All-night raver, boho-cool hippy, blissed-out beach lover – Ibiza is all this and more to the many, many fans who have a soft spot for the Balearics' party-hard sister. In summer the cream of the world's DJs (David Guetta, Sven Väth, Armin van Buuren et al) descend on the island, making it the ultimate destination for clubbers. Ibiza's modest population is swallowed whole by the seven-million-odd tourists that arrive en masse each year, and nowhere does sunset chilling or boho-glam style quite like the White Isle.
But there’s more to this sun-kissed, beach-bejewelled, pine-clad island than meets the bleary eye. Step off the beaten track for a spell in a rural hotel, a hidden hamlet, a hushed church or on a secluded north-coast cove to discover Ibiza’s surprisingly peaceful side. Or roam the ramparts of Ibiza Town’s World Heritage–listed Dalt Vila to immerse yourself in the island’s rich history and heritage.
The least-populated and most rustic part of the island, northern Ibiza has a boho, off-grid vibe thanks to its strong hippy heritage and spectacular, remote landscapes, which appeal to cyclists, walkers and wanderers alike. This is a magically beautiful region of forested hills, twisting backroads, timeworn whitewashed villages and a craggy coastline blessed with some of Ibiza’s most exquisite, secluded coves. You’ll barely catch a whisper of clubs and package tourism here. Portinatx is the north’s busiest resort, while Sant Joan offers a slice of low-key Ibizan life and Sant Carles gets lively with its hippy market.
A little further south, gorgeous interior villages such as Sant Llorenç and Santa Gertrudis await discovery.
The island’s spectacular southern reaches include Ibiza’s highest peak (Sa Talaiassa; 475m), its most beautiful snow-white-sand beaches and the enigmatic, enticing southwest islet of Es Vedrà. It’s a region of legends, both ancient and modern, with a contemporary, clifftop art installation called Stonehenge and the mystical sight of Atlantis. Factor in the world-renowned clubs of Platja d’en Bossa, some top-notch restaurants and bombastic beach bars, and the glistening salt flats of the World Heritage–listed Parc Natural de Ses Salines, and the allure of Ibiza’s south is unique.
Ibiza’s western coastline conceals some beautiful sandy coves, while just inland lie sprawling vineyards and charming whitewashed villages. Infamous Sant Antoni (‘San An’) certainly lives up to its reputation as a Brits-abroad booze-up destination, but there’s also a more chilled-out scene to be found in the west, such as along the town’s Sunset Strip, the beaches to the town’s north and southwest, or just north at mellow seaside hang-out Hostal La Torre.
Santa Eulària des Riu is a pretty coastal resort with an easy-going vibe, a large marina, a fine seaside promenade, some good down-to-earth eateries and a small but beautiful historic quarter centred on its Puig de Missa hilltop. Dotting the surrounding countryside are a string of lovely (and lively) beaches: family-friendly Cala Llonga sits just south of Santa Eulària, while gorgeous coves such as Cala Martina, Cala Nova, Cala Llenya, Cala Boix and particularly charming Cala Mastella extend along the coast northeast of town.
Ringed by sparkling sea, 7km north of Sant Joan, Portinatx is the north coast’s major tourist resort. Busy, yes, but it’s an attractive spot (especially for families) and positively underpopulated when set against the megaresorts of Ibiza Town and the island’s south. Its three blonde beaches – S’Arenal Petit, S’Arenal Gran and Platja Es Port – are all beautiful and lapped by aqua-tinted waters, though also often crowded.
For decades, pale-gold Platja d’en Bossa, 5km southwest of Ibiza Town, was a pretty conventional bucket-and-spade resort aimed at holidaying families, but recent developments by the land-owning Matutes family have revolutionised the place. It’s now a non-stop party spot hosting some seriously big-name DJs, mostly thanks to the opening of the glitzy daytime club/hotel Ushuaïa and, in 2017, the launch of Hï Ibiza on the site of legendary, now-defunct superclub Space.