A Local’s Guide to Denia, the Goldilocks Town on Spain’s Costa Blanca

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Advisor - Amalia Maloney
Curated By

Amalia Maloney

  • Dénia

  • Couples Travel

  • Beaches

  • Nature Escapes

  • Sightseeing

  • Beach Town

  • Romantic

A blue board with coast at the back on a sunny day.
Curator’s statement

If there ever were to be a Goldilocks beach town in the Valencia Region of Spain, it would be Denia on the Costa Blanca. I should know because I’ve been living there for several years after having moved from the USA to live abroad. Located between the cities of Valencia and Alicante, Denia has access to two airports and train hubs. Denia is also home to Balearia, the ferry company for visiting the Balearic Islands. It is actually the closest mainland point to Ibiza and Formentera, making it a great departure point for a sailing trip! Denia is not too small and not too big, with plenty going on year-round for those great off-season trips.

Yet the heart of what makes Denia so wonderful is its varied natural beauty and rich culture. Denia has two types of Mediterranean beaches, a mountain sloping down to the sea, and the many varied fruits of the Med (think oranges, lemons and grapes). You can stroll the charming historic center, tour the 11th-century castle, and delight your inner-foodie at any of the 365+ restaurants in this UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

Denia’s people are welcoming and passionate about their Valencian heritage, which includes not only distinct dishes and drinks but its own language that exists alongside Castilian Spanish. A blend of both Valencian and Spanish culture, discover from my local insight how Denia can be a visit that is just right for you.

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Where to stay in Denia, Spain

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Things to do in Denia, Spain

Green field with mountains at the back on a sunny day.

Las Marinas (Les Marines): Relax in the sun and swim in the sea on this soft, sandy beach that stretches for miles from the town center.

Las Rotas (Les Rotes): Snorkel with the fish in these pebbly coves tucked along the coast extending from the other side of town. This area is also a natural Marine Reserve that is dedicated to protecting the ‘Posidonia’, aquatic sea grass prairies that are vital to the area’s environmental health. If you prefer not to get sand all over you, these are the beaches for you. Remember to wear water shoes. For one of the best spots here, get in at Punta Negra, about halfway down from town.

Ride bikes or walk along Las Rotas to enjoy the iconic Mediterranean views of the sea. You can also stop along the way to enjoy one of the handful of local restaurants, some perched right on the water’s edge.

Cova Tallada: Hike or kayak to this spectacular sea cave tucked into the cliffs. It features natural pools for swimming and snorkeling.

Marina Portet and Marina de Denia: Yes, Denia has two marinas! Each one is fantastic for strolling through and enjoying a drink or meal on the sea wall while looking out at the water. Or choose one of the restaurants by the slips to enjoy views of the sailboats and yachts against the backdrop of Denia’s Castle and mountain Montgo.

Castillo de Denia (Castell de Denia): Who doesn’t love a castle? Denia’s castle is just right. Located in the middle of town, it’s only blocks from the water and overlooks the sea. Built in the 11th and 12th centuries, you can walk along the stone walls, take in the beautiful views of the sea and mountains, view historic artifacts and admire the romantic layering over the ages of Almohad and Renaissance architecture.

Explore the Fisherman’s Village of Baix la Mar, located just between the castle and the water. Here the old world Spanish rowhomes are in a variety of bright colors. It’s also where the pirate movie Captain Jones was made back in the day (like over 50 years ago). Dotted with restaurants, cafes and bars, now, it’s a great place to hang out.

To learn the rich history of Denia, visit the Ethnological Museum and the toy museum.

Mountain Montgo: Hike the mountain that we affectionately refer to as ‘El Montgo’. Not for the faint of heart, the trails to go to the summit are exposed to full sun and get very steep in many parts. For a more moderate walk with still stunning views, enjoy the Colonial trail, which hugs the lower slope and is a wide path that is level for most of the way.

Ride bikes or walk down the Via Verde that takes you from the edge of town through fragrant groves of citrus, everything from oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and lemons. The easy, wide path is paved most of the way and used to be the old railway line decades ago when Denia’s main industry was ‘pasas’ (raisins).

Day Trips

Do a day-trip on the ferry to Ibiza or the less tamed sister island of Formentera. Balearia has day-trip tickets that leave first thing in the morning and return late at night, so you can enjoy either island. Since each island is so beautiful and has plenty to do, doing both in one day is not recommended.

Take the local train from Denia to the charming white-washed town of Altea, also located right on the Costa Blanca. The town’s historic center rises on a little hill right on the sea that is topped with its main church. The winding, narrow streets climb up and are decorated with flowering ivy and rows of picturesque Spanish rowhomes.

Taste the local wines of the Marina Alta ‘Comarca’ and Alicante province at any of the many bodegas. Start with Les Freses just outside Denia and Pepe Mendoza in the Jalon Valley.

Visit the Jalon Valley, only a half-hour drive from Denial, to discover the treasures of the inland hills and mountains. Here, you can enjoy local wineries in the quaint villages of Jalon and Lliber, as well as weekly antique and local markets on the weekends, year-round.

Places to eat & drink in Denia, Spain

Fried potato cubes with ketchup on a white plate.

Mercado Central (Mercat Municipal): Practically all towns in Spain have a central market, and Denia is no exception. When Spaniards (and Valencians) do their shopping, they know how to do it right by taking time to enjoy some food and drink too. Inside the local market, you’ll find not only fresh produce, seafood and artisan products, but you can enjoy homemade tapas and local wines at the various food stalls. It’s a great place to do a food crawl and you’ll get to mingle with the locals.

Bodega Casa Benjamin: One of the oldest remaining restaurants in Denia, this used to be a bar where they had cock fights back in the early 1900s. Today, you can savor the house-made artisan vermouth (the old school Spanish happy hour drink that has been having a comeback) and superb wines from the local region and beyond. While sitting outside is lovely, make sure to enjoy the old world ambiance inside the bar area, complete with aging barrels, colorful hand-painted tiles, and a wall of wines that you can purchase to take home or have corked at your table. Make sure to compliment your drinks with their delicious tapas and main plates.

Tasca Eulalia: Another one of Denia’s long-time gastronomic spots, Tasca Eulalia continues in the family. They serve wonderful wines, feature traditional Valencian and Spanish cuisine, and have a great ‘menú del día’ (menu of the day). For an authentic experience of the famously delicious Jamón Ibérico, watch them cut it themselves at the bar (it’s a professional art here in Spain).

Els Magazinos: Enjoy the best of everything at this bohemian-style, gastronomic market that features street food-style stalls of international dishes and traditional local cuisine. It’s another wonderful place for tapas hopping with indoor and open-air seating, including two rooftop terraces. If you’re into beer, try the local Valencian craft beer Turia, served at most of the establishments here. Some of the best restaurants to try are A La Fresca, La Lola and The Speak, but make sure to explore the others as well.

Restaurante Mena: For some of the best paella in the area and romantic sea views, make sure to eat at Mena. Still family owned, it’s another oldie but a goodie and is known for their rice dishes and seafood. Located at the end of the Las Rotas, the Spanish-style house is perched right on the edge of a small cliff, allowing great views of the water below and the coastline. Make sure to reserve if you want a table on the terrace that looks right over the sea.

Restaurante Pont Sec: Truly a local’s place and hidden gem to most, Pont Sec is an enchanting experience. Just a short drive or bike ride from the town center, it’s located in a traditional, white Spanish house tucked off a road. Owned by local couple Pep and Anna, they specialize in Valencian dishes such as ‘cocas’ (like mini pizzas), lamb shoulder and Fideuá (a short noodle dish made in the paella pan), each cooked in a woodfired oven. Their cocas and bread are made with spelt flour and they have their own large garden in the back. Whether you sit inside the cozy wood-timbered salon or outside on their terrace under the grape vines, the ambiance is romantic and charming. Make sure to try the Fideuá de pato y setas con foie (with duck, mushrooms and foie).

Calle Loretto: This charming street behind the castle is today a pedestrian area lined with restaurants and traditional Spanish rowhomes. A still-working convent also calls it home. Some of the best traditional restaurants here are Tasca Les Monges and Restaurante Miguel Juan.

Restaurante Quique Dacosta: For an exquisite dining experience, eat at one of the 50 best restaurants in the world, the 3-Michelin Star Restaurante Quique Dacosta. Their modern style and artistic presentation features the freshest, local ingredients and creative interpretations of traditional dishes, optionally paired with incredible wines. Located just a few miles outside town and a block from the Las Marinas beach, it continues to put Denia on the map gastronomically along with the town’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, A Descendant’s Guide to Asturias: Spain’s Natural Paradise.

Advisor - Amalia Maloney

Travel Advisor

Amalia Maloney

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