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In 2016, 7.1 million tourists traveled to Ibiza — a staggering amount of visitors considering the island’s population is just over 142,000. Like most of the Balearic Islands — an archipelago of Spain located in the Mediterranean Sea — Ibiza is known for its sandy beaches and inviting warm waters. However, it’s not the beaches in particular that attract the crowds, but the parties that take place on and around them.
From all-night dance clubs featuring the biggest DJs in the world to sunset hippie parties and extravagant dinner shows, here are some of the must-see places and experiences to seek out when visiting Ibiza.
Benirras BeachTucked away on the north side of Ibiza is Benirras Beach, a charming cove with enticing blue waters that lap gently against the mountains that enclose it. While this beach is popular on any given summer day, Benirras is especially packed on Sunday evenings, when the weekly “Drum Down the Sunset” hippie ritual transpires.
During this time, you’ll find crowds of locals, many with drums between their legs. As the sun descends on the horizon — obstructed only by “God’s Finger,” a rock that bursts from the ocean and points directly to the sky — the islanders begin to drum. The beat is untamed, yet surprisingly unified, inspiring crowds of dancers to contribute to the gathering. All too soon, however, the sun waves its final goodbye, leaving a fiery orange wake in its path.
Dalt VilaA trip to Ibiza is incomplete without a tour of Dalt Vila, the historic center of Ibiza Town. Surrounded by 80-foot-tall walls, the interior grounds are a maze of winding and narrow roads, almost completely hidden from the outside world. The fortress can be entered via multiple different entrances, including one that crosses a giant drawbridge. Once inside, the place practically explodes with culture, from gothic Catalonian buildings and private chapels, to museums, art galleries and hotels.
While best explored on foot, preferably in comfy shoes, the area is also known for its delectable restaurants and brimming nightlife, so expect to see groups of high-heeled girls teetering carefully along the cobblestone roads.
Es Vedra IslandIt may not be Ibiza’s easiest attraction to discover, but the limestone island of Es Vedra is worth the effort. Rising out of the water at more than 1,300 feet, and surrounded by what seems like miles of open water, the island is sure to ignite a feeling of childish wonder. It’s hard to put one’s finger on it, but there is something distinctly magical about this place.
Whether traveling to Es Vedra by boat or hiking up the dirt roads in Cala d’Hort to see the view, it’s best to go around sunset. As the sun dips behind the island, the ocean takes on the colors of the striking pastel sky, and Es Vedra seems to glow in otherworldly glory. It’s no wonder that this mystical island is the focus of many myths and legends, as well as a favorite spot for locals to meditate.
FormenteraA day trip to the tiny island of Formentera is the perfect escape from Ibiza’s sizable summer crowds. While it’s only a quick ferry ride away, Formentara is fairly different from Ibiza — in size, scenic views and overall vibes. The beaches are stunning on both islands, but the almost deserted white-sand coves and impossibly clear turquoise water are perks unique to Formentara, making it the ideal place for snorkeling, diving and fishing.
After a peaceful day spent on the quiet beaches, returning to the Ibiza party scene can be jarring. Luckily, during the summer months, the last ferry from Formentara to Ibiza doesn’t leave until 11 p.m., so visitors can walk through the coastal villages, grab a bite to eat or have a drink on a lively bar terrace in Es Pujols, the only tourist resort town on the island.
Benirras Beach is just one of the many stunning places to explore on Ibiza. // © 2018 Creative Commons user sunface13
Locals drum and dance as the sun sets over the ocean. // © 2018 Creative Commons user sunface13
The old quarter of Dalt Vila — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is built on a hill and offers panoramic views of Ibiza Town. // © 2018 Creative Commons user joseanmomo
There’s something historical to see in every corner of Dalt Vila, such as these cannons, once used to protect the town’s walls. // © 2018 Creative Commons user ivan1311
Sunsets over the island of Es Vedra, located off the west coast of Ibiza, cast a magical light and inspire a gripping silence perfect for meditation and spiritual activities. // © 2018 Creative Commons user marksun
The island of Formentera is an ideal day trip for visitors looking to escape Ibiza’s crowds. // © 2018 Creative Commons user andreananni
The clear blue waters of Formentera are as enticing as this island’s empty beaches. // © 2018 Creative Commons user bonus1up
Most of the stalls at the hippy markets feature colorful and handmade merchandise. // © 2018 Creative Commons user fotoscanon
The Flower Power event at Pacha is one of the best parties on the island. // © 2018 Giselle Abcarian
Ibiza Hippy MarketDuring the summer season, there’s a different “hippy market” on Ibiza to check out every day of the week. While each market has its own flavor, one can almost always expect a complex network of stalls selling unique handmade clothing, purses, jewelry and all things bohemian-chic.
Las Dalias, Ibiza’s original hippy market, has been around for more than 60 years and is the place to be on a late Monday night. With bars and restaurants, scattered pillows for lounging on the floor and a connecting nightclub, it’s easy to lose track of time and stay until the sun’s first rays illuminate the sky.
LioWhen going out for a meal in Spain, especially for dinner, keep these two warnings in mind: Leaving a restaurant in under two hours is close to impossible, and showing up any earlier than 9 p.m. will guarantee an empty restaurant, save for one or two groups of tourists. For Spaniards, dinner is just as important of an event as the partying that will most likely follow. And, in Ibiza, this attitude is turned up a few notches.
Cue Lio, the club, cabaret and restaurant of one’s wildest dreams. Snagging a reservation at this spot can be tricky, but the night is sure to deliver. Thanks to the venue’s posh cushion seating, amazing ocean views and dramatic lighting, Lio’s show begins before the performers even hit the stage. After a delectable dinner and a few rounds of drinks, the place really comes alive, and the rest of the night is a blur of sequins, heart-stopping acrobatics, singing, dancing and surprise guest performances.
Pacha IbizaTalk to any local, visitor, travel blogger or celebrity, and they’ll mostly likely tell you to party at one place and one place only: Pacha.
While Ibiza has around 15 major clubs and countless smaller venues, Pacha is one of the oldest and most well-known nightclubs on the island. The brand began in 1967, opened in Ibiza in 1973 and has since expanded exponentially and internationally. The cover charge is steep, landing anywhere from $50 to $100, but with five different rooms, VIP services and an impressive lineup of DJs, there’s almost always a hefty line out the door.
For a unique party experience, don’t miss Monday night’s Flower Power event. Decorated with flowers and peace signs, Pacha is a sight to behold, attracting locals dressed in full hippie-ware eager to jive to a set list of ‘60s and ‘70s tunes.