Spain’s Costa Blanca is a gorgeous vacation destination with beautiful beaches, castles, and gastronomy. There is something for everyone!
One summer we decided to take a road trip from Málaga to Alicante traveling along the Costa del Sol, through the provinces of Granada and Almería and finally along the Costa Blanca. It was a stunning trip; and I couldn’t have been more surprised by the varied landscape from the beautiful green mountains of Málaga to the desert of Almeria and the crystal clear blue sea on the Costa Blanca. If you need some more convincing as to why your next trip to Spain should include the Costa Blanca, we’ve got 7 reasons that are sure to inspire you.
A Forest of Palm Trees
Where I grew up in the United States there were not a lot of palm trees. In fact, there were none at all. The only times I’d seen palm trees before coming to Spain were at vacation destinations like Florida or the Islands of the Bahamas; so for me palm trees are forever associated with warm weather and long lazy days. When we visited Elche the first place I wanted to see was the garden filled with palm trees. It was a hot day in summer and the cool gardens welcomed us with shady paths and beautiful sunshine filtered through the green leaves! The forest of palm trees is an UNESCO World Heritage site and I’ve never seen anything like it!
The Bonfires of Alicante
The Bonfires in Alicante for the night of San Juan are well known. The people make huge sculptures of well known political figures, famous people or cartoon characters to later be burned in huge bonfires to celebrate the “Night of Fire” and the beginning of summer. There are fireworks, a folkloric parade and offerings to the Virgin of Los Remedios. It was fun to just walk around the center of town and see all the different sculptures. There were even some outdoor dance clubs where you could enjoy the festivities. While the Fallas in Valencia are more widely known, the Bonfires of Alicante are a fantastic way to start your summer on the Costa Blanca.
The Rock of Ifach in Calpe
One of the most impressive places on the Costa Blanca was the Rock of Ifach in Calpe. Known as the Peñon de Ifach in Spanish, it sticks up out of the sea providing a dramatic landscape for anyone enjoying a walk along the beach. In fact, the Rock of Ifach was used by the Phoenicians as a marker when sailing around the coast of Spain. If you enjoy nature, we highly recommend taking a hike at least part way up the huge rock. The views of the sea are spectacular and the natural beauty of the 300+ species of plants and animals along the path make for an unforgettable walk.
We can’t very well make a list of reasons to visit the Costa Blanca without mentioning the stunning coastline of the Eastern part of Spain. What we loved the most about these clear aqua blue waters of the Mediterranean were the little coves where it seemed like the beach had been forgotten by the tourists. One of these was La Caleta de Villajoyosa, a rocky beach that is only 150 meters long, but quite wide. It is a different world when you compare it to some of the tourist towns along the Costa del Sol (which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with the more touristic beaches), but the natural beauty on the Costa Blanca was simply breathtaking.
The Poniente Beach Promenade in Benidorm is a work of art. The architect’s idea was to imitate the forms of cliffs and waves so that there would be different areas of light and shade creating different spaces along the boardwalk. The colorful boardwalk is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You can walk down a flight of stairs and escape from the sun in one of the “cave” areas or enjoy a walk along the colorful curving path while enjoying views of the water. It’s impressive from an artistic and architectural standpoint, and very unexpected considering the touristic boom the town witnessed in the 1960s and 70s.
Delicious Rice Dishes
The Valencian Community (made up of the provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Alicante) is well known for their rice dishes. Paella might be one of the most famous dishes in all of Spain and it was along the Costa Blanca that we enjoyed some of the most delicious rice for lunch. We recommend a dish called “arroz Senyoret.” The name means “Gentleman’s Rice;” and it gets its name from the fact that the shellfish is peeled before being added to the pan. This means that the gentlemen (and gentle ladies as the case may be) didn’t have to dirty their hands to peel the shrimp and other shellfish used in the rice. There are rice dishes for all tastes (with meat, vegetarian, or seafood) so you are sure to find a favorite.
One Hundred Castles
One of my favorite things to visit on a Spanish road trip are castles. It must be the fact that we don’t have any in the United States, but they fascinate me! The Costa Blanca boasts no less than 100 different castles (some bigger or better preserved than others). We would recommend a stop at the Castillo de Guadalest if you are in the area. It dates back to the 11th Century and it was built during Muslim rule. The town of Guadalest is, itself reason to stop; as it has been named one of the most beautiful small towns in all of Spain.
Of course there are plenty of other secrets to discover in the Costa Blanca. The beaches, sunshine and gorgeous landscapes have long made this area of Spain a fantastic destination year round. It is also a perfect spot to enjoy outdoor sports including golf, kite surfing, kayaking, hiking and more.