A holiday on the White Island can involve a lot more than just throwing shapes and soaking up the sun. From buzzing markets and cutting-edge galleries to fascinating historical sites and eerie caves, there’s a lot to see and do in Ibiza. With so much to choose from, we’ve handpicked 15 of the must-visit attractions on this Spanish island.
Benirrás Beach and the Sunday drummers
This part-sand, part-shingle beach with incredibly clear waters is the place to go on a Sunday afternoon. On August 18, 1991, a day now known on the island as the Day of the Drums, hundreds of people gathered on the beach at sunset in protest against the Gulf War. The event was so popular that it became a huge annual gathering, with hippies and anti-war protesters travelling from all over the world to attend. Sadly, the event got too big, and it was banned in 2002, but since then, a group of hippy drummers gets together every Sunday at Cala Benirrás, to play their bongos as the sun sets behind the strange rock formation in the sea just off the beach. As a result, Sundays are very busy, so it’s best to get there early if you hope to find parking in time to witness this spectacular weekly ritual.
Ibiza Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museu d’Art Contemporani features some major internationally renowned artists and really punches above its weight in terms of quality for such a small island. The permanent collection of Antoni Marí Ribas, one of the most prolific painters born in Ibiza, is well worth a browse, along with a spectacular collection of posters from nearby Carl van der Voort Gallery. Temporary exhibits are excellent too, including, most recently, a stunning collection of designs by the LOEWE fashion house. The historic building has been beautifully restored with glass floors laid over an archaeological site, making for an enjoyable stroll around some fantastic curations.
This popular bar is in San Carlos, a small, picturesque village in the north of the island, which was a famous hippy enclave in the ’60s and ’70s. Bar Anita was the hippy hangout back in the day, as it was the only place with a phone, and it was also where people came to collect their mail. The bar is still a hub for locals and visitors in the area; the original phone booth remains, and the wooden mailboxes are still used by people living in properties too remote for regular postal services. There’s a nice shady courtyard, and an eclectic selection of art on the walls, which is said to have been donated over the years by local artists unable to pay their bills. It’s worth visiting to experience a slice of Ibiza’s hippy history.
Located on the west of the island, Cala Comte has a small beach with sun loungers as well as a rocky coastline with plenty of carved flat platforms to base yourself for the day – perfect for anyone who loves the sea but hates the sand. The water is shallow too, making it a great spot to bring kids. Spend all day in the water until sunset, then head up to one of the three restaurants on top of the cliffs to enjoy the wide-lens views of the sun dropping behind the horizon.
Ibiza’s famed hippy markets can make for a colourful and fun-filled day or evening out, with the chance to browse for souvenirs, enjoy a meal and see some live music. Las Dalias night market is great for a shopping trip and is on every Monday and Tuesday night (7pm to 1am) from June to September, and on Sundays in August. Punta Arabi is the oldest and largest hippy market on the island, and runs every Wednesday from 10am during the summer months. Not only does this market have great food, great shopping and lots of live music and other acts, but it has a dedicated area for kids, where they can have their face painted or make their own souvenir or T-shirt using recycled craft materials.
Dalt Vila (meaning “upper town”) is Ibiza’s old town and sits on a hill, contained within ancient walls and looking out to sea. The views from the ramparts are stunning, and the numerous winding cobbled streets and steps lead towards the cathedral at the top. The main gateway into the old town is up a ramp and through an old drawbridge. The area is not simply a tourist attraction; it is still partly residential and offers tantalising glimpses of real life through the occasional open door. This is a fascinating area to wander around during the day or evening, with many little shops, galleries, museums and restaurants in the narrow streets.
Puig des Molins necropolis
Puig des Molins translates as “hill of windmills”. Located just outside the old town, and on the original 7th-century BCE Phoenician settlement site, the area also contains a large, ancient and well-preserved necropolis, with an estimated 3,000 tombs (although only a handful of these are open to the public). The hillside is like a rabbit warren of tombs, most of which remain un-excavated, and you can follow a set route around the hypogea (burial chambers) and even descend into one. Now a Unesco World Heritage site, the site also includes an archaeological museum detailing the necropolis’s history century by century. Entry to the museum is very cheap, and it makes for a fascinating visit.
Café del Mar
The iconic Café del Mar in San Antonio opened in 1980 and has become synonymous with chill-out music and sundowners. Famous the world over for its chill-out compilation albums, the café has a large terrace where you can enjoy a cocktail or two listening to the music as the sun sets over the sea. The food is pretty decent, too. It may seem like a cliché, but it’s something you should experience at least once when in Ibiza.
Es Vedrà is a rocky and uninhabited island, standing 413m (1,355ft) high, just off the southwest coast of Ibiza. Folklore says not only that it is the third most magnetic place on earth, but that it is the birthplace of Phoenician goddess Tanit, and that it was home to the sirens and sea nymphs who tried to lure Ulysses from his ship in Homer’s Odyssey. The island is also the setting for the local fable Es Gegant des Vedrà (the giant of Es Vedra), about two brothers who go to the island to search for a cure for their father’s illness and come face to face with a giant. Mythology aside, Es Vedrà is a stunning place to take some pictures or watch the sun go down.
Although essentially just a café, Croissant Show is a bit of an Ibiza institution. Yes, you come here to enjoy coffee and a pastry or breakfast, but really, it’s all about the people-watching and the incredibly eccentric owner, Andres. It is Andres, with his Dalí-esque moustache and his friendly and extravagant nature, who puts the show in Croissant Show. Sit outside and watch as clubbers stop in for a post-party breakfast on their way home, world-famous DJs linger over café con leche, and Andres chats and mingles with locals, celebrities and anyone he fancies a chat with. There are no rules in this café as to what time constitutes breakfast, making it popular with those who’ve had a heavy night and need a long lie.
C’an Marça Caves
Originally used by smugglers to stash their illegal wares, the C’an Marça Caves, in the north of the island, can be quite chilly inside and make a welcome break from the intense heat of summer. Filled with stalagmites and stalactites, you can take an official tour of the caves, and learn all about their history. The tour includes a light show around an artificial waterfall, created to represent how the caves once looked.
Aquarium Cap Blanc
Often referred to as the Lobster Cave, Cap Blanc Aquarium is located in a large, natural cave. The cave was once used as a nursery for lobsters, which were then exported to mainland Spain. Due to the quality of the water and the naturalistic environment, the cave is often used to house rescued sea turtles before they are released back into the wild, and there is a wooden walkway over the water, as well as tanks containing examples of other Mediterranean sea-life. From colourful fish such as the rainbow wrasse to sea sponges, starfish, shark eggs and other marine life, there is plenty to keep you engrossed. When you’re done in the cave, there’s a decent sea-front café on the terrace.
A renowned place to watch the sun go down, Sunset Ashram is on a beautiful, unspoiled beach and has a resident DJ playing music throughout the day and guest DJs playing sunset sessions. Relaxed and unpretentious, the bar is on a rock that divides the beach, with seating under rustic beach umbrellas, and the restaurant serves very tasty Mediterranean, Indian and Japanese food. If you want to come and enjoy a cocktail and watch the sun go down, it’s best to call ahead and reserve a table, as it gets very busy later in the day.
The Cathedral of the Lady of Our Snows sits atop the hill of Dalt Vila (Ibiza old town) and has incredible views out to sea. There has been a religious structure of some kind on this site since the 7th century, but work commenced on this building in the 14th century and finished in the mid-1500s. It did not, however, become a cathedral until much later. If you’re fairly fit, the steep climb up the hill (best not to do in the midday heat) is worth it for a chance to look round the Catalan Gothic-style building and then stop and enjoy the views.
For accommodation options, here’s our guide on where to stay for a local experience, no bookable on Culture Trip.
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