The Costa Blanca has long been recognized as one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations. When mass tourism began in the 1960s and 1970s, it was one of the first “sol y playa” (sun and beach) attractions for northern Europeans looking for sun and sand. It was during this period that the charms of Benidorm, Calpe, and Jávea were discovered by the British, Germans, and Scandinavians, and that a week in Benidorm was advertised as a more affordable alternative to Blackpool or Bornholm. It was during this period that a second phase of tourism emerged, which is referred to as “residential tourism.” The answer is yes, hundreds of thousands of Europeans purchased a second house on the Costa Blanca starting in the 1980s. As a result, there are two distinct sorts of visitors on the Costa Blanca today: those who are on a brief “package tour” and those who reside on the Coast for a greater or lesser portion of the year, depending on their location. Given the increase in sophistication and “adventurousness” of visitors, a third category has emerged: those who have purchased merely airplane tickets and have made their own arrangements, including booking their lodging privately, either directly with hotels or in villas and flats. The Costa Blanca is exceptionally well-suited to accommodating all three sorts of tourists.
Costa Blanca North and South
Alicante and the surrounding area north to the border with the Costa Azahar are considered to be the Costa Blanca North, while Santa Pola, Guardamar, Rojales, and the inland Vega Baja and Torrevieja are considered to be the Costa Blanca South. The Costa Blanca is divided into two distinct regions when it comes to tourism: the Costa Blanca North and the Costa Blanca South. To put it another way, Torrevieja is a rare instance in that it receives relatively little package tourist from outside Spain, yet it is one of the most significant examples of residential tourism in the world. Torrevieja was frequently cited as an example of a “boom” town during the early 1990s, when residential tourism was booming in the region. Indeed, the city’s population has more than quadrupled in only five years, going from 50,000 to more than 100,000 people. It was north Europeans who made up the vast bulk of the new torrevejenses. Smaller towns all surrounding Torrevieja were growing at a rapid rate, such Orihuela, Rojales, Benijofár, Guardamar, Los Montesinos, and Gran Alacant near Santa Pola, to name a few. When the real estate bubble burst in 2008, the population reached a plateau and housing prices began to fall precipitously. Compared to the Torreviejas of 2003, 2009, and 2016, these communities are distinctly “different.”
As you travel north from Alicante (which is more of a working city and has been relatively unaffected by foreign residential tourism), you will pass through Villajoyosa (which is mixed), Benidorm (which is hugely popular with the British), Albir/Alfaz del P (which is Norwegian), Altea (which is mixed), Calpe (which has a strong German presence), Jávea (which is very mixed) and Dénia, among other places It is oversimplified to categorize any town as belonging to one or more nationalities, but it is just necessary to take a stroll through the towns to discover whose money the shops and bar owners are after!
The Costa Blanca and British Expats
According to the most recent statistics, there are over 300,000 British residents living in Spain, with 40 percent of them being over the age of 65 years. According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica (INE), Spain’s national statistics office, the two regions with the greatest number of British residents are Andalusia, where they number about 77,000, and the Valencia region, where they number 78,422. Upon further refinement, we discover that the province of Alicante, with more than 69,000 British expats, has the biggest concentration of British nationals. The continuous popularity of the Valencian area, and in particular the province of Alicante, is further evidenced by recent property sales numbers, which revealed that foreigners purchased 40 percent of all residences in Alicante in 2018.
With that being the case, Sonneil has investigated the top five expat-friendly places on the Costa Blanca, as well as the factors that have drawn them to these locations.
Benidorm has a population of 69,000 people, with 6,000 British expats (8.7 percent )
Benidorm, which is located in the Marina Baixa district of Alicante, has a long history of drawing visitors and house purchasers from the United Kingdom. Three airports serve the northern (Valencia), southern (Murcia), and central provinces of the area, providing an additional boost to the region’s economic development. There are dozens of flights every day connecting these places to the United Kingdom, making it easier to make those all-important excursions home or to receive visits from friends and family. While Benidorm city has earned a reputation as a late-night party destination, it is not necessary to go far to find much peaceful towns where the traditional Spanish way of life continues to be practiced. Despite this, it is precisely these areas that are most popular with foreigners due to the slower pace of life they provide.
There are 82,600 people living in Torrevieja and 13,000 British expats (15 percent )
Torrevieja, a former fishing hamlet, is now a cosmopolitan city that, in addition to having a big British community, also has considerable populations of German, Scandinavian, and Russian expats living in the area as well. Torrevieja, located approximately halfway between Alicante and Murcia airports (around 50 minutes drive to each), is surrounded by gorgeous scenery and has 20 kilometers of coastline. For those looking to spend time in the great outdoors, the Lagunas de la Mata and Torrevieja natural reserve, which is close by, is home to hundreds of different kinds of birds and aquatic creatures.
Orihuela has a population of 91,000 people.
The number of British expats in the country is 18,834. (20 percent )
Javea has a population of 27,225 people.
7,700 people from the United Kingdom live abroad (28 percent )
It is located 90 kilometers north of Alicante and 110 kilometers south of Valencia, on the Costa Blanca, between the capes of San Antonio and La Nao. Javea is a popular tourist destination in the region. In Javea, there are three distinct areas: the port district, the Arenal, which has beaches and a tourist center, and the old town, which is surrounded by the city’s medieval city walls and contains a maze of cobblestone alleys, squares, and charming corners. The town is located in the foothills of the Montgo Massif, which stands at 753 meters above sea level and is home to some of the most diverse flora and wildlife found anywhere in Spain.
Rojales has a population of 17,622 people.
The number of British expats in the world is 9,083 people (52 percent )
With its convenient location just 10 minutes from the lovely sandy beaches of Guardamar and 15 minutes from Torrevieja, it’s no wonder that Rojales has become such a popular destination for British expats that they now account for slightly more than half of the population. Its close proximity to Alicante and Murcia airports – both of which are around 35 minutes away by car – as well as the neighboring La Marquesa golf course all contribute to its popularity. Rojales is well-known for its stunning cave dwellings, which can be found in the hills to the south of the town and are a popular tourist attraction.