First time clubbers guide to Ibiza – everything you need to know to help organise this year’s trip to the White Isle
Our guide to where to go, what to do and where to stay for the 2017 Ibiza party season
Written by: Daniel Badcock
1. Where is Ibiza?
Let’s start with the basics – where exactly is the mythical island of Ibiza? Well, it’s in the Mediterranean. To be more precise, it lies off the east coast of Spain a little further south than Barcelona and roughly level with Valencia. It’s the smallest of the three main Balearic Islands and is the nearest to the mainland. Culturally, it’s closely linked with Catalonia and the language spoken in the Balearics is a dialect of Catalan. For this reason, many places have two names: the Castilian Spanish one and the local one. Ibiza is known as Eivissa in the local language.
2. What is the weather like in Ibiza?
In short, it’s hot in the summer and cool in the winter. It starts warming up in May, and throughout peak season, daytime temperatures will be in the high 20s & 30s. The hottest months are generally July and August but the highest temperature ever was recorded in September, reaching over 40.4°C.
Don’t expect it to be like this all year round though, and if you visit in the winter months you might need your woolly hat and gloves more than the sun cream. It’s possible to see the temperatures drop below freezing and the coldest ever recorded temperature was a positively chilly -3°C. The wettest months are September to December. It snows in Ibiza about once every ten years.
3. When to go to Ibiza?
You can visit Ibiza all year round but when you go will make a big difference to the character of the island you find when you arrive. The opening parties at the big clubs kick off the party season at the end of May and the island is at its busiest throughout the summer months until the closing parties in September. This is the time to come if you want to see Ibiza at its most hedonistic and unrestrained and when you will be able to partake in the island’s world-famous nightlife.
If you choose to visit outside this window, you will find a much more peaceful island devoid of the party people that bring it to life during the summer months. You will have the chance to explore the island, uncover its culture and history and search out secluded Ibiza beaches with turquoise seas for pure and undisturbed relaxation.
4. How to get to Ibiza?
There are flights to Ibiza’s airport year-round, with many more during the summer months, and you can fly direct to Ibiza from many of Europe’s major capitals including London, Paris and Rome. Budget airline Ryanair operates one of the cheapest routes out of London Stansted.
Even flying in from places with no direct route is easy as there are many flight options involving a change in either Madrid or Barcelona. It should be possible with a bit of shopping around on the usual sites to find return flights for under €100 if you’re lucky – although finding these kinds of prices if you book last minute during peak season is going to be more of a challenge so it’s best to plan ahead.
If you’re already in Spain or, like B.A. Baracus, you ain’t gettin’ in no plane, there are also ferry connections available from Valencia, Barcelona and the other Balearics.
5. Where to stay in Ibiza?
When it comes to sleeping, there are a couple of popular options, the first of which is the island’s capital, Ibiza Town. The main settlement on the island offers a combination of culture, history, attractive architecture, a wealth of eating and drinking options as well as – naturally – world-class clubbing. Staying in Ibiza Town, you can spend your days wandering around the maze of old-style cobbled streets and exploring the UNESCO-listed citadel of Dalt Vila before heading to one of the multitude of bars or restaurants in the evening. Finally, when night falls, you can make your way over to Ibiza Town’s superclub, Pacha, or one of the many other smaller clubs in the capital. Staying in Ibiza Town also gives you good access to Amnesia, Privilege and HÏ Ibiza which are all only a short taxi drive away. Bear in mind, Ibiza Town is probably the most expensive place to stay in terms of accommodation as well as food and drink so it’s not the best option for budget-conscious Ibiza party people.
A long-standing favourite with clubbers has always been the beach resort of Playa d’en Bossa, just down the road from Ibiza Town. Here, you are likely to be able to find more reasonably priced accommodation as well as bars where you can actually afford to go in and have a beer. There’s daytime dancing on the beach at the ever-present Bora Bora just next to the island’s newest superclub, HÏ Ibiza, which has taken over from Space. This is also where you’ll find Ushuaïa Ibiza and Sankeys among many others. This is the place to stay if you don’t want to blow all your budget on your hotel and you plan to spend a lot of time partying.
You might also choose to base yourself in San Antonio (Sant Antoni de Portmany or just ‘San An’). Staying here gives you good access to Eden and Es Paradis as well as Ibiza Rocks, and you will also be within walking distance of the dubious pleasures of San An’s infamous West End. Rumoured to have the highest concentration of bars in the world, a claim that may or may not be true, this is the place to head for cheap booze deals, drunken debauchery and not being able to remember what you did the night before. If that’s what you’re into. One positive is that you’re close to the Sunset Strip where you can watch the orange sun melting into the sea over a cold but pricey cocktail while you listen to tunes at some of the original chill-out bars like Café del Mar and Cafe Mambo Ibiza. You’ll be a long way from most of the big clubs though, so unless you’re coming to Ibiza in search of booze, bad music and maybe a choice STD or two, there’s not so much to recommend basing yourself in San An.
Another option for the discerning clubber who wants somewhere to retreat and hide in between parties is to hire a private villa in the hills. Obviously the disadvantage is that if you take this option, you’re going to need your own transport and you’ll need to travel to all beaches, shops or clubs – but you will have your own private space where you can escape when all the madness becomes a little too much. Depending on the level of luxury you’re after, there are options for most budgets.
6. Where to party in Ibiza?
There are pretty islands with gorgeous beaches all over the Med but people come to Ibiza to party. There are too many clubs and nights to list them all but we can have a look at a couple of the established names as well as the stand-out newcomers.
On the road leading inland from Ibiza Town is the world’s biggest club. With a capacity of 10,000, Privilege used to be best known as the home of Manumission. That night has long since departed but this year Privilege is hosting several notable events, including confirmed dates for RESISTANCE featuring Sasha and Digweed, and at least two nights of Pure Carl Cox hosted by the big man himself. Privilege Ibiza was one of the island’s original superclubs and it is still in rude health.
Just across the road and seemingly trying to stare Privilege down is Amnesia, another giant of the Ibiza scene. For the last twenty years, Amnesia has hosted Cream, a night that has established itself as part of Ibiza’s DNA, and the venue is also home to Sven Väth’s highly acclaimed techno night, Cocoon, which has been running for almost as long. This year, the guys at Cream Ibiza have already confirmed Paul van Dyk and Fatboy Slim as residents and they will continue to stage the usual spectacular nights to which we have become accustomed in what many consider their favourite Ibiza club.
One of the most eagerly awaited developments of 2017 is the reopening of the venue that used to be Space. After defining the spirit of Ibiza for three decades, the heart-breaking news was announced that Space was to close. This year, the building has taken over by Ibiza newcomers HÏ Ibiza and they seem to be preparing parties worthy of the traditions of this hallowed ground. Their Saturday nights will feature the hugely in-demand Black Coffee while Mondays in Ibiza have been entrusted to Martin Garrix.
Beyond this, there are so many others. For live music, you can head to San An’s Ibiza Rocks, you can dance all day at Ushuaïa, you can get your sweat on to the warehouse vibe at Sankeys or you can dance with the beautiful people at another long-running Ibiza institution, Pacha. Whatever it is that moves your body, you’re guaranteed to find it somewhere.
7. What to do when you’re not partying in Ibiza?
With all the nightlife on offer, it’s easy to forget that you’re holidaying on a particularly stunning Mediterranean island and it would be a crime to not at least make a token effort to see something other than flashing lights and the inside of cavernous dancehalls – as fun as that may be.
First of all, don’t forget to eat. Remember, you’re in Spain, a country with a rich culinary heritage, and you should make the most of it. Ok, so perhaps some of what you will be ingesting in the evenings might not be the most conducive to stimulating your appetite the next day – but make sure when you go home, at least you can say you’ve eaten something other than lasagne and chips every day. Granted, depending on where you’re staying, it might not actually seem like you’re in Spain and there might be some gap between wanting Spanish food and finding it – but it’s definitely out there!
Ibiza Town is worth a look when you feel the need for a culture fix. You can learn a bit of history by checking out the Phoenician and Carthaginian exhibits in the archaeological museum as well as learning about how the island fared during the Moorish period. You can also make a diversion to visit the thirteenth-century cathedral.
An essential activity, at least once while you’re here, is to hire a car or a motorbike and set off in exploration of the island. You will discover tiny secluded coves which you will have all to yourself. You can drive through the pine forests of the interior passing tiny settlements far from all the tourist development. You can head over to the hippy market at Las Dalias and you can find isolated spots perfect for accomplishing naked leaps from the cliffs into the sea – should you be possessed by a sudden desire to do so. Just be careful about the rocks and passing boats of tourists if you decide this is something you want to be involved in.
9. Why bother to go to Ibiza?
Ibiza is not just another party island with cheap bars and a couple of dodgy discos. Every summer, this small island becomes the epicentre of the electronic music world and all the planet’s most important artists and DJs descend here for several months of the wildest and most elaborate parties to be had anywhere, all against the backdrop of one of the jewels of the Mediterranean. Seriously, why would you not want to go?