For all its
rumbustious nightlife, Ibiza is a different beast altogether once it’s shaken
off its hangover. Caught at the right time, its beaches can contend with
Europe’s finest, while the interior carries murmurs of bygone Mediterranean
life, with shady citrus groves.
A hilltop first fortified by the Romans, D’Alt Vila in Ibiza City’s Old Town is
surrounded by sturdy Renaissance walls designed to withstand a pummelling from
the artillery of potential invaders. Visitors can walk the perimeter of the
walls for views of the elegant 14th-century cathedral.
of Formentera – the smallest of the four Balearic Islands – is a half-hour boat ride south of Ibiza. Take a stroll on
the two-mile walking trail from La Savina to the northernmost tip of the
island. Regular ferries run from Ibiza City to La Savina (returns £37).
eastern coast can lay claim to some of its best beaches. From the village of
Sant Carles de Peralta, follow a side road to the beaches and pine-fringed
coves of Cala Llenya and Cala Mastella. A few miles to the north is the
slightly busier parasol-lined beach of Cala de Boix.
Pacha is an aristocrat of the clubbing scene that
has traded on the northern side of Ibiza City’s port since the 1970s. Summer
sees its 15 bars rumble nightly to house and electronic beats – the terrace is
the place to hear more relaxed sounds (Jun-Sep; admission from £40).
the village of Sant Miquel de Balansat, Cova de Can Marçà‘s limestone caverns were originally frequented by smugglers. To add to the drama, its caves
and subterranean pools are lit by coloured lights (guided tours £8).
Eat and drink
Blue Bar on Platja de Migjorn is a favourite on the
island of Formentera. True to the name, everything is painted in shades of blue
– from the parasols to the toilets. The restaurant offers good seafood and
risotto, and DJs play on summer evenings (San Fernando; Apr-Oct; drinks from
La Brasa’s forte is its quality fish and meat, expertly
sizzled over charcoal, with paellas, stews and croquettas also on the menu.
Meals are served in a garden shaded by vines, banana trees and bursts of
bougainvillea (Carrer Pere Sala 3; set menus from £9).
City’s family-run Comidas Bar San Juan offers simple fish dishes at outstanding
value. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so be sure to arrive early
(Carrer de Guillem de Montgri 8; meals from £12).
Set in the
sleepy hamlet of Sant Llorenc, La Paloma is an eco-friendly restaurant
specialising in Italian cuisine – hams and salami come fresh from Tuscany,
while salad is sourced from its vegetable garden. There’s also a less formal
café below (mains from £13).
S’Ametller (‘the Almond Tree’) is one of
Ibiza’s most innovative restaurants. The daily menu seizes upon market-fresh
produce. Dessert might feature flao – a mint-flavoured cheesecake and Balearic
Islands speciality. The restaurant also periodically offers cooking courses
(Carrer de Pere Francesc 12; set menus £17).
Perched on a clifftop by the sea, Hostal Restaurant La Torre is a world away from noisy Sant Antoni de Portmany a couple of miles to
the south. The terrace has magnificent views along the rocky headlands of the
western coast, while its basic but comfortable rooms were recently upgraded
(Cap Negret; from £55).
cheerful, British-run hotel Ca’s Català in Santa Eularia d’es Rieu has the
feel of a private villa, with 12 spacious rooms overlooking a leafy garden
courtyard. Rooms come with four-poster beds, whirling ceiling fans and are all
painted in gleaming white (Calle del Sol; from £70).
Hotel la Ventana is a charming 15th-century mansion set on a
shaded square in Ibiza City. Some of its rooms have four-poster beds and
mosquito nets, while others have balconies overlooking the city walls. A
rooftop terrace and trim gardens provide a welcome urban retreat (Carrer de Sa
Carrossa 13; from £105).
Can Planells just outside Sant Miquel de Balansat is a case
study in rustic elegance, with a handful of tastefully decorated double rooms
and suites. The best of these have private terraces looking out to the orange
and lemon trees of the surrounding gardens (Venda Rubió 2; from £115).
citrus groves in the north of the island, Can Gall is
a 200-year-old farmhouse restyled as a rural retreat. Nine whitewashed rooms
feature rough-hewn wooden ceilings and stone arches, while the terrace looks
out on to the rambling hills of the Ibizan interior (closed Dec; from £145).
When to go
Summer is most definitely peak season in Ibiza, with scorching temperatures and
jam-packed beaches when clubbers arrive from May to September. Out-of-season
travel makes for a much more sedate affair.
Buses serve most of Ibiza – the free Ibiza Public Transport guide can be picked up from tourist offices or downloaded (fares up to
£3). Major car hire firms operate at Ibiza airport – although cheaper outfits
are scattered about the island.
How to go
Most British airports have summer flights to Ibiza – BA flies from Gatwick,
while Ryanair flies from East Midlands, Glasgow,
Leeds-Bradford and Manchester airports (from £80). From the airport, bus 10 runs
to Ibiza City every 20 minutes, while bus 9 runs to Sant Antoni (fares £1).
The article 'Mini guide to Ibiza, Spain' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.