The island’s main urban centre is Ibiza Town, referred to as Eivissa, in the South of the island. This large town comprises of the Port ‘La Marina’, with its large shopping scene, the former fisherman’s quarter Sa Penya and the historic Old Town ‘Dalt Vila’ meaning the 'High Town' which towers over the surrounding area and is illuminated at night like a spectacular beacon.
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The Barrio de la Marina is a lively area that has grown around the Harbour, where many liners, cargo ships and magnificent private yachts come and go. Apart from welcoming the visitors who arrive on the island by sea, this area is one of the most popular places for shoppers. What makes Ibiza such a unique shopping destination is its clever combination of tradition and modernity. You can find hand-crafted silver jewellery and leather products made by the artisans at the market adjacent to the Marina, an abundance of smart, independent boutiques selling international designers aswell as popular chain stores like Zara and Mango. There is truly something for everyone.
The Marina also plays host to some delightful late night bars offering cocktails and the opportunity to walk along the Marina and down to the cruise ship dock extension which offers magnificent views of Dalt Vila and is a favourite walk for locals day and night. In the evening the harbour mile becomes a promenade with artists, buskers and performers on stilts trying to entice people to visit a disco, all providing entertainment for passers-by. During the winter months La Marina takes a rest, most shops are closed and one can watch the boats come and go in peace and quiet whilst enjoying a coffee at one of the many Cafes adjacent to the Marina.
Large ancient walls surround the Dalt Vila old town which comprises the city’s Cathedral and a Castle, currently being converted into a five-star Parador Hotel. The city’s large walls were designed to defend the city against attacks from the Berbers. Construction started in 1554 and was thought to have lasted for 31 years. Dalt Vila was declared an Unesco World Heritage Site back in 1999.Visitors to Dalt Vila enter the fortification through the ‘Portal de Ses Taules’ drawbridge, opposite the old vegetable and fruit market Es Mercat Vell, once inside there are many craft shops, art galleries, a museum, along with many first class restaurants and bars.
Dalt Vila’s 13th-century Cathedral is at its pinnacle. You will need to be fit but it is worth the accent up the steep winding alleys, as the view from the top is incredible, as is the Cathedral itself. There are some nice cafes en-route to take a break and stop for a drink. Alternatively, a walk around the town wall offers spectacular views over the narrow and crowded streets of the lower town, the harbour and the sea as far as Formentera.To be able to enjoy all the sights and to avoid getting lost in the tangle of the narrow lanes of the old town the tourist office (Oficina de Turismo - in the harbour opposite the obelisk) can supply you with a map of the old town. It is advisable to check the opening hours of the museums and the cathedral; as they often change.
The former fishermen's quarter Sa Penya is located behind the Marina and stretches up to the town wall. Narrow lanes and stairs crisscross the quarter which has managed to retain much of its charm. This area is popular with the gay community and boasts a vibrant nightlife of quirky little bars and eccentric boutiques.
In 1898 Ibiza town spilled over the walls of the old town quarter creating the Ibiza town as we know it. Today the Plaza Vara de Rey is the centre of town. The Montesol Hotel sits proudly on the corner of the square; the oldest hotel in Ibiza, it exudes glamour and old-school charm. Princess Caroline of Monaco, Orson Wells and Pink Floyd have all stayed here. Gradually the nearby Plaza del Parque has become equally as popular; this square is pedestrianized so it is popular with families wanting to relax with a coffee whilst the children play in the square.
From the Vara de Rey the new town continues. Three main roads connect this area with the inland: the Avenida Eulalia leads along the harbour to Santa Eulalia, the Avenida Ignacio Wallis to San Antonio, the Avenida España is a one-way road into the town which connects to San José and the airport; the parallel street Isodoro Macabich leads out of town in the same direction. Off from these roads are many side streets with popular chain stores offering everything one could want. In contrast to the old town, where shops close down in winter, the new town stays open all year round.
A pleasant way to spend an afternoon is to take a walk along the harbour quay. One can admire the small Ibicenco fishing boats bobbing around whilst enjoying a drink or some tapas at one of the water-side cafes. If you continue walking down the Paseo Juan Carlos I you will eventually reach the world famous clubs of El Divino and Pacha.
In the other direction the Paseo Juan Carlos I leads to the newer part of the harbour known as ‘Marina Botafoch’. There are magnificent yachts from all over the world docked in here. Some of the most decadent and palatial vessels one could imagine set sail for Ibiza in the summer, carrying the world’s elite on-board. These yachts need to be seen to be believed! Here there are numerous restaurants, bars and boutiques. In recent years the Paseo Juan Carlos I was extended to the old lighthouse ‘Far des Botafoch’. From here there is a spectacular view of the old town, especially at night as Dalt Vila is illuminated in all of its glory.
Behind the harbour basin, only a stone’s throw from the Marina Botafoch, lies the attractive beach of Talamanca. The shallow waters are safe for children. In spite of the fact that Talamanca is a popular tourist spot with hotels and restaurants it is still considerably quieter than Ses Figueretes or Playa d'en Bossa. Part of Talamanca belongs to the municipality/area of Santa Eulalia, but it is considered Ibiza town because of its proximity and easy access to the town.
Playa d'en Bossa, is the longest beach on the island and it borders the municipality/area of Sant Jose. For a long time Playa d'en Bossa was regarded as the most beautiful beach in Ibiza, now it has become popular with the young crowd due to the building of several luxury hotels favouring the clubbing scene. You won’t find many of the locals here, although the sand is white and the shallow waters are perfect for swimming, one will notice a steady stream of aircraft overhead as the beach is under the flight path. However, if one of the many clubs are hosting a beach party, the noise from the aircraft will be drowned out by the loud electronic music.