My most recent trip took me on a (budget-ish) holiday to the sunny south-east of Spain. At the time of booking this holiday getting some serious Vitamin D was the ultimate goal. Four of us went and to get the best price we booked a flight-hotel package for 4 days/3nights at about €300 each.
We flew out from Dublin at 6:30am with Ryanair. Ryanair are usually a nightmare to fly with and have just recently taken away their free 10kg cabin bag. This didn’t affect us as we had booked before the change was implemented but it certainly makes future travel more inconvenient.
We flew home with Aer Lingus, who have a much better reputation and who also kept us waiting for an hour before putting us on a filthy plane.
We stayed in NOW Benidorm on Avenida Bruselas. It’s a 5 minute walk from the beach and about 30 from Old Benidorm.
The hotel is a 3 star self-catering complex. We were on the fifth of ten floors and had a pretty good view of the city. The pool, though small, was a great asset and was very rarely busy compared to all the other party complexes around. The staff are so friendly and for the most part very helpful.
You have to pay a €150 deposit per room (which I found out via Tripadvisor) but you can just put down your card if you don’t want to be taking out cash. You also have to pay to get the towels and sheets replaced. The fee is €1 but for the few days we were there, I didn’t bother. They have a 24 hour reception as well and will hold onto your keys while you’re out if you want.
The area has a lot of hotels all of which are a short term home to people looking for a boozy sun holiday and not much else. If you’re looking to get a good rest this is probably not the area for you. Case in point on our last day there we were awoken at 7am with water pouring through the ceiling because some idiots left a tap running upstairs!
Food & Drink
On our first night we were eager to try some local food. Benidorm is unfortunately over-run with places shoving English breakfasts and fish and chips down your throat so to get some decent (Spanish) food you have to go to the Old Town.
The receptionist recommended we head to a tapas place called La Cava Aragonesa. Upon arrival we realised that eating there was going to be a bit of a challenge. The place is like an alley or an open market. To the left there is the counter with the tapas. To the right, the tables. Unfortunately it is also possible for people to sit at the counter which meant getting to the food was near impossible. After ordering a drink we realised the place wasn’t for us and moved on. We settled for the place next door, El Rincon del Ribera, which actually had a great selection of tapas at rather good prices. Between us we had all the classics; albondigas, tortilla and croquettes.
Breakfast/Lunch on our second day was in SOL Beach Bar. We stopped off during Happy Hour, had gorgeous cocktails and some not-so-Spanish food. The staff were fantastic and the drinks went down a treat.
We dined in One Bar twice, a place with both traditional Spanish food and other European bits. The paella was nice but I feel I could have found better. They offer tapas style entree platters which were perfect for a light lunch.
Triangle Karaoke Bar was just down the road from us and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to watch people embarrass themselves. The drinks were cheap enough and certainly packed a punch. We were on the two cocktail pitchers for €17 and the bar staff were not shy when pouring the alcohol (probably why I had a two day hangover).
Finally we checked out Royal Waffle for the churros and chocolate experience and were not disappointed. This was top of my list when coming to Spain and though I was rather sick I managed to enjoy them nonetheless.
What We Did
18 Hole Mini-Golf – on Avenida del Mediterráneo – €5pp
The four of us had so much fun there. I mean, crying with laughter. The course was relatively easy but had some very tricky holes, and you go away with your scorecard as a little souvenir.
On the other hand, the course is very small so if it’s busy you could be waiting a while for the next hole.
Lockdown Escape Room – Calle Ibiza – €17 pp (price for 4 people)
Though more expensive than the escape rooms at home this activity was a nice one to take us out of the heat. We did The Orphanage escape room. 75 minutes and not as creepy as it seems.
Sunbathing – Playa de Levante – Free/ €10 for a sun bed & umbrella
The beach is gorgeous and not too crowded. The option to rent a sun bed or an umbrella (at €5 a pop) is easily available but didn’t seem too popular with tourists.
Karaoke at Triangle – Calle de Berlín – Free
All the classic songs, good potent drinks and a crowd of over 60s. The bar is great fun if you’re already in a group but maybe not the place if you’re travelling solo and looking to find some young like-minded people!
Shopping – Avenida del Mediterráneo
If you want cheap and tacky souvenirs here’s the best place to find them. Gorgeous fans for €3, a rip off Gucci pouch for €6 and as many penis-shaped lighters as you could ever want.
- The weather is a dream. A little too hot but absolutely unbelievable for Autumn.
- The food and drink is cheap enough and you have a good selection of places to go.
- Life is put on hold when you’re in the sun. I forgot about the million and one things I had to do when I got home.
- There are so many beautiful dogs walking along the beachfront. I can’t stress how much better this made the holiday.
- You’re so busy looking at everything around you you drop social media. I posted more pictures online of a day trip to an Irish castle than of my four day holiday.
- The locals are friendly and also very patient when you (try to) use the language.
- I didn’t get sun-burnt despite spending most of the time outside.
- Spanish Subway tastes just as good as Irish Subway!
- There is a massive English community living in Benidorm. Along the beach there is nothing but restaurants selling English breakfasts and fake tapas. I feel this massively dilutes the culture.
- I don’t know why but Benidorm leases cheap mobility scooters and everyone and their granny is riding around on them.
- Benidorm is a typical lads lads lads holiday destination so you get the odd loud, leering fellas around the place.
- Because it’s such a big tourist destination there aren’t many opportunities to practice the language.
- Spanish Subway is outrageously expensive.