Ibiza Spain

Ibiza is one Spain's Balearic Islands, located 100 kilometres off the east coast of the mainland. The island is most famous for being the nightclub capital of Europe its world renowned clubs are the size of mini towns and have earned notoriety from the outlandish behaviour of certain clubbers (particularly the British variety!).

But Ibiza is whatever you want it to be. It holds many surprises for those who expect "nightclub island" to offer nothing more than one round the clock party.

This tiny island, just 45 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide at its central point, came to the world's attention in the 1960s when artists, playboy millionaires and rock stars began to transform the place into a Bohemian playground.

With the advent of mass market tourism and cheap package holidays, this sparkling jewel of the Mediterranean became accessible to ordinary mortals who now flock here each summer in their thousands (two million a year to be exact!).

Flights from London to Ibiza take an average of two hours and 15 minutes. The island can also be reached by ferry from Barcelona, Valencia, Denia and Alicante (journey times ranging from two to nine hours).

 

In the sixties, Ibiza earned the somewhat dubious title of Ecstasy Island because of the party habits of the "psychedelic baby" set who holidayed here and, in many cases, claimed the island as their home.

Ibiza has been the focus of international media attention on many occasions, notably in the summer of 1988 when the British vice consul resigned in disgust over the "degenerate" behaviour of his fellow countrymen in the island's top night spots.

The combination of big nightclubs and zealous young holidaymakers soaked in cheap booze inevitably leads to some eye opening antics.

But if all night clubbing isn't your scene, you'll find that Ibiza offers plenty of quiet resort areas where families, couples and nature lovers enjoy a very different type of holiday.

There are family orientated holiday villages with safe, child friendly beaches and low key evening entertainment which stops at midnight and doesn't get much wilder than a spot of karaoke or bingo.

The island is peppered with unspoilt towns and villages set amongst the lemon and olive groves where the traditional Spanish way of life continues much as it has always done.

And the coastline, especially in the north of the island, offers a wonderful voyage of discovery for those seeking the "other Ibiza".
There are mountain and cliff top nature trails, delightful hidden coves (some only accessible on foot or by boat) and uncrowded beach bars serving delicious fresh seafood.

Venture beyond the main tourist strongholds and you'll find colourful street markets, traditional tapas bars and local fiestas with extravagant costume parades, music, dancing and good natured merry making in the streets.

History and culture are not the first things which spring to most people's minds when they think of Ibiza. But a walk round the old town of the island's capital will serve as a reminder that sixties hippies were not the first foreign invaders to arrive at these shores.

The cathedral square of the old walled town, built high up on a promontory jutting out to sea, commands spectacular views of most of the east coast of the island.

Historians believe this old quarter, known as D'Alt Vila, dates back more than 2,500 years. The 16th century cathedral was once the site of a Phoenician temple and the bastioned walls which still stand today are a reminder of the threat from north African pirates who plagued these waters 500 years ago.

As you wander the narrow, cobbled streets you may still find yourself plagued by north Africans these days armed with nothing more threatening than cheap "designer" watches and Moroccan carpets.

Between the ancient city walls and the port lies the old fishermen's quarter known as Sa Penya. Both the D'Alt Vila and Sa Penya seethe with life in the summer months as tourists amble through the streets, pack the trendy bars and bag tables at the many excellent restaurants available here.

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