What to do in Ibiza, Spain
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Things to Do in Ibiza, Spain, If You’re Not into Nightclubs: Beaches, Markets, History and More

Nightclubs are the big industry on the island of Ibiza, Spain, so venues are very, very big—Privilege Ibiza, in a random and otherwise quiet little town named San Rafael, is actually the largest nightclub in the whole world, and it’s only one of many tourist establishments on Ibiza that can hold several thousand people inside its walls. 

Staying up all night, drinking, dancing, enjoying illicit pills under the glow of multimillion-dollar laser shows—for many hard-partying visitors, that can be a lot to handle. Often, too much.

What about visitors to Ibiza who don’t go to nightclubs, or who maybe just want to take a break from the party scene? It may seem silly to mention this to some hedonistic visitors, but it should be said nonetheless: Life on Ibiza existed long before the introduction of DJs. Ibiza has so many authentic experiences for outdoorsy types, artsy folks, and people who are secretly searching for a glimpse into Mediterranean culture.

Here are some of our suggestions of where to find the “real” Ibiza, including reasonably priced restaurants, a thriving arts scene, and plenty of opportunities to just sit down and watch the sun set.

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: cathedral and Puig des Molins graves
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Ibiza's ancient attractions

In the island’s largest settlement, Ibiza Town (Eivissa in Catalan), a hill rises in the center of Dalt Vila, the touristy but photogenic historic district. At the top of that hill you’ll find the formidable Santa María La Mayor Catedral, known simply as the Ibiza Catedral, or Ibiza Cathedral.

Built in the 13th Century and then revamped in the 16th Century to its current appearance, the cathedral grounds offer gorgeous views of the island and the Mediterranean Sea beyond. Walking up from the lanes of the lower town only takes around 15 minutes, although the incline is not for the weak-hearted. 

The Catedral is not as ornate as some of the more famous Catholic cathedrals in Europe (although some of the side chapels contain paintings that are hundreds of years old), and it houses a small Diocesan Museum featuring religious and historical artifacts, but considering the Ibiza’s spectacular setting as the high point of the town, most visitors would rather stay outside to enjoy the stunning views. 

Visiting that is just a warm-up. For real Ibiza flavor, walk down the hill and then away from the sea, and in 15 minutes arrive at Museu Monogràfic Puig Des Molins, a fine little museum and part of Ibiza's UNESCO World Heritage treasures, attached to a necropolis (gravesite; pictured above) for everyone from the Phoenicians to the Punics to the Romans, dating back to 7th Century B.C. This active archeological site, which takes about an hour to see, features actual skeletons and various historical objects. Entrance is free, making it a fun and fast detour during the day. 

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: how to get around Ibiza
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How to get around Ibiza

Ibiza comprises approximately 220 square miles, similar to the city of Chicago, but the things to see are spread all over. Most attractions outside of Ibiza Town are dotted along the beaches and cliffs of the island; traveling through the island’s interior is a twist-and-turn tangle of two-lane roads.  

Ride shares are theoretically available on Ibiza, but finding a car can be a struggle, so plan on using taxis—traveling from one side of the island to the other will cost at least €50 (US $54)—or rent a car in Ibiza Town. Outside of the cities, taxis generally pick up passengers only at hotels. So you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, find any hotel, if you can, for a taxi ride to the next place you need to go.

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: art, architecture, and sculpture
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Ibiza’s thriving art scene

In the 1930s and 1940s, Ibiza rose to prominence as a refuge for European artists, particularly from Germany, who left the continent to escape the threat of the Nazis. Ibiza offered these cultural refugees year-round warm weather and sunny skies, where they could live cheaply and happily while creating new works, saying what they wanted to say, and loving the people they wanted to love. Expression thrived on Ibiza, leading to the creation of the Grupo 59, a community of artists that attracted international acclaim. Among the founding members was German designer and architect Erwin Broner, whose self-designed house is now the Casa Broner museum, in the Dalt Vila (Carreró de Sa Penya, 15; free admission). 

The contemporary art scene continues to thrive on the island. Ibiza now has an art school, Escola d'Art d'Eivissa, and there are galleries in practically every town on the island. Public art abounds; of note, in 2014, Cirque du Soleil founder (and part-time Ibiza resident) Guy Laliberté commissioned the large-scale installation Time and Space: The Speed of Light, resembling a modern interpretation of Stonehenge.

The sculptural work (pictured above) was installed outdoors on the southwest corner of the island near some of the trendiest beach clubs, making it an occasional destination for social media influencers to show up, take selfies, and pretend they appreciate art. 

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: Punta Moscarter Lighthouse
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Ibiza's spiritual scene

In the 1960s, Ibiza also became a hippie capital of the Mediterranean when the “free love” crowd was drawn to the live-and-let-live culture and the land’s (allegedly) mystical healing powers. Powerful energy fields (supposedly) emanate from the large amounts of quartz crystals in Ibiza’s soil, particularly (maybe) from the rocks near the Punta Moscarter Lighthouse on the north shore. Just don’t pocket any of the crystals you find, or that positive energy could morph into bad juju for you, legally speaking.


What to do in Ibiza, Spain: Es Vedrà magnetic healing
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Be not mistaken, the mindfulness scene in Ibiza is big business. For example, the swanky hotel Nobu Ibiza Bay guides hikers to view Es Vedrà, a rock off the southern coast of the island, which is renowned for (again, reputedly) powerful magnetic fields. Hikers can participate in self-reflective meditative sessions as they sit in the field and let it do whatever it is a magnetic field is supposed to do. For non-believers, the view is simply stunning, which is reason enough to go.

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: Ibiza's "hippy" markets
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Ibiza's "hippy" markets

Free spirits also started Ibiza’s well-known hippie markets—here, they spell it hippy—that sell artisan goods like clothing, ceramics, leather, and jewelry. The original hippie market, Punta Arabí, can be found in Es Caná, near the northeastern corner of the island at the Hotel Cala Martina. That’s the largest market on Ibiza, with hundreds of vendors, and live music, drinks, dancing and other hippy shenanigans. Much of the merch today is made in China or India for undiscerning tourists, but some items are still crafted by the merchants themselves—just ask them—and these authentically handmade items make for more authentic finds. 

Also popular are the Las Dalias Hippy Market (pictured above) in San Carlos, San Rafael Hippy Market (open Thursday mornings) in the center of the island, San Juan Hippy Market (open Sundays) in the north, and the list goes on. Each market is open on its own schedule, sometimes day and sometimes night, so it pays to ask around for the best markets for the days you're on the island. My suggestion: The Santa Gertrudis market is open Friday evenings, which leaves time during the day to explore the whitewashed villas and shops in one of the most picturesque and historic villages in Ibiza. 

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: Ibiza’s best beaches and coves
Filippo Marino
Ibiza’s best beaches and coves

Ibiza’s rocky coastlines and cliffs undulate with the ocean, and with each bend there may be a delightful little cove with sparkling blue water protected from Mediterranean swells, but not all of Ibiza's coves have beaches.

When the coves do harbor small beaches, they range from pebbles to powdery sand, but the water is always reliably bright blue and clear, thanks to strict environmental regulations. Reaching some of the beaches may involve a bit of walking over short hills on the coastline, and even that brief bit of effort will keep many visitors away, so coves that take slightly more work to reach can be wonderfully private. 

The bigger beaches can be overrun by the party crowd—Nikki Beach on the east side is a celebrity hangout, and the beaches of Sant Antoni de Portmany (San Antonio) on the southwest side around Caló des Moro (pictured) are party central—but on the northern coast of the island, beaches like Portinatx provide a more civilized vibe.

It should be noted that Ibiza has plenty of beaches where small sections have been designated for nude sunbathing, if bathers choose to do so. Platja Des Cavallet is Ibiza’s best-known nude beach, but many of the island’s public beaches also have nude sunbathing areas. As an added bonus, Des Cavallet has clear water thanks to protection from nearby seagrass, so it’s excellent for snorkeling, but bring your own gear, because rental provisions are scanty, as they are in many coves.

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: El Bigotes–Bullit seaside restaurant
Filippo Marino
Seaside dining in Ibiza

Some coves have just one or two places to eat, and they may range from ramshackle to glamorous. On the tiny beach of Cala Mastella, the restaurant El Bigotes–Bullit (pictured above) is renowned for its signature dish, the bullit de peix. Fresh fish (whatever was caught that day) is cooked in a stew with local herbs, spices, and potatoes, reflecting the authentic essence of Ibiza’s Mediterranean cuisine.

Don’t expect a menu—the meal and the kitchen are both so perfectly simple that everybody is served the same thing, and seating is at communal tables. This is a rambunctious place, and reservations are a very good idea (+34 650 797 633; sometimes accepts reservations via WhatsApp text; 10am–4pm; closed Mon.). Because there’s no website, most people just show up and wait for seats. 

Ibiza’s luxury dining and resorts

Farmstays are a common way of finding a cheap place to sleep in Europe, but Ibiza has gentrified the genre with agroturismo hotels. Similar to the wineries of Napa Valley, agroturismos feature deluxe suites in refurbished farm houses, and serve gourmet meals made from produce grown on-property. These rural estates are dotted throughout the center of the island, and the restaurants are particularly popular with discerning locals who appreciate superb gastronomy away from the tourist centers. 

The most famous one on Ibiza is Atzaró Agroturismo Hotel, located an orange farm near Santa Eularia, with a luxurious pool, open-air spa, and an award-winning restaurant named The Orange Tree (pictured above) that serves dinner nightly in July and August only. Even though rooms here can cost upward of €400, a meal here ranges from €30-40, so this is by no means an excessive splurge. 

What to do in Ibiza, Spain: Ibiza's best sunset spots
Filippo Marino
Ibiza's best sunset spots

Choosing where to watch the sun set is like picking a place to catch a new show. Restaurants and resorts dot Ibiza’s long western coast, where little inlets and coves frame the sun as it burns swaths of oranges and reds across the horizon. 

You could just buy some cocktails while the sun goes down, but for something more interesting, local-run group meetups host excursions to watch the sunset on the beach while doing little yoga. For starters, check the schedule at Ibiza Outdoors.

Drummers gather for Sunday sunsets at Benirras Beach, near the town of San Miguel, where some folks like to dance to the beat or relax in a trance.

Or elevate your sunset game and give your soul a meditative cleansing at a Sunset Ceremony, complete with “sound healing” and incense, at the modestly luxurious Six Senses Ibiza, the island’s premier holistic healing retreat. Or just reserve a table at Beach Caves, Six Senses' oceanfront restaurant (pictured above), and soak in the final moments in high resort style.