I knew little about Torrevieja, including how to pronounce its name, when I first visited the area. Now as a resident I’d like to share its star qualities and encourage you to explore and enjoy this intriguing town, so in this article I’m going to talk about what to do in Torrevieja.
Like many visitors to Torrevieja, we came because of connections. My friend’s parents had bought a property here and first introduced us to the area. It was during the boom in 2001 and this town by the sea was heaving with tourists in the summer – both Spanish and international. It was a good base for a holiday with plenty of beaches in easy reach, bars and nightlife and, for us, the advantage of it being a multi-cultural town with plenty of English spoken too.
After buying our own property, for six years we continued to take our holidays here. We became experts at negotiating the summer traffic and knowledgeable about the best bars and restaurants to visit. We had little idea about the traditions and community that are its bedrock. In the year 2008 everything changed. The crisis hit and, coincidentally, we decided to move permanently and take up residence in our Spanish home. Our perception of the town changed along with our residential status. We parked up close to the front, not to visit the beaches but to renew our padron. We visited La Siesta not for the restaurants but the health centre.
Now trips to the beach are more likely to be an annual rather than daily event and we work hard at not taking the blue skies for granted. We’ve been introduced to the more mundane, but haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a tourist here too. Now, we’d like to share some special features of this town in which we’ve made our home.
Torrevieja is ideally situated close to the major international airport of Alicante-Elche and the AP7 coastal motorway. It takes around 90 minutes to drive to Benidorm and its water and theme parks; Aqualandia and Terra Mitica. However, it is not so much of a party city as Benidorm and is chosen by many Spaniards both to live in and visit for their holidays too.
Torrevieja is within easy travelling distance of the historic cities of Cartagena, Murcia and Elche. It takes around 40 minutes to reach Alicante with all its shopping, leisure and transport facilities and Cartagena is a similar distance in the other direction. You’re never short of somewhere to take your visitors.
Being on the coast, Torrevieja has a number of its own beaches, which, although small, are well kept, convenient and mean that you can do a spot of shopping in between topping up your tan. Many of them are blue flag beaches, meaning that they have been quality assured against a range of criteria.
If you prefer you can travel a little further up the coast to Orihuela Costa. In the winter the beaches of Playa Flamenca, La Zenia and Cabo Roig are only 10 to 15 minutes away along the N332 road. In the summer, you must allow for much longer and delays if you do use this route. The summer can be hectic here but you are never far away from the services you might need and the entertainment you might want.
Torrevieja has two lakes which are beautiful and unique environments. The ‘Laguna rosa’ is not called the pink lake for nothing. The algae in the water turns it this colour and the muffled silence surrounding this lunar landscape makes it a must to visit. The La Mata lake is quite a contrast. With a less dense salt content, it is full of wildlife, and is an excellent place to enjoy a picnic. You must visit this area at least once and marvel at such a green, calm oasis only five minutes from the tourist hot spots.
What to do in Torrevieja
These are some things to do in Torrevieja:
- Sports – Alongside its reputation as being a coastal town, Torrevieja is keen to build its reputation as a sports city. It has a very large sports complex which is well-used by local residents and visiting clubs wishing to train there. This includes an outside pool and large indoor pool located at its ‘Sports Palace’.
- Water sports – As you would expect, there are plenty of opportunities to try water sports close to the town. Jet skis, scuba diving, snorkelling, water skiing and even surfing in the winter, are all popular pursuits. From the different marinas you can take part in a number of nautical experiences including windsurfing, kayaking and even wakeboarding at the cable ski facility right at the end of the Marina Salinas port.
- Water parks – Aquopolis is a water park very close to the centre of the town and is an enjoyable day out for the whole family. A little further out of the centre you’ll find the Aqua-Park Quesada / Rojales which also presents an attractive alternative to the beach.
- Shopping – The Ozone leisure centre includes 8 cinemas, bowling, arcades and restaurants. As this area links on to the Habaneras shopping centre it means you can do a spot of undisturbed shopping whilst the younger members of your family enjoy themselves close by.
- Cycling is also a popular thing to do in Torrevieja and there is good provision with plenty of bike paths. Its relatively flat landscape means that you can reach most places on a bike without too much exertion. The Via Verde or ‘green way’ is a 7km long bike path which takes you past the salt lake and its stunning scenery. The sunsets from here are spectacular, particularly during the autumn.
Cosmopolitan and Spanish
Torrevieja boasts a real mixture of cultures and nationalities. It has been chosen by many British, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, German and Russian people as their country of choice. If you do feel more comfortable mixing with compatriots then Torrevieja is the place to do it. It also makes Torrevieja a vibrant, colourful and intriguing town.
As you would expect from a town that is international in flavour, so are its restaurants. It certainly boasts more than its fair share of Chinese restaurants but there is also a vast selection of other international food available.
Mexican, Argentinian, Indian, British, Scandinavian, Italian, Belgian and, of course, Spanish, there is almost every culinary option represented here.
Although it began its life as a fishing village Torrevieja’s ideal position means that many Spanish families also have holiday homes here and there is a surge in population during the month of August. However, it is not a package holiday destination. Most people who choose to holiday here have some kind of a connection with the town. This adds to its character as an ‘animated’ rather than a ‘riotous’ holiday destination.
Places to visit
These are some interesting places to visit in Torrevieja:
- Eras de la Sal – Torrevieja is also known as the city of salt. From the N332 you can see the mountains of salt extracted from the nearby lake and waiting to be shipped abroad. Excursions during much of the year introduce you to the town’s salty past and you can see the mountains up close. The Eras de la Sal was the site of the salt storehouse and various events are held there including the annual International Habaneras and Poliphony Competition.
- Casino – If you have time you should head in the direction of the casino. This elegant Spanish building does not house roulette wheels and blackjack tables but is a traditional club for members that is also frequented by locals and tourists. You must take a look at its ceiling if you go inside and, if you are lucky, you might be entertained by one of the shows and events that they sometimes hold there.
- Ports and “diques” – Torrevieja boasts three ports and two ‘diques’ which are long piers or walkways. The dique de levante extends around 1,350 metres into the sea. Ideally to be walked at dusk, from this vantage point you’ll be able to look down on the Marina Salinas with its selection of fashionable bars and restaurants and the Paseo de la Libertad with its statue of the Bella Lola who waits for her husband to return from the sea.
Hopefully this article has given you ideas on what to do in Torrevieja. Just like the elephant, you could allow yourself only to discover a small portion of it. Alternatively, take a wide-view lens and enjoy the full picture of this amazing town.
This article was originally published in the Ábaco Club. These are some of the benefits of being a member:
- Weekly and monthly activities
- Two main yearly events
- Special promotions (internet and telephones, medical services, restaurants…)
You can obtain more information here.