If you want to get to the beach and escape Madrid (or any busy city in Spain) but want to try somewhere different than Valencia, get yourself to Denia. Just a touch farther south from Valencia on the Costa Blanca, this gem of a town has great beaches, a historic old town, tons of bars and restaurants, and is perfect for a weekend getaway.
Getting to Denia from Madrid
The best way to enjoy the beach towns of Spain is by rental car. As long as it’s not a holiday weekend, you can find cheap cars to rent using search engines like Rentalcars.com. One thing I’d recommend – purchase the full coverage directly from the rental company, not the search engine. And always get FULL coverage!
I’d recommend an Airbnb in the city center of Denia. There are beachfront hotels and resorts if you’re into that sort of thing, but they are more expensive and don’t necessarily eliminate the need for a vehicle to get around. The best beaches are hidden and only accessible by car. We rented a room in a large apartment complex near Carrer de Loreto, the main street of Denia. If you rent a car, just make sure you’ll have access to easy parking at your accommodation.
This castle is definitely worth a tour, even during a short stint in the city. It was first constructed in the 11th & 12th centuries and was a Moorish castle. It overlooks the sea and the city, and the mountains that surround the town are absolutely stunning. It’s a self-guided experience, costs €3 for entry, and offers the best views of the city.
Denia old town was quaint and cute. We came for a beach vacation, unfortunately, had to deal with a bit of rain, but made the most of it, wandering the streets, stopping in cafes and bars, and seeing the sites during the rainy bits. It’s a great town to walk around, and everything can be reached on foot.
A wander just outside the town center of Denia will bring you to the port. This is where the ferries to Ibiza leave from and is a great spot to rent a boat or try watersports. Keep walking and you’ll encounter Sounders – a nightclub at the edge of the port on the waterfront.
Playa la Granadella
Thankfully, the sun did come out during the weekend. We ventured to Playa la Granadella, a tucked-away rocky beach that offered some stunning views of turquoise waters – the exact thing you come to the Mediterranean for. I’d recommend bringing beers and snacks in a cooler – there isn’t much around besides one restaurant. You can, however, rent beach lounge chairs if you plan on being here all day, which will be far more comfortable than laying out on rocks.
Platja les Marines
This is the primary beach within the city limits of Denia. While nothing special, there are beachfront restaurants, plenty of space to lay your towel, and parking spots nearby. It’s good for convenience if you don’t rent a car when you go to Denia.
Food & Drink in Denia
Due to the weather, we had to kill more time than we expected by drinking and eating. Thankfully, my travel companion for this trip, Alex, is the perfect person to do this with. Our last adventure was in La Rioja, where we indulged in lots of food and wine!
Tapas at TXOKOBAR
This spot is definitely marketed to tourists with their bold sign proclaiming “FREE TAPA WITH EVERY DRINK” but I wanted wine and if I’m guaranteed a snack (that you get to pick, which isn’t always the case in Spain) so we stopped. It was a good terrace spot for a pre-dinner drink and tapa.
A new restaurant right on Carrer de Loreto, the main street of Denia, Cantina Italiana was a great dinner stop one of the nights we stayed in the town. It had a variety of pasta options as well as other Italian classics. The food was good and a nice break from Spanish food. I had the lasagna and Alex had salmon ravioli. We split a salad that had a ball of burrata on it that was so fresh and gooey. The owner gave us some limoncello as a digestif – overall a great experience.
For lunch, we actually left Denia and drove about 15 minutes south to Javea or Xabia, another beach town on the Costa Blanca. We shared a delicious salad and calamari and then had grilled sandwiches. Mine was a Cuban pork sandwich on a baguette and it was phenomenal. This place was right on the water but still super affordable.
Ca Pepa Teresa
Our dinner at this restaurant was easily the best meal we had over the weekend. The bread was hot and fresh, the paella was incredible, as was the arugula and goat cheese salad we split to start. It was busy and after tasting the food – it was easy to see why. Ca Pepa Teresa is right on the main street of Denia and is well-worth a stop for lunch or dinner during a weekend stay in the city.
Cocktails at Zensa Lounge
Summertime in Spain is the best because of all the extra hours of daylight. Sunset isn’t until 9:30pm or so, giving you plenty of time for evening cocktails. Zensa Lounge overlooks the water and the Old Town of Denia and had a party atmosphere when we visited for a drink. Go for a copa – despite the appearance and location of this spot, it’s not expensive.
Breakfast at Restaurante Mena
Probably the most beautiful breakfast view I’ve ever had – this restaurant is a stop on the way to exploring hidden beaches around Denia. With a pan con tomate and jamon, a cafe con leche, and a panoramic view of the Mediterranean, it was the perfect way to start our final day in Denia, before setting off to find sand and sun.
If you’re seeking out beaches, beautiful nature, and to avoid massive tourist crowds, head to Denia. It’s a wonderfully affordable town to visit and is perfect for a short stay.