How To Do Ibiza Off Season
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Ibiza’s beaches and laid-back vibe started to attract visitors in the 1960’s and Europe’s answer to California’s hippies flocked there, but since then the White Island’s reputation has been primarily one of clubbing and nightlife.
But step away from the built-up resorts and bar action and visit off season when the clubs are closed and there is another Ibiza to discover, with pine tree-backed beaches, coastal walking trails and rural landscapes, dotted with charming villages and white churches straight out of a picture postcard.
Not everyone knows just what a delight it is to explore Ibiza off season, but if you’d like to be one of them, here’s how to do it.
As Autumn settles in across Europe it’s not surprising that many people’s thoughts turn to stretching out summer by heading south for a long weekend.
I’ve always been a big fan of scooting off to Spain come October to catch a few more precious days of sunshine, and one of my favourite places to do this is Ibiza, which once bereft of the good time gang that come to enjoy the hedonism of summer (and there’s nothing wrong with that) takes on a whole new vibe.
The obvious benefits to visiting this Balearic Island in October and November are far cheaper flights, accommodation and car hire. Typically you can put together a weekend trip for just a couple of hundred pounds per person.
I start by checking flight prices on low cost airlines and choose dates when I can fly in and out for the minimum cost. I pick a boutique hotel that might stretch the budget in high season but which offers massive discounts in Fall – twice I’ve plumped for hip rural retreat Atzaro, whose gorgeous rustic-chic double rooms go down from 390 Euros during the summer season to just 120 come November, meaning at this time of year you can get a 3-day long weekend for less than the price of a single night in high season.
I then make sure that extras such as car hire in the destination and parking at the airport in London won’t break my budget, but the great thing about going off season is that these services tend to be cheaper too.
I always stay in a rural agroturismo properties, of which Ibiza is stacked with stylish options, as it makes exploring the countryside far easier. To do this you do need to hire a car, but there are plenty of deals available at this time of year and Ibiza off-season is perfect to explore on four wheels, as you can drive the length of the island in around half an hour, yet there are plenty small country roads to bumble down if you want to get off the beaten track.
If you rent a car on the island you’re given a map which is a great start to helping you navigate, but I’ve found that there are very few good guides telling where to actually go: aside from the perfect and pocket-sized Everyman Ibiza and Formentera Guide which is hard to get hold of (even Amazon don’t stock it) but which I heartily recommend, it’s difficult to find a single source of information to help you explore the White Isle off season.
So here’s my edit of things to do and places to try if you visit Ibiza in Autumn.
The rugged coastline has no shortage of delightful small sandy beaches (the island has 56 in total), and if you visit Ibiza off season and stick to the North and more remote parts of the island you’ll be blessed with plenty of sunbathing space to yourself as well as stunning scenery.
You can check out a full list of beaches on a few Ibiza-centric websites but probably the most useful I’ve found is Ibiza Spotlight. That being said my personal picks are:
- Cala Carbo – Deep, crystal-clear water, schools of mirror fish. You can also scramble up the sandstone cliff onto a rocky headland with breathtaking views to Es Vedra. Also has a nice restaurant, Can Vincent.
- Cala Llenya – My perennial vote for Ibiza’s best beach: it is small, has some facilities and chairs, but has a real laid back feel, and perfect shallow water.
- Agua Blancas – A stunning beach with high rocks
There is so much to know and discover about Ibiza’s restaurant scene, and things can change: places fall out of fashion, new ones open so of course it’s a good idea to ask around for the latest recommendations too.
There are more amazing restaurants in Ibiza than you can possibly try in a single trip but this selection have been consistently praised. Of course it is often just as fun to see what you find on your travels.
- Macao Café – Santa Gertrudis: Contemporary pizzeria and ristorante in the lovely inland village of Santa Gertrudis.
- Lio – A relatively new cabaret/burlesque/dining experience in Ibiza Town, it is very opulent and set in the middle of Ibiza Town’s bay.
- La Oliva – Restaurant Dalt Villa (Old Town), Ibiza Town. Not necessarily the best food, but a lovely vibrant al fresco spot in the grounds of the castle in Ibiza town.
- Bambuddha Grove – Restaurant, bar, club. Can be a bit too much for the “in crowd” during the season but does great sushi in an impressive setting so is more relaxed when visited off-season.
- Can Pujol – A great fish restaurant with the best typical Ibizan seafood. In San Antonio de Portmany.
- Elephant – Restaurant bar which does great food and has a beautiful rooftop terrace for cocktails.
- El Ayoun – Another fantastic restaurant and bar this time with Moroccan cuisine.
- Cas Pages, Carretera San Carlos, Pont de S’Argentera, Santa Eulalia (Telephone 0034 971319029 no website) – Not ideal for vegetarians, but this is my personal favourite – the best local cooking for miles featuring sofrit pagès (casseroled meat and potato) and arroz de matances (rice and pork) traditional dishes and a lively atmosphere. Cash only payments and no reservations, so arrive early.
- Café The Giri – Hip new restaurant and bar in San Juan (lovely small town in the North of the island). Has rave reviews from Conde Nast Traveller and Vogue.
- Casa Colonial – A refined and very European romantic restaurant with a charming interior and large terrace.
Ibiza sunsets are famous and they are best seen from the island’s west coast.
You can eat seafood while watching the sunset at Es Boldado, Playa Cala d’Hort (in the far South), San Jose 07830. Telephone +34 626 49 45 37. The restaurant overlooks Es Vedra rock.
Alternatively join the hippies on Sundays who collect at Benirras beach with bongos to drum as the sun goes down.
For a high class option visit Hacienda Na Xamena – a sumptuous 5 star hotel set on a clifftop in an unspoiled part of Northern Ibiza, overlooking the sea; you can see the sunset from their bar and restaurant.
Other things to do while in Ibiza Off Season…
Shop at the Hippy Market at Club Punta Arabí, Es Canar. The original and biggest Hippy Market is here on Wednesdays, and it’s also held on Saturdays in San Carlos from 10.00 to 18.30. Countless stalls huddle beneath the shade of pine trees in the winding paths between white bungalows. This market is stuffed full of items from all over the world – many handmade and there are some surprisingly good finds. Plan on staying a while, there’s also a bar serving fresh drinks.
Hang out in the northern part of the island, in the villages of San Joan, San Juan, and Santa Agnes or head south and see the village of San Jose.
Explore the narrow, winding, steep cobbled streets and magnificent views of Ibiza Town’s D’alt Vila meaning ‘High Town’
Visit the popular Salinas Beach, usually packed in high season.
Spend some time in Santa Eularia. Along with Ibiza Town itself (and San Antonio which is not somewhere I personally enjoy) is one of the island’s large towns.
Santa Eularia has a lovely relaxed holiday atmosphere, a promenade and an atmospheric street – Carrer de Sant Vincent – packed with eateries. Try Restaurant es Rickshaw for Asian fusion cuisine.
Things to know about Ibiza
Businesses and shops take a long siesta over lunch, so head out before 11am or after 3pm if you want to ensure something is open.
Shops will want to see your passport or driver’s license along with your credit card if you want to buy something – they seem to take this rule especially seriously in Ibiza compared to other parts of Spain.
There are a couple of well-known nudist beaches on Ibiza or areas on beaches which nudists use, so check in advance if you don’t want to see everything!
An address in Spain is often expressed by its position on the road according to the kilometre markers, rather than the street numbers. You will see kilometre markers along the road here in Ibiza, so if something has the address 3.5KM Santa Gertrudis, it doesn’t mean the business is located in Santa Gertrudis, but on the road to Santa Gertrudis, 3.5 kilometres outside it.
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