IT’S best known for its stag parties and excessive boozing – not to mention its own TV programme.
But there is a lot more going on in Benidorm than most people realise.
Spain’ biggest tourist resort – which receives between 10 to 15 million tourists a year – is surprisingly popular with Spanish visitors and has a distinctly middle-class feel in many parts.
The giant skyscraper resort, which is considered the ‘birthplace of package tourism’, was first launched as a holiday destination in 1925, but didn’t become popular until the 1950s and 1960s.
While in the 1980s and 90s, it garnered a reputation as being the preferred destination of British and German lager louts, it has massively cleaned up its act today.
Best known for its excellent beaches, it has a permanent population of 71,000 people, more than Ronda or Cuenca, and was the first place in Spain where women could wear a bikini.
Around 30 buildings reach 100 metres in height, while the Intempo building truly scrapes the sky at 187 m.
The fifth most visited place in Spain (after Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Palma), its first nightclub, Penelope opened in 1968, while in 1970, CAP 3000 opened with a concert from Led Zeppelin.
Today, the city boasts of being one of the most sustainable places in Spain.
It has many green spaces (see photo) and the resort has recently kick-started a ‘green initiative’ to improve the environment.
More than 200 trees were planted earlier this year to help with offsetting carbon dioxide absorption.
Town hall officials currently have other plans underway to improve cleanliness and the environment, including installing new underground bins and energy-efficient lighting.
As the resort makes efforts to showcase how important the environment is to its tourism, a new side of Benidorm is being uncovered that moves away from its stereotypical elements.
Here the Olive Press offers half a dozen interesting sites worth seeking out on a visit to Benidorm:
Adding to the blossoming environmental side of Benidorm, this man-made park offers an oasis from the fast-paced buzz of the resort.
Its large walkway is lined with trees that give way to gardens and two auditoriums that host city events.
Balcony over the Mediterranean
This lookout point with views over both Benidorm and the Med is one of its most popular landmarks. Although most people have no idea of its important historical significance, between the 14th and 17th centuries, a castle stood on the headland to protect the city from pirates. However, when the French took over the castle in the 19th century, the English navy destroyed it. Now, only leftover stone from the castle is visible on the balcony along with a small monument with cannons as a nod to its history.
The church of San Jaime y Santa Ana
Located on the top of Benidorm’s old town, this 18th-century church is dedicated to Benidorm’s patron saint. Inside there is a statue of the Virgen del Sufragio and the saint’s chapel.
Unlike the rest of the city which boasts skyscrapers, the courtyard around the church speaks to the city’s past architecture.
The Serra Gelada Natural Park
There are many ways to connect with nature during your time in Benidorm, and this natural park is an ideal option for those looking to hike or catch scenic views.
On the trail, visitors can see the La Escaleta watchtower ruins and get a great view of the sea from the La Cruz lookout.
This portion of the sea has a diverse marine environment, making it a great place to snorkel or scuba dive.
The Terra Mítica Amusement Park
For thrill-seekers, this amusement park has a range of roller coasters and water rides.
It is only open during the summer season but offers activities that people of all ages can enjoy. Ticket prices and hours can be found here: https://www.terramiticapark.com/
Maritime Cultural Centre
While art might not initially be on your mind in Benidorm, there is some art on offer at the cultural centre, which hosts art exhibits and workshops throughout the year.
Its large glass windows and location in the port make it an ideal place to learn about local culture while taking a break from the heat. Entrance is free, so it is a great place to stop by anytime.