Benidorm has long been associated with boozy stag and hen parties. If that's what you are looking for, then it does tick every box. It has loads of great bars and clubs, cheap drinks, cocktails, entertainment, and a pretty relaxed attitude.
However, there is so much more to it than that. It really does have something for everyone.
Levante Beach is gorgeous. The sand is immaculate (it's cleaned every night) and the sea is lovely. Very gentle, with very little current, it is ideal for swimming. You can walk out quite a long way too if you're not big on swimming but want to go in the sea. Be careful though, after a while the sea bed does get rather rocky!
Benidorm Old TownBenidorm Old Town is perfect for anyone who wants a bit more of the real Spain, with cobbled streets and authentic tapas bars every other door, it's a great place to relax and watch the world go by.
Water parksThere are numerous water parks for the kids and adults alike to enjoy. The most popular is Aqualandia. They aren't really my thing so I can't comment on how good they are though.
There are also some amazing days out to be had.
Terra Mitica, Benidorm's theme park is Alton Towers with sun! From white knuckle rides, to rides for toddlers, it has everything you could ask for.
Mundomar is like Benidorm's answer to Sea World with added extras and it is fantastic. You will see birds, meerkats, and monkeys to name a few. Then venture on to the sea area and see penguins, sea lions, seals, and of course the main attractions - the dolphins. There are sea lion shows, parrot shows and the most amazing dolphin show I've ever seen! You can get pictures taken with these amazing creatures too.
Terra Natura is Benidorm's zoo. Previous to going, I had read a few bad reports and I was a little nervous about going. I needn't have worried. The animals are all well cared for, with lots of space to roam around and they all look well fed. It is an amazing experience. The park is broken up into sections, each representing a specific continent. You will see pumas, lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys, and rhinos to name a few. The monkeys are obviously used to people and two of them even posed for our photos!
Night life - The Square
Benidorm's night life is brilliant. Visit The Square for a fun filled night. As the name suggests, The Square is made up of four streets, which interconnect to form a square. They are filled with bars, clubs and places to eat. Try Morgan's Tavern for some brilliant tribute acts, and Hippodrome and Beach Comber for the best dance tracks to take you through to 8am! If you really miss home and want a traditional English experience (why?!) The Triangle Bar has karaoke and British beers on offer, and it's a very friendly place. And of course, you can't visit Benidorm without seeing Sticky Vicky!
Benidorm had some lovely hotels, and of course some not so lovely. As with anywhere, you get what you pay for. If you want 5* luxury, book that and pay the price. It's no good booking a 2* B&B then moaning it's not a 5* luxury complex! I have stayed in a fair few hotels here, varying from all inclusive to half board to self catering and I have enjoyed them all.
The Magic Aqua Rock Gardens (pictured) is a lovely hotel with nice food and a huge pool with plenty of loungers. The all inclusive there covered everything except bottled water and it had a 24 hour bar and snack bar! I have never been to any other hotel which had all inclusive 24 hours a day. It had a full gym for guests use. It's part of a chain of hotels and you are welcome to use the facilities and the all inclusive benefits at any of their hotels. The only downside is the rooms don't have balconies. They decided to have larger rooms instead. Personally I would have rather had a smaller room with a balcony. I really missed having one! Also it's at the top of a very steep hill (the locals call it cardiac hill!). While this wasn't a big deal for me, people with trouble walking would struggle.
Last year, I stayed in the Levante Beach Apartments for 10 days. We planned going self catering but when we went to book, we were told it would only be £30 extra each to go all inclusive. That's £3 a day! Naturally we jumped at the chance. The real beauty of this hotel is that for all we were all inclusive, we still had a self catering apartment rather than a standard room. The food was amazing, with so much choice from salad and cold seafood to fish, various meats, pizza, pasta, vegetables, chips and potatoes. Each night there was at least one chicken dish, one fish dish, one red meat dish, one pasta dish, 2 potato choices, loads of vegetables and more salad than I have ever seen and a massive amount of desserts too! Breakfast (which we missed most days) was served 7am-10am, lunch was 12pm until 1.30pm and dinner was 7pm until 9.30pm plus snacks where available in between! All the staff were lovely and bent over backwards to accommodate everyone. If I had to be picky and find a fault with this hotel, I would have to say the night time entertainment was terrible. It was that bad we actually found it funny. This isn't limited to this hotel though. I always find in all inclusive hotels, the entertainment isn't great. After all they don't need people in the bar to make money, so they don't really care if you stay in there or not.
Benidorm doesn't really have an off season, although there is more going on April-September then over the Christmas and New Year period than other times of the year. Go and try it, you might just fall in love with it!
Have you been to Benidorm? Did you love it?
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Photos courtesy of Thomson Holidays, Terra Mitica, Terra Natura, Mundomar and me!