If you are looking
for something indoors to do on one of those (very rare) rainy days on the Costa
Blanca or if you just fancy taking in some of the culture and history that
makes the region so rich, Sonneil’s presents its five favourite museums on the
Three permanent art
collections are housed at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Alicante (MACA).
The highlight of the attraction is the Juana Francés collection, bequeathed to
the museum by the artist and includes graphic work, paintings, and sketches.
The Baroque government building where some of the collection is displayed is
attached to a modern structure which houses the 20th-century art collection,
with pieces from luminaries such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso.
Located just a few
kilometres South of Benidorm is the Valour Chocolate Factory in Villajoyosa, is the oldest and most prestigious in
Spain. The aim of the museum, which opened in 1998 is to showcase the process behind
the production of the world’s favourite treat. In the nineteenth century
building that once was the small family factory, the visitor travels through
the 500 years of history of the art of chocolate making, from the times when
cocoa was ground in stone until today. The explanatory panels illustrate the
origins of the chocolate, the existing cocoa varieties, their introduction to
Spain and the utensils used throughout the centuries for its consumption.
Arab baths of Elche
Built around 1150,
the Arab Baths in Elche were a hidden treasure trove of local
heritage until their restoration and opening to the public in 1998. They are
located underground in the Convent de la Merced, where they were once used as
storeroom for the nuns. The baths, which are incredibly well preserved, are
among the few examples of Islamic public architecture still standing in the
region today. The baths are divided into three parallel rooms: temperate, hot
and cold, separated by arches and columns under barrel-vaulted ceilings with
skylights. During the visit, a recorded voice explains the different uses of
each area, while lights and sounds recreate the atmosphere of the original
Museum of old
In 2003, after more
than 25 years of work recovering and restoring motorcycles and microcars, Don
Ricardo Fracés Seguí opened the doors of the Museum of Historical Vehicles in
Guadalest, situated about 20 Km inland from Benidorm. The collection, consisting of about 140 motorcycles and several cars
from the 20s to the 70s, makes for a real motorised trip down memory lane. Apart from motorcycles and cars, the
museum is decorated with a series of old objects such as sewing machines,
typewriters, coffee makers, telephones and radios, each of them classics in their
Alicante museum of
museum features archaeological displays about the prehistoric residents of the
area. Located in a renovated historical building that was once a hospital, its
eight galleries inform you about how people have lived their lives from ancient
to modern times. The rooms are designed in different forms according to the
time period, so you’ll experience everything from caves to life aboard a
galleon on the high seas, making for an exciting journey through history. Upon
entering the exhibition area, visitors are immediately submerged into the local
geography of Alicante and are shown the rich and varied nature of its natural landscapes.
From here the historical journey begins through the permanent galleries
dedicated to Prehistory, the Iberians, the Romans, the Medieval Age and the
Modern and Contemporary Historical Periods.
Among the many
delightful things about living on the Costa Blanca is its vibrant cultural life
it has to offer. Besides the countless town festivals and saints’ days that
draw local crowds, there are also larger music festivals, most of which take
place in summer, that draw in performers and party goers from around Spain and
abroad. Here is Sonneil’s pick of the top five music festivals on the Costa
The Alicante Spring festival, which plays out over
two days in the last week of May features the best in indie, pop and urban
rhythms. In its new home in the car park of the Alicante Fairtrade Institution
the Spring Festival has succeeded in maintaining the same laid-back atmosphere
it had at its old home in the Port of Alicante. And it still attracts coolest
Date: May 24-25
Ticket prices start
at 22 euros and Children 11 years old and under can access for free, until the
reserved capacity of 200 minors is reached.
After the success of
the two Reggaeton Beach Festivals held in 2018 in Benidorm and Barcelona, the largest Urban Beach Festival in Europe continues to
grow, offering a showcase for the biggest names in urban music and reggaeton.
Apart from enjoying great concerts, you can also partake in a range of other
cultural, gastronomic and sports activities suitable for all audiences.
Date July 13
Tickets on sale from
30 euros. Children under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
From 26-28 July
Benidorm once again plays host to the Low Festival which takes place in the
Guillermo Amor Sports City.
This Indie-pop music
festival began in 2008 and has since established itself as one of the most
popular summer festivals on the national scene, with more than 70 rock, pop and
electronic artists. Boasting four stages and an incredible atmosphere, it is
one of the standout events in Alicante summer schedule. There are three
types of tickets available: the 3-day ticket, the 3-day VIP ticket and the
3-day VIP Pool ticket, which allows you to access an exclusive area with an
Denia Jazz Festival
For those with a more
laid-back disposition, the Denia Jazz festival could be right up your alley.
The music, which draws on renowned acts from the global jazz scene is
complemented by a wide range of activities designed to get the whole town of Denia tapping its toes to the rhythm,
including Lindy Hop dance classes and free city centre performances. Unlike
most festivals that take place over a few consecutive days, Denia’s jazz fest,
held in the gardens of the Torrecremada estate, plays out on the nights of
August 1, 8 and 22.
Tickets cost 15 euro
Benidorm Summer Festival
During this festival, which takes place in the first week of July, Benidorm becomes the European city of Bachata, Kizomba, Cubano and Salsa. In addition to concerts, shows and classes, various other activities are held with the aim of familiarising the uninitiated with the wonderful world of dance.
Getting a divorce in
Spain needn’t be difficult so long as both parties can agree on the
all-important matters of child custody and the division of assets. The conditions
under which a non-Spanish national can obtain a divorce in Spain are that
either they or their spouse is resident in Spain; their spouse is a Spanish
national; or the children live in Spain.
Spouses may divorce
by mutual agreement when they have been married for at least three full
months. It is not necessary for the couple to have been legally separated
for any period of time before filing for divorce. In certain cases a party
may petition for a divorce without waiting for the three-month period.
Where younger children
are concerned, custody is usually awarded to the mother. However, joint
custody is now becoming a more common outcome of divorce proceedings in Spain. Spanish
courts generally award alimony only where one of the spouses is clearly disadvantaged
economically as a result of the divorce.
Types of divorce in Spain
Uncontested divorce: The application for divorce by mutual
consent may be made before the “Letrado de la Administración de Justice”
(judicial secretary), notary public or the Court of First Instance. As
part of the application the parties must present a contractual agreement
addressing the following:
custody arrangements for any children, including visitation rights of
the non-custodial parent.
allowance or alimony, if any, to be paid by one spouse to other.
Use of the family
The manner, if any,
in which the spouses continue to contribute to family expenses.
An uncontested divorce
can be concluded quite quickly. However, in cases where one of the spouses
does not want to divorce or if both want to but they do not agree on the
outcome, the divorce will be contentious.
Contested divorce: In this case the divorce petition
is filed by only one of the spouses. It may require negotiation between lawyers
and call on third party evidence. A contested divorce can take anywhere from a few months to more than
a year to complete. Both parties will have to attend a Court hearing.
Whichever way the
spouses choose to seek a divorce (judicial or notary), they must be assisted by
a practicing lawyer. And, in the case of legal proceedings, they will have to
be represented by an attorney.
In addition to
divorce, Spanish law also acknowledges a separation procedure. Under a
separation judgement the marriage is not definitively dissolved. This means
that the spouses can live together again in a marriage at any time. In a separation, all subsequent
matters, such as childcare and use of the family dwelling must be presented. If
no such agreement is presented, the court will independently determine the
measures it deems appropriate.
Please note these are
only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law. All questions
about the law’s applications to individual cases should be directed to a
A little-known fact
among expats living in Spain is that if you are a full-time resident in the
country you are entitled to vote in local and European elections. An even
lesser known fact is that you can actually stand as a candidate in local
elections and even run for mayor. All EU citizens have “the right to vote
and stand as a candidate in municipal and European Parliament elections
regardless of whether they are a national of the EU country in which they
reside,” the European Commission confirms on its website.
However, only around
54 percent of EU citizens are aware of this provision, according to a 2016
If you want to
participate in local politics in Spain, the first thing you need to do is to
get registered on the municipal census (empadronamiento) at the local
ayuntamiento or town hall. This will allow you to register on the Spanish
electoral lists and vote in municipal and European elections.
Voting in Spain
You can vote and
stand as candidates in the municipal elections under the following
That you be a
national of a Member State of the European Union
That you be
registered on the municipal census in Spain and domiciled in the municipality
where you want to vote.
That you be at least
18 years old
You will need to provide
the town hall with a written declaration stating your nationality, address in
your home country and your right to vote there. Except in special cases, in order to
vote, you must register before the end of the year preceding the poll.
And that’s it!
It’s worth mentioning
that registering to vote in Spain doesn’t mean having to give up your right to
vote in your country of origin. Some Member States allow you to cast your vote
overseas, whereas others, like Ireland, require that you return home to vote in
Standing for election
According to an EU
website “Nationals of another EU country must be resident in the EU country
where they wish to stand as a candidate and comply with the same conditions as
set out for nationals,” However, the website adds “No person may stand as a
candidate in more than one EU Member State at the same election.”
Spain reported the
highest number of non-national candidates standing in municipal elections:
1,913 in polls before 2018. And unlike many other EU member states, in Spain,
nationals from other EU countries can even run for higher offices such as
The requirements for
standing as a candidate are the exact same as those required to vote, on top of
which, of course you will need to register your candidacy with the relevant
An exchange of vows
between a loving couple, whether in a civil or religious ceremony, always makes
for an unforgettable occasion. What the guests assembled on the day don’t see
is the huge amount of planning that goes into it. While planning and
preparation is a part of every wedding day, it’s especially true for expats who
want to get married in Spain, due to the need to provide certain documents from
your country of origin, on top of the usual administrative procedures that need
to be completed with the local authorities before the big day.
To help make sense of
it all, Sonneil has compiled this guide to getting married in Spain as expats.
Be aware, first of
all, that one of the two future spouses must be resident in Spain and be
registered with the municipality closest to the couple’s place of residence,
and both must be at least 18 years old. In the case of marriage between an EU
citizen and a citizen from outside the EU, a special check is made before
marriage is genuine and not being used to obtain a residence permit.
Same-sex marriage has
been allowed in Spain since 2005. Same-sex couples enjoy the same marital,
legal, inheritance and adoption rights as heterosexual couples.
The first step is to
contact the closest Registro Civil (Civil Registry) to your place of residence
in Spain. They’ll provide you with the required document (marriage licence) to
obtain a wedding date. To secure this, you will need to present:
Your NIE, your passport or identity card as well as photocopies
Your birth certificate. Be aware that non-EU nationals must have this document legalised by their consulate and their foreign ministry.
A certificate of empadronamiento stating your place of residence during the last two years or since you entered Spain (you can obtain it from the nearest municipality). At least one of the two fiancés must have resided in Spain in the previous 2 years
A sworn declaration of civil status
In the case of a divorcee, copies of the marriage and divorce documents
In the case of a widow, a copy of the marriage and death certificate
A civil marriage application form, completed and signed
These documents must
be apostilled in your country of origin and translated into Spanish by a
The marriage licence
is only valid for six months, meaning you must submit it to the Junta Municipal
(city council) within this time.
If you want a church
wedding, contact the local parish at least 3 months in advance. Accompanying
your marriage licence, you will also need to provide baptismal certificates
issued at least six months before the date of the wedding.
As a general rule,
marriage at the district court or the municipality is free. But if you prefer
to get married in a church, a donation of around 300 euros is customary. Church
marriages do not require legal procedures, but you will still need a
certificate of baptism issued at least six months before the wedding.
Once you have
celebrated your marriage, you are required to register it with the registry
office which will give you a family record book called Libro de Familia.
With that, all that
remains is to live happily ever after.
One of the most
notable differences between life in Spain and life in the UK is the bewildering
amount of festivals and public holidays in the Spanish calendar. To somebody
raised outside Spain, it can seem that every other day some festival or other
is taking place. In fact, in any given year, there are more than twenty public
holidays throughout the country, some of which are only celebrated in certain
regions while others are nationwide. Below is Sonneil’s list of the five best
festivals to be enjoyed on the Costa Blanca.
Moros and Christians
The festival of Moors
and Christians celebrates the reconquest of Spain by the Catholic monarchy
after 700 years of Muslim rule in 1492. The reconquest is celebrated annually
throughout Spain, but the cities of Valencia and Alicante have a particularly strong association with the tradition. Locals dress
as either Moors or Christians for the occasion and re-enact battles. The two
groups fight it out in the streets, which are filled with noise and smoke,
watched by thousands of spectators. In contrast, in mid-August, Dénia
celebrates the festival of Moors and Christians as a tribute to the coexistence
of cultures, highlighting the virtues of tolerance and multiculturalism.
The fires of St. John
(Fuegos de Sant Juan) announce the arrival of summer. At midnight, the city of
Alicante offers a magnificent firework display and papier-mâché statues are
burned during a ceremony called the Cremá de la Hoguera. In the afternoon,
everyone heads to the beach to share a picnic and barbecue grilled sardines or
meat. This is followed by the customary midnight swim, which is said to wash
away bad luck and invite good fortune.
The Costa Blanca
celebrates the famous Las Fallas festival in March, during which giant
satirical statues of celebrities or politicians are carried in procession
through the streets before being burned. It is the most important festival of
the Valencian community and attracts thousands of tourists each year. While
Valencia itself has the most spectacular Fallas celebrations, there are also
festivities in Benidorm, Calpe, Denia, and Gandia among others.
Carnival is perhaps
most famously associated with Brazil; however it is in fact widely celebrated
throughout the Latin world, including the Costa Blanca. Starting on Ash Wednesday
and ending on Holy Saturday in the Christian calendar, Carnival serves as one
last blowout of excess and debauchery before the austerity of Lent. In
Benidorm, where the biggest parade takes place, thousands of people turn out to
watch the giant decorated floats and dance to the marching bands.
This is one of the
most anticipated days of the year for children as it is when the Three Wise Men
come bearing gifts. At this time of the year the streets are still decorated
with Christmas lights, and the squares are filled with Nativity scenes carol
singers. On the night of the epiphany, January 6, The Three Kings arrive on
their camels loaded with presents and throw sweets and treats out to the
thousands of children assembled along the parade route. Experiencing this
deeply rooted Spanish tradition is an absolute must.
The Costa Blanca is a
paradise for golf lovers with 21 courses – including 3 pitch and putt – several
of which were designed by some of the most famous names to grace the game. With
most of the courses situated along the coast, you can make the most of the warm
Mediterranean climate and hit the fairways all round. Below is just a selection
of some of the Costa Blanca’s best golf courses.
Located at the
southern tip of the province of Alicante, near Torrevieja, Las Colinas Golf and Country Club has been ranked among the top 100
golf courses in Europe by Golf World magazine. Designed by the renowned North
American landscape architect, Cabell B. Robinson, it’s a true championship
course, with the sole aim of offering the best services and amenities to ensure
that every player has a unique experience.
The La Finca golf
club lies in natural surroundings of great beauty and with fantastic views. Its
facilities are open to those who want to play golf in the heart of nature while
being able to enjoy the beaches, sailing clubs and a host of other facilities
and services just a few minutes away. Several lakes with running water and reed
beds along the course add beauty and difficulty to the game, and have made the
course the home of a wide variety of migratory water birds, such as ducks and
egrets, while the interior of the course is home to olive and palm trees, thus
creating a beautiful backdrop of vegetation with a distinctly Mediterranean
Founded in 1974 but
completely redesigned in 2006, this 9-hole course offers spectacular views,
especially on the third hole which takes in the bay of Altea, north of Benidorm and the 7th,
where you can make out the Sierra Bernia mountains surrounding the Marina
Baixa. It is very attractively designed, and the location makes this an
unbeatable place for a round of golf. It is a semi-private club that is open to
the public, with members and green fee players both using the course.
Located south of the
city of Denia, this 27-hole gem is the work of the great José Maria Olazabal.
Built in three 9-hole pitches between 1990 and 2010, the La Sella golf course
has hosted the Ladies European Tour on four occasions. This impressive course
dotted with pine, almond and carob trees, boasts of wonderful views of the
mountains and the Mediterranean.
Created in 1992 by the Spanish legend Severiano Ballesteros, the Oliva Nova links course is spread over 50 hectares. The course, located in a huge residential complex, meaning it is surrounded by homes, but it is nonetheless very attractive. Water is constantly at play on this highly technical 18-hole course that alternates between short holes and much longer holes. Only holes 1, 2, 13 and 14 are free of water hazards but the wind remains a very important element throughout the course.
The Balearic Islands
of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza may be the largest and most famous of Spain’s
Mediterranean islands, but they aren’t the only ones. Indeed, the Costa Blanca
is host to three beautiful island treasures of its own that are well worth a
visit. Here is Sonneil’s guide to the islands of the Costa
journalists’ island, the island of Benidorm, or simply L’Illa to locals, the small
triangular rock off the coast of Benidorm is a must visit for nature lovers.
Measuring just 350m in length by 260m in width, its stand out feature is a 70m
high cliff on its southside. The islet forms part of the Sierra Helada Nature
Park, owing to its rich flora and fauna both on land and in its surrounding
Situated just two and
a half nautical miles from the coast, facing the Canfali headland that divides
Levant and Poniente beaches in Benidorm, the uninhabited island has a bar and
restaurant to attend to the needs of many daily visitors.
It can be reached by
ferry from Levante Beach, with boats leaving every hour and take about 20
minutes to reach the island. The ticket price includes a trip on the
specialised boat with an underwater viewing deck that allows to take in the
view beneath the waves. The Aquascope takes you on a short ride around the
island, lasting about fifteen minutes during which you can see starfish, squid
and huge shoals of fish, all at eye level.
Back on dry land,
Benidorm island can be explored on foot along a guided path to the summit where
you can take in the impressive views of the Benidorm coastline.
Tabarca Island is a
2km long, 400m wide marine reserve situated 16km off the coast of Alicante. The island was once a refuge for
Barbary pirates, before King Carlos III ordered it to be confiscated and
fortified on behalf of the Crown in the 18th Century. He repopulated it with
fishermen from Genoa whom he had rescued from the hands of the pirates and were
being held captive in the Tunisian city of “Tabarka”.
The only inhabited
island in Valencian Community, its population fluctuates between a few dozen in
winter and a few hundred in summer, when about 3,000 visitors a day arrive on
the island. The annual influx of visitors is largely thanks to its main beach
which is one of the most beautiful in the Alicante area. Other sites of
interest include the walled old town and picturesque port area.
The island of Tabarca
can be accessed from Alicante, Santa Pola, Guardamar, Torrevieja and Benidorm
by boat. From Alicante the journey usually lasts about 45min and costs around
The Island of
Portichol is located in the municipality of Javea in the Marina Alta region of Alicante province.
A peculiarly round
and hilly island, Portichol is located just off the Javea coast, to which it is
connected by a strip of land submerged about 3 m beneath the water, called an
isthmus. It only takes five minutes to reach from Javea port and the
surrounding waters are highly rated by divers thanks to their pristine quality.
According to the most recent figures
there are around 300,000 British citizens resident in Spain, 40 percent of whom
are aged 65 and over. According to Spain’s national statistics agency, the
Instituto Nacional de Estadistica (INE), the two regions with the most British
residents are Andalusia, where they number almost 77,000, and the Valencia
region, which counts 78,422. Narrowing it down further we find that the
province of Alicante has the highest number of British expats with more than
69,000. The continued popularity of the Valencian region, and the province of
Alicante in particular, is further borne out by home sales figures which found
that 40 percent of all homes in Alicante were bought by foreigners in 2018.
This being the case, Sonneil has looked
at the top five areas in the Costa Blanca for expat residents and what has
attracted them there.
Located in the Marina Baixa region of
Alicante, Benidorm has a long tradition of attracting British tourists and home
buyers. This has been boosted by improved transport connections with three
airports serving the northern (Valencia), Southern (Murcia) and central
(Alicante) provinces of the region. Dozens of flights a day connect these areas
to the UK, facilitating those all-important trips home or visits from friends
and family members. While Benidorm city has a reputation as an all-night party
town, you don’t need to go far to find much quieter villages where the
traditional Spanish way of persists. In fact, it’s these localities that tend
to attract the majority of expat buyers thanks to the relaxed pace of life.
The former fishing village of
Torrevieja is today a multicultural city that besides its large British
population is also home to significant numbers of German and Scandinavian and
Russian expats. Situated equidistant from Alicante and Murcia airports (about
50 minutes’ drive to each) Torrevieja is blessed with beautiful landscapes
and 20 kilometres of coastline. For those in search of the great outdoors,
there’s the nearby Lagunas de la Mata and Torrevieja nature reserve which hosts
dozens of species of birds and aquatic animals.
About one hour south of Benidorm and 45
minutes west of Torrevieja, the town of Orihuela is home to nearly 20,000
Brits. Easily accessible thanks to direct flights from Murcia airport, which is
also just a 45-minute drive away, Orihuela is a city so packed with important
monuments that its city centre has been declared a Historical Site. Besides
this rich cultural heritage, it also boasts of affordable properties and a cost
of living that is upwards of 30 percent cheaper than that of the UK on average.
The Orihuela coast with its Blue Flag beaches and the many highly rated golf
courses in the area add to the city’s popularity.
Javea is a town on the Costa Blanca
that lies 90 kilometres north of Alicante and 110 kilometres south of Valencia,
between the capes of San Antonio and La Nao. Javea is divided into three areas,
the port district, the Arenal with its beaches and tourist centre, and the old
town, its original city walls enclosing a labyrinth of cobblestone streets,
squares and picturesque corners. The town sits in the foothills of the Montgo
Massif, which at 753 m high is home to some of the most unique flora and fauna
in all of Spain.
Just 10 minutes’ drive from the
beautiful sandy beaches of Guardamar and 15 minutes from Torrevieja, it’s
little surprise that Rojales has become such a draw for UK expats that they now
number slightly more than half of the population. Its close proximity to
Alicante and Murcia airports – about 35 minutes’ drive to both – add to the
appeal, as does the nearby La Marquesa golf course. Rojales is famous for the
beautiful cave houses which are located in the hills to the south of the town.
The Costa Blanca is
of course best known for its sea and beaches, but that’s not all it has to
offer. It is also a region of spectacular mountain regions that offer a range
of outdoor pursuits – among the most popular of which is hiking. There are
dozens of routes suitable for hikers of all experience levels that allow you to
venture into areas such as the Montgó Natural Park, the Sierra de Mariola or
around the Guadalest dam. So hang up your bikini and put on your hiking boots,
its Sonneil’s guide to the best hiking routes on the Costa Blanca.
At over 5,500 feet
(1,558 metres) the Sierra Aitana is the highest peak in the Community of
Valencia. It lies to the south of the Guadalest Valley in the Marina Baixa
region of Alicante province, about an hour’s drive inland from Benidorm. There
are a number hiking routes you can take through this mountain range, but the
most popular one takes you through a vast landscape of boulders that were
deposited there by glaciers millennia ago. Following traditional footpaths and
mule tracks that afford spectacular panoramic views, you will ascend up the
side of the massif wall to the top of Aitana. On the descent, you pass through
beautiful valleys with natural springs and wonderful limestone
This 8 kilometers
long hiking route is one of the most popular on the Costa Blanca. It takes
between 4 to 6 hours which includes many breaks and is classified as a medium
to hard route.
At 1,406 meters Puig
Campana is the second highest mountain in the province of Alicante. There are
two routes to choose from: one that ascends the mountain and one that goes
around it. Naturally, the former is the more difficult of the two and best left
to the more experienced mountain hiker.
The sides of the
mountain are covered in pine trees and offer fantastic views as far as the
coastline. The 12 km round trip beginning at “Font de Moli” in
Finestrat takes about 5 hours with breaks and is considered to be a hike of
The Guadalest dam was built across the Guadalest River between 1953 and 1964. The dam is 73 meters high and 270 meters long and supplies water to many towns and villages in the area, including Benidorm. The circular route around the dam, with the turquoise waters of the reservoir as the shining centrepiece in the middle, is one of the most spectacular in the province. It’s a low difficulty route along a road that passes by six mountains allowing you to take in some breath-taking scenery with a minimum of effort. Apart from the reservoir and the surrounding mountains, there is also the pretty town of Guadalest itself to be seen as well as a Moorish castle perched on the top of a cliff.
This is only a small
fraction of what the Costa Blanca has to offer those willing to peel themselves
off the beach and explore the great wide open.