SPAIN has always been a favourite destination for the British, whether it’s for holidays or something more permanent.
World-renowned for its almost perfect mix of warm climate, beaches, culture, gastronomy and close access to the UK, Spain has been the ‘go to’ place in the sun since the late 70s and the package holiday boom.
Some areas remain entirely traditional, with an entirely Spanish population, whereas others have become near enclaves of Brits.
Spain-Holiday, the search engine for holiday rentals in Spain, decided to find out which are the most British cities in Spain.
Although not comprehensive, (it focused only on cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants), a Top 10 was produced using information about the percentage of residents with British nationality, and the ratio of British pubs, shops and similar establishments per inhabitant.
The ranking reveals that:
- The Costa Blanca town of Benidorm is the most British city in Spain
- The Costa del Sol dominates the ranking, with 5 towns in the Top 10
- Brits prefer to settle in popular tourist destinations, staying in areas that are already well-known and avoiding inland cities
1. Benidorm, Alicante (Costa Blanca)
As arguably the most famous holiday destination in Spain, it shouldn’t surprise us that Benidorm takes the title of most British city in Spain.
“Beni” was one of the earliest holiday resort towns to exist, drawing tourists to its shore since 1925.
A lot of British families have been spending their summer holidays in Benidorm for generations! So when deciding on a place to settle down, a lot of expats stick to their familiar holiday haunts and move to sunny Benidorm.
During the summer, the British community in Benidorm easily triples in size thanks to the many tourists, but even outside the high season the city has a lively community of British expats who permanently live there.
With several British supermarkets that bring your familiar brands and favourite products to the Costa Blanca, and a good number of British restaurants that serve lovely Sunday roasts and full English breakfasts, Benidorm truly is a “home away from home”.
Benidorm’s British stats:
– Permanent residents with British nationalities: 3,389 (4.90% of the total population)
– British shops, restaurants & pubs: 43
2. Orihuela / Orihuela Costa, Alicante (Costa Blanca)
The second most British city of Spain lies just to the south of Benidorm: Orihuela, a charming town near Torrevieja.
It is divided into two parts: Orihuela Costa, the part of the town located directly by the sea (and the most popular location for Brits to settle down) and the old medieval part of Orihuela a few minutes inland.
Orihuela has always drawn plenty of expats because of its Blue Flag beaches and the nearby national parks.
This town is also well-connected with the rest of the country and Europe, thanks to two nearby international airports and train-link to Madrid.
Orihuela British stats:
– Permanent residents with British nationalities: 10,025 (12.70% of the total population)
– British shops, restaurants and pubs: 18
3. Benalmádena, Málaga (Costa del Sol)
The Costa del Sol finally makes its appearance in this ranking with Benalmádena, which closes the top 3! In summer the city is taken by storm and its beaches fill up with tourists, but in winter, Benalmádena becomes a sleepy town where expats and locals live side by side.
The town has a very international population that is divided between 3 main areas: Benalmádena Costa, known for its beaches, Benalmádena Pueblo, quiet and located on the slopes of the Malaga mountains, and Arroyo de la Miel, located in between the previous two and with plenty of entertainment for locals and tourists alike.
While people from all over Europe enjoy life in Benalmádena, Brits are one of the most prominent nationalities.
Here you will find the most British shops and bars in all the Costa del Sol, converting Benalmádena into the British centre of the Costa del Sol!
Benalmádena British stats:
– Permanent residents with British nationalities: 3,420 (4.87% of the total population)
– British shops, restaurants and pubs: 31
4. Mijas, Málaga (Costa del Sol)
For the next town in the ranking we stay on the Costa del Sol, because Mijas is the fourth most British town in Spain! While Mijas Pueblo has always attracted many visitors because of its natural beauty and traditional Spanish architecture, you will find that most British expats have settled in its coastal area, also known as Mijas Costa.
This beautiful piece of coastline has attracted many expats wanting to experience Spanish living.
Thanks to its central location on the Costa del Sol, living in Mijas makes it easy to explore the Andalusian coastline and the “pueblos blancos” located inland.
Mijas British stats:
– Permanent residents with British nationalities: 8,610 (9.93% of the total population)
– British shops, restaurants and pubs: 3
5. Torremolinos, Málaga (Costa del Sol)
The next most British town in Spain another one of our favourite holiday destinations: Torremolinos.
This lively coastal town attracts both young professionals and pensioners who want to make Spain their home. It’s well-connected with Malaga, the capital city of the province, and the southern part of Torremolinos has become a real tourist hub, with plenty of British pubs, restaurants and shops.
The northern part of town still conserves that authentic Spanish “pueblo” look and feel, so any expats living here can enjoy Spanish living and at the same time you can go down to the coast and order a pint whenever you’re feeling homesick.
Torremolinos British stats:
– Permanent residents with British nationalities: 1,353 (1.99% of the total population)
– British shops, restaurants and pubs: 28
The remaining places in Spain with a high British presence are:
6. Fuengirola (Malaga)
7. Torrevieja (Alicante)
8. Calvia (Balearics)
9. Arona (Tenerife)
10. Estepona (Malaga)
Starting from a list of all towns in Spain with more than 50,000 inhabitants, researchers extracted all British bars, restaurants and supermarkets in each city from Google Maps, and calculated the ratio of these establishments per inhabitant.
Then they looked at the residents with British nationality (data provided by INE, the Spanish National Institute of Statistics) as of the 1st of January 2021, and calculated the percentage of British residents for every city.
These scores were then normalized and a custom score out of 10 was calculated for each city.