Is Benalmadena Tacky? Answers from a Local [2024]

Is Benalmadena Tacky? Answers from a Local [2024]

Is Benalmadena tacky?

If you’ve been asking yourself this question before booking your trip, you came to the right place!

In my opinion, Benalmadena is certainly not tacky.

Quite far from it.

There are other more tacky destinations on Costa del Sol or in Southern Spain (Torremolinos I’m thinking of you!), so if you’re wondering whether you might find yourself in another version of Benidorm, you have nothing to worry about.

How do I know?

I live right next to Benalmadena, so I’m pretty familiar with what it has to offer and all of its drawbacks.

Read on to find out what’s Benalmadena like and why some people might call it tacky!

Pretty streets and blooming flowers in Benalmadena Pueblo
Pretty streets and blooming flowers in Benalmadena Pueblo.

Is Benalmadena Tacky? Of Course Not!

So let’s first establish what I mean by tacky:  cheap, flashy, garish, gaudy, loud, tawdry, or trashy.

I wouldn’t use any of those words to describe Benalmadena, quite the opposite, see the reasons below.

1. Tale of Three Cities

Paloma park in benalmadena, andalusia spain
Paloma Park, gorgeous green space in Benalmadena.

Benalmádena as an urban area is split into three sections: Benalmádena Pueblo, with its old town charm; Arroyo de la Miel, the bustling commercial heart; and Benalmádena Costa, known for its sandy beaches and dynamic nightlife.

Each area offers a unique flavor of the town, ensuring that you find your favourite place no matter what your preferences may be.

You might find the biggest urge to call the place tacky if you’re strolling alongside the beach promenade.

Here, you will see the typical Costa del Sol offering – sun-drenched restaurant photos catering to a particular tourist crowd, illegal vendors selling fake goods right on the pavement, and a promenade of middle-aged men in speedos.

If that’s not your thing, then head up to Arroyo de la Miel or Benalmadena Pueblo, which is more peaceful and a bit more local.

2. Beach Life and Beyond

Boats parked in Benalmadena Marina, Costa del Sol, Southern Spain
Boats in Benalmadena Marina

The coastal area of Benalmádena Costa is famous for its beautiful beaches, which rank among the best beaches on the Costa del Sol. Having said that, they are not very extensive – you will find longer beaches in nearby Torremolinos.

Benalmádena Marina, awarded for its high standard and beauty, is not just about boats; it’s also lined with restaurants, shops, and bars, making it a great place for live entertainment and dining under the stars.

Nearby, 24-hour Square offers some of the most unusual late-night bars where the dance floors stay lively until dawn.

But if you’re thinking that all sounds a bit too lively, don’t worry—just a minute’s walk away, you can find more subdued spots like Bonanza Square, which is excellent for a more relaxed evening out.

3. Family-Friendly Attractions

Child at the aquarium at Sea Life Benalmadena, Costa del Sol
The Sea Life in Benalmadena

If you’re traveling with kids, they will absolutely love Benalmadena – there is so much to do and see!

I highly recommend paying a visit to the Mariposario de Benalmadena, the butterfly park near Benalmadena Pueblo, and right next to it is the Stupa – a Buddhist temple with gorgeous views of the coastline.

There are also plenty of tourist traps for families – I would strongly advice against visiting Selwo Marina (check my post here), and I’m personally not a huge fan of Tivoli either.

The Sea Life in Benalmadena is also ok (see photo above), but I think for what it is, its quite expensive. You might be better off taking kids to the Bioparc in Fuengirola, which is also a bit pricey (around 25 euros), but much better experience and value for money.

For a relaxed afternoon in the shade, head over to Paloma Park, where you can see wild rabbits and chicken, a perfectly manicured lawn, great playgrounds for kids, lake with boats and even a huge cactus garden. I love the place and visit very often!

4. Andalusian White Village

Small square with restaurant and plan trees in Benalmadena Pueblo
Gorgeous square at Benalmadena Pueblo

Step back in time at the Benalmádena Pueblo.

This traditional Andalusian village is perched up on the hills overlooking Benalmadena Costa and offers stunning views and a more relaxing way to spend time exploring away from the crowds.

I always walk to Jardines de Muro, from where you can easily walk towards Castillo Colomares – a castle monument dedicated to the travels of Christopher Columbus.

Explore the white streets of the old town, stop in a local places for some tapas, and enjoy the views!

Why Some Might Call Benalmadena Tacky

As I mentioned some parts of Benalmadena could be considered a little more trashy, especially around the coastline.

There are a lot of local businesses that look like they haven’t been updated since the 80s, and the presence of illegal street sellers makes you feel like you took a trip with a time machine.

The restaurants around the coastline offer your usual tourist trap food – anything from pizza, burgers, and English breakfast to claims about ‘authentic paella’ experiences.

Having said that, I think it’s just such a small part of the town, and I’m confident you will love everything else it has to offer.

If you want to see a tacky destination, I highly recommend taking a trip to the nearby Torremolinos. That to me, is the definition of tacky, even though the city has made a lot of updates since the 80s.

Final Thoughts

So, is Benalmadena tacky?

Far from it. It’s a town offering a wide range of experiences, from beach resorts and golf courses to historical sites and cultural festivities.

Whether it’s a summer getaway during the summer months or a quiet retreat in the offseason, Benalmádena promises a great time.

With its blend of old-world charm and modern conveniences, this coastal town might just be one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain.

LOVE it? SAVE it for Later!

Explore everything Benalmadena has to offer and save ideas for your trip directly from my Pinterest board: check out best places in Benalmadena Pueblo, find pretty photo locations here and explore the best things to do in Benalmadena.

pinterest image showing the castillo bil bil in benalmadena, with headline that reads: benalmadena is it a tacky place, complete expert guide, southern spain travel tips
pinterest image showing the old town in benalmadena, with headline that reads: benalmadena is it a tacky place, complete expert guide, southern spain travel tips
Photo of author
Lucia has been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and through her love of photography and travel, she has been documenting the best places to see in Southern Spain and uncovering hidden gems only known to locals. All the articles on Viva La Vita are written based on personal experience and local expertise.

Hi, I'm Lucia

At Viva La Vita, I will help you to discover Southern Spain like a local!

I've been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and fill these pages with first-hand insights, personal experience and practical tips that will help you plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

Make yourself at home and find the best places to explore in Andalusia and beyond.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.