From up on the walls of the ancient fortifications at the apex of the old town, the view to the harbour of Ibiza Town is truly exhilarating. Yachts breeze effortlessly across the sparkling azure hue of the Mediterranean like so many indolent swans. They snuggle up to sun splashed summertime quaysides almost awash with strolling locals and tourists alike. Here and there, a gaggle of stout, brightly coloured fishing boats still chug gamely back and forth; some head off to the waters around nearby Formentera, while others head for the waters around nearby Majorca.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to summertime on Ibiza.
Of course, the island has been famous as a clubbing Mecca for more than four decades, and indeed it still is. Famous establishments like Pacha, Space and El Divino still pack in the crowds until sunrise, and sometimes beyond. Hedonism is still very much king here.
But Ibiza itself has another side; one the island’s tourist industry is starting to wake up to and rediscover. That of a fun, beautiful destination ideal for couples and families alike.
The main town itself is divided into two distinct parts. There is the new town around the harbour area, known as the Eixample, or ‘extension’, and the steeper, much higher old town, universally known as the Dalt Vila. It is really here that the singular beauty of this bewitching little island really blooms during the long, languid summer months.
Looming over it all is the vast, fourteenth century Gothic cathedral, Santa Mariade las Nieves, erected over the remains of an ancient mosque after the eviction of the Moors from the island. It forms part of a complex which also includes a series of petrified stone ramparts that face out over the sea, Long, vaulted tunnels cut deep into these giant fortifications, affording some welcome shade from the searing summer temperatures.
The walk back down to the harbour serves up a scintillating montage of old stone walls ablaze with the colours and scents of hibiscus, oleander and jasmine. Stout, squat date palms provide shade from the sun, while cafes, bars and restaurants slouch down to the edge of the harbour. There’s nothing easier- or more deliciously indulgent- than just losing a few hours of your time in one of these, picking at tapas, drinking sangria, and just savouring the languid, people watching vibe of one of the most supremely chilled out spots anywhere in the summertime Mediterranean.
That night, i saw the old town from the most splendid vantage point imaginable. The magnificent old city walls cast amazing floodlit reflections on the still, ink black waters of the harbour as our cruise ship ghosted effortlessly out into the star studded evening air. The night was warm as toast, the champagne on my balcony cold as ice. From somewhere ashore, i could hear the muted, hypnotic thump of some cutting edge Balearic beat. And yet, up ahead, it was that magnificent, ancient cathedral that still dominated the city; a floodlit colossus, implacable and unyielding.
And somehow, that dual juxtaposition seemed apt; for Ibiza is truly more than its cutting edge clubs. It always has been and, thankfully, people are starting to wake up to the fact that Ibiza has far more than just a single tune to dance to.
I recommend this beautiful little island as ideal for even a short weekend break; a definite alternative to Barcelona, Palma, or even Sorrento. Truly a sweet little slice of under the radar heaven.
Getting there; British Airways flies to Ibiza from London City Airport. as well as London Gatwick.
Easyjet have flights to Ibiza from: Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Luton, Gatwick, Stansted and Southend,
Many of these services are seasonal, running through the summer months only. Best to check the individual websites for actual dates.