One of the most popular places to visit near Benidorm, Spain is the El Cisne weekend market. About 20 minutes outside Benidorm and close to the towns of Albir and Altea, the El Cisne weekend market is a wonderful place to spend a few hours, not just for the cheap shopping but for the food and entertainment too.
What is El Cisne Weekend Market? – The El Cisne weekend market has grown up around an old Spanish farmhouse. What was once an old, disused farm house, on the road from Benidorm to Altea, is now a popular market visited by both visitors to the area and the Spanish themselves. The main area of the market is actually located inside what used to be the old stone farmhouse. Each of the many rooms has been converted into separate market stalls that sell antiques and collectibles – everything from old European military paraphernalia, to paintings, pottery, jewelry, furniture and collectibles.
Outside, on the farmhouse land, is an outdoor market that’s sprouted up, selling artwork, arts and crafts, second-hand clothing, books, jewelry, and more. Many of the stalls are owned by Germans and Brits, who’ve lived in Spain for years and run market businesses, with their stalls moving from market to market in the region, depending on the day.
What to Buy at El Cisne – Start out browsing the indoor market of antique stalls, as there’s a huge choice of antiques and collectibles at prices much cheaper than you’ll find in many other places in Spain. Look for antique furniture, paintings, old books and pottery.
Particularly interesting are the stalls selling old military paraphernalia, with one selling medals from the First and Second World Wars, old swords, military clothing items, and even a large collection of antique lead soldiers. At the El Cisne antique stalls, you’ll find paintings as inexpensive as 15 euros ($21), antique ornaments for 10 euros ($14.20) and even a complete World War Two parachutist outfit for a few hundred euros.
After the antique stalls, move outside into the sunshine and browse the many outdoor market stalls. Here, you’ll find everything from sunglasses to DVDs and CDs, old LPs, handmade jewelry, a large selection of English, Spanish and Norwegian books, hardware items, reading glasses, clothing, shawls, shoes, and lots of second-hand items. I picked up a DVD I’d been looking for for months, a couple of books and some jewelry – all at prices even cheaper than I can buy back home in Thailand.
Food at El Cisne – Wandering around El Cisne market, you’ll also come across several stalls selling huge selections of cheeses, sausages, meats, snacks and sandwiches. Buy a sandwich and a coffee at one of the small stalls as you walk into the market and sit and watch the crowds walk by, or pick up a skewer of roasting chicken at another stall further inside. Be careful, it’s tasty but boiling hot.
The best place to sit and enjoy food or a drink is at one of the restaurants in the center of the market. There are two large cafes here with both indoor seating or outdoor seating in a courtyard. In the winter they’re enclosed with fires or space heaters going, so it’s not cold. In the summer they’re open-air and lovely and warm. Both places make excellent cafe con leche, serve spirits, large selections of Spanish wine, and have a great variety of bottled beer and beer on tap – both the local brew and imported brands.
Entertainment at El Cisne Weekend Market – One of the big reasons why the market is so popular is the free jazz music that’s on offer on Saturdays and Sundays. The musicians come from all over the local area and you’ll here everything from contemporary jazz piano to traditional jazz and blues singers. The musicians and singers play on a raised patio next to the farmhouse and overlooking both large cafes. Grab a beer, a coffee or a full meal, relax, enjoy the sun, and listen to the amazing music. The atmosphere is wonderful and the music fun.
If you’re going to be in the Benidorm, Albir or Altea area, don’t miss the El Cisne Weekend Market. Opening around 10am every weekend day, it goes on until about 3pm. You can catch a local bus from Benidorm or from the opposite direction at Albir or Altea. Bus fare, at the moment, is only 1 euro 25 cents ($1.75) and there are buses every 15 minutes that stop right outside the market, so you can come and go as you like.
The market is about 20 minutes by bus from Albir and Altea and about the same distance from Benidorm.