For years we thought that Ibiza was just a party island. We didn’t want to visit it, we just thought it wasn’t for us. But three years ago we spend a couple of weeks exploring Ibiza and our opinion changed completely. Since then, every time we go back we fall head over heels. We love Ibiza, the rural, quiet, lonely Ibiza. The island where you can spend wonderful mornings hidden in small coves, where you can get lost in the pine scented countryside, where pristine white little churches are all the monuments you need and where the energy is absolutely different from every other place in the world. With this guide we want to help you uncover the slow-paced, off season, charming and mysterious Ibiza that we love.
HOW TO GET THERE
Ibiza’s airport connects the island with the world. It’s a small airport that is being renovated at the moment and will welcome you with lots of neon tee-shirt tourists that won’t give you a very nice impression. Fear not, we will introduce you to other Ibiza in a few minutes. But the moment you arrive you will have to queue for your rental car and struggle a little bit with the party island. Just be patient and, if you travel with someone else, decide who waits for your luggage (even though there’s no point checking huge suitcases… In Ibiza you just need swimwear, sandals and a couple of dresses) and who heads directly to the car rental companies. They all have counters in the baggage hall so you can save some time. There are lots of companies but we always recommend Europcar. They have nice brand new cars and the best insurance, which you will need because there are some bumpy roads to get to the hidden coves and those are the ones you want to explore! They are not dangerous, but they can damage the car. So get the best insurance to enjoy a carefree adventure.
The best tip we can give you about transportation is that if you want to explore the island you will need a car. The roads are in good conditions and in about 30 minutes you will be able to cross the island. Even if we have relied on public transport in other islands, like Mykonos or Mallorca, Ibiza doesn’t offer great connections, so a rental car is essential.
We always stay in our family’s home in Ibiza and, therefore, we highly recommend booking an apartment for your stay in the island. You can enjoy lazy breakfasts on the terrace, prepare beach picnics and cook light dinners after that glorious refreshing shower that follows a whole day under the sun. But if we were to book a hotel, we will choose the brand new concept that La Granja offers, or the rural boutique retreat Es Cucons. Hacienda Na Xamena is a famous luxury retreat located in the North of the island that has attracted those wanting a different spa experience for the last few years.
Regarding the best area to establish your headquarters, we will advise the East and North of the island if you want to stay close to the sea. However, the rural heart of Ibiza can be wonderful as well. A new hotel has opened recently in Santa Gertrudis, one of our favourite locations in Ibiza, it’s called Gatzara Hotel and seems the perfect accommodation for those who prefer to stay in the countryside without forgetting the chicest side of Ibiza. The only drawback would be not having the sea at your feet. But you will enjoy the incredible beauty of Ibiza’s flora firsthand, incredible starry skies at night and the most calming experience. We will avoid the West and South of the island. The sunsets are impressive, yes, but these areas are most crowded and full of the kind of tourism you want to avoid.
There are plenty of wonderful bars and restaurants in Ibiza, but beware! there are thousands of tourist traps too. And we are talking about extremely fancy establishments that behind their beautiful façade hide the worst service and food you can find… for incredibly inflated prices! Ibiza succumbs to lots of trends, so you will have to pay attention and avoid said trends!
Utopia: this blue and white beach bar with only a few tables is absolutely fantastic. Located near Port San Miguel you will have to follow a beautiful nature trail to arrive. Fresh fish, the best couscous in the island and a couple of sunbeds to spend a quiet afternoon by the sea with a delicious sweet Mojito in your hand… That’s paradise in our books.
La Brasa (Carrer Pere Sala, 3): this restaurant is perfect for a lovely lunch after a stroll around Ibiza’s old town. One of the best paellas we’ve ever had, a lovely service and a beautiful patio. A classic in Ibiza.
Can Costa: this has to be our favourite place in the island. A traditional Spanish bar in the main square of the charming village Santa Gertrudis. Order cold meats, cheese and bread with extra virgin olive oil. The best meal you will have in the island. Simple, rustic and utterly delicious. Plus the atmosphere is as authentic as it gets.
El Olivo Mio: our favourite restaurant for a special dinner in Ibiza’s old town. Splendid ceviche, kind service and a beautiful terrace which becomes the place to be at night for the best people watching. A great start for a night out, though we always go back home after dinner…
El Chiringuito Es Cavallet: this could be one of those expensive tourist traps that we mentioned before, but it isn’t. It’s gorgeous, chic, plays lounge music, the waiters are handsome and wear tight white shirts… But the food is amazing. Incredible rice dishes and the best gazpacho we’ve ever had in a restaurant.
OUR FAVOURITE BEACHES
Ibiza has some incredible beaches and coves. Recommending just a few is quite difficult but if you are planning a short stay in the island, these are the ones that we we think you can’t miss:
Es Cavallet: located in Ses Salines Natural Park, this is a long, white sand beach framed by the beautiful dunes and the bluest waters. The further you go from the entrance of the beach, the better. It’s a nudist beach but you can keep your swimsuit on if you want. Here, everyone minds their own business. It’s peaceful, almost wild. If you get hungry, you can have an amazing lunch at El Chiringuito.
Cala Olivera: this has to be our favourite tiny cove in the island. You will find it in your way from Ibiza to Santa Eulària del Riu. Hidden behind a private residential area, leave the car in the parking and go for the beautiful 2 km. hike, surrounded by pines and rosemary scent. The reward will be emerald green waters, a rock platform where you will feel the first person to discover this beautiful setting and a simple beach bar where you will eat the best grilled sardines of the world.
Aguas Blancas: this beach is dramatic, secluded and one of the best places if you want to be alone, since the access is quite difficult and restricted. There is a car park at the top of the hill, afterwards you will have to walk down a very, very steep path. But once you arrive, you will feel the lovely sea breeze, you will dip your feet in the golden sand and you will feel restored. Again, this is an official nudist beach, but, again, you don’t have to be nude if you don’t want to. Go early because the high cliffs cast shade in the afternoon. There’s also a wonderfully simple beach bar to have a fish based lunch.
Cala Tarida: we have doubted about including these beach in our guide, because it’s an urban beach and can get very crowded. But it’s so beautiful that we couldn’t exclude it from this list. The water is like a cristal clear swimming pool, which makes it perfect for children, therefore you will find lots of families here. It’s also a very nice place to admire the sunset, not the most popular maybe… but with a cocktail in hand overlooking that amazing water it feels perfect. In Cala Tarida you will find the über chic Cotton Beach Club, which offers great cocktails, though the service is not very kind. But again, that water…
OUT AND ABOUT
Dalt Vila: Ibiza’s old town is one of a kind. Perched on a hill, it is full of hidden alleys, white houses and picture perfect corners. Don’t miss Santo Domingo’s church, the views from the bastions and the architecture. The silhouette of Dalt Vila against the sunset is one of the most beautiful images of Ibiza.
Las Dalias Market: don’t expect your average beach market. The atmosphere at Las Dalias is absolutely special and the artisans and sellers have a strong personality. Look for fabrics, you will find amazing cashmere scarves, quilts and bedspreads at Belinda. Be there before 11 a.m. otherwise you will find a huge and annoying traffic jam. Besides, it gets really crowded and the market is not that big, so it’s better to be an early-riser.
Santa Agnes, San Mateo and San Miguel: these three villages are delightful. Together with Santa Gertrudis, they offer the most picturesque and authentic side of the island. On top of that, the road trip between these villages will make you discover the incredible and almost secret Ibiza’s countryside.
Day trip to Formentera: You can’t leave Ibiza without a day trip to Formentera. Nothing prepares you for the incredible beauty of this tiny island. You have to see it with your own eyes and feel it in your skin. Take the ferry in Ibiza’s port (45 €) and in just 30 minutes you will arrive to the most beautiful island of the Mediterranean Sea. Playa de Levante is absolutely breathtaking and less crowded than other beaches in the island. You can have an amazing lunch at the beach bar on the Beach, Tanga, and spend the rest of your time speechless admiring the sea and the surroundings. Don’t bring a book, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the landscape.