Blissed-out Balearic paradise with a party heart
Ibiza has exerted a potent pull on the world’s wandering spirits for centuries. The Carthaginians were the first settlers to be drawn to its shores, and in the ensuing years the Moors, the Romans and even pilfering pirates all took turns to stake their claim on this magnificent island in the Med.
Such checkered heritage no doubt contributes to the mesmerising melting pot of influences visible on Ibiza today, not to mention its reputation as a cradle for everyman. It was, and remains, entirely without discrimination – a place for free thinkers to doze and dream.
Consequently, it’s been home to everyone over the years, from creatives fleeing suppression to hippies on the hunt for limitless liberty – and while these days it’s probably most famous for its dazzling sunsets and thundering nightlife scene, that quintessential bohemian spirit lingers. Whether on a beach, a dancefloor, or a yoga mat, few are able to resist its unmistakable magic.
Hot right now . . .
Abigail Lowe, our resident expert, offers her top tips on the hottest places to eat, drink and stay, plus the best things to do this season.
A deli-cum-restaurant bringing a slice of New York sass (and ciabatta) to the streets of Santa Gertrudis, Bottega Il Buco (Carrer Vénda de Parada, 12; 00 34 971 19 76 76) is brought to the island by the same duo behind the much-acclaimed Il Buco.
After the success of a series of supper clubs held last summer, Pure House Ibiza has moved into culinary terrain and will be launching an alfresco restaurant in June: Pure House Ibiza Restaurant (Aparto de Correos 922, San Jordi; 00 34 659 63 05 96). Fabulous food served beneath a blanket of stars – it's the hottest ticket in town.
W Ibiza (Paseo Maritimo; 00 34 971 33 12 65) is one of the most anticipated new hotels on the island. It's set to open its chicly designed doors in the bustling harbour town of Santa Eulalia this summer: rumour has it, the launch will be in July.
48 hours in . . . Ibiza
Let’s assume that Ibiza has already had its wicked way with you and so you’re either still up from the night before or in desperate need of a reviving morning dip. Either way, Aguas Blancas – on the island’s northeastern tip – is an excellent place to start the day. A long stretch of golden sand backed by cliffs and met by the iridescent sparkle of the Med, this is one of the first spots on the island to witness the sun creeping over the horizon at daybreak. A sight not to be missed.
Once refreshed, hop down to the frisky little village of Santa Gertrudis (the easiest way to get around on Ibiza is by car), where myriad lively cafés are on hand to dispense a much needed hit of caffeine. Take a seat on the outdoor terrace of Bar Costa (Plaza de la Iglesia; 00 34 971 19 70 21) order a tostada (open sandwich), then spend an hour or two watching the world go by. Dip in to some of the excellent local shops before you leave. Es Cucons La Tienda (Plaza de la Iglesia; 00 34 971 19 77 56) is fabulous for homewares; The Rose (Carrer Venda de Fruitera; 00 34 971 19 79 35) is a hub for fashion.
Now finding your stride again, head back to Ibiza’s salt-kissed shores and to El Chiringuito Es Cavallet (Playa Es Cavallet; 00 34 971 39 53 55), a beach club-cum-restaurant specialising in laid-back but fizzling vibes and hearty portions of mouth-watering food – everything from the grill is outstanding. Settle on a sun bed for the afternoon and nourish the soul with sunshine, cocktails, salads and sharing plates – on your part, there’s very little effort involved.
Alas, you can't see sunset from this side of the island, so hotfoot to San Antonio on the west coast – where nature’s greatest show unfolds before thousands of expectant eyes. For an authentic experience climb the red-hued rocks of Punta Galera (Carrer Núm. 3 Punta Galera, 5) where locals doing yoga are silhouetted against the skyline. Or for something more upmarket – but still quintessentially Balearic – try La Torre(Cap Negret, 25; 00 34 971 34 22 71), where you can sip glasses of cava on the restaurant’s clifftop terrace as the sky beams crimson all around.
Once night descends, mischief beckons – so discover Pikes (Camí de Sa Vorera; 00 34 971 34 22 22) in the San Antonio hills where moods like this are enthusiastically indulged. A hotel renowned for unbridled hedonism, here the drinks, music and chitchat are free-flowing. You’ll aim to be home by midnight but you won’t leave till dawn. Mark our words.
Expect a sore head the following morning, but dry your eyes and plough on: this is Ibiza after all. Aim for Ibiza Town institution The Croissant Show(Plaça de la Constitució, 2; 00 34 971 30 41 26), where the moustachioed owner has been serving coffee to nightclub stragglers since 5am. Take 20 minutes to grab a café con leche and a pastry, then ascend the cobbled ramp up to Dalt Vila – the old town, a 16th-century Unesco World Heritage Site. Here you can get lost among the castle walls and labyrinthine streets while soaking up the ancestry of a true living monument.
History buffs sated, make haste for Las Salinas, driving past ancient salt flats along the way. There, on the island’s original party beach, you’ll board one of La Bella Verde's eco-catamarans (00 34 663 65 76 36). Powered by solar panels and electric engines, it’ll whisk you around Ibiza’s craggy coastline before stopping for a picnic lunch on a slick of fine, white Formentera sand. You’ll emerge sun-kissed and windswept and it’ll be worth every second.
Back on dry land, dip round the coast to Experimental Beach Ibiza (Playa des Codolar Salinas; 00 34 664 33 12 69), where an abundance of cocktails, snacks and sunset views combine for an explosive end to the day.
But the party doesn’t stop there, naturally. After a freshen up, return to Ibiza Town to sample some of the island’s notorious nightlife. Wander through the town’s bustling squares before eventually plumping for a session at Paradise Lost(Carrer del Passadís, 14, Eivissa; 00 34 627 58 92 05), a bar nuzzled amid the streets of the gypsy quarter, and nearby Bar 1805 (Carrer Santa Llúcia, 7, Eivissa; 00 34 651 62 59 72), where absinthe-heavy concoctions are delivered with a healthy side of French sass.
If your stamina’s still raging post-midnight, the glitzy dance floor at Pacha (Av. 8 d’Agost; 00 34 971 310 959) lies just a 20-minute walk away, or jump in a cab to Playa d’en Bossa, where the slick surrounds of a club like HÏ Ibiza (Platja d'en Bossa) or the gritty underground edge ofDC-10 (Carretera las Salinas; 00 34 971 93 20 13) are enough to delight every wide-eyed night owl.
Where to stay . . .
Finca Can Xuxu is an Indonesian-inspired paradise found deep in Ibiza’s dusty countryside. From cabanas lining the enticing infinity pool to the breezy al fresco bathrooms, every space is infused with the character of the colourful, vibrant country. The hip hilltop haven – a long-time favourite of the A-List, including Kate Moss – has astounding sunset views. Regulars return year after year, coaxed back by the charismatic host and warm welcome as much as the gorgeous setting.
Doubles from €230 (£202). Avenida Cala Tarida, s/n; 00 34 971 80 15 84
With acres of lush gardens, deluxe décor and peerless chilled vibes, Pure House Ibiza is the archetypal Ibiza bolthole. Surrounded by vivid green pine forest and fertile olive groves, this gorgeous 19th-century finca sits on a 30-acre estate of orange, mango, apricot and fig trees, sprinkled with an assortment of other exotic-looking flora. This four-bedroom property is only a short drive from Ibiza Town – and beach hotspot Las Salinas – and bears all the markings of the perfect peaceful getaway.
Doubles from €210 (£186). Carrer del Llobarro; 00 34 662 536 965
Hostal La Torrepacks the essence of Ibiza into a deceptively simple package. It may officially only have one star, but the luxuries here are the kind that money just cannot buy: location, light and that all-important feel-good factor. The building has an enviable location right in front of the sea, and is one of the best places on the island to watch the sun go down. The vibe at the bar and restaurant is relaxed, and the crowd is of widely varying ages and degrees of trendiness.
Doubles from €57 (£49). Cap Negret 25; 00 34 971342271
What to bring home . . .
Hierbas is the island’s local, anise-based liqueur. It's a digestif consisting of 18 different herbs that’s usually taken in shot form after a meal. It also tastes great on the rocks.
The lively town of San Rafael is famous for its ceramics workshops — so much so that it’s been named a zona de interés artesanal by the Balearic Artisan Commission. A visit to Ceramics Icardi (Avinguda Isidor Macabich, 42; 00 34 971 19 81 06) should be a priority. Owned by Carlos Icardi since 1977, the entire shop is a treasure trove of unusual artefacts – all made using the same methods as the settlers who landed on the island thousands of years ago.
When to go . . .
During the heady summer months, millions of tourists land on Ibiza’s shores and dancefloors. It’s an exhilarating time to visit – the thrum of expectation (and heat) is palpable – but it’s also a strain on the island’s services. Expect traffic, crowds, and beaches to be packed to the rafters from June to September.
As autumn beckons, the temperatures drop and numbers subsequently dwindle, but it’s still a great time to explore, with most of the island’s services fully running until October. In winter, Ibiza hibernates, but post slumber it blooms: nothing beats the beauty of the island’s wildflowers and almond blossoms in springtime.
Know before you go . . .
Fire and ambulance: 112
British embassy: 00 34 933 666 200; Spain Avenida Isidoro Macabich 45-1, Apartado 307 07800 Ibiza, Spain; gov.uk
Flight time: Around two and a half hours
Currency: Euros (€)
Dialling code: 00 34
Local laws and etiquette
The best and cheapest way to explore Ibiza is by car or scooter, and there are plenty of places to rent at the airport and in all of the major towns. There’s no Uber on island so if you need to get from A to B in a hurry (or if you’ve been drinking) your best bet is by taxi, though this is an expensive option unless you’re in a group. If time is on your side, catch the bus: they’re reliable and cheap. That said, routes to villages like San Juan and Santa Gertrudis are few, so be sure to plan well in advance. In peak summer, the disco bus services San Antonio, Ibiza Town and Playa d’en Bossa, which is a cheap and easy way to get home from a night out. Just expect a rowdy ride.
It should go without saying, but it’s illegal to drink and drive – and the same goes for drugs. Traffic controls and police searches are common so don’t test your luck. It’s also illegal to drink on the streets.
The traditional Spanish greeting is two kisses. Don’t be shy; dive in.
Tipping isn’t essential but a 10 per cent addition for great service is always appreciated. Approach as you would in the UK.
At clubs there’s an ‘anything goes’ dress policy, but this doesn’t extend to all public spaces. If you’re in a bikini or swimming shorts in a shop/restaurant/bus you’ll almost definitely be asked to cover up. Shorts aren’t allowed in any of the club’s VIP lounges.
In Spain, the average time for dinner is around 10pm and the clubs don’t open until midnight. Do not turn up as soon as the doors open unless you want to be the only person on the dancefloor. You don’t want to be that person.
The majority of shops still close for siesta every day between 2pm and 5pm. Most shops will close all day on Sundays.
Abby has been chasing Ibiza sunsets for almost a decade. She went in search of salty days and starry nights but somehow got lost on a dancefloor. She’s been there, glass of hierbas in hand, ever since.
Experience Ibiza with The Telegraph
Telegraph Travel's best hotels and holidays in Ibiza, tried, tested and recommended by our Ibiza experts.