonistic, carefree and open to all. The city of beach-side skyscrapers never goes out of style, perhaps because it was never actually in style. In fact, Benidorm is Spain’s third most-visited destination, after Madrid and Barcelona. Over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, five-scoop ice creams, dreamy diving sites, sandals in winter and a mouth-watering gastronomic scene are a few of the (expected and unexpected) reasons why you are sure to enjoy every hour spent under the Mediterranean sun.
Steaming plates of paella go by in a seemingly endless parade. But there’s more to Benidorm cuisine than Spain’s national dish. One of the city’s gastro secrets are the restaurants La Señoria and Mal Pas, where legendary chef Trini Mas’ flavoursome rice soup steals the spotlight from the more touristy places. A second foodie foray takes you down Tapas Alley, replete with bars serving the classic Spanish finger food washed down with glasses of Rioja wine. Cava Aragonesa is one of the best in the area. Meanwhile, gastronomes will be in heaven at Vinomio, with its extensive list of regional wines and craft cheese boards.
Despite being a massive tourist hub, Benidorm is surprisingly easy to get around on foot or by bike—which can be rented almost anywhere. The timeworn cobbled streets of the Old Town are lined with white walls and spread out under the blue dome of the 18th-century St. James Church. The city stretches inland from the Mediterranean to the mountains which give it its enviable microclimate. The views from León Dormido (sleeping lion) mountain, the Benidorm Cross or Sierra Helada National Park are among the most mesmerising on the Costa Blanca. And what better way to round off a relaxing day than with an authentic Thai massage amid the bamboo of the exclusive Thai Spa of the Asia Gardens hotel?
The towering silhouettes of the Intempo (192m), Bali (186m) and Lugano Tower (158m) shape the best-known skyline on the Mediterranean. Benidorm has the third largest concentration of high-rise buildings in Europe, behind London and Milan. A pageant of soaring real estate, precise and calculated, that has given the city an architectural personality all its own. Seeing Benidorm from up high, on a tour of the city’s most emblematic buildings, reveals why its urban development model features on French and Japanese degree courses.
In Benidorm, an evening beginning in a chill-out lounge besides the beach can easily turn into an unforgettable night on one of the city´s breathtaking rooftops. The endless nightlife of the city tastes better with a delicious cocktail on one of their rooftop terraces. From the fifth floor terrace of the Gastrohotel RH Canfali you will be seduced by the impressive views overlooking the Mediterranean coastline while relaxing in its jacuzzi or having a gastronomic experience at the D-vora Gastrobar.
Another must-do of Benidorm’s nightlife awaits on the 21st floor of the Madeira Hotel where chef Kiko Lázaro amazes his clients with the original culinary offering of the Belvedere restaurant. One floor below, at #Planta20 Lounge & Bar exotic cocktails blend into the panoramic skyline.
The water temperature (between 18 and 20º C) means you can dive pretty much all year round in Benidorm. Underwater jaunts range from the iconic Benidorm Island, with walls of coral 25m deep, to Mediana Island, also known as Octopus Island because of the large number of cephalopods living on the seabed. The Elephant Cave and Dwarves’ Cave are other magnificent sites where everyone from underwater novices to experienced divers can enjoy an adventure among meadows of sea grass and a host of marine species.
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