We recently went to Benidorm for the first time as part of our #mygaypride summer long campaign, a popular tourist spot on the southeast coast of Spain. It was our last gay pride of the summer and little did we know that Benidorm even had a gay pride event. We didn’t know much about the city, but we quickly learned about its open and active LGBT community.
Benidorm started as a relatively unknown little fishing town until the 1960s. Its discovery by northern Europeans as an inexpensive and beautiful getaway in the Mediterranean helped boom its international tourism. Even back then Benidorm had a gay leaning with its first gay bar opening in the 1970s. It was one of the first popular gay destinations in Spain even before Sitges, today’s more popular gay beach town south of Barcelona.
Benidorm’s increase in tourism helped to increase its liberal attitude as well. People from all over Europe came to vacation and party in the city even while Spain was still under a dictatorship. This, however, did not stop the city’s tourism development and the mayor at the time, Pedro Zaragoza, even met with Franco to be able to allow the discos to be open past midnight and for women to be able to where bikinis on the beach. This was clearly quite the progressive town during conservative times. Nowadays when the gays want a full body tan in Benidorm, they can head to Ti Ximo cove at the far end of Levante beach and up the hill. For a cruisier spot, there’s Racó de Conill which is a gay/mixed nudist beach a few kilometers outside the city.
Benidorm Gay Pride is really the only big gay festivity held in Benidorm, but this week long pride is packed with great events. This year Benidorm held is 5th annual gay pride event which last year saw a turnout of about 8,000 registered attendees. The highlight of this event is the parade taking place on Saturday that runs right along Levante beach. It ends at the main outdoor stage where the audience is treated to free entertainment from talented artists. Throughout the week there’s a tapa & wine route, the open air white party at Mirador de Castillo, various other parties at bars and clubs in the Old Town, as well as free drag performances and live acts at the main stage at Auditorium Julio Iglesias.
Gay Scene & Establishments
The gay scene in Benidorm has taken over the Old Town where about 30 gay bars and clubs reside making it incredibly easy and fun to hop from place to place finding the perfect scene for you. Bars and terraces tend to be busy all evening and into the night due to the mix of visitors who are used to going out early and the local Spaniards who go out much later. Just head to where Calle Cuatro Esquinas and Calle Santa Faz intersection and you’ll find the cluster of gay bars in and around that area including Spirit, Bar Code, Lovers and Eagle Bar (which are cruisy with darkrooms), Bear’s Bar where (duh) you’ll find bears, darkrooms and a sling. For clubs there’s Mercury and People Bar both open until 4:30am. H2O is the gay sauna in Benidorm for those who enjoy cruising in a spa, steam room, private cabins or darkroom. These are just some examples as there’s much, much more of the gay scene to explore in Benidorm!
After spending time in Benidorm during the gayest week of the year, it was quite evident that the city has lots of Pride and is super gay-friendly. They gay scene extends all around the city at the beaches, bars and coves and there’s far too much to discover in a single week. I think we’ll have to return to check out some of the places we missed on our first visit. Any excuse to go back will do!
What do you think about gay-friendly Benidorm? Would you like to visit this city in Costa Blanca? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: our visit to Benidorm was sponsored by Benidorm Tourism but rest assured all opinions are 100% our own. This campaign was also in association with Gay Star News, the official media partner of #mygaypride.