Costa Blanca is famous for the ‘Brits Abroad’ culture, and it’s understandable why it attracts such crowds throughout the summer months. Guaranteed weather, world-class beaches, tons of family facilities and bumpin’ nightlife is a recipe in popularity. Why not experience a different side of Costa Blanca with a villa holiday? Behind the crowds on the tourist beaches lie incredible mountains, hidden coves, vineyards and ancient villages that have yet to be discovered. You’ll also find some seriously swanky eateries and luscious spa experiences if you’re all about kicking back in luxury .
Here’s some handy tips for the best eats, things to do with groups, family activities and the must-sees for Costa Blanca. You might need two weeks’ holiday after all….
If you crave the relaxed simplicity of a sun, sea and sand holiday then the Costa Blanca is a dream destination. Mile upon mile of Blue-Flag beaches stretch along an azure sea, and the region’s resorts are pros at providing everything you and the family might need. There is entertainment galore, exhilarating theme parks, pumping nightlife and fabulous food (this is the home of paella, after all), with a plethora of other activities on land and sea. Peel back the glistening, tourist-friendly veneer of the coastal resorts and you will find a much more traditional side to the Costa Blanca too. Little stone villages shelter in olive and citrus-strewn valleys, flanked by scenic rivers and waterfalls. Elsewhere, the sophisticated foodie cities of Alicante and Valencia await.
When to visit:
The hot summer months are the height of the tourist season in Costa Blanca and this is when everything is in full swing. Yet other times of the year offer great holiday opportunities too. Spring and autumn are toasty yet not stifling and the beaches are much less crowded. Winter breaks might not offer beach weather but there are plenty of restaurants, museums, hikes, golf and architecture to keep you happy. It is also worth timing your visit to coincide with one of the region’s flamboyant and lively fiestas. Easter is a top time for fiestas and you can expect parades, Moors versus Christians battle re-enactments and even a giant sardine burying ritual (yes, really).
Airport: Alicante International is the closest airport to Costa Blanca. Budget airlines fly there frequently from all over the UK.
Public transport: There is a fast, efficient and cost-effective network of public transport along the Costa Blanca. An excellent bus service links the airport with the main towns, cities and resorts. There is also a light railway, El Trenet, which runs between Alicante and Denia, serving Villajoyosa, Benidorm, Altea and Calpe.
By bike and by foot: There are many hiking and cycling routes in Costa Blanca. The Orihuela Costa is the most well-known, this paved coastal path can be tackled in sections or all in one go and offers a spectacular way to see the region.
Car rental: Despite its comprehensive public transport network, car hire remains hugely popular in the Costa Blanca for two major reasons: Getting behind the wheel gives you access to more out-of-the-way destinations and you also aren’t at the mercy of public transport schedules. You can hire cars from national and international rental agencies either from the airport or from all major resorts and cities in the region, the latter being a good option if you just want a day hire.
- Alicante – Dance until dawn in the city’s legendary nightlife spots.
- Elche – Visit Europe’s largest date plantation.
- Benidorm – Soak up the sun in this classic holiday resort.
- Blue Flag Beaches – Lounge on the sand or try your hand at water sports.
- Denia – Climb up to the castle for panoramic views of the city.
- Jávea – Sit in a seafront café and watch the fishing boats chug into the traditional town.
- Theme parks – Feel your stomach in your throat at one of several excellent theme parks.
- Valencia – Tuck into a paella in a seafront restaurant.
- Torrevieja – Fine-tune your swing on world-class golf courses.
- The picturesque, brightly coloured seafront houses of Villajoyosa, literally meaning ‘jewelled town’, have long been used to guide fishermen home. Indeed, fishing is the name of the game in this traditional, charming little town and the port is constantly abuzz with wooden fishing boats pulling in and out. Stick around to see the lively afternoon market where vendors sell their day’s catch before enjoying dinner in one of dozens of great little seafood restaurants.
- The little mountain town of Guadalest might only have a population of 200 but it has a sheer abundance of beauty and appeal. Quaint little lanes weave through its walled historic core, where ancient churches and Moorish architecture will have you grappling for your camera every two minutes. Be sure to climb to the steep hilltop castle for a spectacular eagle’s eye view of the town.
- The Jalón Valley and Gorgos River hark back to a simpler time. This is a place where olive and almond trees dot the fields, where sheep graze lazily, and orange groves and vineyards produce plump fruits. Bucolic villages such as Llíber, Alcalalí, Parcent and Gata de Gorgos offer traditional eateries, crafts and a sense of a bygone age.
- The ruins of the 16th-century Santa Barbara Castle perch precariously atop a dizzyingly high hilltop offering one of the region’s most incredible views across Alicante and far out to sea. It is a tough climb to the summit, especially in summer, but there is a rather unique lift that will take you up through the belly of the mountain.
- Heading inland from the city of Denia, the Orba Valley offers a true slice of the traditional charm that has been long ago lost in some of the resorts. Though it tends to be left off most tourist itineraries, it is well worth seeking out. Explore little stone villages such as Tormos, Rafol D’Almunia, Benidoleig, Sagra and Pedreguer and sip café con leche (coffee with milk) and pastries at simple outdoor cafés.
The Costa Blanca has been welcoming holidaying families for decades now and the region is well-versed in the art of entertaining younger visitors. In fact, it might just be one of the most child-friendly places you could wish to holiday. Firstly, there are lengthy stretches of Blue Flag beach, where activities can range from a simple bucket and spade to a rip-roaring banana boat ride.
There are a whole host of activities away from the sea and sand too, which will appeal to both little nippers and teenagers alike. You will find huge, state-of-the-art theme and aqua parks, large zoos and spacious sea life centres where they can discover the creatures with which we share our planet, as well as adventure parks where the whole family can blow off steam. Boat tours, bike tours and jeep tours will get you away from the beach or pool for a day as will a trip into the stalactite-laced caves. If you are craving something more cultural, there are child-friendly museums aplenty in the cities. Still scratching your head as to what to do? We have rounded up some of the best family activities on offer in the Costa Blanca.
- Take to the seas on a boat trip to the tiny island of Tabarca from Alicante. There are lots of boat providers to choose from, many of which are glass-bottomed so kids can watch the huge array of wildlife passing beneath you through the protected marine park.
- Kids will love getting to know animals from around the world at Terra Natura. This enormous park showcases animals in spacious enclosures, and includes a huge swimming lake and a daredevil zipwire over the elephant enclosure.
- Cycling is a great pastime for families in Costa Blanca. Rent bikes from Marco Polo and explore the hidden villages inland. Kids will love jostling through the cobbled streets.
For more great family-friendly things to do, check out our family-friendly Costa Blanca blog.
Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Costa Blanca
Some of the best family-friendly beaches exist in Costa Blanca. We’re talking fully serviced, pristine expanses of silky sand complete with umbrellas, watersports, snacks and more! Plus, nearly all of them have the coveted Blue Flag status, so you’re guaranteed they’ll be stunning!
- Les Rotes beach in Denia is a full family day out. After a happy morning exploring the many rock pools and building sandcastles, venture into Denia for lunch and explore the castle.
- El Carabassi beach near Santa Pola is a fantastic family beach. Calm, safe water with gently sloping sand is perfect for little ones, while braver teens can wade further out and try their hand at windsurfing. It’s well equipped with parasols and sunloungers, with plenty of snack bars for when you get hungry.
- For waterbabies, head to La Granadella near Javea is a must. Famous for its snorkelling, this stunning beach is surrounded by pine forests that are also great fun to explore. There’s a snack shack on the beach and a few local restaurants in the town behind the beach.
While other parts of Spain might offer culture and history, the Costa Blanca really does specialise in fun, and many of the activities offered here are perfect for groups or families. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a cultured destination – traditional cuisine, castles, festivals, historic cities and archaeological sites are all there and are certainly worth your attention and time. Yet the Costa Blanca seems to find fun ways to experience them.
Zoom through the streets of Denia and up to the hilltop castle by Segway, get out into the countryside on a mountain bike or hiking tour or take a dip in the cold pools of the waterfalls of Algar. From golf to water sports, fishing charters to boat trips, tapas tours to cooking classes, you will find group activities to suit all tastes. Just make sure you save some time to lounge on the perfect beaches and hit a couple of bars and legendary nightclubs too.
Adrenaline-fuelled group activities
- The countryside and mountains of Costa Blanca are breathtaking, and a must-visit for active groups. Head out for a hike in the beautiful Guadalest valley. After scaling the steep valley sides to admire the view, head into the pretty village for some well-earned R&R. If hiking is your thing, the Montgo Natural Park is packed with adventurous trails, be prepared for some climbing! Pop into the tourist information in Denia to get a trail map before setting off.
- The snorkelling and diving in Costa Blanca is exceptional, thanks to its protected marine nature reserve. Nisos Diving take tours out daily for experienced divers and novices alike.
- If you like your fun more organised, check out Marco Polo Expediciones for whole host of biking, fishing, jeep-driving and kayaking tours.
Laid-back activities for groups
Costa Blanca is well-equipped for chilling out. Whether you prefer to laze by your own private pool, doze on the white sand beaches or get fully pampered by a pro you’re sure to come home totally relaxed.
- Experience total luxury at exclusive wellness spa, SHA. Book a half or full day visit where you can all relax in poolside cabanas, indulge in myriad treatments and snack on healthy and wholesome cuisine.
- To continue your feeling of zen, go for a wander through the palms at UNESCO World Heritage site, Palmeral of Elche. This tranquil park on the outskirts of the town of Elche is a calm labyrinth of pathways through thousands of varieties of palms and plant-life.
- Las Colinas Golf and Country Club is a great spot to book into for a round or two of golf. This prestigious resort is fairly new to the famous golf scene in Costa Blanca, and is maintained with environmentally friendly methods.
When you think of Spanish food, it’s usually perfect paella or tasty tapas that spring to mind, and here in the Costa Blanca, that is precisely what you will find. This is one of Spain’s culinary powerhouses, a region where plain old rice is transformed into colourful dishes packed with the freshest of seafood and infused with olive oil, saffron and garlic. You’ll find a whole host a riffs on rice, from black rice (made with squid ink) to arroz al horno (rice baked with sausage, vegetables and potatoes).Tiny tapas bites have a home here too, and you can try cured hams, spicy potatoes and all kinds of cod dishes. Not forgetting the wines, which are produced in the valleys just a stone’s throw from the coast. If you’re craving something comfortingly familiar, you won’t need to look far as the resorts are home to British pubs, Italian restaurants and Chinese takeaways as well as a range of fast-food joints.
Best Restaurants in Costa Blanca
Foodie fanatics flock to famed tapas restaurant, Nou Manolin in Alicante. Through the impressive entrance to this vast restaurant, you’ll find more tapas choices than you ever dreamed possible. This is formal dining, Spanish-style which means high-quality food served in a convivial atmosphere. It’s widely touted as the best tapas in Spain… only one way to find out!
OneOne is a hole in the wall in Alicante, but this locals haunt is worth seeking out. There’s no menu, the host will just regale you with the day’s specials when you arrive, so it’s helpful to speak a little Spanish or be willing to gamble!
Kids will love picking out the colourful cakes and treats on offer at De Sabors. The casual and friendly atmosphere at this cafe makes for a great lunch or afternoon treat stop.
Dishes you must try in Costa Blanca
Paella is the number one dish to try while you’re here. The saffron-infused rice, mixed with tomatoes, vegetables and seafood, meat or a mixture is tasty, moreish and a Spanish classic.
Pan Quemado is a sweet bread, whose dark crust and soft floury middle must be sampled! It’s especially popular at Easter, but is eaten year-round.
Another great Spanish dessert is Arnadi, a sweet pumpkin and almond tart – delicious!
Food and Wine Tours
Tapas and Wine are a match made in Spanish heaven, and any experience that combines the two is a sure-fire winner. Tapes I Vins is located in La Xara, and creates a friendly and relaxed atmosphere to sample typical tapas, paired with wines from their extensive list.
Pay a visit to rustic, family-run winery Bodegas Faelo to experience an extensive tour and learn how they’ve been making wine here for generations. Stick around for tasters at the end, and perhaps stock up on a few bottles to have at the villa later…
A gastro-tour of Alicante with Ali-Oli Tours will take in the best of the region. Experience rolling hills, vineyards and sample the decadent olive oil produced in Costa Blanca.
Looking for more? Check out our blog post for more foodie experiences in Costa Blanca.