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Culture and history in laid-back Ibiza Town

Culture and history in laid-back Ibiza Town

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Ibiza Town is the capital of Ibiza, an island with a lively city boasting a rich history and culture. The elevated, walled part of the town is also known as Dalt Vila, rightfully listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you’ll find medieval architecture, cobbled streets, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. The city offers an abundance of charming and mostly excellent dining establishments, ranging from traditional tapas bars to sophisticated restaurants. It is this blend of history and culinary offerings that makes Ibiza Town a fantastic destination for a city break.

Eatery in Ibiza Town

Brief History of Ibiza Town

Ibiza Town, known as Eivissa in Catalan, is a bustling yet historic city. The city’s origins date back to the Phoenicians, who established a settlement on the island around 654 BC. The Phoenicians were skilled traders and seafarers, and Ibiza became an important, strategically located trading post in the Mediterranean.

One of the significant periods in Ibiza Town’s history was during the Roman era. The Romans conquered the island in 123 BC and founded the city of “Ebusus,” which became a major center for salt production and trade. The Romans left a lasting imprint on the island, constructing impressive buildings and infrastructure, including aqueducts, roads, and fortifications, some of which are still visible today.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Ibiza Town experienced a period of decline, enduring invasions and occupations by the Vandals, Byzantines, and Moors. The Moors, in particular, had a significant influence on the island’s culture and architecture during their centuries-long rule. In the 13th century, Ibiza Town was conquered by the Catalans. Under Catalan rule, the city flourished as a trading center and played a crucial role in defending the eastern coast of Spain. The fortified walls and towers surrounding the old town were built during this period to protect the city from invasions.


Ibiza Town in the 20th and 21st Century

During the 20th century, Ibiza Town underwent significant changes as it transformed into a popular tourist destination. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ibiza became a magnet for artists, musicians, and hippies seeking an alternative lifestyle and creative inspiration. The rise of the clubbing scene further enhanced the city’s reputation as a nightlife hotspot.

Today, Ibiza Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its historical significance and well-preserved architectural heritage. The city is now a delightful city break destination, where you can spend hours strolling through picturesque, narrow, winding streets before ending the day at one of the many charming bars and restaurants.


Exploring Ibiza Town

We always find a guided bike tour to be a fun and informative way to get to know a city and see its main highlights. Typically, we book any bike tours in an unfamiliar city through Baja Bikes, a company known for providing excellent (English-speaking) guides who truly know everything about the city. The company also offers bike tours in Ibiza Town, where you can visit attractions such as Necrópolis, Portal Nou, El Faro, Vara del Rey, and the marina. The guide shares insights into the history, hippie culture, local life, and the jet set that enjoys vacationing on the island.

Another way to get to know the city well is by taking a walking tour, either with a guide or independently. You can find routes for self-guided walks on websites such as alltrails, Komoot, and routeyou.com.

Small park

Districts of Ibiza Town

Ibiza Town, or Eivissa in Catalan, consists of the following districts:

  • Dalt Vila (Upper Town): This is the elevated, historic center of the city, characterized by its old walls and cobbled streets. The entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its medieval architecture. Here, you’ll find the cathedral and the castle of Ibiza.
  • Eixample (Expansion): This area is the modern district of the city, featuring a mix of residential and commercial properties.
  • Figueretas: This district is located just south of Ibiza Town and is a popular seaside resort with a palm-lined promenade, hotels, restaurants, and a beautiful sandy beach.
  • La Marina: A vibrant waterfront district of Ibiza Town, known for its lively atmosphere, restaurants, bars, and bustling nightlife. It is also a popular area for shopping and dining.
    Paseo Vara de Rey: This is a lively promenade with shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is also a popular place for locals and visitors to relax and socialize.

Unmissable highlights of Ibiza Town

Each of the aforementioned districts offers its own unique atmosphere and attractions. Most of the attractions can be found in Dalt Vila, the old town. But even beyond that, there are several unmissable highlights. Here are a few worth mentioning:

The Cathedral of Ibiza

One of the highlights of Dalt Vila is the imposing 14th-century Cathedral of Ibiza. This majestic structure with Gothic and Baroque elements dominates the skyline. The climb to the cathedral is quite steep, but once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and the surrounding sea. Inside, you’ll find beautiful religious art and intricate architectural details showcasing the craftsmanship of the past.


Museum of Contemporary Art

Another attraction in Dalt Vila for a rainy day is the Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa (MACE), the museum of contemporary art. Housed in a former military barracks, the museum features a diverse collection of artworks by local and international artists.

Portal de ses Taules

The Portal de ses Taules is one of the gateways to Dalt Vila. The gate is an impressive example of medieval architecture and remains in excellent condition. The massive stone construction and unique shape make it a striking feature of the old town. As the gate is very photogenic, it is usually bustling with activity. However, once you pass through the gate, you’ll find yourself in the less crowded labyrinth of cobbled streets.


Castell d’Eivissa: the castle of Ibiza Town

This ancient fortress comprises various structures from different historical periods, demonstrating the strategic importance of Ibiza and the influence of successive civilizations. The Phoenicians were the first to build a fort here in the 7th century BC. Subsequently, the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, and Arabs were involved. In the 13th century, the fort was further expanded following the Christians’ reconquest. It fell into decay in the 18th century but fortunately underwent meticulous restoration in the 20th century.

You cannot enter the castle itself. However, you can visit the bastions of Sant Jaume and Sant Pere from the mid-16th century (free of charge). The bastion of Sant Jaume now serves as a military museum. The bastion of Sant Pere showcases the history of the castle. Through an audiovisual display, you can see how the city wall was built.

Strolling through Dalt Vila

Even if you are less inclined to visit old buildings, Dalt Vila is a highlight during your visit to Ibiza. The 16th-century old city walls enclose a maze of narrow cobbled streets and charming squares. Wandering through the alleyways feels like stepping into another era. For enthusiasts of terraces, Dalt Vila is a paradise: almost every alley and square is lined with numerous delightfully cosy terraces and eateries. One of those squares is the beautiful Plaza de Vila, surrounded by stunning historic buildings. It is truly a delightful place where we spent hours ourselves.

Necropolis del Puig des Molins

Puig des Molins, located just west of Dalt Vila, is renowned as one of the most significant archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Puig des Molins (“hill of the mills”) is a burial ground from the Phoenician era. The burial ground was used from the 7th century BC to the 2nd century AD. The site includes an extensive network of underground tombs, burial chambers, and artifacts that tell the stories of the ancient civilizations that inhabited the island.

Puig des Molins houses a wealth of archaeological finds, including sculptures, ceramics, jewellery, and other objects, offering insights into the rituals, customs, and lifestyle of Ibiza’s ancient inhabitants. In 1999, Puig des Molins, along with the old town of Dalt Vila, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the historical and cultural value it represents. More information about the necropolis and the museum.


The marina of Eivissa

At the foot of the hill on which the old town is located lies the marina of Ibiza Town. It is not just one of the many beautiful marinas on the Mediterranean. In this splendid, fairly spacious marina, you’ll find the most exquisite sailing and motor yachts, each seemingly grander and more luxurious than the next. We were fortunate that during the week we were in Ibiza, the Dutch Clipper Stad Amsterdam was docked there. But even when the official flagship of the municipality of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is not present, the marina is definitely worth a visit. Especially in the evening when the illuminated yachts look particularly enchanting.

Along the waterfront, you’ll find an abundance of chic and less chic restaurants, as well as trendy bars. Moreover, if you enjoy shopping, you’ll be well catered for, as the boulevard is home to numerous exclusive boutiques and designer stores.


Everything you need to know about a city break in Ibiza Town

Where is Ibiza Town located?

Ibiza Town, also known as Eivissa in Catalan, is situated on the southeastern coast of the island of Ibiza. The island itself is part of the Balearic Islands, an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea.

What is the best time to visit Ibiza Town for a city break?

The best time to visit Ibiza is from May to September. If you prefer delightful temperatures and less crowding, it's best to avoid the months of July and August.

How do I get from the airport to my hotel in Ibiza Town?

There are several ways to travel from the airport to Ibiza Town:

  • Bus: Line 10 of the Ibiza Bus operates year-round between the airport and the center of Ibiza Town. In the summer, the bus departs every 20 minutes. A bus ticket costs €3.60 and can be purchased directly from the driver. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes. The bus stop is located next to the airport terminal.
  • Shuttle Bus: This service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the airport to Ibiza Town, San Antonio, and Santa Eulalia. It is important to purchase a return ticket in advance, as this cannot be done from your hotel.
  • Taxi: For approximately €20, a taxi can take you to the center of Ibiza Town in less than 20 minutes. There may be a queue for taxis, so it is advisable to pre-book a taxi online.
  • Car Rental: If you are combining your city break with a (hiking) holiday in Ibiza, a rental car is definitely worth considering. Keep in mind that you cannot park the car in the old city center. Fortunately, there are multiple free parking areas just outside the city.
How can I get around in the capital of Ibiza?

The historic center of Ibiza Town is compact, allowing you to explore everything on foot. Additionally, you can also get around by bike, bus, rental car, or scooter. We frequently used Uber for our transportation needs.

Which attractions should I not miss during my stay in Ibiza Town?

The highlights of Ibiza Town, mainly located in Dalt Vila, the old walled center, include the impressive Cathedral of Ibiza and the ancient castle, both offering fantastic views of the city and the sea. Additionally, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the old city gate "Portal de ses Taules," and the necropolis del Puig des Molins are definitely worth a visit. Furthermore, strolling through the charming alleyways and squares with cosy terraces and restaurants is a must. Lastly, the marina of Eivissa offers a splendid view of luxury yachts, chic restaurants, trendy bars, and exclusive boutiques, especially enchanting in the evening.

How many days should I plan for my city break in Ibiza Town?

In principle, you can see everything in the (old) center of Ibiza Town in a day. However, even after a week, we were hardly tired of this fantastic city. After our walks in the countryside or along the coast, we would stylishly end the day in the old town.

Where can I enjoy local dishes and specialties in Ibiza Town?

In the vibrant capital of the island, you can enjoy delicious food everywhere. From cosy tapas bars to exclusive fine dining restaurants, the city has something for everyone. Here are a few suggestions:


La Bodega, located in the heart of Ibiza Town near Dalt Villa, is a charming place to enjoy delicious tapas and a cosy atmosphere. Near Plaza del Parque, you'll find the atmospheric La Brasa, where you can taste grilled meats and fish from the 'brasa' in an idyllic patio setting.


For an exclusive culinary experience, visit La Gaia by Oscar Molina in the ultra-luxurious 5* Gran Hotel. This Michelin-starred restaurant serves small dishes with amazing flavour sensations, a treat for food enthusiasts. There are also other Michelin-starred restaurants in Ibiza, one of which is Omakase by Walt, located near the Necropolis, offering delightful sushi.

This is an overview of the best restaurants in Ibiza Town.

Where is the best place to stay in Ibiza Town?

If you are looking for the best accommodations in Ibiza Town, there are several options highly rated by travellers. Some popular hotels include:

  • One Ibiza Suites: A hotel located just 20 meters from a sandy beach, featuring a seasonal outdoor pool and a sun terrace. It is praised for its excellent facilities and friendly staff.
  • Hotel La Torre del Canonigo: Situated on the hill of Dalt Vila in Ibiza Town, this accommodation offers fantastic views of the sea, the port, and the city. It is renowned for its beautiful location.
  • Can Arabí: This charming former farmhouse is surrounded by orange and olive groves, just 2.5 km from Ibiza Town. Guests particularly appreciate the excellent breakfast and the beautiful, relaxing location.
  • Mirador de Dalt Vila-Relais & Chateaux: This historic accommodation overlooks the Mediterranean Sea from a hilltop in the center. It offers elegant rooms with free Wi-Fi and a hot tub. The unique location, tranquil atmosphere, and elegant style are appreciated by guests.

This is an overview of all accommodations in Ibiza Town.


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