A week on my two favorite islands in the mediterranean.
When planning our vacations, we usually try to split our year into quarters and take a week or more every three to four months. We have six weeks of vacation days in Germany, so this usually spreads out pretty nicely over the course of the year. In 2018, we decided to break up the time between our Swiss road trip in July and Christmas and prolong summer with a week in the mediterranean in October. We’ve only ever been to Ibiza once before, and in my case, for a very special occasion: my girls took me there for an unforgettable bachelorette weekend. And since I loved every millisecond of it, I was already dying to go back! With a whole week’s time, we knew we couldn’t miss our chance to also spend a few days on the teensy-tiny island next-door: Formentera.
Since you can only get to Formentera by ferry from Ibiza, we decided to spend two days in Ibiza town first, then head to Formentera for three nights and then back to Ibiza (another three nights) for some more time to explore the rest of the island. Also, since October was said to be low season already, we knew even our dog Cookie could join us and enjoy herself – without the heat and the crowds that overpopulate the island(s) in summer. Looking back now, I’d say the best time to visit Ibiza / Formentera would be late May / early June or late September / early October. In November, restaurants and hotels actually close their doors (even more so in Formentera), so it might become a bit too quiet. Lucky for us, we still found lots that was open and we only had one rain shower. So, let’s get into detail:
1.) IBIZA OLD TOWN
Ibiza town is actually even smaller than I had anticipated, but it’s worth a stop nonetheless (I’d recommend staying for about 2 nights). As mentioned above, we came here at the very end of the season, so all the party people had already left. While there was still enough going on (the restaurants we went to still required reservations), we often had the small alleyways to ourselves for some relaxed strolling.
WHAT TO SEE:
For a day’s itinerary, I’d recommend the following: Wake up refreshed and head to Maison le Vrai for an avocado toast and a coconut yoghurt bowl. Then, head north-west for some shopping around Avinguda d’Ignasi Wallis / Carrer de Bartomeu Vicent Ramon. Stroll along the waterfront and then into the smaller alleyways for some boutique shopping, like locally-made swim wear or jewelry. Have a gazpacho and cerveca to cool off at La Bodega before heading into the old town walls (the entry-way is right next to the restaurant). If you’re feeling like dessert, you’ll find organic, homemade ice cream and sorbet just as you come up, at “Barocco”. Keep going up all the way to the cathedral, and don’t forget to stop along the way to take in those scenic views. Once you’re up, visit the cathedral and pass it to reach the Zitadelle viewpoint. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the same musicians we did in the afternoon. Head back down via another viewpoint overlooking the harbor. Before dinner, grab some cocktails at S’Escalina – it’s perfect for a relaxed hour spent people-watching on their bean bags on the old town steps. Then, enjoy your tapas feast at Mar a Vila – and be sure to order some from the menu, not just from their bar. Our favorites were the “chicken popcorn” with deep-fried grapes and the “violette potatoes”. Enjoy!
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed at Torre del Canónigo, which is quite an experience because it’s ALL the way up the hill of Ibiza old town, basically next to the cathedral. It’s pretty pricey but very cute – every room is different, you wake up with a gorgeous view over Ibiza, the pool overlooks the marina. If you don’t like walking up/down hills and want to be more in the center, this one might not be for you – we, on the other hand, really enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle in between our adventures!
WHERE TO EAT:
Absolute favorite: Mar a Vila (best creative tapas, incredible value for money, cute & vibrant tapas bar setting)
Great setting but less-than-great service: La Brasa (the courtyard garden vibe is great so I guess it’s famous for a reason, but unfortunately our food was pretty mediocre and perhaps we were a bit unlucky with our table and service)
For an intimate date night: The restaurant at La Torre del Canónigo – we went there on our first night because we checked in late, and the setting is very beautiful around the pool with a view over the city lights. Food and service were good, but it was slightly overpriced nonetheless.
Traditional tapas for lunch: La Bodega (super-friendly & yummy, perfect to people-watch from the few little tables on the street)
Yummiest healthy lunch or brunch: Passion Café (they have 4 locations on the island, one is in Ibiza harbor – think avo toasts, smoothies, buddha bowls…)
Favorite brunch place: Maison le Vrai (just loved it, food was amazing – will be trying it for lunch or dinner next time!)
Spontaneous breakfast find that we really liked: La Cava (they have tapas & cocktails later)
…and last but not least: have pre- or post-dinner cocktails on the cushioned steps of S’Escalina!
If you previously thought Ibiza was overcrowded with trashy tourists and ugly architecture, then the photographs above hopefully convinced you otherwise already! And trust me, Formentera is even more “raw & organic” than the farthest little corner on Ibiza.
Ferries (car ferries and speed ferries) go back and forth between Ibiza and Formentera all day long, and the ride only takes about 45 minutes. Pre-booking tickets is usually required, especially during high season. We rented a car at the airport upon arrival and took it to Formentera, which is something I’d definitely recommend – but if you’re a biker, you can easily take your motorbike or even a bicycle, since Formentera is very small.
WHAT TO SEE:
The island is made of rock, so there really isn’t much to do or see aside from the beautiful, rough landscapes and cliffs. Aside from walking all day and swimming in the ocean, we drove all around the island and visited an old wind mill and the “Torre de la Gavina” that’s situated beautifully right on the cliffs in the west. Two must-do beach walks are:
- the one all the way up north at Playa de Illetas (stop at “Es Molí de Sal” or “Juan y Andrea” for lunch) and
- the one in the south-east (start at “Piratabus” and walk to “Caló des Mort” and back – then enjoy a well-deserved bottle of rosé at Piratabus, Formentera’s cutest little beach bar).
And one more must-do: visit picturesque “Es Caló de Sant Augustí“.
WHERE TO STAY:
We can’t recommend our little B&B enough: Can Tres – the perfect place to unwind. It’s family-run, in the middle of nowhere, with only a few but very cute bohemian rooms and delicious home-made breakfast by the pool every morning. If you want to borrow a bicycle for a day, they have those, too.
If you’re looking for more of a hotel, you might want to check out Gecko beach club. It’s very close to Can Tres and would have been another great option for us, but they don’t take dogs.
WHERE TO EAT:
Dining out in Formentera was already a little bit more difficult in mid-October compared to Ibiza, since some recommendations we had received had just closed a few days before we came (rule of thumb: Formentera season closes 2-3 weeks earlier than Ibiza). Nonetheless, we were very lucky with our food:
On our first night, we drove to Es Caló for some very delicious paella. It was a bit windy and with sunset being so early in October, the ambiance just wasn’t as nice as it probably is in spring / summer, but other than that – we left as two happy kiddos. Note that they don’t take dogs.
On night two, we coincidentally stumbled upon Casadela in Sant Francesc after our original choice turned out to be closed – and we got very lucky! In fact, we liked it so much that we decided to try their second restaurant on the island the next evening: Casanita in Es Pujols. And again, we weren’t disappointed. They have some things in common but they’re also quite different, with Casadela focusing more on classic and innovative Spanish dishes and tapas, while Casanita is a bit more focused on fish and elevated cooking. If you ask me, it’s worth trying both.
For lunch, head up to the island’s northern tip – you’ll find multiple good locations right on the beach. Juan y Andrea was already closed, unfortunately, but we loved Es Molí de Sal. Another recommendation that was already closed for winter was El Tiburon.
If you’re looking for a place to lunch (or dine) in Sant Francesc, Ca Na Pepa is another good choice with lots of fresh, healthy options.
Exploring the rough east coast
3.) IBIZA AROUND & ABOUT
After three blissful days on Formentera, we headed back to Ibiza for our final stop. For practical reasons, we picked a hotel close to Ibiza town (in Ibiza Bay), from where we could explore the island by car but still head into town should we like to. I’d urge anyone to head out and explore the island, though – it’s so worth it, and only then you’ll experience true “Ibiza vibes”.
WHAT TO SEE:
Where do I start?! Let me list some of my absolute favorites:
- On a Saturday, have breakfast at Passion Café in Santa Eulària des Riu (right on the water) and then dive into hippy market “Mercadillo Las Dalias” (10min drive, open 10am to 8pm, only on Saturdays). This is exactly what my girls did with me back in 2017, and we absolutely loved doing it again this time. It’s really great for strolling and people watching and sipping on Caipirinhas, but it’s also really good for shopping – you’ll find locally-made jewelry, dresses, accessories, hippy bags, gifts… My husband bought a linen shirt and I got two cute beach dresses from a local designer. No made-in-China!
- Head to a secluded little bay in the north for lunch & a swim: Cala Benirras beach and Elements Beach Club are everything you need on your Ibiza vacation.
- Hike down to Ibiza’s “Atlantis” (Sa Pedrera de Cala d’Hort) and swim in the ocean pools made from extracting rock for Ibiza’s city walls back in the day. Then, watch the sun go down behind Es Vedrá from this spot right here.
- Spend a day at a beach club such as Nikki beach, Experimental Beach or Cala Bassa.
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed at Nobu in Ibiza Bay and really enjoyed it. It’s modern, shiny and new, but still quite cozy – and it offers impeccable service.
Another really great choice is Agroturismo Atzaró if you’re looking for something more organic and towards the center of the island.
WHERE TO EAT:
On our first night back from Formentera, we tried Nobu’s japanese restaurant, which was, like all of their restaurants, incredibly delicious. While I myself enjoyed the sushi, I believe my hubs loved the octopus salad so much he ordered another for dessert…
An absolute favorite (also since 2017) is La Granja, a gorgeous hidden little gem in the middle of nowhere on the island. They also have some rooms in case you want to check those out! Their dining concept falls under the name “Farmer’s Table”. After having a drink at their outdoor bar (built into an old tree) by the pool, you take a seat and enjoy your pre-ordered menu. Basically, the only thing you get to choose in advance is whether you want meat, poultry, fish or plants for your main course. The remaining details and other courses are fully dependent on what the farm produces on that day or in that week. It’s all seasonal, all home-grown, all organic. And most of it is served in huge bowls to share. Oh, and let’s not forget the dim-lit vibes and chill tunes coming from a John-Lennon-lookalike DJ (with even longer hair, wearing a poncho). So, if you go to La Granja, be sure to channel your inner hippie and just let go…
Another new favorite we discovered is La Paloma, a restaurant run by a family who came from Italy and decided to renovate a run-down Finca to offer “fresh, homemade food and a simple, friendly atmosphere”. And they did outstanding, if you ask us!
Do you have any Ibiza or Formentera favorites of yours to add? Let us all know below!
Thank you for stopping by,