Benalmádena is a resort that has been stereotyped to within an inch of its life. Like that last sentence, it has become a cliché; something safe and recognisable, that to change what we think about it would be to challenge the foundations of what we hold to be true. Benalmádena is regarded as a sort of second-tier destination for tourists and homebuyers that cannot afford the delights of their neighbours in Marbella. Of course, there are two major things wrong with this attitude. For one, many people, regardless of financial clout, prefer somewhere like Benalmádena; unpretentious, welcoming and carefree. Secondly, Benalmádena has come a long way since the 80s and 90s. Today, this modern resort is a forward-thinking destination that has added oodles of culture, style and charm to its incumbent ‘cheap ‘n cheerful’ starting point.
Sandwiched either side by Torremolinos and Fuengirola with barely a break in between, Benalmádena’s architectural makeup is unashamedly different. While its neighbours streaked ahead in the package holiday race, Benalmádena grew at a more considered rate – today, the promenade is wide and spacious, backed by a long line of superb cafés, bars and restaurants, and fronted by a huge beach. The award-winning Puerto Marina yacht harbour combines living and office space, plenty of restaurants, a number of bars and shops and even a Sealife Centre into its unique shape and scope.
Beyond this, the wide tree-lined streets are fresh and modern, hinting at a classically Spanish influence but quite international in their makeup. The atmosphere throughout town is impressively welcoming, with a distinct family-feel evident at every step. Indeed, aside from the plentiful late-night bars and clubs located on the 24-hour Square, the entire resort seems targeted at children, particularly Tivoli World, which is a mini theme-park located in the heart of Benalmádena.
Head a couple of kilometres inland from the coast and you will reach Benalmádena Pueblo, which is the original epicentre for the resort and an authentic Spanish village, complete with quaint Andalusian townhouses, cobblestone streets and narrow alleys. Dotted throughout town are plenty of two, three and four star hotels; all of which prove immensely popular with northern European holidaymakers, while the recently-built property developments on the northern outskirts of town have a wide cross-section of residents from all over the world. Both cosmopolitan and charming, Benalmádena delivers fun-filled holidays all year round, and is an affordable and accessible destination for both second-homes and year-round residents.