While planning our trip to the Balearic Islands we knew we wanted to get to all three of the main islands, Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza. We were flying in to Mallorca and spending most of the time there and had set up a two day “taste of Menorca” but were at a loss as to how to best visit Ibiza, one of the most beautiful Spanish cities we’ve been to.
At first we wanted to spend at least one night on the island but after checking out all of the options we decided a day trip to Ibiza out of Palma would be best. The ferry from Palma to Ibiza leaves at 8:00 in the morning, arrives at 11:00, and then leaves later that day at 21:30 to return to Mallorca at 01:00. It makes for a long day but the ferry is comfortable and easy to nap on so we decided to do it.
We knew we didn’t need our rental car in Ibiza (and they didn’t allow us to take it off the island anyway) so we decided to park our car at the terminal and just walk on. Parking near the pier is easy to find and free but it was on the street. I was a little worried about leaving it there for the day, but there were several other vehicles that had obviously been there for a day or two and no sign of damage so I dropped everyone off at the boat, parked the car, and jogged back the kilometer to meet up with the rest of the crew. One other option is to take the city bus from Palma city center but since our rinca (rented house) was further out we had to drive ourselves in.
The ferry is fairly large, not your gigantic Channel crossing variety or Baltic cruiser but it did have plenty of room for everyone. We found a quiet corner near the cafe with a couple tables and some bench seating that worked perfect for a napper or two. The crossing was smooth and took exactly the three hours as scheduled but we were in for a small surprise when we docked at Ibiza.
For some reason we were expecting to pull in to the main Ibiza harbor, and apparently this is how it used to be but things have changed. Now the ferry dock is clear around the bay from the old town in newly built ferry harbor. It was so new, in fact that they didn’t even have the processing center open. Instead everything was done in what looked like a gigantic tent. This place is in the middle of nowhere, you can just barely see a bit of the old town fortifications across the bay. We were a little shocked and
not sure how to proceed but we quickly checked out the situation, explored the alternatives and then worked on a plan to get to the city. Of course we weren’t alone. Most of the other passengers needed to go to town as well so there were plenty of choices.
There is a water taxi (long walk, expensive, and not very frequent) or a bus that runs twice every hour. The water taxi sounded fun but we didn’t want to waste too much time so we took the bus. It dropped us off at the town side ferry docks and information office where we got a good walking map of the town.
Next up was food, the ferry did have a small cafe on board and we breakfasted on pastries and coffee along with some small snack food we had brought along but that didn’t last long. A quick look at trip advisor identified one place as a locals restaurant that was very good; but, as with other trip advisor “hidden gems”, this was overrun with a line of tourists out the door and waiting in the blazing sun. We opted for a small mom and pop fish restaurant that didn’t look like much but the food was excellent.
Now it was time to attack the fortifications of the walled city of Ibiza. Map in hand, we climbed the impressive rampart up to the main gate and into the walled city. This is a hilltop fortification so we knew we’d be doing some climbing, and we were sure right about that. We climbed steep cobbled stone streets, countless stone paved steps, and even ventured up two or three very steep tunnels. It was hot work climbing around the old town in the April sun; I’m sure it would be best tackled in the morning any later in the year. All of that climbing was rewarded with stunning views from the top of the town.
Up there the wind was blowing a steady, cooling breeze that made it quite enjoyable to sit on the wide stone wall looking out over the city rooftops and further out into the harbor where the ships were coming and going. If we had more time it would have been a great place for a picnic lunch and a nap which we saw several other small groups doing. The walk down was relaxing with some fascinating old buildings, gardens bursting with color, and children playing in the streets.
We had enough time after exploring the old town to walk around the “newer” port side neighborhood of 18th and 19th century buildings still used as residences but also being slowly transformed into a shoppers/diners paradise. It was interesting to see the contrasting uses of the buildings and facilities. So far there is a certain harmony to it all that just seems right. After a stroll along the port we stopped in for a coffee at a waterfront cafe and tried one of the local specialties, Ensaimada, a cream filled spiral-shaped flaky pastry. Delicious!
After a small dinner it was time to climb aboard the bus back to the ferry port, wait in the mega-long processing line, and finally stretch out on the same padded bench near the ship board cafe. I think we all fell asleep pretty quickly on the return journey. Ibiza can be done in a day trip out of Mallorca, but be ready for a long day!
Author Bio: Jim Vail, is a travel, food, and video creator and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years he lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands, and he’s visited over 90 countries.