Costa Blanca, Spain

The region located at the foot of Mount Benacantil on the south eastern coast of Spain is referred to as Costa Blanca. The port city has a long history of drawing visitors and tourists to its shores who came here and fell in love with its long stretch of coastline which is spread over about 200 kilometres. Known for its warm climate, sandy beaches and world-renowned golf courses, Costa Blanca, which was once a handful of fishing villages has a well-developed tourism industry now which thrives on its scenic beauty, various theme parks, waterfalls, markets, culinary offerings, medieval structures, wonderful palm-lined promenades overlooking the sea and the festivals it hosts.

The story behind the name of the harbour city is as interesting as the place itself. The name Costa Blanca, which means ‘White Coast’ was devised as a promotional name by British European Airways when they launched their air service between London and Valencia in 1957. The long stretched shoreline has a variety of things to offer, from sandy beaches to rocky coves. Some of the beaches here are very popular among tourists and are one of the prime reasons for the massive footfall that the destination witnesses.

Costa Blanca, besides being a place known for its resort towns, leisurely walks and beach fun, is also a shopping paradise. The overwhelming number of shops at the Alicante airport sets the mood and hints at what lay in store for tourists in the rest of the region. Benidorm and Alicante are the major tourist centres. These places are also popular as culinary hotspots among tourists. Restaurants here serve a number of unique regional rice dishes made of the high-quality rice that is produced in this region. Apart from these, places like Denia are also known as gastronomic destinations for offering a variety of scrumptious dishes to satiate the taste buds of food lovers. A refreshing drink called Horchata is quite popular among tourists here. The nutty drink which can be enjoyed at small, specialized cafes here was brought to the area by Arabs many centuries ago.

The long history of habitation and settlement on the shores of Costa Blanca and the places around it has led to a thriving cosmopolitan culture in the region. This is not only evident in the food culture of the place which draws from various time periods and different cultures, but also in the architectural richness of the structures and buildings here. While we have Castillo de Santa Barbara on Mount Benacantil, a large medieval fortress built by Moors in the 10th century on one hand, the modern town Benidorm on the other hand boasts of having the most high-rise buildings per capita in the world. Other places of historical and cultural importance include the Gothic Church of Santa Marí­a from the 14th-16th centuries which was built over the former main Arab mosque. The Museum of Contemporary Arts is also a fascinating place where a large collection of contemporary art works, including the works of Picasso, Dali, Bacon and the likes are exhibited.

Extending from the Port of Alicante to the Gran Via along the waterfront, the Explanada de Espana promenade is a favourite place for tourists and locals to take a stroll in the evening. The lane is lined with 400 palm trees and is paved with red, black and cream marble tiles. In the month of June, tourists flock to the port city to be a part of the festival of what is locally called Las Hogueras de San Juan or the Bonfires of Saint Johns. All through Alicante large wooden and papier maché figures can be seen on the city’s main squares months before the celebration begins and are burnt down on the night of San Juan around the summer solstice.

The region pulls millions of tourists every year and therefore, has become one of the most popular and often visited destinations in Europe. This has led to tourists looking for some offbeat places here which are less crowded and perfect for a peaceful and relaxing vacation. Denia and Xabia are some of those few places which have retained their old world charms. Denia is an enticing world which blends the old traditional flavour of being a fishing village once with newly developed modern infrastructure and gastronomic alternatives. Xabia, on the other hand, is ideal for a perfect vacation for couples, families and groups of friends who want to enjoy the idyllic charm of Costa Blanca away from the crowd, in a more secluded and peaceful place.

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