Villajoyosa, or La Vila or La Vila Joiosa, is known for its chocolate and its coloured houses that stretch along the beachfront. Situated on the Costa Blanca, a short tram ride from Benidorm, it’s a complete contrast and a relaxed way of life. You’ll find tapas bars, chic restaurants, chocolate factories, shops, and very little nightlife. Unless you count for people joining together over a caña or children playing in the park until late.
The beauty of La Vila is that it’s a beautiful seaside town, yet it hasn’t been a victim of over-tourism. It hasn’t lost its Spanish roots and neither has it turned into a tourist trap. Instead, it’s a proper working town which is lovely to spend a day wandering around.
Separated from Benidorm on the other side of La Cala de Finestrat, Villajoyosa is a laid-back, relaxed Spanish seaside town filled with history and culture. The way of life is, on the whole, much slower than other European countries. You’ll still find that shops and some restaurants still close for a siesta mid-afternoon.
Time Zone: GMT + 1
Plug Socket: European
Language: Spanish and Valencian. English is widely spoken and is growing.
Climate: A comfortable and welcoming year-round temperature. Very hot in July, August, and September. Low rainfall. February is the wettest month.
How long a stay: If you’re planning to head on holiday to Benidorm or Alicante, it’s very easy to see Villajoyosa in a half-day or full-day trip, depending on what you want to do there. If you’re wanting to go on holiday to Villajoyosa, 5-7 nights allows you to see different places in the area as well as relax at the beach and the pool.
What to pack: With a pleasing climate all year round, it’s easy to pack lightly for Villajoyosa, if you aren’t climatised! Don’t be surprised to see locals wearing jumpers and scarves in 20 degrees temperatures. In the summer, you’ll want to pack light clothing, shorts, t-shirts, and swimwear. It is completely ok to wear crop tops, have your shoulders showing or your knees. You will see lots of other people wearing the same. In winter, it’s a good idea to be a little more reserved. Locals will be wearing jumpers, jeans, and coats along with scarves and all the works. It’s a good idea, as to not stand out, to wear jeans and a t-shirt, with a cardigan or sweatshirt for when the temperature drops around 16:00.
Getting to Villajoyosa
Many people head to Villajoyosa for a holiday in its own right, without ever stepping foot into Benidorm or its neighbouring towns. Others opt for a getaway to Benidorm and spend a couple of hours or a day in Villajoyosa. After all, it’s only a 15-minute tram ride away! I would recommend only heading to Villajoyosa for a half-day trip.
Thursday is a good day to head to La Vila as it’s the day of their market. Next to the Creueta tram stop, you’ll find the huge market sprawled out. You’ll find lots of local produce ranging from meats and fish to fruits and vegetables, plus lots of clothes, bags and other bits and pieces. There are also food vans set up.
To get to Villajoyosa, your best bet is flying into Alicante Airport, or Valencia Airport if you don’t mind travelling further!
You can then take a local bus into Villajoyosa from the airport or use one of the transfer services. If you’re staying in Benidorm, there is a lovely walk you can do across the mountain and into La Vila via La Cala de Finestrat. It’s about a 2-hour walk but it’s fabulous to do in Spring or Autumn! The picture above is taken on El Torres beach that you will walk across before getting to La Vila. There is a great campsite there which has a bar!
If you are staying on the Costa Blanca, Villajoyosa has good ALSA and Llorente bus connections and 2 tram stations, Creueta and La Vila, which are conveniently placed both ends of the town.
I would recommend getting off at Creueta which is near to the Valor Chocolate Factory and the Market. A short walk down towards the sea brings you to the centre of the beach. You’ll then have the option to turn left for the port and the fishing area, or turn right to head into the old town and explore the coloured houses. Getting off at La Vila will bring you to the coloured houses and there is a gorgeous walk through the park and over the bridge.
The Villajoyosa Tram is on L1 which you take towards LUCEROS. Alternatively, if you’re driving, it’s a mere 10-15 minutes away on the motorway.
Where to stay in Villajoyosa
As it’s not boomed with tourism, this means staying in Villajoyosa can pose a problem. There are hotels and apartments, but not many to choose from. You are able to book through booking websites to find apartments for short-term rent, or you can opt for one of the hotels.
There are hotels a little further out near to Paradis, but I wouldn’t recommend heading that far out as you will have to take a tram into La Vila each day anyway!
The two hotels in a good location are the following:
Hotel Censal: Hotel Censal is a three-star hotel situated one street back from the beach. It’s near to the petrol station and Burger King. There are also various bars and restaurants scattered nearby as well as a Mercadona supermarket just a short 5 minutes walk away. It’s a relaxed hotel which offers sea views and a rooftop terrace. Average cost: 70€ per night
Hotel Allon Mediterrania: I would say this is the best choice of hotels in La Vila. Located on the first line of the beach, there is nothing obstructing your view in the morning. You’ll wake up to fishing boats out on the shore and, if you’re lucky, you might even see a dolphin. It’s a modern four-star hotel with upmarket suites. There is also an outdoor pool and dining. The nightclub in Vila is open on Saturdays which is directly next door to the hotel, so bear in mind that if you are planning a quiet weekend away, this might not be the best place! Average cost: 90€ per night.
The History of Villajoyosa
Back in the 16th century, the population of Villajoyosa was around 800 inhabitants. Just like other towns across the Costa Blanca coastline, it suffered from various attacks by pirates that came from Algeria. After many ruthless attacks, a defensive network was constructed along the coast to fend off attacks. Now, you’ll see the Tower Aguiló and Tower Xarco which still stand today.
This also ties in with the historical festival of Moors and Christians, which commemorates the confrontation between the Moorish and Christian soldiers over the rule of Spain. The event is held in honour of the city’s patron saint who played a role in the battle. The victory was for the Christians even though they were outnumbered by the Moors.
This festival is across many parts of Spain, but it is most popular in Valencia and Alicante region. The festivals of Villajoyosa and Alcoy are recognised as being of International Touristic Interest and the best in Spain. The festival is well-worth watching. With plenty of music, processions and decored streets, there are thousands who travel to be a part of the festivities. There is also a final battle that marks the end of the three-day festival.
What to do and see in Villajoyosa
The Coloured Houses
The most photographed location in Villajoyosa is the coloured houses. Perched at the end of the beach. The beautiful colours are said to remind the fishermen of home when they were out at sea. Legend has it, that their boat was the same colour as their home and when they were out to sea for days on end they could look in the distance and distinguish their home from other fishermen homes.
The beautiful thing about La Vila is that there is such a contrast of colour that it makes for wonderful photos. Whether it’s fountains, the sea, the mountains, the coloured houses or the typical Spanish streets, you’ve got lots of options.
The Old Town
The old town of Villajoyosa is located where the coloured houses are, so it’s easy to find it! In that area, you’ll also find the beautiful church and quaint shops. It won’t be unusual to walk around the old town and see that people have their doors wide open and a plastic chair perched at the door as they’re sitting out and chatting with neighbours.
Possibly the most famous thing about La Vila is its distribution of chocolate. Don’t be surprised if you step off the tram and get a whiff of melted chocolate circling the air. I’ve noticed, that I smell it stronger when it’s going to rain!
The Valor Chocolate Factory Tour
Well worth doing is heading to the Valor Chocolate Factory museum which is totally free! The tour is limited to 50 people so you have to get there early and get your free ticket. The visit is 45 minutes long. There isn’t any parking at the museum, but there’s a pay to park car park around 10 minutes away and plenty of street parking.
To access the tour, you must get a ticket in the automatic dispenser at the entrance of the factory. This is to ensure that the 50 person limit is not exceeded. There is an accessible route for people with reduced mobility. Please be aware that in summer, the waiting time for a time slot can be up to an hour, so make sure you get there well ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
The tour times are as follows, but please be aware that the factory may change these at any time so it’s important to check on their site before making the journey.
Monday to Friday:
Spanish: 11:00, 12:00. 13:00, 17:00, 18:00 and 19:00
English 10:00am and 16:00
Spanish 11:00, 12:00 and 13:00
Closed on Sundays and festivals.
La Barbera Park
Another great place to visit in Villajoyosa is the Barbera park. It’s the first park in Spain to have a bench that has free WiFi powered by solar energy. Other than that, there is a mini stadium inside where live bands tend to play at weekends and a café on site. You’ll find lots of children running around over the faux-grass hills and playing on the equipment.
Head into a bar or restaurant
Plenty of bars and restaurants are scattered around La Vila. My favourite ones are located on Calle Colón. One which is well worth a visit is El Jardín de Laura. It has a beautiful outdoor terrace around the back which is lit up by candles and fairy lights. A great tapas bar near to Calle Colon is El Barrio.
Watch the world go by in a café
One of my favourite things to do in La Vila is sit in a café, listen to the locals chatting and people watch. I could do it for hours. There are many lovely cafés in La Vila, but I think the best are Valor, Granier and Fer Café.
If you liked this post then perhaps you’d be interested in one of these other travel guides about the Alicante region:
If you love the idea of a typical Spanish seaside town, then Villajoyosa is for you!