Ibiza holidays spell party with a capital everything. And when you’re not knee-deep in nightlife, the daytimes open your eyes to chocolate-box scenery and clean-cut villages.
Serene to snappy
Spain's White Island has a knack of coming up trumps for holidaymakers, no matter what sort of break they’re after. At the peaceful end of the scale, you’ve got villa-studded villages like Cala Tarida, where the sunsets are eye-poppingly good. Santa Eulalia’s beach-facing All Inclusive hotels tick the family holidays box. And San Antonio’s the party animal of the Balearic Islands, with mammoth clubs that keep crowds hooked until the sun’s gone full circle.
Picture book surroundings
Think of Ibiza’s landscape as a melt-in-the-middle dessert. What you see at first glance are the beaches and bars that cling to the coastline. But when you get to the centre, there’s a surprise in store. Shove the celeb DJs and neon lights out of the way, and the island's natural side makes a play for your attention. Pine-cloaked countryside, hill-framed lakes and an arty version of Stonehenge are all in the offing.
Before the bassy background tones steal you away, there are plenty of ways to fill your days in Ibiza. Head to one of the famous hippy markets for a gander at retro jewellery, colour-splashed clothing and make-your-own souvenir stalls. Es Cana’s a good place to start for beginners. If you’d rather stick to the white-sand fringe, there are beach bars and restaurants by the barrel-load. Families, meanwhile rave in a different fashion about Cala Llonga’s Blue Flag waterfront.
Things to See and Do in Ibiza
The White Island
Although it’s Ibiza’s clubbing scene that earns it column inches, this island is pretty impressive on the beach front, too. The sands come soft and white here, and when it comes to picking a spot to park your beach towel you can choose between huge, super-stylish sweeps stocked with All Inclusive hotels and dinky coves half-hidden by pine trees.
The big beach
Ibiza’s headline act is Playa d’en Bossa. Measuring up at two kilometres, it’s the island’s longest beach. The white sands are prime tanning turf, and the shallow waters are just the ticket for pint-sized paddlers. There are loads of cafés and restaurants lining the sand, as well as bass-pumping beach bars for those who like to keep the party going 24/7.
The secret beach
If secluded sands are more your thing, make a beeline for Cala Xarraca. This tiny cove is up in the north of the island, and is home to a hidden grotto. It’s also a favourite with snorkellers, thanks to its gin-clear waters. And despite its small size, there’s plenty of room to spread out – the only people you’ll be sharing the sands with are a handful of locals.
You’ll find dreadlocked hippies lining up alongside locals at Ibiza’s biggest hippie market. It’s in Es Cana on Wednesdays, and stalls heave with the likes of jewellery, leather and pottery. For something more low-key, head to the Thursday market in San Miguel village, a five-minute drive from Puerto San Miguel. The stallholders here sell everything from local honey to handmade soap.
In Figueretas, you’ll find big-name brands jostling for position, and football fans will be right at home thanks to the FC Barcelona Official Store. Over in San Antonio’s town centre, meanwhile, you’ll find boutiques chock-full of clubbing gear – the Pacha shop is one of the biggies.
Vintage queens should make a beeline for Ibiza Town’s old quarter. It’s got loads of little one-off shops where you can hunt down old-school party frocks and Spanish handbags that go back decades. In Santa Eulalia, the posh boutiques are near the main square and on Calle San Jaime – you’ll find things like Chanel sunglasses and silver jewellery. And in Playa d’en Bossa, the beachfront shops lining the sand are the place to pick up jewelled flip flops.
Ibiza isn’t just about thumping tunes. Santa Eulalia is Ibiza’s culinary hotspot – you’ll never eat a posher paella than on Calle San Vicente, and you’ll get top-end haute cuisine at the harbour. In Portinatx, chow down on traditional fish stews at the restaurants lining the prom.
Ibiza’s definitely earned its stripes as the clubbing world’s head honcho, and San Antonio is home to the biggest and best places to party. Join the masses on the seafront, or head for the West End, which is chock-full of cocktail bars and cafés. The party never stops at Playa d’en Bossa either, where the clubs lining the beach range from budget to blow-out.
Pa torrat amb tomata
This is breakfast the Ibizan way. A big chunk of rustic bread is whacked on the grill and toasted until it’s golden brown. It’s then rubbed with some salt and the inside of a tomato, to give it just a hint of flavour. A generous glug of olive oil rounds everything off nicely.
This tipped-and-tossed concoction is made up of potatoes, boiled eggs, peppers, tomatoes and onions, teamed with slices of dried fish. Literally meaning ‘peasant salad’, it hails back to the days when most of the population made a living from fishing and harvesting vegetables.
Ibiza’s answer to French bouillabaisse crams in a lot of fish. Expect everything from monkfish and seabass to crayfish and clams in this stew. It’s named after Zarzuela operettas – famous for their huge variety of songs – and is cooked in an earthenware pot called a ‘cazuela’.
Not the option for those watching the waistline – these biscuit-style sweet treats are made up of flour, aniseed and lemon, which gets fried and dipped in sugar. They used to be Easter exclusives, but now you’ll find them regularly partnering a glass of wine on any day of the year.
Islanders throw the A-Z of herbs into this traditional drink. It’s made from around 18 different plants, and it’s got a sweet, citrussy flavour with loads of aniseed and rosemary. The locals knock it back at the end of a meal – they reckon it helps their dinner go down.
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Cala Gracio is proof that you can have your cake and eat it. This place wins serious seclusion points for its cosy coves, but it’s just up the coast from Ibiza’s clubbing king. Most of the activity is beach-based, but you’ve got a couple of restaurants on the main road – the one that runs all the way to San Antonio.
Local legend has it that Cala Llonga was once a smugglers’ cove. Now a popular resort, it’s still got something of a secretive air. Set back from the main road that skims Ibiza’s east coast, the resort is cupped by pine forested bluffs. You’ll find more families than clubbers here, which explains why it’s treasured by both locals and tourists.
Cala Pada’s tucked-away bay is the star of the show in these parts. It’s stuck to the Balearic Islands' textbook recipe of golden sand and clear water, and topped things off with a backing of fluffy green pine and juniper trees. Plus, if that wasn’t a deal-sealer already, there are uninterrupted views of the open sea, too. It’s a go-slow sitch here – you won’t find any of Ibiza’s famously wild beach bars. Just two pretty eateries have set up shop, serving seafood and tapas.
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