The free spirit of the Balearics has long been the world’s favourite dancefloor. Take a holiday in Ibiza these days, though, and you’ll find there’s a whole lot more going on…
The beach scene
Ibiza’s beaches are almost as famous as its clubs. At Playa den Bossa, the island’s biggest, you can carry on the previous night’s party at the bars lining the sand. Pint-sized Puerto San Miguel's the other extreme, where seclusion is pretty much a given.
Away from the illuminated streets of San Antonio, most of Ibiza’s towns couldn’t be further from the party. Save for a few bars and restaurants, there’s little to disturb the pine-cloaked hills and sandy bays in Portinatx. And, in the southeast Santa Eulalia cranks things up by just a notch, with a fancy shop and restaurant scene. As for Instagram-worthy photos, enter Ibiza Town. Get some snaps of the old quarter – its whitewashed alleys and cobbled streets wear a castle for a crown.
Lastly, it’d be rude to mention All Inclusive holidays to Ibiza without paying homage to its legendary nightlife. Pack your clubbing gear if you’re heading to Playa d’en Bossa or San Antonio – they’re all about neon-lit bars and big-name clubs. Saying that, Playa d’en Bossa’s safe shoreline and waterpark make it just as popular with families as the big-fish-little-fish crowd.
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 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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Set on Ibiza’s west coast, Cala Gracio is a really chilled out, get-away-from-it-all kind of place. But the town comes with a bit of a twist. Its next-door-neighbour – which is a 10-minute taxi ride away – is none other than clubbing heavyweight San Antonio Town. As far as the beaches are concerned, though, this place comes with its own little duo.
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 is a shy-and-quiet spot on Ibiza’s eastern edge. It’s named after its beach – a wide, horseshoe-shaped curve of sand backed by bottle-green pines. With only a handful of beach restaurants and cafés to its name, it’s worlds away from the island’s loud-and-proud party towns.
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