Extensive sandy beaches, azure blue coasts, small hidden bays, impressive rock formations and cliffs, picturesque coastal towns, charming mountain villages, beautiful panoramas, colorful traces of the past and last but not least, the delicious traditional cuisine. You might not guess it, but I’m talking about the biggest tourist attraction in Spain, the Costa Blanca. This region has much more to offer than you think. In this blog post I’ll tell you all about the best things to do in the Costa Blanca.
Looking for a European destination where we could still enjoy good weather in mid-October, that was our mission! That is how we ended up at the Costa Blanca. Actually, that is not the full story. Our attention was particularly drawn to the architectural gem La Muralla Roja in Calpe, which served as inspiration for the striking stairwell in the popular Netflix show Squid Game. When we discovered that we could rent an apartment in La Muralla Roja, we booked a stay without thinking twice.
But then came the realization. Did we just book a 10 day vacation at a beach resort? What the hell are we going to do there? After a bit of research, we soon realized that the Costa Blanca in Spain is more than just sea, sun and beaches. During our trip we checked out the most beautiful sights and things to do in Costa Blanca.
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Costa Blanca in Spain
Costa Blanca literally means white coast. There’s a bit of doubt around the origine of this name. The story goes that the name was invented by the airline British European Airways. Because from the plane you could see the white beaches, and it was also a good marketing slogan. But the name Costa Blanca can also refer to the almond cultivation in the region, whose blossoms turn white-pink. What we all can agree on is that Costa Blaca is a name that everyone knows.
The Costa Blanca is one of the most popular coastal areas in Spain, covering a large part of the provinces of Alicante and Valencia. More precisely, this area extends between Dénia and Pilar de la Horadada. With its coastline of 244 kilometers with no less than 74 different beaches and many busy seaside resorts, the Costa Blanca has now become a symbol for mass tourism. You can see this especially in the many hotels and vacation accommodations that have been built far around the various coastal municipalities.
But the Costa Blanca is much more than just beaches. You might not think so, but the landscape is extremely varied. From steep cliffs and impressive rocks along the coast to the most majestic mountains inland. This region also has some beautiful nature reserves. A true paradise for active travelers who enjoy walking and cycling. Besides that you will find numerous charming towns both on the coast and in the mountains, which are rich in history and where cultural and culinary traditions are still present.
How to travel to Costa Blanca?
The easiest way to travel to Costa Blanca is by Plane. From Belgium you can fly to Valencia or Alicante airport. We flew from Ostend to Alicante with Tuifly. This was super easy for us because Ostend airport is not that far away from our home. Of course you can also fly to Valencia or Alicante from the other airports in Belgium.
Depending on what your plans are, you can go by car or use public transport to get to your destination. Since we used Calpe as a base to visit the best sights of the Costa Blanca, we rented a car. We did this at Sunny Cars.
We always choose Sunny Cars because we know that all insurance is included with the reservation. This not only ensures that you can road trip safely, but also that you no longer have to pay extra costs at the car rental company on site.
Good to know is that you can travel from Alicante to Dénia by tram which rides along the coast. On the way, the tram makes many stops, including in the popular seaside resorts of Benidorm, Altea and Calpe. You can also travel by train or bus. Planning your journey by public transport is easy with google maps.
Of course you can also travel by car from Belgium to the Costa Blanca in Spain. With about 1800 kilometers ahead you can make it an unforgettable road trip. It’s best to drive via Route du Soleil. Along the way you will pass beautiful places such as Paris, the Loire Valley, Barcelona, Valencia and many other places that are worth a visit. Keep in mind that during the summer vacation this is a very busy route where you occasionally have traffic jams.
The best time to visit Costa Blanca?
One of Costa Blanca’s greatest assets is the Mediterranean climate. There’s a microclimate between Valencia and Alicante in which the sea plays an important role. During the summer it can get very hot, while the sea provides cooling. In winter the sea together with the low mountains behind it, ensures that the heat is retained and the cold that comes from the inland is stopped.
During the summer months of June, July, August and September, the Costa Blanca is mainly overrun by sunbathers who want to enjoy the sun, sea and beaches. This sometimes leads to overcrowded beaches. Since it can get very hot, this time of the year is less suitable for visiting many sights and going for long hikes. It’s not only very busy near the main attractions but also the prices for accommodations are more expensive.
Spring (April, May) and autumn (October, November) are the ideal periods to combine fun at the beach with visiting various sights. Moreover, the prices of the vacation accommodations will drop a bit, so you can make really nice deals, like we did in La Muralla Roja. We were there in October and had one day of rain. The other days the temperature was always above 20 degrees, so we could also enjoy some time the beach.
Since you can enjoy an average temperature of 17 degrees in winter season, it won’t surprise yout that Costa Blance is one of the warmest places in Spain during winter. if you want to discover more of the region and espescialy if you’d love do some challenging hikes. It may be too chilly for a day at the beach, but you can still enjoy delicious tapas and paella on a terrace.
Where to stay in Costa Blanca?
On the map below you can see all accommodations from hotels to holiday homes in Calpe.
Do you prefer road tripping from one destination to another? Don’t worry, I’ll provide a link to different stays near the best things to do in Costa Blanca
Read more about our stay in La Muralla Roja
The best things to do in Costa Blanca
Alicante, the capital of Costa Blanca
Alicante is not only the largest seaside resort, but also the capital of the Costa Blanca. Most tourists come here to soak up the sun or to travel further to other places in Costa Blanca. But is Alicante worth visiting? Besides extensive sandy beaches and holiday resorts, Alicante has much more to offer. There are many fun things to do the capital of Costa Blanca. The advantage is that Alicante is not that big, so you can easily explore everything on foot.
Venture into the city centre of Alicante
One of the must-see attractions is Castell de Santa Barbara. There you have an amazing view of the city. This is the perfect place to start your visit to Alicante.
After visiting Castell de Santa Barbara stroll through the old neighborhoods El Barrio de Santa Cruz and Casco Antiguo where you can get lost in a maze of alleys and narrow streets. Here you can still find a little piece of traditional Spain. Don’t forget to admire the beautiful architecture of the houses and buildings on the way such as Basílica de Santa María, the oldest church in Alicante.
Are you an art lover? Then be sure to visit the MACA (Contemporary Art Museum of Alicante) where you can admire contemporary works of art, including some gems by the famous Spanish artists Picaso and Dalí.
Do you want to explore Alicante in an original and unique way? Then definitely check out the best tours from Getyourguide below.
Visit Tabarca island
If you like authentic villages and love stunning beaches, you must visit Tabarca island. The island is located about 15 kilometers from Alicante in the Mediterranean Sea. Every day 3 boats depart on different times from the port of Alicante to take you to this former pirates haven. The legend goes that on the island local families tried to stop pirates before they could set foot on the mainland. Today you can still visit the village and enjoy the beautiful beach.
Tabarca island is a protected area. It’s therefore also the perfect place for snorkeling and bird watching. Be sure to try the local specialty Caldero, a rice dish with fish.
The pink lagune of Torrevieja
When I was 18 years old I traveled to Torrevieja with a few friends. I never knew there was a pink lake. Of course, that says more about my priorities as an 18-year-old traveler, which at that time clearly weren’t about discovering the region. Anyway in the meantime the Pink Lake is pretty famous and must definitely be on your Spain bucket list.
Salina de Torrevieja
The official name of the pink lake is Salina de Torrevieja. Together with Salina de Mata it’s part of a Natural Park de las Lagunas de La Mata y Torrevieja. Both lakes were used for salt production. Today only Salina de Torrevieja is used for salt extraction.
The lake owes its pink color to a bacteria (halobacteria) and an algae (dunaliella salina) that only occur in environments of water with an extremely high salt concentration.
When we arrived the lake was rather brown and had a very light pink gleam. We doubted for a while whether we were at the right lake, but after asking other visitors it turned out that this was definitely the right one. It seems that the pink gleam becomes stronger at sunset. This is because the sky is slightly pinker and reflects in the water. But I’ll have to disappoint those who expect the bright, saturated pink water that you can see on the many Instagram photos. If you of course are a pro in photo editing, you can always make the water more pink.
Despite the fact that the color of the water was a bit disappointing, the landscape was pretty impressive. The white salt surface was somewhat reminiscent of a snow-covered landscape. Natural Park de las Lagunas de La Mata y Torrevieja is also the perfect place for cycling, walking and picnicking. You can also spot many birds there.
A few tips if you want to visit this area: put on solid shoes, because it can be very muddy and be sure to bring mosquito spray.
Discover more of Torrevieja
Do you want to discover more of the coastal town of Torrevieja? Then opt for one of the fun tours or activities via Getyourguide.
Do you want to stay in Torrevieja? View all options here.
Walk among the palm trees of Elche
A walk through the palm forest El Palmeral
The most famous sight of Elche are probably the more than 300 000 date palms which form a park within the city named El Palmeral. According to sources, the palms were first planted in the 5th century by the Phoenicians. They were only later planted on a large scale by the Arabs. You can still see this in the recognizable structure that also occurs in the North African oases for example like the oases of South Tunisia. El Palmeral is divided into several horts (gardens). There is a trail through the palm grove so you can take a 3-kilometer walk under the swaying palm trees of Elche.
Admire the beautiful botanical garden El Huerto del Cura
The botanical garden El Huerto del Cura is definitely worth a visit as well. You will find many different types of tropical flowers and plants. Moreover, the garden is beautifully landscaped with ponds and cozy resting places. Besides it’s also home to the famous Imperial date palm with no less than 7 trunks.
Discover the city centre of Elche
Although many tourists especially want to walk around in El Palmeral and El Huerto del Cura, it’s really worth taking some time to discover the historic city center of Elche. Enjoy the lively atmosphere in the shopping streets as well as on the cozy squares. Admire the architecture of the many historical buildings such as Basílica de Santa Maria, the historic Moorish baths, the town hall and the archaeological museum. Take a breather on one of the benches decorated with beautiful colored mosaics that you can find all over the city and in the park.
Do you want to stay in Elche? View all options here.
The most famous place in Costa Blanca is definitely Benidorm. This famous seaside resort is especially popular with an older target group, who like to stay there during the winter because of the mild and pleasant temperatures. When it comes to Benidorm, opinions are divided. That’s why I really wanted to check it out for myself.
From the main road, you can already see the skyscrapers of Benidorm emerge from far. It reminded me a bit of Las Vegas which also suddenly pops up in the middle of the desert. That’s why the locals often call Benidorm the Manhattan of Spain.
Personally, I didn’t like Benidorm at all. We explored the historic center, where we couldn’t find much left of traditional Spain. Everything was built in different styles and the shop windows decorated with all kinds of colors and glitter caused a disorderly chaos. Moreover, it was super crowded even in October.
I absolutely wanted to see the famous photography spot Balcón del Mediterráneo. But because it was so crowded, the charm of this beautiful place was lost a bit. So it won’t surprise you that we didn’t stay in Benidorm that long.
If you are looking for a vacation destination in Costa Blanca where there are a lot of things to do, then Benidorm is of course the place to be. Getyourguide also has a super wide range of fun activities here.
Do you want to stay in Benidorm? View all options here.
Discover the white pearl in Costa Blanca, Altea
This beautiful, white pearl on the Mediterranean Sea is located on a hill between the famous coastal cities of Benidorm and Calpe. It’s therefore a frequently visited place.If you plan to visit Alea, it is best to go as early as possible to avoid peak times.
Park your car near Camí de L’algar. There you will find a large parking lot ‘zona Center’ where you can park for free. Walk your way to the top along the winding, cobbled streets and alleys. In the meantime, enjoy the authentic streetscape consisting of whitewashed houses, local shops, art galleries, hidden squares and above all the beautiful viewpoints
Through the various art works that decorate the old center, you can still notice that Altea has been a popular art town since the 18th century. The eye catcher of Altea is definitely the church Nuestra Señora del Consuelo with its blue dome. This is located on the cozy Plaza de Iglesia, from where you also have a beautiful view of the city, the sea and the Penyal d’Ilfac. Plaza de Iglesia is the perfect place to relax in a on a terrace while having a drink or a bite
Would you like to take a unique guided tour or do another fun activity in Altea? Then check out the offers of Getyourguide below.
Would you like to stay in Altea? View all options here.
A day trip trough the inland of Costa Blanca
Behind the Costa Blanca are a number of extensive low mountain ranges, including the Sierra de Bernia. This chain is part of the Cordilleras Béticas and extends in the east-west direction along the Mediterranean Sea. From the beaches of Benidorm, Altea and Calpe, you have a stunning view of these impressive peaks.
With its many hiking trails and viewpoints, Sierra de Bernia is not only a mecca for avid hikers, but you will also find numerous picturesque mountain villages for culture lovers and special fauna and flora for nature lovers.
Road tripping through the inland Costa Blanca
That is why I mapped out a little road trip through the inland of Costa Blanca along the most beautiful places, starting with the white coastal village of Altea. Then you’ll continue into the mountains to visit the small peaceful mountain village of La Nucìa. Get lost in the narrow alleys where you can admire the colored porches of the traditional houses.
Then drive on to the neighboring village of Polop. Walk up the hill to where you can find the ruins of a former castle. There you have an amazing panorama of the fertile landscape of Costa Blanca with many orchards for orange-, lemon- and almond cultivation.
After that go see the impressive waterfalls of Fonts de L’Algar. The nature park is not only a wonderful scenery for a walk or cozy picnick, but also a welcome refreshment on a hot day.
End the day with a visit to the ancient Moorish mountain town of Guadalest from where you have a dazzling view of the surrounding mountain peaks, the valley and the reservoir.
Read more about our day trip through the inland of Costa Blanca
Just like Benidorm, Calpe is also a well-known coastal city that attracts many tourists every year. Yet Calpe has a completely different atmosphere than Benidorm. I found it more peaceful and cozy. Because we stayed in La Muralla Roja, we also got to know this town a little better. In addition to being the ideal base for discovering the best things to do in Costa Blanca, Calpe itself also has some unmissable sights.
Stroll through the old Moorish quarter of El Arrabal in Calpe
One of my favorite activities in Calpe was strolling through the old Moorish quarter of El Arrabal. Here you can get lost in the narrow, winding alleys in search of the most beautiful murals, street decorations and colorful mosaics. On Sundays you will also find many local artists who like to immortalize the picturesque streetscape of this charming neighborhood on canvas. You will also find some nice restaurants such as El Arco restaurant and Lapsus Bistro.
Climb the iconic rock Penyal d’Ifac
Something that should not be missing during your vaction in Costa Blanca is enjoying a sunset from the large limestone rock Ifac. The Penyal d’Ifac National Park is freely accessible. You make your way up via the landscaped walking paths. At a certain point you come to a tunnel after which the route becomes a bit more adventurous. By that I mean scrambling over the rocks along the steep mountain sides. Fortunately, there are many ropes and chains that you can hold on to. Good footwear is definitely a must here. At the top you have a great view over the Mediterranean Sea from Benidorm to Moraira. Are you not that adventurous?
Then you can also enjoy beautiful panoramas over Calpe and the coast from the walking path before you reach the tunnel.
Hike the famous Paseo Ecológico trail
If you like hiking and would like to discover more of the fauna and flora on the Costa Blanca, then I advise you to walk the Paseo Ecológico trail. This trail runs from Benissa to Calpe, but you can of course also start your hike in Calpe.
It’s a beautifully landscaped path that runs along the coastlines of Benissa. So you can enjoy spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. You will pass imposing cliffs, secluded bays and walk through coniferous forests. Ideal when you are looking for some cooling on a hot day.
The Paseo Ecológico is 4 kilometers long and, despite the fact that it also involves some climbing and descending, it is the perfect trail for young and old. Moreover, the trail is clearly marked and not unimportant, you will find several bars where you can take a break.
Hike one of the many trails in the beautiful surroundings of Xàbia/Jávea
The coastal town of Jávea is known for its beautiful surroundings. It’s located near the most beautiful bays of the Costa Blanca and at the foot of the Montgó mountain. Jávea is therefore a starting point for many impressive hikes. For example, you can opt to climb the Montgó mountain, a brisk walk of at least 4 hours. But you can also walk different trails on the cliffs along the coastline.
Before you start a hike, it’s best to stop by the tourist information point of Jávea to get some maps. We did this too. Our plan was to hike to Cova Tallada, a former quarry where you can swim. This trail is about 7 km long and goes through the Natural Park of Montgó. What we didn’t know is that for this particular trial we had to apply for approval in advance. They do this during high season so the trails won’t get too crowded. So we needed to change our plans.
From Cala Blanca to Cap Prim
The tourist office recommended an alternative hike from Cala Blanca to Cap Prim. This trail started well with wild rock formations on the beach of Cala Blanca. Then followed a less exciting part along the road and a residential area. Finally we arrived at a nature reserve that led us to the viewpoint of Cap Prim. There we could enjoy a dazzling panorama over the Mediterranean Sea and the varied coastline of Costa Blanca.
Relax on the charming beach of Cala Portitxol
We walked a little further to Cala Portitxol or Cala Barraca, a small bay with a pebble beach. There you can still find those picturesque, traditional white-blue fishermen’s houses that make the small beach between the steep rocks even more charming. Cala Portitxol is the perfect place to take a break from climbing Cap Prim. You can also reach the beach perfectly by car if you just want to relax there for a day.
Do you want to discover the coastline of Jávea from the water? Discover the offer of Getyourguide here.
Would you like to stay in Jávea? View all options here.
The best things to do near Valencia
Do you even want to see more? Then I have a few places of interest that are located a little further from the Costa Blanca.
Castell de Xàtiva
Just outside the borders of Costa Blanca and a little more inland you can find the famous Castell de Xàtiva. Very special is that this castle consists of two hill forts Menor and Mayor, which are connected by a wall. This connecting wall makes this building even more impressive.
Castell de Xàtiva dates back to Roman times and was strategically built on the top of the hill of the Sierra del Castell because it had a good view of the Via Romana. After the Romans came different rulers and over the years the castle was further expanded and strengthened.
Today you can still visit the ruins of the castle where many Moorish elements have been well preserved. From the village of Xàtiva you can reach the castle on foot or by shuttle bus. The walk to the castle is not far, but it is quite a climb. If you come by car, you can park near the castle. From the top of the castle you have a dazzling panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
Admire unique murals from the Stone Age
If you love history and have always wanted to see how our ancestors lived in prehistoric times, then you should definitely go to the rocky landscape of Maestrat. There you can find some caves with wall paintings from the Stone Age. Various excursions to these caves depart from the museums de la Valltorta. This region may be a bit further away, but this activity is completely free. So what you consume in fuel is somewhat compensated.
As it was a rainy day we thought this would be a good activity as it is partly inside in the caves. But that was a mistake, because the heavy rainfall made it too slippery and therefore too dangerous to visit the caves.
We make a tour of the museum de la Valltorta where we could see many artifacts as well as a complete reproduction of the cave. It is a pity that the museum is not really equipped for foreign tourists, because explanation is only available in Spanish.
Fortunately, at the end there was an info film that could be played in English, so that we could understand the context around the murals and the museum a little bit better. So if you want to visit the museum first watch the info film. And if you would like to visit the caves, definitely don’t go on a rainy day.
A day trip to Valencia
When you’re on vacation in Costa blanca, a visit to Valencia can’t be missing from your intinerary. After visiting this city myself I would even advise you to stay 2 or 3 days in Valencia. In this way you can combine your vacation in Costa Blanca with a city trip in Valencia. This versatile city has a lot to offer from an ultra modern science and art park with impressive buildings to the real traditional Spain that you can find in the heart of the historic center.
Ciutat de les Art i de le Ciències
Valencia’s Ciutat de les Art i de le Ciències or literally City of Arts and Sciences is a neighborhood with large, hyper modern buildings. Although this kind of architecture is less appealing to me, it was very impressive to see. These gigantic buildings house some of the most famous museums such as the science museum and L’Oceanogràfic, one of the largest marine aquariums in Europe.
Get wonderfully lost in Valencia’s historic city center
Via the Jardines de Turia, a beautiful green city park of no less than 9 km long, you can walk to Barrio del Carmen, the historic city center of Valencia. There you can stroll through the narrow streets and immerse yourself completely in the traditional Spanish culture.
Be sure to visit gems like Llotja de La Seda and La Sue Cathedral. Don’t forget to drop by the Mercado Central to taste or buy some local specialties to take home. Around the historic center you will also find the large shopping boulevards where you can shop till you drop.
If you have some time left, be sure to visit the up-and-coming neighborhood of El Cabanyal, which is located near Valencia’s most popular beach, La Malvarrosa. Here you’ll find many authentic fishermen’s houses decorated with mosaics. And not unimportantly, Casa Montaña the oldest tapas bar in Valencia, is located in this neighbourhood.
After my trip I was very surprised by the fact that Costa Blanca has so much more to offer than just beautiful beaches. We had a very relaxing but also varied journey. I hope that with this blog I can inspire you to discover even more of this versatile region besides the beaches. Of course, my 10-day trip was far too short to visit all the sights. I’m sure that there are plenty more fun things to do in Costa Blanca. When I return and experience even more of this region, I will certainly add it to this list.
Which things to do in Costa Blanca are on your bucket list. Let me know in the comments.
Wanna visit more sights in this area? Then definitely read these post as well:
- Is staying at Muralla Roja worth it?
- A mini road trip through the inland of Costa Blanca
- The best things to do in Calpe
- How to plan a perfect weekend in Valencia?
Thank you for reading.