Costa Blanca

Far more than just sea and sand

Most people don't realise that the Costa Blanca actually stretches almost 30km inland, at least as far as the tourism authorities are concerned, which offers holiday makers an enormous selection of days out and entertainment. Many first-timers to the area are amazed to see how close the mountains are to the shore, and in only 30 minutes from a paddle in the Med they can be walking old mule paths through ancient olive groves.

Everything for the sportsperson

Most of the tourism to the Costa Blanca is based on the beach, but the region also offers a great choice for the sportsperson. Because of the varied countryside, from long, open flat stretches to steep mountain roads, professional cycling teams from all over northern Europe use the area as their winter training ground. The Sierra Aitana - the mountain range a short drive inland from Benidorm - has some of Europe's most testing free-climbing faces, and scuba divers are offered the opportunity of diving in unpolluted waters filled with scores of underwater life. Denia even has its own underwater way-marked trails. And the golfer isn't overlooked, either, with courses of every standard and complexity.

International cuisine

The tourism boom of the 1960s, 70s and 80s attracted people from all over Spain looking for work. With them they brought their regional cultures and gastronomy. Latterly, Spain's most popular coastal zone has been a magnet for nationalities worldwide who have done the same, so with the possible exception of roast cod's eyes on a bed of steamed papas grass (if such a thing exists), the adventurous gourmet can sample cuisine from every corner of the globe. The region also has some of the top restaurants in Spain, many of the chefs being attracted to the region by the quality of the local produce. (During the time of the Moors the Valencian region was the most productive in the whole of the then known world.)

Party, party everywhere

With so many residents from almost every town and village in Spain, at sometime in the year you will be able to experience the fiestas from all over the 'Piel de Toro', (the name given to the country because its shape is like a bull's hide laid out flat). But each town will also have its own fiestas patronales, dedicated to their patron saint, or local festivals, which will be celebrated in their unique way; the bonfires and fancy frocks of Alicante's hogueras; Benidorm's burning of a boat as part of 'La Barqueta'; or the wacky water-throwing fiesta through the streets of Altea.

Taking the little coastal train

For a day out to glimpse a variety of Costa Blancan faces, take the trenet from Alicante to Dénia or any one of the small stations along the way. This narrow-gauge railway winds its way along the coast through towns and villages, coves and countryside, stopping at tiny stations with little more than a sign and a stone bench to show they exist.

A world of wine

It's said that Louis XIV, the Sun King of France, asked for Alicante wine on his death bed. The wine he was referring to was Fondillon, an unusual wine made in what is called the rancio method, and which still exists. But the soft sea breezes and warm summer sun has also encouraged local growers to create some very distinctive and award-winning wines, which can be sampled at their bodegas only a short drive from the coast.

Everything within easy reach

The well-developed infrastructure means that in a couple of hours from Benidorm you can be in Valencia City, to enjoy the City of Arts and Sciences, the medieval barrio of El Carmen, or try a paella, which was invented there. Within half-an-hour you can visit the weird and wonderful museums of the hill-top village of Guadalest, the second most visited tourist destination in Spain after the Prado gallery in Madrid, or spend the day discovering the the chain castles that separated Castilla from warring Aragon.

All-year-round resorts

Neither as cold and wet in the winter as the Costa Brava or hot and humid in the summer as the Costa del Sol, the Costa Blanca has one of the best all-year-round climates in Spain. While the temperatures may drop during the winter months the skies are almost always blue and cloud free, attracting many visitors for extended stays of up to three months, away from their cold north-European homes.

Monumentally historic

Most people are surprised at how many historic monuments and how much beautiful architecture exists in the Costa Blanca. Castles, cathedrals, Modernista mansions (the uniquely Spanish style that crosses over between Art Nouveau and Art Deco), the narrow, twisting medieval streets of historic town centres. Even the much maligned Benidorm is seen as having some of the best examples of urban architecture of the mid-20th century.

But most importantly....

You are never far away from the sparkling turquoise Mediterranean and pristine beaches of soft golden sand. There are 38 beaches which fly the Blue Flag, the highest European standard for cleanliness and safety.