Your guide to the Costa Blanca
The Costa Blanca may be well travelled, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have lots of new things to offer. Thanks to its clement weather and proximity to the rest of Europe, few places on the continent can boast the same number of visitors as the ‘White Coast’. With more than 120 miles of beautiful Mediterranean seafront, this part of south eastern Spain is made for tourists.
Some people’s first thoughts about the Costa Blanca might conjure up the high-rise hotels of Benidorm, but the area is far more versatile than its reputation suggests, and even the most developed areas pack plenty of charm. From historic town centres in places such as Jávea and Altea, to traditional fishing villages like Denia, as well as the bright lights of Alicante, the Costa Blanca offers much to first-time visitors and to those who’ve made the trip before.
Few towns are as tailored to tourists as Benidorm. With a skyline dominated by countless high-rise hotels, Benidorm is a town built for visitors. With a vibrant atmosphere, beautiful sunsets, and all the amenities you need, you are never short of things to do.
Sand and sea are in abundant supply as well, with both Poniente Beach and Levante Beach providing space to accommodate all the sun seekers who make the trip. Benidorm also has the best part of a thousand bars and restaurants, so prepare to be spoilt for choice! If you’re travelling with kids, then take advantage of a trip to one of the many funfairs on offer. Few places offer more than Benidorm for those looking to have fun in the sunshine.
With an unbeatable blend of beaches, culture, history and food, Alicante is the Jewel of the Costa Blanca. Alicante is the proud owner of one of the best beaches not the Costa Blanca, but in Spain itself – Playa del Postiguet. Easily among the finest city beaches on the Med, Postiguet treats you to calm, warm waters and there are various amenities close by ideal for a family day by the beach. The nearby Explanada de España sets the scene for a leisurely stroll when you’ve done enough relaxing.
If you fancy venturing past the beach, there is no end to the things to do in Alicante. Take a stroll through the 200,000 trees found in the Palm Tree Gardens of Elche. Head north and visit the historic town of Alcoy and experience the Moorish architecture on display. For a different view of the area, scale Alicante’s Mount Benacantil and visit Castillo de Santa Bárbara. Learn about the region’s fascinating history and take in the majestic 360 degree views out over the city, harbour and seas below.
Another major tourist hub, a trip to Torrevieja guarantees an enjoyable holiday, and as popular with expats as it is with tourists, Torrevieja is highly worthy of consideration. Several of the beaches here have been awarded Blue Flag status and their sands and water are as pleasant as anywhere on the coast. Torrevieja has a range of restaurants and nightclubs, as well as a lovely marina and waterfront. The main landmarks in the town are the two large salt lakes that border the town to the north and the east.
Providing a genuine slice of Costa Blancan life, nearby Altea has as much to offer tourists as Benidorm and Torrevieja. With a modern portion of the town acting as the resort/hotel hub, its Altea’s picturesque old town that charms its visitors. The white-washed hilltop buildings reward you with a delightful vista and an excellent place to watch the sunset. The local area also has five miles of pristine beaches.
A half hour drive north of Altea takes you to the picturesque village of El Castell de Guadalest. A popular place for day-trippers, this scenic town is perched atop a hill and the views around the surrounding interior landscape are as striking as the hilltop architecture itself.
Found at the Costa Blanca’s eastern tip, Xàbia – or Jávea as it is also known – gifts holidaymakers with a slower pace of life than other major resort towns and has lots to attract visitors. With two beautiful stand-out beaches – La Grava and Arenal Bay – this is a super spot for a family trip since the waters in each beach are warm and shallow, making them a place where the kids can splash around in safety.
Of all the Costa Blanca’s major towns, Denia is the one that gets the balance just right, with the town’s authentic Spanish flavours allowing you to savour a taste of the real Costa Blanca. The charming old town is crowned by a castle dating back several centuries. and the cobbled lanes contrast pleasingly with the lively cosmopolitan harbour below.
There are various facilities at the town’s Blue Flag beaches for water sports or for just relaxing in the sun, and there are more than enough cafes and restaurants where you can nibble a few tapas. Combining the best of Costa Blanca’s renowned tourism with a small-town vibe, Denia is a fine place to spend your time.
Things to do with kids
The Costa Blanca is a firm favourite with family holiday makers, with a wealth of activities tailored to ensure both kids and adults have nothing but fun in the sun. The area’s rich history and natural beauty are a hit with both young and old. This natural beauty isn’t just limited to the seaside either, with many gems found further inland, too. Here are some of the top family activities in the Costa Blanca.
1. Terra Mítica Theme Park, Benidorm
One of Benidorm’s family-friendly amusement parks, Terra Mítica is themed after ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, and is perfect for children of any age. Split over five areas, there are themed rides and other attractions, including daily shows, and other activities for the whole family.
2. Aqualandia, Benidorm
Few things are as synonymous with the Costa Blanca as waterparks. The region has a few to choose from, but the most popular is Aqualandia. Situated to the east of Benidorm in beautifully landscaped grounds, the park is an easy trip for those with young children. With lots of rides and pools for the little ones to get wet and have fun, there are also more tranquil areas for the grownups to sunbathe.
3. Boat trip to Tabarca Island
Tabarca is a small speck of an island approximately 12.5 miles from the Costa Blanca and is well worth discovering. Easily reachable from Alicante, Tabarca makes for an entertaining day out for the family away from the crowds on the mainland. The crystal-clear waters around the island are great for snorkelling, there’s a museum to explore, and the array of gift shops on the islands means that you can come away with a little memento of your visit. The children will also love to hear the stories about the island’s history as a place where pirates smuggled their treasure!
4. Algar waterfalls
One of the area’s finest natural jewels, the Algar waterfalls make for a fabulous family day out. Found 10 miles inland, they are a series of magical waterfalls and natural pools that are ideal for a dip. The surrounding area offers a pleasant place to walk with numerous beauty spots to cherish.
By Arianne Fabrice, a travel journalist who specialises in the popular resort destinations in and around Europe. Having worked for some of Paris’ premium travel mags, she’s recently moved into English-language publications.