Exploring Spain’s Mediterranean coast isn’t a task for those in a hurry. You really need to take your time here. To find that perfect getaway that ticks all your sun, sea, sand, and sangria boxes, you’ll need to do some research.
Halfway between Valencia and Alicante, you’ll find one of the most appealing coastal towns in the country. Dénia lies at the northern edge of the spectacular, 120-mile-long Costa Blanca, a region renowned for blue water, soft, sandy beaches, and enough history, nightlife, outdoor fun, and yummy local food to enchant any visitor.
During the peak summer season, its population of 40,000 more than doubles as tourists (many from Britain and Germany) flocks to its sunbaked shores. Bright, sunny days are the norm: there are more than 310 of them here each year. Dénia is also a convenient ferry port for hopping on a boat to the islands of Ibiza and Mallorca or more distant Mediterranean destinations.
Life on the Water
Dénia is all about beach life. Walk, jog, or cycle along the Paseo Maritimo, a lovely waterside promenade running from the marina all the way to Cabo San Antonio Natural Reserve. Organize a sailing, fishing, or snorkeling trip from the marina. Several outlets rent stand-up paddleboards, jet skis, kayaks, and windsurfers too. Dénia’s 10-plus miles of coastline offer sandy beaches, intriguing caves, rock pools, hidden coves, and prime snorkeling spots.
My favorite snorkeling areas were the marine reserve at Cabo San Antonio, El Trampoli beach, and Punta Negra Bay, where gliding above attractive coral, gorgonians, and sea grass in the clear waters provides the ultimate relaxation. If you’re a diver, you can even explore a sunken frigate that went down here in 1799.
History, Markets, and Local Cuisine
Dénia’s star visitor attraction is the large, 11th-century castle overlooking the coast from a high cliff. Originally constructed with Arabian influences, it has seen numerous changes over the centuries, with Renaissance and Roman elements added into the architectural mix along the way. From the top, you’ll get jaw-dropping views of the coastline, old town, and dramatic Montgo Mountain. Castle entry is $3.40.
Below the castle is Baix la Mar, an old fishermen’s district with friendly bars, quality seafood restaurants, and narrow streets leading down toward the sea.
Dénia’s super-walkable historical center effortlessly blends ancient neighborhoods with modern chic. Old fishermen’s residences and centuries-old churches sit adjacent to trendy restaurants and quirky craft shops.
The Ethnological Museum is free to visit and the Toy Museum is worth a look too. For a taste of local shopping, visit the Municipal Market where you can join the locals in their quest for fresh local produce. If you’re hunting for a good ‘restaurant street’, try Carrer Loreto, where many of the best tapas bars and cafes are found. A superb meal in Dénia shouldn’t cost you more than $25.
One of the coolest things to do here on a weekday is to wander down to the fish market just before dinnertime, check out the fish auctions, and pick up some fresh seafood to take back to your Airbnb apartment to cook up.
Insider tip: apartments in Dénia are reasonably priced (I paid around $40 per night for mine) but book out quickly over summer, so reserve your accommodation early for the June to September period.
Hikers and cyclists will find plenty to do around Dénia. The imposing Montgo Mountain isn’t far from the coast and is surrounded by a wildlife-rich Natural Park accessed by several pretty trails. If you want to do some exploring away from the beach, I’d recommend hiring a bicycle and following the Green Way (Via Verde de Dénia) connecting Dénia with the town of Gandia, 18 miles away. This track used to be an old train line and the surrounding countryside is incredibly scenic.
Several companies in Dénia offer quad biking, caving, rock climbing, canyoning, and other adventure-based activities. A 4×4 tour of this part of Spain is an exciting way to get an overview of the region and can be quite economical if you spread the costs between three or four of you.
Dénia is the kind of place that really grows on you. It’s more than just another Spanish tourist town or a gateway to Ibiza… it positively oozes old-world character. If you decide to visit, stay for at least a week—you won’t regret it!
Learn more about the cost of living in Dénia, here: https://internationalliving.com/a-mediterranean-sea-view-home-for-1140-a-month-in-Dénia-spain/.
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