With so many different countries to choose from, Spain probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think “family-friendly destination”. Well-known for being a low-cost haven for bronzed sunbathers and drunken clubgoers, Spain’s more wholesome offerings tend to get overshadowed.
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It’s not hard to escape the wild side of Spain though, and particularly in the seaside Costa Blanca region, there are ample activities the whole family can enjoy. If you don’t speak Spanish, there are a lot of great language learning apps out there to help you learn the basics, but you shouldn’t have any problems since tourism is a significant part of Spain’s economy.
Benidorm, one of the most popular resort towns in Spain’s Costa Blanca (Alicante Province), has a wide range of kid-friendly attractions and excursions. Here are 8 of the things to do in the best things to do in Benidorm and the best places to visit on a family vacation to Benidorm.
El Balcón de Mediterráneo
El Balcón de Mediterráneo, or the Mediterranean Balcony, is the perfect spot to start your vacation in Benidorm. Nestled in the heart of the Old Town and located where Benidorm’s two white-sand beaches meet, the balcony offers the perfect vantage point to take in the town’s beauty.
The Spanish government demolished the balcony in 2019 and conducted an archaeological dig into the underlying rock formations. There weren’t any significant findings, but for those interested in history, the immaculately reconstructed balcony features glass floors and vantage points to view the discovered ruins.
You can also see other Benidorm landmarks from the balcony, including Benidorm Island and Puig Campana, one of the highest mountains in the area. Puig Campana is different from most mountains you’ve probably seen because it has a noticeable chunk of rock missing near the top (more on that later).
Extending out from the balcony into the Mediterranean Sea is the Plaça del Castell, a hexagonal platform that offers a perfect photo op. Day or night, you can easily take a quick family photo to capture some of Benidorm’s beauty.
Directly across from the balcony as you head into Old Town, several locally-owned restaurants and cafés showcase Spain’s laid back culture and Mediterranean cuisine, which is full of regional produce and fresh seafood.
Not too far from the Mediterranean Balcony, the Puerto Deportivo, or sports port, has a wide variety of water sports and activities to enjoy with your family. Options include hang gliding, jet skis, boat rentals, scuba diving, and fishing.
Most of the activities depend on the weather and water conditions, but it’s still worth visiting the port even if the weather isn’t ideal. It’s located on Poniente Beach, one of Benidorm’s two vast beaches, so you can always opt to spend some time soaking up the Spanish sun or playing soccer and volleyball using the courts located on the beach.
The port is also a great place to look for small wildlife, and on any given day, crabs, shrimp, snails, fish, and sea urchins can be found scurrying around the rocks that separate the port from the beach.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are also boat trips that depart from the port and visit nearby towns like Calpe, Alicante, and Tabarca Island. The boats depart in the morning and return in the late afternoon. They’re an extraordinary opportunity to experience more of the Costa Blanca region, and they’re also budget-friendly.
After you work up an appetite at the port, there are more restaurants nearby with plenty of kid-friendly options to choose from. Poniente Beach is on the western side of Benidorm, so it’s also the perfect place to watch the sunset over the mountains.
After day turns to night, you and the family can take a short walk into Old Town to enjoy Benidorm’s artisan shops, winding cobblestone streets, and countless ice cream stands and candy stores.
A trip to Benidorm wouldn’t be complete without a boat ride to La Isla de Benidorm, or Benidorm Island. Visible from every part of Benidorm’s coastline, Benidorm Island is a nature reserve located about 2 miles off the coast.
Remember the chunk missing from the top of the Puig Campana mountain? Local legend says that the Spanish King Jaime I was riding his horse on the mountain summit when his horse reared and kicked the surface. The kick was so strong that it split the mountain and launched a broken piece of land into the sea. That broken piece of land is what we call Benidorm Island today!
To get out to the island, you can catch a boat every hour from the port. It also makes one stop on the east side of Levante Beach, Benidorm’s second beach, for people staying on that side of town. Once it departs Levante Beach, it heads straight out to the island.
The trip only takes about 20 minutes, but there is plenty to see during the ride. The boat has a glass bottom, and you can look straight down into the sea as you move. You can also sit on the top deck and take in Benidorm’s coast and skyline in its entirety. If you’re lucky, a group of dolphins may escort you out to the island!
Once you arrive, there’s a submarine you can board that takes you on a trip around the island itself. This experience takes you straight down into the sea, where you can see different species of fish in their natural habitats. If you’re lucky, you may also see some other animals, like jellyfish and starfish! Best of all, the submarine is included at no extra cost.
After disembarking the submarine, you can spend as long as you’d like on the island. There’s a restaurant with spectacular views of Benidorm, as well as a couple of hiking trails up to the highest point on the island. It’s always a good idea to pack an umbrella and old clothes if you plan to make one of these treks though. You’ll pass countless seagull nests on your way up, and they aren’t the most hospitable creatures!
After a day out at sea, a relaxing way to end the evening is by seeing a show at the Benidorm Palace. The biggest performing arts center in the area, the Benidorm Palace debuts a new show each year. Every show is packed with dancing, singing, an orchestra, and other performances that transform the experience into a true spectacle, including magic, BMX stunts, aerialists, and comics.
You can choose whether to attend just the show or include dinner with the show. The show usually starts at 10 pm (things are usually later in Spain than most other places!), so your family will probably be ready to head to bed after it ends.
The Benidorm Palace also features Spanish and international artists on tour throughout the year, so in addition to the variety show, you can also experience other cultures through music if you time it right!
Terra Natura and Aqua Natura
Terra Natura is Benidorm’s zoo and Aqua Natura is its accompanying water park. If you’re looking for a full day out, these are great options, especially in the summer! As far as zoos go, Terra Natura is one of the best out there!
Guiding visitors through each continent, Terra Natura showcases exotic animals and plants from around the world in open-air enclosures. With elephants, tigers, rhinos, buffalos, and even a black leopard, there are a lot of animals to see and learn about.
The kids can also participate in the full zoo experience, which is a free walkthrough that teaches the secrets and stories of strange animals around the world, from poisonous volcano-dwellers to the birds in the aviary. There are also different shows throughout the day that showcase the extreme abilities of different animals.
After walking around the zoo in the sun, a short walk to Aqua Natura is the perfect way to cool down and continue your exploration through the animal kingdom. You can watch the sea lion demonstrations and learn about these powerful creatures. If you’re feeling brave, you can also hop in and take a swim with them in the sea lion aquarium.
Aqua Natura is also a full-fledged waterpark with attractions, slides, and pools for people of all ages, from infants to adults!
Day Trip To Villajoyosa
A neighboring town to Benidorm, Villajoyosa is a lesser-known destination compared to other cities in the Costa Blanca, like Alicante, Calpe, and Denia. Villajoyosa is known in the area for being a historic fishing village, having a long history with chocolate, and having streets lined with multi-colored houses.
Its history with chocolate began in the late 1700s, and Villajoyosa is still producing some of the finest chocolate in Spain today. Some famous Spanish brands of chocolate, like Valor Chocolates, Clavileño Chocolates, Pérez Chocolates, and Marcos Tonda Chocolates, open their doors to visitors year-round for chocolate tours, where you can see the craftsmanship firsthand. For those with a sweet tooth, you can even try some samples, and of course, buy some chocolates to share with your friends and family when you return home.
To walk off some of the chocolates, a stroll through the winding streets of Villajoyosa will take you past a string of houses, each a different color than the next. These colored houses are a treasure in the Costa Blanca, and they’re also protected by UNESCO. Back in the old days when Villajoyosa was predominantly a fishing village, the houses were supposedly painted in different colors in order to guide the fisherman home after a long day.
Traveling to and from Villajoyosa is simple and only takes about 10 minutes on the air-conditioned Benidorm tram.
Les Fonts d’Algar
The Algar waterfalls are located a short distance from Benidorm in the mountains near a town called Callosa d’en Sarrià. There’s a daily bus trip that departs directly from Benidorm, and the bus ticket includes the price of admission to the waterfalls.
Once you’re off the bus, a short walk up the hill will take you to the entrance to the falls, where the awe-inspiring views look out over the mountains and forests of the Costa Blanca.
The trail is just under one mile, and it takes you past the riverbed, springs, water tolls, and of course, the falls themselves. You can go at your own pace to take in the views. On a hot day, you can also jump in the water! Be wary though, the water is really cold all year round!
After spending time on the trail, there are several restaurants and hotels nearby to stop for some lunch before heading back to Benidorm.
If you’re able to visit Benidorm in March, you can witness the Benidorm Fallas. This is a festival designated by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and after you experience it, you’ll know why.
Throughout the year, local artisans and business owners create huge, intricate paper mache statues, called ninots. They’re placed on the streets of Benidorm on March 15 every year, and they’re burned down on March 19 in an event called the crema.
The festival honors the patron saint San José, and combines art, music, and fireworks into a four-day event that packs the streets with local residents. It’s the perfect way to experience the local culture firsthand, which is one of the main tenets of the Amateur Traveler Manifesto!
Benidorm is the perfect destination for a family vacation, and it offers activities everybody can enjoy. From the arts to sports, nature, and excursions, Benidorm offers a peek into the Mediterranean culture so many fantasize about experiencing. The Spanish language, one of the most spoken languages in the world, and the Spanish culture reach far beyond the borders of Spain, and chances are you’ll notice more Spanish influence when you arrive back home. Visiting the Costa Blanca with your family will not only expand your personal borders, but inspire your children to do the same, all while making memories you all will treasure for a lifetime