A guide to Albir, Costa Blanca – Benidorm’s quieter neighbour
As my plane touched down on the hot tarmac at Alicante Airport, a resounding cheer could be heard from the large Hen party seated a few rows behind me. Disembarking the aircraft, as the sweet Spanish sunshine hit my face - I was safe in the knowledge that the excitable group of women wouldn’t be heading where I was. To the peaceful coastal resort of Albir, on Spain's Costa Blanca - a 45 minute drive from Alicante Airport.
A guide to Albir, Costa Blanca - Benidorm's quieter neighbour
Alicante Airport serves one of the largest purpose-built resorts in Spain - Benidorm. As my transfer coach skirted the outskirts of this package-holiday metropolis, it was hard to miss the high-rise apartments and neon signs of this brash, and very British, holiday destination.
Although the old town of Benidorm still retains its historic beauty, with winding side streets and some of the best tapas I’ve ever tasted (head to Tapas Alley) - the tribute bars and all-inclusive hotels that soar to the sky along Poniente and Levante beaches are not for everyone.
Passing large holiday parks and mobile homes, I’m reminded of one of my favourite TV programmes - that of 'Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun'. Thousands of expats call this part of the Costa Blanca home. Its temperate year-round weather and relatively inexpensive cost of living make it easy to see why - although Brexit has certainly scuppered relocation plans for many.
A guide to Albir, Costa Blanca - an overview
Home for the next four nights is Albir, Costa Blanca - 5 miles from the centre of Benidorm. This quieter neighbour is just around the headland and can be reached by a 1 hr 30-minute walk, a 35-minute bus journey (around €1.55 ), or a 10-minute taxi ride (around €12).
Albir is a compact, coastal resort that generally appeals to a largely European crowd, mainly Dutch and Scandanavians, however, some Brits can be found. The resort has all the amenities you would expect to find from a beach holiday destination - plenty of shops including my favourite Spanish chain Ale Hop (think Primark homeware and fashion), cafes, bars, and restaurants.
The resort, however, feels less in your face, less intrusive, and much more relaxed. Ideal for holidaymakers of all ages - from families to couples, retirees, and larger groups.
A guide to Albir, Costa Blanca - Altea
Standing on the paved promenade that hugs Playa Cap Blanc, I stare out across the Meditteranean Sea to the rocky monolith of Calpe - some 10 miles across the bay.
Closer to Albir, and within walking distance along the 'Avenue of the Stars' seafront promenade, is the traditional town of Altea. A flat pavement links the two towns and it takes around 20 minutes to walk between them. Passing its quaint harbour, and Tsunami snack bar - climb the cobbled streets of its old town that lead upwards to the blue-domed Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Consolidación church.
Worth the climb - the view from the Mirador is considered one of the finest along the Costa Blanca, and a must-visit when staying in either Albir or Altea. Stay awhile and sip coffee with the locals at La Cupula de Altea cafe before continuing back into town - visit Altea on Tuesdays and you'll experience the weekly market.
A guide to Albir, Costa Blanca - eating and drinking
Along the wide beach that links Albir and Altea, there are countless children’s play areas, gym equipment, and seating stops. For seafront dining, the delightful Cafe Opera in Altea is a popular choice. With a quirky, musical-themed menu - the Ravel goats cheese salad is a delicious mix of creamy soft cheese, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
Along the front in Albir, there are several day to night time venues worth visiting including Zero Zero for an eclectic Mexican-inspired menu and live music Monday and Wednesday evenings. The floral-filled Peronne restaurant a few doors down is an excellent Italian with wood-fired pizzas, and the Country Ribs restaurant serves a tasty selection of barbecued meat. Another great all-day venue is Brewrock, with live music from Wednesday to Sunday evenings until late.
A guide to Albir, Costa Blanca - getting around
When staying in the region, a car is not considered a necessity - buses are frequent and inexpensive, connecting the towns of Albir and Altea to Benidorm, Calpe, and Alicante. Several coach transfer companies can be pre-booked from the airport but be aware - these are your slowest option! A pre-booked taxi from the airport will be around 45-60 euros and car hire is easy to arrange in advance.
If you do choose to hire a car, the coastal resorts of Moraira and Xàbia are worth a visit. The main roads are good, and directions are clear - although a Sat Nav/Google maps will avoid any navigation issues.
If you are keen to find an authentic Spanish resort that still ticks all the boxes for a fantastic beach holiday, but avoids the package holiday crowds, then Albir is a firm favourite. Just 10 minutes from Benidorm, it couldn’t feel further away - a tried and tested year-round recommendation.