Plan your 2012 holiday to Ibiza with this hassle free guide from Ibiza holidays expert Cila Warncke. She’s got the detail covered, so you can enjoy a Balearic holiday you’ll never forget.
Ibiza is like the Tardis – small but bursting with surprises. Its dozens of beaches are a natural draw for summer holiday makers who can choose from secluded inlets, sweeping white dunes or turquoise coves surrounded by craggy hills. Ibiza also offers hiking, bird-watching, snorkelling, boating, horse riding, wine tasting and even rock-climbing.
Thanks to its cosmopolitan population Ibiza boasts a mix of food and drink ranging from seafood shacks to five-star bars; French cuisine to hole-in-the-wall pubs. And with sights to see such as the historic Dalt Vila, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the pine-clad hills of Sant Joan, Ibiza is an island for all seasons.
Planning your trip
When to go
Ibiza is charming year-round, but for the perfect balance of sunshine and tranquillity, opt for late May, June, or September. These are magical months on the island: the weather is usually balmy (mid 20s) and the roads and beaches are markedly quieter than peak season.
Getting the best deal
Direct flights from the UK begin as early as mid-April and run to mid-October. Accommodation and car hire are significantly cheaper at either end of the season, too. A range of private lets ranging from flats to villas are available on the island and you can get a real bargain if you go off-peak as many resident expats travel during the winter. But there are also bargains to be had in hotels and apartments if you shop around.
You don’t need vaccinations or visas but take your EHIC card which entitles you to emergency medical care from the excellent public health centres. It’s wise to take out travel insurance too, to cover you for unexpected mishaps or losses.
Packing and baggage
During the summer you can get beach basics from the many supermarkets and tourist shops. Pharmacies are excellent: over-the-counter medications are cheap and you can buy asthma inhalers and antibiotics without prescription. The selection of inexpensive cosmetics, shampoo and sun-cream is limited, though. If you want a particular brand bring it with you.
Where can you fly from?
Getting to Ibiza is easy and fairly cheap. There are direct flights from most UK airports. If you are London-based consider flights from City Airport. It is easier to navigate than Stansted or Gatwick, and less likely to be packed with boozy young folks.
Arriving in Ibiza
This is usually painless, though it requires some patience in peak season. The airport is small and the taxi rank, bus stop and car park are all easily accessible. If you have pre-booked a car you can pick it up there. Buses run to Ibiza Town and Sant Antoni, and cost about €3 (£2.50) – check the bus website for timetables and further information. Taxis to Ibiza Town, Playa d’en Bossa, Figueretes or Talamanca are €15-€20 (£12-17), and cost about €25 (£20) to San An. Most taxi drivers speak English but it helps to have the name and address of your hotel to hand. If you book a package holiday check that transfers are included.
Once you are there
Fun on the first night
Exploring Ibiza Town is the perfect holiday opener. Start with a bottle of cava at Café Sydney in Marina Botafoch, where you can watch the sunset behind the majestic outline of Dalt Vila. Join the joggers, lovers and families strolling along the promenade as you make your way around the port and into town. The Spanish dine fashionably late, so enjoy an aperitif at local institution Croissant Show before heading across the street to La Bodega for superb tapas and potent cocktails. Evening is the perfect time to explore Dalt Vila’s central square, the Placa de Vila. Shops, restaurants, street musicians and buzzing crowds make it ideal for people watching or picking up souvenirs. Stop for ice cream or coffee at one of the little heladerias or, for a real taste of Ibiza nightlife, head to Angelo’s. This flamboyant institution serves staggeringly good mojitos and it’s a great spot to watch the club parades featuring exotic, barely-clad beauties promoting that night’s parties.
Practical considerations for planning your itinerary
The Spanish do take siesta. Don’t plan on shopping between the hours of 13.30-17.00, or banking after 13.30 in most cases. The exceptions to this rule are supermarkets in package holiday hotspots such as Playa d’en Bossa and Sant Antoni. If you are self-catering stock up on Saturday – virtually everything, including the big supermarkets, are shut Sunday. If you’re driving remember there are only a few petrol stations and most shut by 23.00.
Ibiza is resolutely nocturnal – even when it comes to food. Dinner is a leisurely affair beginning with drinks around 21.00 and moving on to food at 22.00-23.00. Most restaurant kitchens are open till midnight or 01.00.
Public transport is an inexpensive way to get between the main towns – Ibiza, Sant Antoni and Santa Eularia. During the summer, buses run every 15 minutes to half an hour and fares are under €2 (£1.70). Taxis are relatively inexpensive too, but can be hard to catch in peak season. Your best bet is to queue at one of the taxi ranks. You can pre-book, but if the dispatcher is busy and you don’t speak Spanish you will get short shrift.
A hire car will help you make the most of Ibiza’s varied scenery and dozens of beaches. Do You Spain offers fee-free advance bookings with no change or cancelation charges.
Local attractions such as museums and galleries are open year round. Municipal museums, such as the contemporary art museum in Ibiza Town and the ethnographic museum in Santa Eularia observe siesta, as do most privately run galleries.
Winter is an ideal time to visit if history and local culture is your thing. Museums are open year-round and you’ll enjoy historic sites more when you don’t have to compete with noisy package-holiday tours. Ibiza retreats inland in winter. The beach spots shut down and locals gather in the cosy tapas joints like El Zaguan and linger over drinks at La Cava. December visitors get to enjoy the Christmas fair and parade in Ibiza Town.
During semana santa, the week before Easter, there are nightly processions in each town. Hooded acolytes carry icons through the streets to the accompaniment of medieval music, an eerie and unforgettable sight.
Daytime temperatures in the teens make spring and autumn good for hiking, biking and long lunches in the quiet villages of Santa Gertrudis and Sant Joan.
Don’t leave Ibiza without experiencing both of its culinary traditions. Grilled meat and fresh salad is the characteristic fare of its agricultural interior, both done to perfection at Cami de Balafia. For exquisite seafood head to Es Xarcu, a deceptively rustic beach shack that’s a firm favourite with local bigwigs and visiting celebs alike.
You can find more information about the best beaches and sights to visit in Ibiza in our Best Of The Best of Ibiza feature here.
Ibiza Hassle Free – the map
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Surviving the airport
Ibiza’s only airport has expanded over the past two years but in theory you can still walk from one end to the other in five minutes. In practice summer is crazy: new arrivals shriek past the exhausted, sunburnt families heading home; children and dogs run riot; drunken teenagers stumble into and out of taxis. Pre-book a hire car to ease your arrival, and get back in plenty of time to check in – staff aren’t noted for their sense of urgency. Avoid the cheap post-midnight flights unless you fancy sharing airspace with a crowd of pumped-up club kids.
Avoid dull, expensive airport fare by leaving early to get a bocadillo at Sunset or Madagascar in Placa del Parque, or grab a slice of pizza from local fave El Pirata, opposite the bus stop by the port in Ibiza Town.
Goodbye is the hardest word when it comes to Ibiza. Cheer yourself up by browsing through Flickr’s Ibiza group photos and visit I’ve Been There to add your gems of Ibiza wisdom to the discussion. And don’t forget to share your holiday stories and snaps at the Directline Holiday’s Facebook page where we regularly give away prizes and vouchers for the best stories: http://www.facebook.com/DirectlineHolidays.
- Official Ibiza Tourism: http://www.ibiza.travel/en/
- Ibiza bus info and timetables: http://www.ibizabus.com/
- Ibiza to Formentera ferries: http://www.directferries.co.uk/ibiza_formentera_ferry.htm
- Pharmacies: http://www.cofib.es/es/llistat_guardies.aspx?z=Eivissa&data (This page is Spanish and Catalan but still useful. Select ‘farmacias abiertas’, top right, then select ‘Eivissa’ on the subsequent page and click ‘buscar’ to get a Google map showing which local pharmacies are open.)
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office Spain advice page: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/spain
- Ibiza A-Z: http://ibizaa-z.com/ exhaustive island guide written by long-time English expats
- I’ve Been There – Ibiza: http://www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/spain/ibiza/
- Beach Guide: http://www.ibiza-voice.com/story/news/1458
- Restaurant Guide: http://www.ibiza-voice.com/story/news/1454
- Trip Advisor – Ibiza: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Tourism-g187460-Ibiza_Balearic_Islands-Vacations.html