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Friday, 2 January 2015

Benidorm, Spain

A new series of the television programme "Benidorm" begins in the UK this evening.

Benidorm, on Spain's Mediterranean coast, is one of Europe's most developed holiday resorts.  It was still only a small coastal village until the 1950s, since when it has expanded massively.  Benidorm's tourist industry now welcomes around 5 million visitors a year.  I spent a couple of days there in September 2014.

A network of local bus services around Benidorm is operated by Llorente Bus, using single-deck vehicles in a blue and white livery.





 






Bus routes 2 and 3 thread their way through the narrow streets of Benidorm's old town.









 

While many of Benidorm's buses have two sets of doors, there are some with three.







 


A number of the buses carry advertising liveries, although they retain the blue and 
white colours at the front.






 
Although Benidorm is generally associated with sunshine, there was a torrential rainstorm while I was there.










While most of Benidorm's bus routes are operated with full-size single-deck buses, a few services are provided using two-door minibuses.












At the time of writing, a single fare costs €1.50 (€1.20 on certain routes which do not reach Benidorm town centre).  Single tickets do not allow transfer between buses.  However, single journeys made using a smartcard are cheaper, and do allow a transfer within 45 minutes at further reduced rate.  Higher fares apply on services which operate once a day to tourist attractions outside Benidorm; higher fares also apply between midnight and 06:00.

Tourist passes valid for 24 hours, 72 hours and 7 days are also available.  These allow unlimited travel on Llorente Bus services during their period of validity.  Monthly tickets are also available but, unlike the tourist passes, they do not include travel on the once-daily services to the nearby attractions.

Benidorm has a coach station for longer-distance, national and international services.

It must be said that this is not located particularly close to the centre of Benidorm, although Llorente Bus routes 3 and 4 serve the coach station providing a regular link into town.




Alsa provides regular longer distance services from Benidorm into the surrounding region.

Tickets can be booked in advance on their website, by phone or from Alsa ticket offices.  They also offer a mobile phone app.  A further outlet is ATMs of La Caixa bank, of which there are 7,500 across Spain.

 
Spain's national railway network does not reach Benidorm.  However, a narrow gauge light rail service operates half-hourly to and from Alicante.  This line is operated by
Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV).








The Alicante terminus is beneath the Plaza de los Luceros, a short walk from Alicante's main railway station for connections to the national rail system.


If travelling to Benidorm by train, it is worth knowing that tickets to Alicante sold by RENFE, Spain's national rail operator, often include free onward travel on the FGV line to Benidorm.

More information on RENFE's website (in Spanish only) or from the Man in Seat 61.


The light rail line continues beyond Benidorm to Dénia.  However, this section is not electrified.  A diesel train operates hourly between Benidorm and Dénia, providing connections to and from the electric service between Benidorm and Alicante.

Note that RENFE free transfers are not valid on this service.


 
As a major destination for package tour operators, it comes as no surprise that chartered coaches are a common sight in Benidorm.  They provide transfers to and from Alicante airport (also served by Alsa scheduled services) as well as excursions.









This image was taken outside Sol Pelicanos Ocas complex, better known as the Solana in the
TV series.

As a major holiday resort, Benidorm has several sightseeing tours.

A tour using open-top double-deck buses is provided by Llorente Bus.  It operates all year round although the timetable warns that there is no service on rainy or windy days.




A special fare of €6 applies, although Llorente Bus' tourist cards and longer period tickets are valid on the tour.


  








The Benidorm Bus Turistic uses a vehicle built to resemble San Francisco cable cars.  The tour is shorter than that provided by the open-top double-decker.

Like the Benidorm City Tour, the Bus Turistic does not operate on rainy days.



 









 

A third alternative is the road train.

 




A regular boat trip operates across the bay, from Benidorm Old Town to the north end of Levante Beach and to Benidorm Island, a nature reserve a short distance from the mainland.






 

Finally, Benidorm has a cycle hire scheme, Bicidorm (website in Spanish) with a number of cycle docking stations around the town.








The TV series "Benidorm" is on ITV in the UK on Fridays at 21:00 for the next few weeks.

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