The Balearic island of Ibiza needs no introduction; it has been a haven to tourists for decades and remains one of the most popular destinations in Europe. But, whilst the big coastal resorts of San Antonio and Playa d’en Bossa are well-known there is so much more to discover in the 572km2 world in miniature.
There are five municipalities on the island; the capital Eivissa (Ibiza Town), Santa Eulària des Riu (Santa Eulalia), Sant Antoni de Portmany, (San Antonio) Sant Josep de sa Talaia (San José) and Sant Joan de Labritja (San Juan), each one offering visitors a unique experience, from hidden coves to hill top villages and modern resorts to rural communities.
Ibiza Town (Eivissa)
Eivissa (or Ibiza Town) is the island’s capital, the fortified old town or Dalt Vila is a World Heritage Site with its winding streets and ancient monuments such as the castle and cathedral. The fortifications were built by Philip II of Spain highlighting the importance of Eivissa as a strategic city for his Mediterranean defence plans, aimed to stop the invasions of Berber pirates in the 16th century!
Dalt Vila’s historic centre is today an outdoor museum and visitors can find traces of all the peoples who have invaded the island over the centuries. The main gateway to the old town is the Portal de Ses Taules drawbridge as well as the Mercat Vell (old market) and the Portal Nou (new gate) next to Reina Sofia Park. There is plenty to see in the area with the cathedral, the church of Santo Domingo and San Ciriacos Chapel which is the venue for a range of cultural events and concerts, the ancient castle is being turned into a Parador! There are also several museums including the archaeological museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Puget Museum and the Madine Yabsiba Interpretation centre which tells the city’s history using visual technology.
Even if you are not a fan of museums, Dalt Vila has plenty to keep you occupied, the city’s chequered history has created a wonderful cosmopolitan hotchpotch of architecture, traditions and flavours. Stroll around the narrow streets or enjoy a refreshing glass of something in one of the bustling squares. If you are fortunate enough to visit during the second weekend in May, the whole of Dalt Vila is turned into a vast medieval fair with minstrels, artists and craftsmen. The three-day event is free of charge and attracts more than 100,000 people every year!
Outside of Dalt Vila, Eivissa town is a bustling modern city with all the amenities you would expect. If retail therapy is your thing then head to the Plaza del Parque, Paseo de Vara de Rey, Avenida de España and the Calle Bartolomé Roselló. Shoppers will also enjoy the Barrio de la Marina district around the harbour. The Marina Botafoc area is a focal point for locals and visitors with shops, restaurants and lots going on. It also a great spot for the evening paseo along the cruise ship dock with stunning views of Dalt Vila. From the city centre the closest beach is Ses Figueretes and close by are Talamanca and Playa d’en Bossa which is great for water sports.
Santa Eulalia (Eulària)
Santa Eulalia is the islands’ second largest municipality with lovely beaches, pretty towns, beautiful countryside and small markets. It is very handy for the airport and Eivissa town, but is full of local charm and character. The town has a real year round community and has a bustling life to it that goes way beyond the usual resort town.
In terms of food and restaurants there is the famous Restaurant Street: a pedestrianised street given over to, as the name suggests, restaurants, but there are also some lovely seafront restaurants including Mel’s Bar for a great breakfast (mentioned in Elle’s Little Black Book of Ibiza), a branch of the amazing Passion for healthy eating, and as part of the slow food movement: Caos Ibiza.
It’s not “clubbing central” which is part of its appeal, but it is only a 20-minute taxi ride to Amnesia and Privilege, and 15 minutes to Pacha if that’s your thing.
Above Santa Eulària lies es Puig de Missa, a historical monument made up of a fortified church, a burial site and white washed houses. The town is also home to the island’s golf course and offers a great range of sports and activities both on land and on the water.
The Santa Eulària district is also home to the small towns of Santa Gertrudis, Jesús, and Sant Carles and offers a beautiful coastline of beaches, islets, cliffs and sandy coves such as Figueral, Cala Boix, Cala Llenya, Cala Nova, Es Canà, Cala Martina, s’Argamassa, Cala Pada, and Cala Llonga. The popular markets in es Canà and Sant Carles are well worth a visit too. Cala Llonga
Lying equidistant between Ibiza Town and Santa Eulalia; Cala Llonga is the perfect location for a family holiday. The beach is one of the largest on the island and includes a kid’s play area, there are also plenty of snack bars that will appeal to the younger generation.
There are a few shops for the essentials and for buying souvenirs but no large shopping areas. This doesn’t matter at all though as dedicated shopaholics can head into one of the larger towns on one of the small boats or “ferries” as they are known locally.
Cala Llonga is laid back and fairly quiet, but there are some great local bars and excellent restaurants in the area including Amante Beach Club and, if you do fancy a bit more excitement there are good public transport connections to the big clubs San Antonio (Sant Antoni de Portmany)
Perhaps the best-known town on the island, San Antonio has been attracting visitors for years. In high summer, it is a mecca for clubbers and party people but in May and September and October things calm down and it is a great option for couples and families.
The town has a lovely harbour and palm-lined promenade leading from the Calò des Moro beach through to the bay. Within easy reach of the island’s famous clubs the town is also home to a great range of restaurants, cafes and bars with some great water front bars of its own. The Sunset strip needs little introduction with Café del Mar, the original sunset bar and other venues such as Café Mambo and Savannah which both hold some epic pre-parties. A must-visit for cocktails before heading out to party. The Promenade is also home to some popular bars and restaurants including Linkers, Tulip and Itaca- something for everyone. If clubbing is your scene then Es Paradis and Eden are the closest, while mega clubs such as Amnesia, Pacha and Privilege are around 20 minutes’ drive. The Disco Bus (yes it really is called that!) runs from the main bus station every half hour.
It’s not all happening at night though, if you have the energy, San Antonio also offers a great selection of high octane water sports. Party boats also leave the harbour at sunset.
If you prefer a little more peace and quiet, the Bay of San Antonio is just a short walk from the town centre and offers several quieter beaches with water sports and restaurants.
Food-wise, San Antonio offers an eclectic mix of eateries to suit every taste and pocket from fine dining to burger bars and pretty much everything in between.
Cala Vedella A lovely sheltered bay in the south west of the island. A low-key village made up of villas and smaller apartment blocks. The beach has SUPs, pedaloes and kayaks and the fabulous Cana Sofia restaurant which serves the most delicious tapas, and easy to take away beer and ice cream. And they’ll even deliver paella to you on the beach!
San José (Sant Josep de sa Talaia)
The village of San José is nestled high up in the hills of the San José district. A typical Ibicenco village with a church, a few shops, bars and restaurants, it is a residential rather than tourist area. With views out over three sides of the island the village is charming if not spectacular but well worth a visit for its laid-back vibe and insight into authentic local life.
Light years away from the über cool restaurants and clubs in the coastal resorts, here you can sample traditional Ibicencan fare and tapas or while away an afternoon with the old men of the village as they play cards and gossip.
It is also a great spot to buy locally made crafts and other goods, there is a small gallery and a pottery and even a school teaching local youngsters how to create traditional handicrafts. This strong local flavour has made it a popular base for agritourism holidays.
Located on the East coast of the island, Es Cana is more of a traditional resort town but low key and ideal for a relaxing holiday. A gold sandy beach fringed with palms is a great spot for chilling out and offers several beach bars. It is also ideal for fans of water sports with windsurfing, parasailing, diving and water skiing all on offer. There is a good selection too of bars and restaurants including one of our favourites Can Suldat.
In common with many Mediterranean destinations, food plays a key role in local life. Not so long ago most houses in the country would grow their own fruit and vegetables and keep life stock. Today these age-old traditions are enjoying a comeback with a resurgence in locally produced gourmet produce; olive oil, wine, cheeses, cured meats and sausages, jams and honey. The local authorities support the production of organic and artisan food and encourage the use of fresh seasonal produce.
Unsurprisingly fresh fish and seafood feature heavily on the menu along with locally reared lamb, traditional pastries and wild mushrooms and asparagus. To sample authentic local fare, head inland to the villages or to the smaller coastal resorts.
But, as with everything in Ibiza there is a great variety of food on offer; from hippy beach shacks to chic beach bars; Mediterranean and Italian to Asian and fusion food, cheap and cheerful to typical tapas.
These are just a few of our favourites, download the Stay YNA App for more suggestions
Can Suldat, Es Cana
The Can Suldat in Es Cana is just out of town and attracts an eclectic mix. Run by Peter – who is Swiss and started the restaurant “by accident”. As far as we are aware, the only place on the island where you can order a Fondue or Raclette…there’s a small menu in addition to this cheese-fest, with good steak grilled over wood. Spectacular amounts of garlic are used in their cooking. A great atmosphere, with live music often on offer (but think 2 blokes on guitars rather than Hardcore Electro). Homemade Limoncello rounds the evening off nicely…
Sushi Point- Santa Eulalia
This is a great little neighbourhood sushi restaurant, it offers eat in/ collect or home delivery, it’s up to you. It serves the usual nigiri, sashimi, California rolls and some delicious tempura
Es Boldado- Cala d’Hort
This is a great spot for lunch, perched up on the cliffs overlooking Cala d’Hort and Es Vedra. Head up the main road from the beach and then turn off down a track- which seems to go on for miles! Choose the Paella Pescado y Mariscos accompanied by the Pradorey rosé, delicious, dry and crisp!
La Dispensa- Dalt Vila- Ibiza Town
Converted from an old chemist, great for food and for people-watching as you’re right in the middle of things. The home-made pasta is delicious and there are loads of tempting options on the menu, we recommend you read right to the bottom of the sushi choices and try the Ensalada de Gambas Volcano, a mountain of chopped up tempura prawns with a token salad.
El Olivo Mio- Villa Dalt, Ibiza Town
Located in the historic old town, there is something magical about this place. A laid-back boho-chic atmosphere and a very warm welcome, try the rack of lamb or home-made ravioli.
Chiringuito- Cala Nova
There is the main restaurant on the beach, and the newer smaller Chiringuito – with a lovely menu and delicious food. The Ceviche is particularly delicious, and the Lubina (Seabass) isn’t bad either!
El Bigotes-Cala Mastella
The legendary El Bigotes gets its name from the fact the owner has a spectacular moustache! In the north east, just around the corner from the lovely Cala Boix with its dark sand – they cook up an amazing fish stew, and then a delicious soup with the “juice” so absolutely nothing is wasted. Fight to get a table!
La Mezcalería Mexiterranea- Vila D’Alt, Ibiza Town
Specialising in as the name suggests a fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean foods, this very cool restaurant and bar is a favourite with the beautiful people. Serving a fabulous mix of ceviche, oysters, agave and of course mezals this is a unique gastronomic experience. Get into the spirit by booking a tasting and pairing tour held each night between 7 and 10pm
With its reputation as a party island, it is hardly surprising that Ibiza has more than its fair share of watering holes. Whether you are looking for a laid back, sand on your feet, just walked off the beach experience in one of the fabulous chiringuitos, early evening cocktails along the famous sunset strip, a spot of high level people watching in one of the island’s hippest bars or a dancing till dawn kind of thing, we’ve got a few ideas you are going to love…
Café del Mar- San Antonio
This place needs little introduction as it introduced the Ibiza sound to the world! Opened back in 1980 this now iconic bar was a simple venue on sunset strip and the idea was to play chill out music for guests enjoying a drink at sunset! It’s actually way less flashy than you would imagine and drinks are not cheap but the location is to die for and the music is pretty cool as well- a must do
Café Mambo- San Antonio
Originally a derelict Ibicencan house which just happened to have great views of the sunset. Café Mambo has been voted Best Bar in Ibiza on umpteen occasions, is funky, hugely popular and the official pre-party point for Pacha Ibiza! It is considered to be at cutting edge of the dance music scene and has hosted some pretty legendary DJs over the years
Amante Beach Bar, Cala Longa
Another Ibiza legend, this is a fabulous summer venue serving light Mediterranean food and a great range of cocktails and detox drinks! There are regular special events including movie nights and breakfast yoga sessions, this is an all-day destination with beach beds and seriously gorgeous sea views
La Cava, Ibiza Town
A great spot for indulging in that traditional Spanish ritual of tapas! Serving a great selection of tapas and pintxos and located on the Vara de Rey with a great terrace for people watching. La Cava will be closed during winter 2016 and reopens with a new look in spring 2017
Sa Trinxa, Las Salinas beach
Turn left at the Jockey Club and walk up the beach. Sa Trinxa has a more chilled bohemian vibe than some of the flashier clubs and restaurants and does a great line in Mojitos and Caipirinhas!
Sunset Ashram, Cala Conta
Sunset Ashram: whilst the east coast is lovely, no visit to the island is complete without a sunset seen from the west. There is the legendary Sunset Strip in San Antonio, with Cafe del Mar and Cafe Mambo (and the supporting crowds of people) – but for a different experience head to Sunset Ashram at Cala Conta. Either sit on the lovely bit of beach, chill with a beer on the beds and steps down to the beach, or have a spot of supper.
HIT THE BEACH
If there is one thing Ibiza has in abundance, it has to be beaches! From secluded coves for chilling out, to high-octane water sports and day time partying, you are sure to find your little slice of beach heaven. The compact size of the island also means that wherever you are staying, any beach is just a day trip away
Ibiza Town & the south
If you are in Ibiza town, a good gawp at the superyachts is a fun way to pass some time. Not quite in the same category but you can also take the little ferry that runs between Ibiza and Talamanca and indulge in supper at the Harbour Club
Just 2km from the centre of Ibiza Town, you can reach this beach with a pleasant 15-minute walk. The long crescent of sand has a wooden boardwalk and promenade and is popular year round, attracting walkers in the winter months. There are a good selection of bars and restaurants but these are not particularly family oriented.
If a beach can be considered “high class” than that is what Cala Jondal is! Very upmarket as beaches go and with the restaurants and bars to match. The beach itself is beautiful and surrounded by pine forests and rocky cliffs. It is popular with the yachting crowd and the restaurants offer a “transfer” service bringing boat owners ashore or taking drinks out to them. Home to the Tropicana Beach Club and the VIP Blue Merlin Ibiza.
This long stretch of sand has it all, it is considered one of the coolest beaches on the island! Sunbeds, umbrellas, boutiques, shops, restaurants, bars and music, there is also a small nudist section. Home of the long-established Jockey Club restaurant. And if you turn left at the Jockey Club and walk up to the next restaurant the DJ there will make up CDs for you if you like his set. Very chilled, and amazing people watching.
Fine white sand, rolling waves and a small selection of restaurants. Drive through the salt flats at Salinas and turn left for Es Cavallet and splash out on lunch at El Chiringuito (but get there EARLY EARLY EARLY if you want beds, and a parking space). We think they have the absolute best calamari on the island, and there’s an amazing wine list. The beach has an official nudist section and is also the centre of the daytime LGBT scene with the Chiringay restaurant at the south of the beach.
Playa d’en Bossa
Just 4km from Ibiza town the resort of Playa d’en Bossa has something for everyone. It is the island’s longest beach with 2 km of sand and different sections appeal to different groups. Families will enjoy the safe swimming waters and great selection of water sports and games; party people can head to Bora Bora and there is a great selection of cool restaurants and stylish bars
San Antonio & the west
Cala d’Hort which whilst beautiful can be very busy, and has a stony entrance into the sea, and the road is reduced to single track because of the car parking. It doesn’t sound as though there’s much to recommend it, but trust us, it’s lovely, very popular with the locals in summer months.
The main beach in San Antonio, S’Arenal is actually man made but it has a stretch of lovely white sand and shallow waters just below the promenade. The promenade is lined with bars including Itaca, Linekers and Ocean Beach so in the summer this beach is hugely popular with young people and so probably better suited if you want a party bus and lots of music rather than a relaxing day in the sun
San Antonio Bay
This small bay is heaven for beach lovers, there are five of them all connected by the shoreline. This is also a departure point for the island’s other beaches as ferries pick up and drop off at landing stages along the bay. Choose from Es Puet, Playa S’Estanyol, Playa Piret, Playa Xinxo and Playa Port d’es Torrent.
Santa Eulalia & the east
A man-made beach of fine white sand, the beach is also a smoke-free zone which is good news for parents with young children. The water is shallow and safe for kids and there are several water sports options available too. This is the ultimate beach destination with some great restaurants and bars and all at the centre of the resort. Royalty Restaurant has been there for years and is good value, if you fancy something a bit more upmarket try the Nikki Beach Club at S’Argamassa beach.
Very easy to reach, within walking distance of Es Cana resort and a short ferry ride from the marina, there is also a regular bus service from Santa Eulalia. Golden sand and shallow waters make this a very popular choice for families, ideal for a relaxing day. There are the usual selection of restaurants and bars and Es Cana is also great for all manner of water sports
A lovely long beach – which features Atzaro Beach, the beach outpost of the Atzaro hotel. Can be quite “wavy” – good for a spot of low-key bodyboarding on the right day!
Cala Nova: drive through Es Canà – and turn left at the Coral Beach hotel, and then park up at the Atzaro Beach sign and walk onto the beach – which although probably only 500m from Es Canà, feels like a different world. With an onshore breeze, it can be a bit “wavy”, but on a calm day, the sea is almost Caribbean, and there’s a lovely atmosphere. It feels like a “locals beach” – it is lovely and shallow, with some nice rocks for a spot of low key rock pooling for the children. And there’s the bonus of the lovely Atzaro Beach
This small, sheltered resort is located a 10-minute drive from Santa Eulalia or Ibiza Town. It offers restaurants, bars, snack bars and a playground right on the sand. Popular with British, Dutch and German families and couples
Tricky to find and only reachable by car, this at least ensures the beach is rarely packed, even in August. Popular with the locals, this is an official nudist beach but never fear you don’t have to strip off! Apparently if you add sea water to mud from the surrounding cliffs this helps you tan…so be prepared to find yourself surrounded by mud-caked nudists! When it’s windy, Aguas Blancas is great for body boarding- probably a good way to wash the mud off.
Cala Boix & Cala Mastella
Cala Mastella…and the legendary El Bigotes (the owner has a spectacular moustache, hence the name). In the north east, just around the corner from the lovely Cala Boix with its dark sand – they cook up an amazing fish stew, and then a delicious soup with the “juice” so absolutely nothing is wasted. Fight to get a table!
A nice (and quite popular) beach to the north of the island – with a good little chiringuito which does a great tortilla and salad for lunch. A great walkway from the car park (flip flops essential!)
SHOPS & MARKETS
One of the great joys of Ibiza is that you can combine eating, shopping and beach time! Many of the beach restaurants have boutiques attached to them full of floaty kaftans, great bikinis and the odd pair of snazzy shoes- what’s not to love?
Typical local buys include embroidery, glassware, pottery and leather goods as well as jewellery and summer fashion and beach wear.
La Galeria Elefante – just outside Santa Gertrudis has beautiful stuff for the home and stunning clothes (at a price) including lovely dresses by Victoria and unusual Liberty print bikinis!
Reina and Roses – on the main road between Ibiza town and Santa Eulalia (and another branch in San Josep) – more lovely stuff for home and lovely Ibiza hippy chic.
Hippy Chick – tucked away in the back streets of Salamanca, with some great beach dresses
Co Coq – an enormous warehouse on the main road between Santa Eulalia and Ibiza with 40 individual retailers offering great home stuff in the main: but very quirky and unusual, supporting lesser known brands. And if shopping “ain’t your thing” there’s a bar where you can wait while others get their retail therapy!
ReVolver – Ibiza Town- check this out for new up and coming designers
Baeza- great Hamman beach towels and lovely relaxed cotton dresses and tops- perfect for the island summer
Supermarkets– whilst the supermarket might not immediately spring to mind when you are thinking about a spot of retail therapy it’s a great shopping experience. Things to look out for include delicious Santa Gertrudis yogurts and their fresh milk, and the local rose prawns – from boat to supermarket in 4 hours! Fry them in butter with garlic and lots of coriander, they are the sweetest, most delicious prawns we’ve ever eaten. Eroski seems to have better selections in terms of fruit, veg and fish.
Sal de Ibiza, not just a cool logo, but also delicious salt produced at the salt flats on the way to Las Salinas and Es Cavallet beaches – and you go through them to get to Experimental Beach at Cap Es Falco: for great cocktails, and delicious food (the salt baked seabass is out of the world) – oh and an awesome place to watch the sunset. Back to the salt: it has a delicious mellow flavour, and whilst it can now be found across the island, there is a great little shop on the road between Santa Eulalia and Ibiza town: which sells more than just salt: some unusual and interesting wines and spirits, some great clothes, and some useful books too.
Es Canà is famous for the Hippy Market at Punta Arabi, held on a Wednesday. It’s HUGE: and if we’re honest a bit too big and quite a lot of generic “stuff” on offer. But if you fancy it, we would say get there early, and come at it from the Santa Eulalia end (turn off the main road just after the turn to Cala Pada – which is a lovely little beach, with a nice little jetty to jump off – and where you can catch the boat to Ibiza Town).
We’d recommend the Hippy Market at Las Dalias as being streets ahead in terms of atmosphere, and range and quality of things on offer…some beautiful clothes, and lovely handmade jewellery. As well as the coolest children’s ride that I’ve seen in a long time – constructed largely out of bicycle tyres, and propelled by a man riding a bike. You have to see it to make sense out of it.
Of course, Ibiza is best known for its beautiful beaches but if you head inland there are treasures aplenty. Take a drive or even better bike or walk and discover small country villages, almond groves, olive and carob trees and typical local architecture. From up in the hills there are stunning views of the coast and islands.
So much more than “just” sea, sand and nightclubs, Ibiza’s location and climate make it a haven for sports lovers and because the weather is pretty great too, there are activities on offer all year round.
If you are an adrenaline junkie there are lots of hair-raising activities to get your heart pumping. If you want to stay on dry land, there is cliff diving in Ibiza town and a sling shot. Out at sea you can try parasailing, jet skis and fly and hover boards
Crystal clean waters, 200km of coastline and a UNESCO World Heritage underwater site make Ibiza a diver’s paradise. There are several professional diving schools offering courses and guided dives.
Cycling is the idea way to get up close and personal with the island, explore its hidden corners, beautiful views and meet the friendly local people
The private Ibiza Golf Club is open all year round and there is also a small 9-hole public course in Roca Llisa. There are tournaments taking place throughout the year.
Spring and autumn are ideal for trekking, discover the island’s natural beauty and biodiversity. Walk along the coast, enjoy the quiet beaches or head inland and explore the villages and countryside.
There are several equestrian centres around the island and horse lovers can also attend show jumping competitions and races and see the local breed of horse the “trotones”. There is a race course for those who fancy a flutter and in San Juan the Ibiza Horse Valley offers guided treks with their rescue horses.
If fishing is your thing then there are plenty of options available; follow in the wake of the local fishermen with their llauts, head out to sea and try your luck. A license is required to fish in Ibiza so we recommend you join an organised trip with a licensed boat and professional crew.
Live the high life
Charter a boat and sail off to Formentera; it is around a 45-minute boat ride and whilst it sounds like a cliché the sea really is the colour of the Caribbean! Make like a movie star and eat at the amazing Beso beach which has amazing paellas and an awesome mojito bar. If you really want to push the boat out and rub shoulders with the rich and famous, head to Juan y Andrea where you’ll find more stars than you can shake a stick at. Delicious fish, a famous lobster paella and a great wine list. It’s not cheap and it’s hard to get a reservation but oh it is worth it.
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