If you’ve been taking in any celebrity news of late, you’ve no doubt seen that Hollywood types have been especially thick on the ground over here this summer – famously featuring an almost punching out of Justin Bieber by Orlando Bloom at Ibiza Town‘s latest hot nightspot, Booom! Besides these two, other boldface names being currently bandied about are Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Zac Efron, Leonardo di Caprio, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton.
But hereabouts this is par for the course, as Europe’s party isle par excellence has been at it like this for decades already. And it’s not just A-listers – actually, it’s not even just party people and beach bunnies. Because although, the “White Isle” has certainly earned its rocking reputation honestly, its 220 square miles (572 sq. km.) also have quite a bit to offer to foodies, history buffs, ecotourism fans, and much more (I covered some of this several months back in a post on off-season Ibiza ). But in any case, for those tackling the place for the first time, here’s a quick primer:
Ibiza Town (Vila d’Eivissa)
With a population of nearly 50,000, this historic port city on the island’s southeast coast is where much (but by no means all) of the holiday hullaballoo happens. The oldest part is the Dalt Vila, the walled medieval upper town (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its narrow, winding streets, restaurants, bars, and shops. The atmospheric Gothic cathedral is up here, as is an interesting Contemporary Art Museum with works from major figures including Miró, Tàpies, and Chillida; and a stroll along the walls especially at night is pure magic.
Below that is the Eixample (“addition”, in the local language Catalan), basically everything built between the Middle Ages and the 21st century, and Ibiza Nueva, the more modern parts of town including the marina district, where a lot of the chic-est nightlife is based these days. Down here there’s not a lot of “sightseeing”, per se, with the key exception of a pretty interesting archaeological museum and adjoining necropolis (cemetery) founded by the 7th-century first settlers of “Ibossim“, the ancient Phoenicians.
Outside the Capital
The other main hub of action (pop. 22,000) is Sant Antoni (San Antonio in Spanish), a 20-minute- ride across the island’s midsection on the southwest coast. Ibiza’s second largest city actually has more pubs and clubs than Ibiza Town, is especially popular with Brits (especially for stag and hen parties), and can get rowdy indeed in summer. The third-largest resort is Santa Eulària (Santa Eulalia; pop. 14,000), more laid-back and suitable for families at this time of year, and with a fine dining, shopping, and arts scene. There are numerous other lovely smaller towns dotting the coasts and interior that are wonderful to visit and stay in, as well, such as Santa Agnès de Corona, Sant Miquel de Balansat, and Sant Carles de Peralta (click here for more details).
Top Ibiza Beaches
For many holidaymakers, of course, when the sun is shining the sands are beckoning. There are some 80 strands to choose from, whether your tastes run to those hip and hopping or hidden and nearly deserted. The hot party beach par excellence of course (there are DJ mixes named after it) is Playa d’en Bossa – which has something to do with the fact that one of the islands top clubs, Space, is right there. Less disco-ey but even trendier in its way is Ses Salines a short hop outside Ibiza Town, with a nude section, gay section, and plenty of bars and restaurants to stay fed and watered. Over on the west coast in San Josep de Sa Talaia, Cala d’Hort is smaller but especially famous for its million-euro views, including the islet of Es Vedrà. These beaches are all jammed in high season, of course, but come fall things ease up. And even in summer, visitors who want to balance crazy nights with laid back days can always find gorgeous little coves like like Cala Codolar, also out near San Josep and with that Es Vedrà view – with an old-timey little beach shack from the days before mass tourism.
There is of course a varied nocturnal ecosystem in place on this island, but what has most made Ibiza’s international name over the years are its high-energy mega-clubs where anything goes, like veterans Pacha, Amnesia, Privilege (going strong since the 1970s), and the above-mentioned Space, with more recent additions besides Booom! including Es Paradis, Dc10, Gatecrasher, Sankeys, and The Zoo Project. There are now hybrids, too, like Ushuaïa, both a cool hotel and club venue. And boat parties have become a popular trend in recent years, sailing out of Playa d’en Bossa and Sant Antoni (these are daytime, though, so not strictly speaking nightlife). Finally, Ibiza is also a major stop of the gay party circuit, as well, with two hubs of activity in Ibiza Town: Calle de la Virgen and the terraces of Calle Alfonso XII, next to the main gate to Dalt Vila (for more details, click here).
Ah, if the Phoenicians could see it now…
- The non-holiday population is nearly 133,000.
- Ibiza enjoys a classic dry, sunny Mediterranean climate, with summer temperatures mostly in the upper 20s Celsius (70s-80s Fahrenheit), and nighttime lows around 22°C (71°F). In winter, temps reach the upper teens Celsius (60s Fahrenheit) and drop as low as 8 to 14°C (47–58°F).
- The currency is the euro.
- More information: Ibiza.travel, Ibiza-Spotlight.com, EssentialIbiza.com.
- Best Iberia flight deals from the U.K., from the USA.