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Guide to the Costa Blanca

There's something for everyone along the 'white coast' of huge contrasts which encompasses a diverse range of seaside resorts in the South East of the Iberian Peninsula with its round-the-clock party places devoted to satisfying the every whim of the most demanding package holidaymaker.

The Costa Blanca is one of mainland Spain's top tourist destinations and it's easy to see why when you take a look at what this 160-kilometre stretch of coastline has to offer.  But you don't have to venture far back from the coast to find the unspoilt 'Spanish pueblos' virtually untouched by tourism, where life continues much as it has done for generations.

Most of the coastline itself has now been developed to meet the needs of mass tourism. So don't come to the Costa Blanca in high season expecting to find deserted beaches and quaint fishing villages unsullied by foreign influences. If it's wild, unspoilt stretches of coast you're after, you'd be better off heading for lesser known coastal areas such as the Costa Almeria or Costa de la Luz further South.

A bustling tourist trade along the 'White Coast'

One of the big attractions of the Costa Blanca for many holidaymakers is that it offers both an action-packed beach scene and a breathtakingly beautiful hinterland which is a paradise for hikers, climbers, nature lovers and those who simply want to sample the 'real Spain'.

The region's enviable climate attracts a year-round holiday trade - average temperatures range from 16 degrees centigrade in the winter to 32 in the summer and the sun generally shines for more than 315 days a year.

Sun seekers flock here in droves in July and August when the temperature can nudge 40 degrees and the sea is a perfect 24-25 degrees. The low and mid season months attract those who prefer to avoid the sizzling summer sun, especially golfers and other sports enthusiasts. The Costa Blanca boasts many good 18-hole golf courses, a plentiful supply of largely British-run bowling greens and a huge range of both water and land-based sports. Small wonder that tens of thousands of ex-pats (the majority of them from the UK) now live here for either all or part of the year.

Benidorm is home to many of the region's biggest tourist attractions including the Terra Mitica theme park, Aqualandia Water Park, Terra Natura Wildlife Park and the Benidorm Palace international cabaret show (on a par with the Lido in Paris and London's former Talk of the Town).

As for eating out - well, you're spoilt for choice. The coast is chock-a-block with bars and restaurants offering every kind of cuisine imaginable. You'll find all the usual pizza parlours, burger bars, curry houses and chinese restaurants along with some top notch Michelin-rated restaurants.

Check out the back street eateries of the seaside resorts or better still make a short hop inland to find excellent value local fare. Avoid the main tourist traps and you'll be able to savour a delicious three-course meal with wine for less than the price of cocktail in London or New York!