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This gorgeous little island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain has lived a few lives. For centuries various peoples, including the Roman Empire, have swept in to conquer and claim it. In the 1960s and ’70s, bohemians discovered its perfect shores and helped give the island a reputation as a freewheeling place. Today many know it as a glossy destination for the college set and celebrities, where thriving clubs pulse with electronic music and in the summer a who’s-who of DJs descend on the island. But wander outside the hubs of Ibiza Town and Sant Antoni and you’ll discover Ibiza has a restful side, too. This pine-dotted island features swimming coves, secluded hillside villages, and intriguing historical sites, including some of the only surviving Renaissance-era fortified walls in existence, which have been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status. Despite its small size, Ibiza can feel like many vacations in one: You can pack in with the revelers at a nightclub one day and find yourself nearly alone on a sandy beach the next.
Fly into Ibiza Airport (IBZ), located on the southern side of the island, or hop a ferry from Spain. Boats depart from several ports, including year-round from Barcelona and Valencia. Once you’re on Ibiza, the Ibiza Bus public transport network, along with taxis, are your best bet for getting around the island. During high season, the Discobus runs all night, connecting popular nightlife destinations.
Summer is high season on Ibiza, when yachts dock at the harbor, the streets of Ibiza Town are busy with fun seekers, and the beaches are humming with activity. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, extreme temperatures are uncommon, and the weather is mild year round. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are more sedate than summer, crowd-wise. In the winter it is cooler, but not chilly. However, some businesses may close down for the season, so expect a more low-key vibe than other times of the year.
Dalt Vila was first settled by the Phoenicians, and later by succeeding waves of invaders. The city’s cobblestone streets, stone mansions, and — mostly notably — its rare, imposing 16th-century fortified walls make it an important piece of ancient history. It is perhaps a bit counterintuitive that this historical place is home to the small but mighty Ibiza Contemporary Art Museum. Modern art hangs on the walls above a glass floor that showcases archaeological artefacts.
Nope, not that Stonehenge, although this quirky art installation takes its inspiration from that prehistoric monument in England. Paid for by the billionaire who founded Cirque du Soleil, this large-scale public work comprises 13 basalt columns that weigh 420 tons each, plunked atop a cliff. If the art doesn’t impress you, the view will.
If you’re on Ibiza, you probably came for the beaches — and you have your pick of vibes. Join the crowds on popular Platja de Ses Salines, a sandy curve of coast whose placid waters are dotted with sailboats. Head over to Sa Caleta, a cliffside cove, for a more secluded feel and to view 7th-century ruins. Cala Xarraca, with its calm, clear waters, is an ideal snorkeling spot with a natural mud bath nearby.