Ibiza is the party capital of the world. When I tell people Ibiza is one of my favourite holiday destinations, they tend to raise an eyebrow and look at me in a knowing manner. When I tell them it’s to chill out and do yoga they roar with laughter.
But Ibiza has so much more to offer than nightclubs and twenty-four-hour drinking. This alternative Ibiza travel guide details everything you need to fall in love with the quiet side of Ibiza; well away from the crowds of clubbers.
The Quiet Side of Ibiza
When I was a teenager I was desperate to go to this mythical island. I’d heard of the clubs, the DJs, and the “sleep when you’re dead” mentality and it sounded so darkly glamorous I was dying to be a part of it.
I was also desperate to marry anyone in the band Oasis, was deeply suspicious of doing exercise, and thought that wearing a skirt over trousers was the height of sophistication. So, my choices were questionable at best.
Life carried on, and I finally made it to Ibiza in my mid-30s, for a friend’s hen party. To be honest, I was terrified. I had visions of a concrete jungle of mega clubs, tacky bars, and teenagers being sick in the street.
My tastes had evolved by this point; I liked to sleep and good food, and my eardrums. The thought of spending a weekend cheek-by-jowl with drunk girls in PVC miniskirts shouting “oi oiiiii” to the deafening thump of relentless trance music was my idea of hell.
Imagine my surprise then, when I landed on one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen and found it to be full of exceptional restaurants, stylish beach clubs, and wonderful people.
Its recent history, certainly in the last century, is one of Bohemian coming together which is actually how the party scene emerged.
If you look for it, there’s still a strong hippy vibe, yoga everywhere and wonderful hiking and adventuring to be had; welcome to the quiet part of Ibiza.
Why You Should Seek Out the Quiet Part of Ibiza
Ibiza is what you want it to be, which is one of the many things that make it magical.
You can have any holiday you want there, from a week of high-end relaxation to a hedonistic dance-til-dawn weekend.
You’ll find that once you “get” Ibiza it stays with you. For many people I know, it’s an annual pilgrimage (I confess I went back three more times that initial summer).
At the risk of sounding a bit “woo woo”, there really is a special energy there which some say comes from Es Vedra, the rock formation just off the coast which, extraordinarily, is the third most magnetic point on the planet.
Whether it’s a planetary force or just what happens when a critical mass of souls come together to enjoy themselves, good things just seem to happen there.
So, put your preconceptions aside, jump in, and see what happens on the quiet side of Ibiza. Welcome to my “I went to Ibiza and didn’t go to a nightclub” guide to having a great time.
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What is the Quiet Side of Ibiza?
Ibiza island isn’t very big. You can drive across it in less than an hour. So, nowhere is out of reach.
So, where is the quiet side of Ibiza? Crudely speaking, the north of the island is the most untouched and hippyish and most of the well-known nightclubs and activity are contained in the southwest.
Don’t let that put you off though. The southwest is also beautiful and, if you want to check out Ibiza Town and some of the great beach clubs, this is a good spot to be.
If you really want to steer fully clear of the party scene, the places to avoid in Ibiza are San Antonio and Playa D’en Bossa. These areas can get quite hectic. Although the latter still has some great spots to eat at the far (most southerly) end of the beach.
Where to Stay in Ibiza
The Giri Residence
To truly experience the quiet side of Ibiza, retreat to The Giri Residence in the north. This beautifully refurbished farmhouse is an intimate, luxurious, and laid-back hotel, comprised of only five suites.
It prides itself on its exceptional service from catering to whatever you feel like eating, to allowing you to reserve the entire spa for yourself. It’s the place to go for sheer self-indulgence.
One of many agriturismo hotels on the island, Atzaró is a sumptuous family-run hotel nestled in a large agricultural estate.
There are 22 sophisticated rooms, a stunning pool, and an excellent spa and restaurant, both of which attract people from all over the island. The gym also offers free classes for guests if they’re feeling active.
Six Senses Ibiza
For families seeking a relaxing escape in Ibiza, Six Senses Ibiza is a luxury hotel offering suites to four-bedroom residences to cater to the whole family.
Their wellness ethos is obvious from the 1200 sqm wellness area to the farm-to-table organic restaurant menus. This Ibiza resort is also one of the few that offers a kids club in Ibiza. It features kids’ yoga, cooking, art and craft, and outdoor activities as well.
ME Ibiza is another luxury Ibiza hotel with a kids club. It is also a stunning, boutique property that falls under the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World banner.
This luxury family hotel is located in Santa Eulalia del Río, which is often considered the quietest part of Ibiza and a popular destination for families in Ibiza.
There is a 24-hour gym, spa, and wellness area available for all guests. But, for those celebrating a milestone or just looking for that 5-star-plus service, ME Ibiza hotel offers VIP packages to make your stay even more luxurious.
How to Get Around Ibiza
Ibiza airport is served by numerous airlines and can be reached easily from most of Europe. It’s also one of the quickest, most efficient airports I have ever experienced.
Once you land it’s easy to get a taxi from the rank outside (the queue can look long, but it moves very quickly).
Taxis are relatively easy to find in the busier areas but you may wait a while to get picked up somewhere more remote (although once on Ibiza time, you may not care). Taxis are metered and cost roughly €1 ($AUD1.50) per minute.
If you’re keen to explore the quiet side of Ibiza, it is very helpful to hire a car. If you’re renting a car, I’d highly recommend hiring a 4 x 4, or at least something sturdy.
Some of the roads down to the beaches are pretty steep and things can become a bit hairy! I’d also recommend taking out full insurance for this reason.
Ibiza’s Best Beach Clubs
Spending a day in a beach club in Ibiza is one of my favourite things to do. A long lazy lunch and a nap on a sun lounger by the sea in glamorous surroundings is my idea of heaven.
The best beach clubs in Ibiza tend to get booked up (especially in high season) so book online or call in advance or ask your hotel to make you a reservation.
Ibiza is not known for being economical so expect to pay around €30 ($AUS45) on average for a sun lounger for the day, and around the same for a main course.
A popular wedding venue and it’s easy to see why. Experimental Beach is by Ibiza’s famous salt flats perches on a cliff-top with panoramic views out over the turquoise sea in one direction, and lush pine forests in the other.
You may even see a flamingo on the approach. The chic décor is white and turquoise and the vibe is hip and effortlessly cool. Following extensive (and selfless) research I also believe the sun loungers are the most comfortable in Ibiza.
Come here for a late lunch and stay to enjoy a cocktail at sunset. The menu is typical Ibiza fare; lots of fresh fish (the sea bream tartar is to die for), Iberian ham (a must in this part of the world), and the cocktails are legendary.
Just beware of the lure of the fabulous boutique after a couple of drinks.
Amante is one of the best places in Ibiza to watch the sunset. But it is truly a place you can spend all day. Offering everything from yoga breakfasts to open-air movie nights, this place is more of an experience than just a venue.
Enjoy fresh a fresh Mediterranean menu of local produce, a great wine list, or fresh juices. Or just sit and watch the world go by and enjoy the laid-back vibe.
If you want to feel the sand between your toes, head for an afternoon at El Chiringuito. Set on a beautiful stretch of pure white sand on Es Cavallet, this place is pure Ibiza; beautiful white décor, fabulous people watching, and an extensive menu of healthy salads, wood-fired grilled fish and meat, and delicious sharing plates.
A relaxed place to watch the world go by and it has easier access to the sea than the slightly rockier Amante and Experimental.
A place so special I almost don’t want to write about it. Set in a tiny cove, Ex Xarcu is a real gem. Simply a great understated restaurant, with a few sun loungers, next to the glittering sea.
It’s a far cry from the overt glamour of some of the more polished parts of Ibiza it is one of Ibiza’s best-kept secrets.
After a dip in the sea, retreat to the rustic restaurant and enjoy a great bottle of wine and some traditional Mediterranean cooking. The salt-crusted sea bass or paella gets my vote.
A great alternative is Es Savina, a little further around the coast. It’s a similar setup, albeit slightly less intimate. Sit under the trees and enjoy the best seafood Ibiza can offer.
Where to Eat in Ibiza
The Fish Shack
No website, no reservations, no menu, and no credit cards, just simple fresh fish caught that day, grilled and served with salad and potatoes. The Fish Shack is another great Ibizan institution in Talamanca (a great area to explore for really chilled-out beach life).
Loved by everyone from locals to celebrity DJs it really is worth a visit. Grab a beer and enjoy simple delicious food by the sea. While you’re in the area, check out Rehab beach club, for a chilled-out post-lunch drink.
If you’re after a hippy vibe, head to Elements on Benniras Beach on Sunday to enjoy the sunset. Every week people congregate at Benniras to enjoy the hypnotic drumming ritual that takes place every week – a tradition that has its roots in an anti-war gathering in the early 90s.
It’s an amazing spectacle, and incredibly atmospheric. Elements’ rustic charm is perfect in this setting. Great food, juices, and cocktails as well as massages and yoga are on offer.
Food with a view doesn’t come much better than this. Es Boldado commands a spectacular view over Es Vedra – the mysterious magnetic rock formation.
As ever in Ibiza, delicious seafood and paella are great options here – or try the famous “black rice” variation made with squid ink (more delicious than it sounds!). This is definitely a venue for lunch. The view is too good to miss, so get there before dark.
A must for vegetarians or anyone who just likes really good healthy food. Passion has 4 main vegan cafes in Ibiza, dotted around the island. It offers brilliantly creative and nourishing healthy dishes – and legendary carrot cake.
It’s predominantly vegan and vegetarian but there are plenty of options for carnivores too. The main locations are marina, San Jose, Santa Eulalia and Playa d’en Bossa.
Things to Do in Ibiza
Visit Ibiza Town
Ibiza Town is the biggest city on the island, and well worth spending some time in.
Start with some yacht spotting down by the marina, and wander up through the streets to the ancient drawbridge that takes you inside the walls of historic Dalt Vila – Ibiza’s Old Town and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The winding medieval streets of the old town are packed with dangerously tempting shops, galleries, and absurdly picturesque restaurants. If you’re there for dinner, visit Plaza del Sol for great night-time views and delicious Italian-inspired food.
Down in Ibiza town visit the fabulously French Croissant Show (Plaça de la Constitució) for breakfast with a side of people watching.
For gelato, I still dream of Vivi’s Creamery which has delicious vegan rice milk options.
Where to Shop in Ibiza Town
Shopping-wise Ibiza town is a treasure trove so I suggest bringing an extra suitcase.
The best shops in Ibiza include Emonk for the perfect bohemian boots and D Lain on Carrer d’Annibal, for beach cover-ups so stylish you’ll wear them out in the evening too.
Visit a Hippy Ibiza Market
The island is known for its local hippy Ibiza markets of which there are several on the island.
Often with live music, they’re worth a visit just to soak up the atmosphere as well for unique and inspired shopping opportunities.
Try Walking, Biking, or Hiking in Ibiza
Ibiza is a beautiful island to explore. It’s amazingly green, thanks to its thick covering of pine – and the contrast of this with the bright blue water is simply breathtaking. So take a walk, hire a bike or sea kayak, and see what you can see.
The north of the island is especially good for this. If you’d like a tour, try Can Gato Ibiza, the brainchild of wonderful Ibizan soul, Gato Saurez, who offers bike tours, walks, and even paramotor flights, or Walking Ibiza, where you can enjoy guided walks and kayaking tours with Ibiza-born Toby Clarke.
Take a Boat from Ibiza to Formentera
While visiting Ibiza, it’s also worth taking a detour to Formentera, the tiny island to the south.
If you’re looking for the quiet side of Ibiza, you’ll love Formentera. It is Ibiza’s chilled-out little sibling, famed for its exquisite turquoise waters and uber-relaxed atmosphere.
There are regular ferries from Ibiza town to Formentera. The journey takes about 40 minutes.
In Formentera, you can rent bicycles or scooters to get around the beautiful countryside and fabulous beach restaurants.
If you’re feeling flush, hire a boat for a day and have a skipper show you the sights. There are numerous places to do this but Blue Ocean Ibiza at Marina Botafoch is a good option.
Try Yoga in Ibiza
The more alternative, relaxing, quiet part of Ibiza goes hand in hand with yoga. So, it’s not hard to find an Ibiza yoga class or yoga retreat in Ibiza.
Your hotel will be able to recommend somewhere nearby. For spectacular yoga with a view, try morning yoga and breakfast at Amante or Experimental Beach, which will give you a package including lunch.
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Annie Scott is a freelance writer, communications pro and wannabe urban hippy. Since quitting corporate life you’ll find her saying yes to anything that terrifies her, lurking at the back of West London yoga classes and pretending to like kale.