I write this from grey old London, in a space where I’m subjected to rap music that doesn’t impress me much. Take me back to the Ibiza sunset and energy of my new favourite spot in the world.
I thought Ibiza, Spain had shaken its party-hard reputation.Yet that’s all anyone back at work knows of it. Well, except one colleague who I happened to see from a distance during my time on the White Isle. …7 months pregnant, mind you. She proves Ibiza isn’t just for raving.
Ibiza sunset and magic moments
I felt Ibiza’s secret allure the very first time I got to visit. It was back in the winter of 2016. I had always always wanted to go. Now I want to stay.
Admittedly the place was on my radar in my 20s because of the dance music scene. If you’re into the genre like I am, this is the destination for you. Just like each season’s style is previewed at the four big Fashion Weeks of the world, New York, London, Paris and Milan, every year the best in dance starts right here.
The biggest-selling music genre in the world launches here each year. Every summer, on this stunning island in the Mediterranean, you’ll find out what’s ‘next’ in dance.
I was in Australia back when I first wished I could come. A very long way from Ushuaia’s day raves. Or the Ibiza sunset in front of Café Mambo, and the superstar DJ sets of Hï.
Music (and the rest) gets the best of me
I talk about the music, because yeah, it’s everywhere. It’s just so excellent. But don’t be fooled, Ibiza isan island for everyone. Dry-warm 30-degree August days. Sunlight sparkling as it bounces across clear blue ocean.
Surrounding islands lure the curious. Take a day trip from the marina or San Antonio.
Quaint traditional villages and cathedrals, and the most stylish bars and restaurants you’ll find in the world are open right here, right now. There’s experiences you can book: sustainable farming, cooking classes, meditation and Yoga.
Then there’s the divine Old Town on a hill keeping watch of it all.
Secret paths unravel along the coast, surprising at the end of the road with shabby-chic cafes or lone restaurants boasting the most romantic views. It’s truly a creative’s dream, inspiring, peaceful and freeing. I strongly suspect I’m not the only one to feel this way.
While the ‘white island’ is known for being a haven for hippies back in the 60s and 70s, it was already popular with artists and writers from the 1930s.
Their hearts melted like mine has, in this exquisite little paradise. Each of us dwelling in the tranquillity of it all.
My friend described this experience – the Ibiza sunsets and the sparkling energy of the place – as influencing personal transformation.
‘I just want to buy a bunch of shell bracelets and lounge around in my Yoga pants. I want to be a hippy’, she laughs.
I agree, in the most affectionate of ways.
The hippy influence is still alive and well, especially in the summer months when the island swells to five times its population.
The famous hippy market at Santa Eulalia (open every Wednesday in summer) offer a huge collection of stalls, handmade wares and goodies representing love and harmony.
Another amazing experience during the summer months, inspired by these local hippies, is drumming at Benirrás beach (10 minutes’ drive from San Miguel). It happens each Sunday. This all started on Sunday 18 August 1991, when a large gathering of anti-war (first Gulf war in Iraq) activists gathered for what became known as ‘the day of the drums’. The ‘day’ itself has been toned down, but if you get in early (by boat or car) you can sit and listen to the rhythmic beat of drums on the beach as the sun sets on another week past.
It all feels very magical, and many do seek spiritual experiences on the island. Ibiza Spotlight shares that:
“The early Phoenicians believed Ibiza to be a magic isle blessed by the Gods, because the rich, red soil is non-volcanic and the island forbids survival to any reptile, animal, insect or plant that can harm humans.
To this day many people wear amulets and pendants containing the sacred soil to protect the wearer from harm”.
Attraction, but not as you know it
With its clubbing culture so famous, if you’ve not been to Ibiza you may not guess that it’s the perfect place to rest and recuperate. The island is becoming ever-more popular for wellness and creative travel options, including retreats. Hiking as well as water or land fitness escapes are the types of trips on the rise too.
What really piques my interest here (outside of having the chance to shake hands with my fave DJ Armin Van Burren) is the mysteries that surround this old island. Particularly the stories of Es Vedra.
It’s a rocky limestone island off the coast which we took a boat ride and swim around. Watching the sunset across Es Vedra is highly recommended. No one lives on Es Vedra, it’s a nature reserve. You’ll need a car to get to the part of the island that overlooks Es Vedra, and there are plenty of half day or day boat trips that will take you near to it. Just ask when on Ibiza.
Es Vedra is apparently one of the world’s three most magnetic spots, outside of the North Pole and the Bermuda Triangle (another hot-spot for seekers of mysteries).
Many visitors choose a place overlooking Es Vedra to meditate and seek spiritual experiences for its ‘energy’, especially at sunrise and sunset.
It’s reported that vessels have many problems with navigational equipment when near the rock, and it’s the location of many UFO sightings. Sadly I had no such experience, but I’ve seen enough X-Files (all of them) to certainly believe.
A popular myth in these parts is that Es Vedra is the tip of the lost city of Atlantis. Atlantis Ibiza, what a suggestion.
Legend has it that the Atlanteans wanted to control the world but faced the wrath of the Gods for their arrogance.
A tsunami allegedly sunk this advanced city of Atlantis, and although there is no evidence that it even existed, Athenian philosopher Plato weighed in saying that he thought it was close to Gibraltar in the south of Spain, which is how this legend around this particular location was sparked.
Greek mythology also spells a story of the Sirens. Apparently Es Vedra was where these half human, half bird-like creatures lived.
Sirens were known for beautiful singing voices that captivated sailors but led them to their graves. Before the Sirens, perhaps, Es Vedra was considered the home of Tanit, the Phoenician lunar goddess and many sacrifices were made here during the full moon in her honour.
Shrouded in stories and mysteries, and far away from the clubs and people, its secrets of Ibiza like this that have me hooked.
Rave, rest, roam, repeat
Back on land, you can drive a car around Ibiza to explore its many lovely beaches and varied landscape that include forests of pine trees and salt flats. Book a day bed in a swanky beach club, go shopping, wander markets, sleep, sun-bathe, chill or hire a bike.
Buses are convenient and inexpensive here, although sometimes as infrequent as one or two hours, so plan your journeys.
You need some change to get around, or a note that’s under €10.
There are marinas at San Antonio and in Eivissa (main city area) where you can catch aqua ferries to various beaches, or the sublime island of Formentera.
We’ve stayed in San Antonio which is great for nightly visits to Café Mambo. On the other side of the island, Figueretas, is where we stayed one December. It’s a perfect spot for being able to walk to the Old Town and marina.
From this area you can easily catch a bus to the hippy market, beaches Es Caná or Santa Eulalia beach, and or to the opposite direction, Platja d’en Bossa home to big resorts and day clubs like UshuaÏa.
Culture Trip has published a round-up of the best places to catch the Ibiza sunset. But your sunset Ibiza experience isn’t complete until you find a spot down by the waterfront in the vicinity of Café Mambo.
Crowds wait in anticipation as the sun gradually and with control shifts towards the horizon. The moment it touches down, everyone cheers, marriage proposals are made and the music is raised.
As we raise one to the White Isle – salute! Te veo pronto!
The past few weeks in London had been cold – colder than I care for, but I had Christmas in Mallorca to look forward to! Work days at a top of 3 degrees, and when you top that off with a daily ride to work full of sniffly, coughing commuters, well, you can appreciate that we all need a little break come Christmastime.
I’d been very good [hello Santa] coming up to the festive period. One who enjoys the sparkly allure of a Christmas party, this year the late nights were kept in check, that is, until 22 December when a slew of happy events led me to being in a state not at all fit for a 4.30am rise.
We got through Stansted airport, fending off the rest of the Saturday morning school holiday rush. I thought I was doing well, despite the brain fog and living on the edge of severe grumpiness, only to get to security and realise my computer and liquids were inside my carry-on suitcase. I slid the laptop out through the side and attempted a very cunning manoeuvre to remove my plastic bag full of liquids, only for the entire suitcase to flip over on itself and for all the contents to scatter along the floor.
Oh yes, I was that person.
It would have been hilarious if only it wasn’t me. I’m sure for the hoards of holiday-goers trying to cope pre-caffeine it was hysterical. I didn’t look. I still can’t think too much about it.
Fortunately, just over two hours later, I was in Spain where I would happily take the sun and breezy 17 degrees by the marina – a pleasurable escape from the grey that has been my adopted home of the UK (I’m its biggest fan but even I need a little sunshine every now and then).
Thank the Universe for Christmas in Mallorca (sometimes spelled Majorca).
Then there was Spain
There really is something about Spain, for us at least.
We love the language and the accents and the culture. The sun and beaches are pretty nice too.
Last Christmas we defied tradition and visited Ibiza, a long-time dream destination of ours. It certainly did not disappoint and remains one of our favourite places. I’m looking forward to returning to that blissful, melodic island – probably in summer when everything is open!
We couldn’t get as far as home (Queensland), so wanted an Ibiza-esque Christmas experience in 2017. That is, sunshine, beautiful scenery and travel experiences, but with a little more actually happening over the festive break. After a long discussion where the list of possibilities became impossible (we just want to go everywhere!), one weekend in September we literally closed our eyes and put a virtual pin on Google Maps.
Mallorca (or Majorca) was the winner.
Is anything open at Christmas in Mallorca?
At Christmastime for most around the world, we all encounter the same thing which is a lack of activities, shopping and travel options on offer late December. Fair enough, this is a time for families and if you’re lucky enough to not be working, then so be it (you deserve it!).
As a visitor to a region though, we want to be able to take in a couple of new experiences, and my research indicated that while much of the island of Mallorca may not be open (some beach clubs operate seasonally across the summer months), the capital of Palma promised to be abuzz with plenty to do.
As it turns out, this is very true. Even London totally (totally!) shuts down on Christmas day, but in Mallorca the local buses were operating, as was City Sightseeing (hop on hop off bus tour) and many bars and restaurants opened their doors.
Winter in Mallorca – travel tips, transport and best-of
The weather in December averages a top of about 15 or 16 degrees. It’s warm in the sun but can be a little chilly if there’s a breeze, and the temperature does drop at night. It’s quite pleasant though.
The capital, Palma, is buzzing with plenty going on, so in the first instance wander the back streets, visit art galleries, take a look inside the old churches and try some tapas.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (or La Seu) is unmissable, its Gothic structure standing tall over the city. Work on this cathedral began in the 13 Century, and famous architect Antoni Gaudí (who has left his stamp all over Barcelona) even spent time working on this structure between 1904 and 1914.
Another Gothic structure that’s well worth the trip to the top of a hill overlooking the city, is Bellver Castle. The only circular castle in all of Spain, this 14th Century structure is really interesting to explore, and with a huge bonus in that it boasts the best views across Mallorca.
Hire a bike and ride along the extensive promenade, explore the marinas and along the coast.
You could ride to, or take bus number 25 to nearby beach s’Arenal. Many beaches and beach clubs around the island are closed over winter but this is a nice area and some eateries and shops are open.
The bus system is quite easy to use, but you’ll need cash. A single fare is currently €1.50, and the driver can change up to a €10 note.
If you have spare time and in need of retail therapy, there’s plenty of stores and a mall in the city, and a large shopping destination called Porto Pi which you can take a bus or a cab to.
Another experience that was mentioned to us a few times was a steamtrain that runs between Palma and Soller on the other side of Mallorca.
The whole trip is about an hour and a half one way, and you can’t pre-book tickets. The line was closed for maintenance when we were there, but this seems like it would be a lovely thing to do. Do keep an eye on the timetable though, because return trip would need to be planned.
Christmas in Palma – dining ideas
To be honest, we didn’t have a bad meal here! I remember being concerned about what may not be open at Christmas in Mallorca but there’s no need to worry, you’ll have plenty to choose from even on 25 December.
Notable venues we found:
– Lennox the Pub, for €2.50 glasses of wine and gorgeous bar ambience.
– Cafeteria Tropic (opposite the marina and next to the Auditorium), for delicious tapas.
Winter in Ibiza is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to escape the cold of other Euro destinations. We visited from the UK for Christmas in Ibiza, and the average weather in Ibiza at this time was about 18 degrees and sunny during the day! Spain in general is pretty great at this time of year, especially around the Barcelona region or Mallorca, but there is indeed something very special about the islands.
Winter in Ibiza was basically a perfect experience for us. Read our travel guide and tips on things to do…
Average weather in Ibiza in winter is warm – get your dose of winter-sun
This year’s winter in the UK has already been particularly long, grey and cold – worse than last year in my view.
That said, I’d prefer it to sweating (southern hemisphere Christmas!), but this December it was time for a break, which is why we ended up in Ibiza for winter.
Last year we visited Copenhagen in Denmark and had some lovely family for Christmas company along for the ride. It was fantastic – a cool city and Tivoli Gardens, the world’s oldest operating amusement park, was a magical highlight.
However this year I wanted to change a couple of things with regards to an end-of-year break:
− it needed to be less expensive
− it needed to offer more of a mix of options to explore (travel), as well as options to rest
− it needed to be warmer!
Recalling that the Mediterranean seemed to be at least sunny when we cruised through back in January 2013, my research began ….
Sunny climates in Europe during winter
And it started in August because previously I’ve left plans really late by which time flights everywhere are expensive.
Long story short, I found a good deal through British Airways holidays which included flights from London City airport (tick, that’s our closest);
–>to Ibiza in Spain (double tick, always wanted to go!);
–>staying at a central resort by the beach with American half board (so breakfast and dinners, including seven courses for our special Christmas meal were included in the package).
Yes, yes and yes.
But like many of even the world’s biggest destinations, much is shut over Christmas, and in Ibiza even more so outside of its popular summer season.
Ibiza’s small local population swells about five times in summer, with the island boasting the usual beautiful delights of this part of Europe as well as allegedly ‘the best clubs in the universe’ (Ibiza is known as the home of dance music).
What to do in Ibiza in winter then? Travel guide suggestions:
Walking or hiking
We were based along Figueretas beach which is situated about 15 to 20 minutes (easy) walk from the main island ‘city centre’, cruise marina, shopping strips and the ‘old town’.
Cooper and I enjoy being able to walk everywhere in a town, and it is an activity that is free, can be done in most weather conditions (although we got lucky with sunny days), and regardless of what’s open.
In Ibiza the walking or hiking options are endless, with beachfront, villages, cliffs and green hills to explore.
Only thing to be mindful of in our experience, is while it was warm throughout the day, temperatures dropped quickly around 4pm which could be a problem if you are far from home and all of a sudden not dressed appropriately.
It’s not a big stretch to imagine that a sun drenched Spanish island is pretty, and Ibiza certainly is.
From ocean to mountains, vineyards, cool street art, contemporary and old architecture blending as one, it’s a great destination for the modern content creator.
Photographers, videographers, writers and artists will find much inspiration, particularly as the light changes across the course of a day.
Boat rides and beaches
Unfortunately we just missed this option because of much being closed over Christmas, but there’s a number of day trips you can enjoy around Ibiza even in the winter.
That said, try to book in advance online as there is far less operating than between April and October.
A ferry to Formentera (the smallest of Spain’s Balearic islands in the Mediterranean Sea) for a chilled out day by the crystal clear blue is something that was recommended and I’ll make it happen next time!
Sant Antoni is the main clubbing area and includes the famous sunset strip where summertime ravers enjoy shows by the world’s coolest DJs as the sun sets over the Med.
Pretty much everything is closed in winter with only a few cafes and restaurants operating to cater for the boating crowd. But for the curious (like me), for €2 bus no. 3 from Avenue d’Isidor Macabich (a main street in Eivissa’s city centre) will get you to where all the action takes place.
In about 25 minutes you’ll be on the other side of the island and can spot locations of some of the famous dance music fun-hubs like Cafe del Mar and Cafe Mambo.
While most up this way in the world are rugged-up at Christmastime, we enjoyed still, warm and sunny 18 degree days. Best to make the most of it then!
We thought the Chinese cuisine was delicious and well priced at Restaurant Taiwan along Figueretas beachfront. Just up a bit from there is Oferta, a little family-run hole-in-the-wall (almost) business that was actually open when nothing else was.
Their food was good, but don’t accidentally order the cheap local beer that turns out to be non-alcoholic – oops.
Next door to Oferta is a larger pub-like establishment, Bistro Magnus; and for a classy meal and cocktail with a view look up Cotton lounge bar, also positioned on the Figueretas waterfront.
Bondi at Sant Antoni is a cafe/bar/restaurant opposite the port, not too far from the bus station where we got off the no. 3 from the city centre.
The food was delicious with many nice vege options on the menu. Friendly service too. Finally, back over on the Sant Antoni side is a beachfront restaurant called Hostal la Torre – sadly we didn’t get to it but it was recommended for sunset gatherings and if it’s as pretty as its pictures it wouldn’t disappoint.
We also frequently bought some nice cheese, salami and inexpensive wine from local Spar supermarkets for beach picnics.
Along the main road Av D’Espanya there’s a few lovely bakeries where you can buy fresh baguettes and coffee to complete your DIY lazy long lunch experience.
Meditation, yoga, mindfulness under the sun or even sun bathing – it’s all possible here in winter.
During the day when there’s no breeze it’s really warm; perfect conditions to ‘just be’.
In fact, along the promenade where we were staying I noticed many individuals happily spending quiet time bathed in sunlight; no phones, relaxing, tuning into the sound of the waves, no distractions (except for the odd dog, but even they seemed blissfully content).
When a little more is operating (April to October), I’d like to:
Visit the hip and happy Hippy market
Book a four hour party boat ferry that cruises around the island
Indulge in a winery tour
Hike over to the mystical rocky island of Es Vedra in the north west, reputedly the island’s most magnetic point and with an energy similar to that of the Pyramids. I’m actually sure I spotted this when we were flying out at the end of our trip, but we’ll be back…
Explore Sant Josep some more – I wanted to make my way over to a little village called Es Cubells which promises a quaint church on a cliff top and a couple of authentic local bars, but the bus wasn’t heading there during our festive stay.
Organise hire of a bike, car or moped for an easier and independent look around the island’s main regions of Eivissa (central), Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Sant Antoni de Portmany, Sant Joan de Labritja and Santa Eularia des Riu.
There is an inexpensive bus service which you’ll need to study the map and website to navigate, and you need change to buy a ticket when boarding, but the service is clean and efficient. The no. 10 gets you to and from the airport to the city centre for €3.50 (single), otherwise a cab is about €15. There are many airport shuttle and pick-up services advertised online but they are totally overpriced so be careful not to be ripped off.
Other useful online Ibiza resources:
Ibiza Spotlight features lots of stories and tips for first time visitors on where to eat, travel, club, stay and spend your money.
Ibiza bus includes maps and timetables for the local service around the island.
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