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.
Explore our interactive map below for all the local highlights, and scroll down for our suggested day-by-day summary of the best things to see and do.
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 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 is fabulous for homewares; nearby La Galeria Elefante is a cornucopia of hand-picked fashion, accessories and more.
Now finding your stride again, head back to Ibiza’s salt-kissed shores and to El Chiringuito Es Cavallet, 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. For more suggestions of the best restaurants in the area, see our guide.
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 where locals doing yoga are silhouetted against the skyline. Or for something more upmarket – but still quintessentially Balearic – try La Torre, 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 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, 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. 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, 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, a bar nuzzled amid the streets of the gypsy quarter, and nearby Bar 1805, 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 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 or the gritty underground edge of DC-10 are enough to delight every wide-eyed night owl. For more suggestions of the best nightlife in the area, see our guide.
The village of Jesús lies just on the outskirts of Ibiza town and its main street is a hive of restaurant activity. It’s more a pitstop for cheap eats and drink than fine gastronomy but places like El Deseo, eF&Gi and Bon Lloc are unbeatable when you’re in a rush to get to the beach.
For a sunset experience without the crowds and the noise, head to Las Puertas del Cielo, a family-run restaurant near the tiny village of Santa Agnès. Grab a drink from the bar and take a seat on the clifftop to watch cerulean sea and candy floss skies collide. For more suggestions of the best things to do in the area, see our guide.
Rather than splurging money on a taxi after a night at the club, hop on the disco bus, which runs between San Antonio, Playa d’en Bossa and Ibiza town. In peak summer it runs every half an hour all throughout the night and only costs €3-4 (£2.5-£3) per journey. Plus it’s riotous good fun.
Without question, the best ice cream available on the island is at Gelato Ibiza (+34 971 93 11 33). Located on bustling Vara de Rey in the centre of Ibiza Town, the classic flavours here are certified hits, but it’s the revolving carousel of specials you should dive into with gusto. The dark chocolate orange and the mint choc chop are the stuff of legend. Creamy and dreamy in equal measure.
Did you know?
The reason the water surrounding Ibiza and Formentera is so beautifully clear is thanks to Posidonia, a protected seagrass species that’s endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s one of the largest living organisms in the world at 8 km long and over 100,000 years old. It’s also been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Where to stay
The world’s cultural creatives flock to the sparkling shores of Cala Xarraca for super-luxe sojourns at Six Senses Ibiza. A rambling, five-star resort that’s also in tune with the island’s bohemian leanings, it blends into the surrounding cinnamon-shaded cliffs and offers direct sea access. Adored by the A-List, it’s exclusive without feeling chichi but you should still expect to rub shoulders with actors, musicians and models, especially at The Caves, a dedicated space for music, dancing and curated talks. Wellbeing is an essential pillar here too, sign up for the after party detox in advance if you know what’s good for you.
Doubles from £369
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.
Hostal La Torre packs 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.
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 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
Tourist board: ibiza.travel
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.