The villages of Costa Blanca are dotted throughout its coastal, inland and mountain regions and give visitors a glimpse of traditional Spain. Most holidaymakers to the area prefer to stay in busy coastal towns and cities and visit the surrounding villages on a day out. However, actually spending your vacation in one of Costa Blanca's villages does have its advantages. By and large the locals are more relaxed and friendly. Many village tapas bars will still serve a free tapa with your drink. Children are usually welcomed with open arms in most establishments, and when your head hits the pillow at night the only sound is the gentle chirruping of crickets calling.
Some villages though, especially those located on the coast, are lively places geared towards family fun. One such village is La Marina in the south of Costa Blanca. Its sandy beaches stretch for miles and in parts contain areas of salt flats. These have a series of viewing platforms for bird and wildlife watching. The village really livens up on Thursday and Sunday market days. The locals regard these as social events and a time to meet up with family and friends for wine and song. A highlight of the village is La Marina Camping & Resort. This place is huge and has many accommodation options and unrivalled leisure facilities, including its own aqua park.
Enjoying one of the most picturesque settings on the Costa Blanca, the village of Benitachell is utterly charming. Although slightly inland, it is a magical place where lush green forest meets sheer sea cliffs. Surrounding these cliffs are rocky coves and tranquil bays perfect for a bit of snorkelling. Within the village centre are a selection of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Montforte del Cid is a lovely village to visit on a day trip or to twin with a visit to the famous city of Elche. It lies less than 30 minutes drive inland from Alicante City so is easily reached from several popular coastal towns and cities. It has a rich history and some of its wonderful buildings date back to the 16th century. Overlooking the village is a charming hilltop church and Cueva de San Pascal. Golfers can enjoy a challenging 18 hole course at Club de Golf Alenda.
The village of Gata de Gorgos lies to the north and is a good base for exploring the Montgó Nature Reserve. The reserve surrounds Montgó Mountain and is popular for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. The village is home to a number of craft makers and artisans, and in September hosts an arts & crafts fair. Other enticing products to be found in Gata de Gorgos include beautiful furniture, wickerwork, ceramics and hand made stringed instruments.
Also in the north is Ondara. Overlooked by its old quarter, the village is a place to relax in pavement cafes and enjoy the slow pace of life over an ice cold beer. Younger visitors looking for some lively entertainment can head to the Portal de la Marina Shopping Complex. This lies on the outskirts of Ondara and houses numerous boutiques and highs street brand stores. There is also a good choice of restaurants and takeaways as well as cinema and 10 pin bowling.
High in the mountains behind Benidorm lies Spain's most visited village, Guadalest. A strategic fortress in days of old that, due to its mountain location and single tunnel entrance, was easily defended and never breached. These days it is a major tourist attraction, home to some charming little museums. Pavement cafes spill out onto its narrow cobbled streets and the views from the fortress ramparts reach all the way down the Guadalest Valley to the glistening bay of Altea.
On the way up the twisty mountain road to Guadalest you pass a turning for Polop. Also called the Barony of Polop, the village boasts a dramatic setting surrounded by stunning mountains. Bring your walking boots when exploring Polop as much of the village lies on a hillside. Although there are wonderful views wherever you look, make the effort to climb the walkway to the hilltop fortress built by the Moors. Another must visit attraction in the village is Los Chorros Square. Its pretty horseshoe shape is lined with 221 ancient spring fountains that echo off the stone walls.