Ibiza is the third largest of the Balearic Islands, covering just 225 square miles (585 square km), but in recent times it has become the best known of the archipelago and a hugely popular destination for young revellers, middle-class European package tourists, and gay travellers, whose collective character imbue the island with a chic and trendy atmosphere that is well expressed by its famously frenetic nightlife.
Ibiza has plenty to offer besides nightclubs - its jagged coastline contains dozens of dreamy white sandy beaches, hidden coves and bays, villages of white-washed houses tumbling down cliff sides, and a green, hilly interior landscape decorated with fig and olive trees.
The island's main town is the port of Ciudad de Ibiza, known as Eivissa to the locals and Ibiza Town to the Brits. Located in the south, it is the centre of the island's nightclub scene and has a lively marina and quaint old quarter with some great restaurants. It lies close to the beautiful beaches of Figueretes, Es Cavallet, and Ses Salines.
San Antonio is the main resort town of the island and is somewhat blighted by high-rise hotels and apartment blocks, though it is making efforts to clean up its slightly tarnished image and its popularity is still legendary.
The main attractions for many British holidaymakers are the two clubs of Es Paradis and Eden but there are also some beautiful coves nearby with glorious beaches. It's best to get there early in the summer months to reserve a spot. Just three miles (5km) offshore is the 'satellite' island of Formentera, a little haven reached by ferry, with less crowded stretches even in the height of the sweltering summer season.
There is good public transport between Ibiza Town and San Antonio, and to and from the main beaches and resorts. Taxis are good value and the best way to get around in the evening, although there is also a 'disco bus', travelling from San Antonio to the main clubs in Ibiza Town during the peak season. Cars and scooters can be hired by the day or week for those wanting to explore the island. Ferries run from San Antonio and Ibiza Town to nearby beaches between May and October.
GMT +1, and GMT +2 during DST.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Spanish is the official language, but English is widely understood in areas frequented by tourists. Catalan, Galician and Basque are spoken in the relevant areas.
There are no health risks associated with travel to Spain, and no vaccination certificates are required for entry. Medical facilities are good in Spain, but comprehensive travel insurance is always advised. Spain has a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries, including the UK, providing emergency health care for EU travellers on the same terms as Spanish nationals. EU travellers should take a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Note that the scheme gives no entitlement to medical repatriation costs, nor does it cover ongoing illnesses of a non-urgent nature, so comprehensive travel insurance is still advised. Travellers should take any medication they require along with them, in its original packaging and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.
Hotel and restaurant bills usually include service charges, but additional tips are welcomed for services rendered. In established restaurants, tips of about 10 percent are expected. In Mallorca, value added tax is usually included in restaurant bills, designated IVA, and may be mistaken for a service charge. Drivers of metered taxis expect small tips and it is customary to tip about 5 to 10 percent for most services, including guides.
Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, except for occasional street crime, which is common in the big cities; travellers are advised to take precautions to avoid theft of passports, credit cards, travel documents and money. Crime is usually petty and violent assault is rare. Be wary of strangers offering or asking for help of any kind, as it is often a distraction for accomplices. There are also scams involving letters for outstanding traffic fines or Spanish lottery winnings. If travellers exercise all the normal precautions they should have a trouble-free holiday in Spain.
Smoking in public places is banned and stiff fines will be imposed for smoking in areas such as enclosed public spaces, areas where food is prepared and sold, public transport, non-smoking areas of bars and restaurants, and any places that cater for children. Drinking alcohol in the streets of Madrid and the streets of the Canary and Balearic Islands is illegal.
There is much more to Ibiza than its famous nightlife, and plenty to attract those with no interest in dancing and partying. The most obvious Ibiza attraction is the glorious coastline, which boasts many truly beautiful beaches, dotted along over 120 miles (200km) of coastline, also affording abundant scuba diving opportunities.
Ibiza offers visitors more than 80 beaches to choose from, the most popular beaches include Cala Jondal, S'Aigua Blanca, Cala Benirras, Cala Xarraca, Ses Salinas, Playa de Ses Figueretes, and Playa des Cavallet (Ibiza's official nudist beach). Water sports on offer apart from scuba diving, include waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and much more. Many of the beaches are lined with bars and restaurants and have a festive, party atmosphere during the summer season.
Away from the beach, Ibiza's Old Town is lined with picturesque cobbled lanes leading to ancient courtyards with some buildings dating from the 10th century. Further up the coast is the charming village of Santa Eulalia with excellent beaches, and the nearby caves of Can Marca.
Another special natural feature of Ibiza is the salt flats, La Salinas, which are worth a visit. The Ibiza Express mini-train, which departs from Platja d´Es Canar along various routes, is a fun way to explore the island.
Ibiza's nightlife offers one of the best clubbing experiences in Europe with unrivalled mega-venues, featuring the world's top DJs and countless cafés, pubs, and bars. The main venues are clustered around San Antonio on the east coast of the island and Ibiza Town on the west, linked by a half-hour drive along a good road. There are very few nightlife venues on the rest of the island, which is quiet and rural.
An ideal foundation for a big night out is the place that gave birth to the Ibiza legend in the first place: Café del Mar in San Antonio. The trademark ambient music and chilled-out atmosphere is still in place, making this an essential visit. Innumerable other bars have sprung up around Café del Mar, so there is no shortage of vantage points to enjoy the justly famous sunsets.
The top clubs open around midnight, with long queues forming by 2am. In Ibiza Town one can find Pacha which is the only super club to stay open all year round, and Space which opens for afterhours clubbing between dawn and dusk.
Toward the middle of the island, near San Rafael, is Privilege, which is said to be one of the largest nightclubs in the world, hosting up to 10,000 revellers and including circus acts, indoor gardens and a mega swimming pool.
Nearby Amnesia has legendary lasers and theme nights. Continuing to San Antonio, Es Paradis is a top rated superclub with nine bars inside its enormous pyramid-shaped structure, while Eden is famous for its foam parties.
Clubbing in Ibiza is certainly expensive. Entry fees get hefty and drinks are pricey. Many clubs will only have hot water available in the bathrooms to prevent you drinking cold water for free, forcing patrons to pay for bottled water.
Cash-strapped young clubbers will hand out flyers and promos in the early evening with details of special offers, happy hours, and discounts. They are earning a commission for getting people through the door but the information can be very useful if you want to get maximum value for your night out.
As for getting around, use the disco buses which transport clubbers along the road linking San Antonio, San Rafael and Ibiza Town. Additionally, taxis are cheap, especially if there is a group of you.
The clubbing season runs from late May to September, although there are big parties around New Year's, Christmas, and Easter. Dress codes are non-existent. In fact, the more outlandish and extroverted your appearance, the better your chance of gaining free admission.
Ibiza has a typical Mediterranean climate, with long, dry summers and mild winters. Between May and September the days are warm, with temperatures usually averaging comfortably between 69°F (21°C) and 82°F (28°C).
August is the hottest summer month, with lows of 71°F (22°C) and highs of 86°F (30°C). Ibiza empties out in winter, between December and February, but the island never gets really cold by European standards. The coldest month is January, when temperatures average between 46°F (8°C) and 59°F (15°C).
Ibiza doesn't get much rain and even in the wettest months the rain is sporadic and not overly disruptive. October is the wettest month, but rain is possible any time between September and April, leaving the summer months blessedly dry.
The Ibiza party season begins in late May and ends in September, making all the months in between extremely popular with young revellers. The peak summer months, between June and August, are the peak tourist season and considered by many to be the best time to visit. However, April, May, and September, just outside of the most popular season, are also pleasant months to visit Ibiza, especially for those wanting to avoid the crowds.
Spain is a tolerant and progressive place for LGBTI travellers. There are active LGBTI communities and social venues, particularly in big cities. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005. As of 17 March 2007, the law allows a transgender person to register under their preferred sex in public documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and passports without undergoing prior gender reassignment surgery. Spain does not recognise a third gender.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.