The vibrant coastal city of Benidorm attracts visitors from all over the world seeking fun in the sun, exciting attractions, fantastic nightlife and a very favourable cost of living. With so much to offer, Benidorm has an ever increasing and cosmopolitan mix of expat residents who are well catered for by a number of speciality shops. Let’s face it, no matter what country you come from, if you have been living in a foreign country for any length of time you will start to crave a taste of home, and with Spanish shops and supermarkets mainly offering local products, the place to find foreign goods is in the many speciality shops that can be found throughout Benidorm.
I use the term ‘speciality’ very loosely as this doesn’t just apply to shops in Benidorm selling products from other countries, but also shops that specialise in specific items. Indeed, before the invention of supermarkets you could pretty much class any shop as a speciality shop. For instance, there are many shops, supermarkets and shopping complexes in Benidorm where you will find a great range of children’s toys, but if you are looking for a beautifully made teddy bear, in the Old Town you will find Flying Teddies.
Benidorm’s Speciality Shops
Delicatessen (Charcuteria) – With Spain’s love of cured and aged meats and cheeses, these are one of the most widespread speciality shops in Benidorm. Offering a mouthwatering array of favourites such as Serrano and Ibérico ham, chorizo, salchichón, fuet, manchego cheese and much more. You may have tried a supermarket brand of Serrano or chorizo and thought, that’s ok but nothing too special; well when you visit a reputable Charcuteria, it will literally change your world! Regarded as the finest ham in the world, if you are lucky you may get to try the ultimate, and extremely expensive Gran Reserva Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. These shops will often have an selection of wines and sherry, specifically to go with certain meat or cheese.
Olive & Olive Oil Stalls – Another firm favourite with Spaniards and foreigners alike, the humble olive and coarsely refined olive oil has long been part of the staple diet of peasant farmers and farm workers, accompanied by a hunk of bread and sometimes cheese. Still a part of nearly every Spanish meal, olives and olive oil come in a staggering variety which can be found at any market and also a couple of dedicated shops. Let me put it to you this way, since moving to Spain, I would never touch the olives I used to eat on a regular basis from British supermarkets. Such is the mystique surrounding this revered fruit, throughout Spain there are olive and olive oil clubs and societies.
British Shops – By far the most numerous of foreign holidaymakers in Benidorm are British, and the city provides a number of outlets where favourite British brands and products can be found. The most popular of these is Iceland Supermarket that stocks an excellent range of goodies, although at a higher price than in the UK but then transport and import costs need to be taken into consideration. There is also the smaller supermarket Quick Save, and great for bulk buys, Expats Cash & Carry in nearby Villajoyosa.
Scandinavian Shops – Northern European visitors and expats in Benidorm will find a small selection of shops that stock popular Scandinavian staples such as gravlax, marinated herring, Russian caviar, kottbular, rye bread, crispbread, lingonberries, semla and for those with an acquired taste, fermented lutfisk and surstromming. Popular spirits are also usually available like aquavit and a variety of vodkas, including a few Russian ones. There is also a selection of Scandinavian food in the large German grocery retailers, Lidl and ALDI.
Asian Shops – With the huge amount of Indian and Chinese restaurants to be found in Benidorm, there is also a large Asian expat community that rely on the Asian shops to provide the necessary ingredients for their extremely flavourful dishes. Not only that, curry is officially the most popular British dish and the curry powder found in Spanish supermarkets is totally bland. Benidorm’s Asian shops are well stocked with products such as fresh herbs, individual spices and various spice mixes, fresh and dried chillies, coconut milk, tinned water chestnuts, fantastic pickles and concentrated purees, just to name a few.
Pharmacies – If you have not visited Spain before you may ask yourself what am I doing featuring pharmacies under speciality shops? Under Spanish law it is not permitted to sell any form of pharmaceutical product other than in a pharmacy, including basic items such as paracetamol or aspirin. On the plus side, some items that require a prescription in countries such as the UK are readily available over the counter here such as antibiotics, asthma inhalers and strong pain relievers like codeine.
Tobacconists – As I have mentioned above, the same laws apply to tobacco products, and other than some bars that have cigarette machines, tobacconists are the only places to get cigarettes and rolling tobacco in Spain, although items like rolling papers and filters can be found in mini marts and bric-a-brac ‘Chino’ shops. Spanish tobacconists offer a great selection of both local and international cigarette and tobacco brands, many when bought in multi-packs or cartons come with a free gift, from lighters to 35cl bottles of spirits.
Cannabis Clubs – Last but not least, I thought I would throw this little spanner into the mix. Yes you read correctly, there are cannabis clubs throughout Spain, including Benidorm where for a yearly membership fee and a ‘donation’ towards your chosen weed, hashish or oil (of which there’s a good selection), you can kick back in a safe, chilled out environment and smoke to your hearts content. Some are small, basically a counter and room with chairs and tables adorned with smoking paraphernalia. Others are fantastic affairs similar to social clubs or nightclubs with cafe/bars, live entertainment, pool tables, games area and comfortable chill out areas with sofas and armchairs.. Viva España 🙂
Please note: I have purposely left out specific addresses for these speciality shops as they can really be hit and miss, with many closing down and re-opening on a regular basis.