Ibiza owns a reputation as a boisterous party town where hit the beaches by day and dance all night. But this is only part of the story for this picturesque island, which is part of Balearics near the coast of Spain.
The town was founded by the Carthaginians around the sixth century B.C. and ruled in turn by the Romans, Arabs and Catalans. Evidence of these periods can be seen in the Dalt Vila, or old town, which boasts many historical structures and relics and two notable museums. The medieval walled city and its Gothic cathedral became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
During the day, Ibiza is an ideal place to explore, with trendy shops, interesting restaurants and a growing number of luxury hotels and spas in its beautiful harbor. In addition, the island boasts 56 sandy beaches around its coastline, making it the perfect place to simply relax.
Cruise ships dock at Port d'Eivissa. (Eivissa is the Catalan name for Ibiza), on the edge of the town, just a few steps from shops and restaurants. The entire city is within an easy walk of the pier, although the Dalt Vila area is dramatically hilly.
There is no terminal building in Ibiza. When you disembark, you are immediately in the town. Wi-Fi is available in most of the cafes and coffee shops. There is also a Telepost -- which exchanges money and features a public phone and Internet access -- near the dock. Ibiza is wonderful for strolling. Cruisers can begin shopping or eating almost immediately upon disembarkation, and the little shops on the side streets near the pier are of great interest. The waterfront along the Avenue Andanes is a pedestrian-friendly road, one side lined with boutiques and restaurants and the other a boat-filled harbor. The street offers lots of places to sit and people-watch.
The cobblestone streets. Wear comfortable, cushioned shoes, especially for walking up to and around Dalt Vila. Also, the siesta is alive and well in Ibiza. Many shops and museums close mid-afternoon for several hours, so check before you go.
While Ibiza has many daytime activities, the island is well-known for its nightlife -- but not all ships stay overnight. If you are interested in the nightlife, check the hours that your ship will be in the port. Most clubs don't open until 10 p.m., and the festivities continue until the early morning hours.
Walking in the city is safe, but beware of pickpockets on the beaches. Don't leave your valuables on a towel and go in for a swim.
On Foot: The entire town begins at the pier and except for the hilly Dalt Vila section, everything is an easy walk.
You cannot enter Dalt Vila with a bus or shuttle. People with mobility issues can rent a taxi to take them around the island, but they cannot enter the Dalt Vila area with a car.
By Taxi: Cabs are generally available. In the summer season, cab and bus services to travel outside of the city are available, but waits can be longer than an hour.
The euro is the official currency. For updated currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. There are currency exchanges and ATMs at the port and throughout the city. ATMs are the cheapest way to acquire euros. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. U.S. dollars or other currencies are generally not accepted.
Catalan is the language of Ibiza, but English is spoken in the shops, restaurants and clubs.
You'll find plenty of Mediterranean cuisine, with tasty fish and meat dishes along with a tradition of sweet pastries. Fish soups, sausages such as sobrassada and botifarro are delicious. Empanadas (patties stuffed with peppers, meat or fish), and cocarrois (patties filled with spinach and raisins) are local favorites. Try the bunyols (aniseed flavored fritters) for a sweet treat or the Ibizan magdalenes (made from puff pastry filled with marzipan).
The city has numerous restaurants and many sidewalk cafes. Outdoor eating along the harborside Avenue Andanes is particularly pleasant.
Ca n'Alfredo, located at in the Old City serves some of the best paella with lobster in town. It serves traditional Ibizan cuisine but is pricy, with meals costing35 to 80 euros. You may have to wait for a table, particularly outside, because this is a popular restaurant with locals. (Passeig Vara De Rey 16; 971-31-1274; open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner, closed Mondays, reservations recommended)
S'Ametller in the port area serves innovative Mediterranean cuisine using local products with stylish presentations. Entrees range from 35 to 38 euros -- with three plate tastings from 22 euros. (Pere Frances, 12; 971-311-780; open daily for lunch and dinner)
Crossisant Show, located opposite the food market, is a fun place for breakfast, with great pastries and people watching, as well as free Wi-Fi. Try the almond croissants. (Placa de la Constitutcio; 34-971-7665; open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily)
Salt! Islanders still harvest salt from the sea in salt beds using evaporation, a process that dates from the time of the Carthaginians. Bags of salt are available in various sizes at many shops in town. These packets make unusual gifts, are reasonably priced and won't break on the trip home. Sweet delicious Hierbas Ibicencas liquors, made from Ibiza aromatic herbs, such as fennel, thyme, and rosemary, also make tasty souvenirs and are available throughout the island.
Mojitos made with white rum, fresh limes, brown sugar and mint leaves. Also, try the Sangria wine with added spirits, liqueurs and chopped fruit.