British rule the most Spanish cities in Spain, reveals survey

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A study examines where in Spain are there more Brits than anywhere else

The British have long considered Spain a favourite destination, whether on holiday or permanently.

Spain has remained the go to place in the sun since the late 70s and the package holiday boom thanks to its almost perfect combination of culture, gastronomy, beaches, and a warm climate.

Traditional areas are mostly populated by Spaniards, whereas others have become little enclaves of Brits.

Spain-Holiday investigated which cities in Spain are most popular with British tourists.

A highest 10 was created using data on the percentage of residents with British nationality and the ratio of British pubs, stores, and similar establishments per person, albeit it was not exhaustive (it only looked at cities with more than 50,000 residents).

The survey finds that:

• Benidorm, on the Costa Blanca, is Spain's most British city;

• The Costa del Sol leads the rating, with five towns in the Top 10; and

• Brits prefer to settle in major tourist destinations, staying in well-known locations and avoiding inland cities.

1. Benidorm, Alicante (Costa Blanca)

Benidorm gets the title of the most British city in Spain, which comes as no surprise given its status as possibly Spain's most famous holiday resort.

Beni was one of the first-holiday resort towns, attracting visitors to its shores as early as 1925.

For years, many British families have spent their summer vacations in Benidorm! As a result, many expats return to their favourite vacation spots and relocate to sunny Benidorm when settling down.

The British population in Benidorm easily triples during the summer due to the influx of tourists. Still, the city boasts a vibrant community of British expats who permanently reside, even outside the high season.

Benidorm truly is a "home away from home," with several British supermarkets bringing your favourite brands and products to Costa Blanca and several British restaurants serving delicious Sunday roasts and full English breakfasts.

Benidorm's British statistics are as follows:

- 3,389 permanent residents of British nationality (4.90 percent of the total population)

- 43 British stores, restaurants, and pubs

2. Alicante's Orihuela / Orihuela Costa (Costa Blanca)

Orihuela, a lovely village near Torrevieja, is Spain's second most British city, located just south of Benidorm.

It is separated into two sections: Orihuela Costa, located right on the beach (and is the most popular place for British residents), and Orihuela Old Town, which is located a few minutes inland.

Because of its Blue Flag beaches and proximity to national parks, Orihuela has traditionally attracted many expats.

Thanks to two neighbouring international airports and a train connection to Madrid, this town is very well-connected to the rest of the country and Europe.

Orihuela Figures from the United Kingdom:

- British nationals as permanent residents: 10,025 (12.70 percent of the total population)

- Shops, restaurants, and pubs in the United Kingdom: 18.

3. Benalmádena, Málaga (Costa del Sol) 

Benalmádena, which closes off the top three, marks the first appearance of the Costa del Sol in this list! In the summer, the city is overrun with tourists, and the beaches are packed, but in the winter, Benalmádena is a peaceful hamlet where expats and locals coexist.

The town has a diverse population that is divided into three main areas: Benalmádena Costa, which is known for its beaches; Benalmádena Pueblo, which is quiet and located on the Malaga mountain slopes, and Arroyo de la Miel, which is located in the middle of the three and offers plenty of entertainment for both locals and tourists.

Brits are one of the most prominent nationalities in Benalmádena, which attracts visitors from all across Europe.

Benalmádena has the most British businesses and pubs on the Costa del Sol, transforming it into the British capital of the region!

British statistics in Benalmádena: - Permanent inhabitants of British nationality: 3,420 (4.87 percent of the total population)

- Shops, restaurants, and pubs in the United Kingdom: 31

4. Mijas, Málaga (Costa del Sol)

We're staying on the Costa del Sol for the next place on the list because Mijas is Spain's fourth most British town! While Mijas Pueblo has traditionally attracted visitors due to its natural beauty and ancient Spanish architecture, most British expats have lived in Mijas Costa, the seaside portion of the town.

Many expatriates who desire to live in Spain have been drawn to this lovely stretch of beach.

Living in Mijas lets you easily explore the Andalusian coastline and the inland "Pueblos Blancos" due to its location on the Costa del Sol.

British statistics for Mijas:

- British nationals as permanent residents: 8,610 (9.93 percent of the total population)

- Shops, restaurants, and pubs in the United Kingdom: 3

5. Torremolinos, Málaga (Costa del Sol)

Torremolinos, Spain's next most British town, is another of our favourite vacation spots.

Young professionals and retirees flock to this vibrant coastal town to make Spain their home. It is well connected to Malaga. The province's capital and the southern portion of Torremolinos has developed into a true tourist hotspot, with many British pubs, restaurants, and shops.

The northern section of town retains its true Spanish "pueblo" look and feel, allowing expats to experience Spanish life while also being able to go down to the ocean and order a pint whenever they're homesick.

Torremolinos statistics in the United Kingdom:

- 1,353 permanent residents of British nationality (1.99 percent of the total population)

- Shops, restaurants, and pubs in the United Kingdom: 28

The following are the last places in Spain where there is a significant British presence:

  1. Fuengirola (Malaga)
  2. Torrevieja (Alicante)
  3. Calvia (Balearics)
  4. Arona (Tenerife)
  5. Estepona (Malaga)


Researchers used Google Maps to extricate all British bars, restaurants, and supermarkets in each city. They computed the ratio of these establishments per inhabitant, starting with a list of all municipalities in Spain with more than 50,000 residents.

At that moment they computed the percentage of British residents in each city using the INE (Spanish National Institute of Statistics) as of January 1, 2021.

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