Ibiza & Formentera Guide

Ibiza (Eivissa) is the third largest of the Balearic Islands and was known by many as a 'hippy hideaway' in the 60's, but times have changed and Ibiza has been transformed into the partying and clubbing capital of Europe.

Ibiza Town and San Antonio are home to seven great clubs attracting revellers in their thousands during the summer. But if you want to get beyond the 'Discobus' route then there's plenty more to Ibiza - take your pick from over 50 beautiful beaches, chic hotels and villas, superb tapas and seafood restaurants, and a handful of pretty whitewashed villages.

North-West Coast

Sant Antoni de Portmany, or 'San An' as its known, is the major resort on the island and caters for the partying and clubbing crowd. From the opening party nights in mid-June Es Paradis and Eden are the main attractions featuring world famous DJs and club nights and 24 -hour partying. Spring and autumn are less full-on, and cater more for families and non-clubbers, but if you are coming for the nightlife bear in mind that most clubs and some bars will be closed.

Around Sant Antoni's 'West End' are the usual 'Brits abroad' bars with burgers, chips and beer on the menu but for trendier places head to the Sunset Strip and watch the sun go down at one of the many bars - try Cafe Mambo or the original chillout, Cafe del Mar. For more upmarket eateries outside Sant Antoni head for Sa Capella, an exclusive restaurant in a converted 18th century church or try the Plaza Mayor Restaurant at the Pikes Hotel (where Wham! fans will know was the setting for the Club Tropicana video).

Heading north-east out of Sant Antoni you'll find secluded coves and beaches along the coast - Cala Salada, Benirràs where crowds gather for sunset parties (especially Thursdays and Sundays) and Cala d'en Serra along the northern tip on the island.

En route the villages of Santa Agnes de Corona, and Sant Miquel are good stops for a tapas lunch; and close to Sant Miquel is the Cova de Can Marca cave complex, once used for smuggling now hosting guided tours and light shows.

To the south of Sant Antoni, from Cala Bassa around the coastline to Cala d'Hort, are numerous lovely coves with sandy beaches and clear waters for swimming and snorkelling. From Cala d'Hort are stunning views of the jagged rocky islet of Es Vedrà.

South-East Coast

Along the coast north of the island's capital is the town of Sant Eulària Des Rui, situated along a river estuary and overlooked by a whitewashed fortified church. Close by at Es Canar is the weekly Hippy Market (Wednesdays) and the place to go if you're looking for leather goods, batiks and bangles. A few kilometres inland is the old hippy haunt of Sant Carles which also has a market on Saturdays. From here you can easily explore the northern beaches of Cala Llenya, Cala Mastella and Cala Boix and through the pine woodlands to the nudist beach at Aig?es Blanques.

South of Ibiza Town are the salt flats of Las Salinas (Ses Salines). For over 2000 years seawater has been brought in through man made channels, and as it evaporates it leaves white crusts of salt. Get here as the sun goes down over the sparkling salt pans for the most photogenic sunsets on the island. The salt pans, along with the islets and area of sea across to Formentera form a marine reserve, that together with archaeological remains across the island, including those at Sa Caleta and the D'Alt Vila have been given World Heritage Site status. The reserve is an important marine habitat for threatened species such as the Mediterranean Monk Seal. Beyond Ses Salines are the three small coves at Sa Caleta and Cala Jondal (famed for the 'Jockey Club' beach bar and club) are great places for lazing on the beach.

Formentera

Formentera is only 5km to the south of Ibiza and there are regular ferry crossings from Ibiza Town to the port of La Sabina. Popular with day trippers and small enough to get round easily by moped, its main attractions are the less crowded and relaxing beaches and pretty villages. Sant Fransesc Xavier is the 'capital' of the island and along with other villages on the island has picturesque whitewashed houses and churches.

The island is relatively unspoilt by tourism development and there are some great beaches, many of them nudist. In the south you'll find the long white sands of Platja de Mighorn, westwards, Cala Saona and to the north around Es Pujol, where you'll also find the greater concentration bars and seafood restaurants. Heading towards the eastern end of the island you reach the highest point at La Mola, and a good place to enjoy the views, and the food, is the aptly named El Mirador Restaurant.