Though Ibiza is in full swing from June to September, it still tends to be very pricey all year round, much to the chagrin of residents! As the pound-to-euro conversion gets closer and closer by the year, it’s becoming less of a bargain for Brit tourists. However, there are ways to save on meals, accommodation, club tickets and transport. I hope I can help you with these, and if you know any tips I don’t, then please let me know so we can share the wealth, so to speak.
Eating and drinking
- I have a theory that any bar or restaurant that needs to lure you in really can’t be all that great. My theory is almost always proven to be correct in Ibiza, so steer clear of any empty restaurants in the port area where a host tries to sell you the menu as you walk past, or a waiter offers you free drinks in a bar. The busy places in the same region are busy because they’re worth it!
- If you’re not on the beach by day, make your biggest meal of the day lunch, and try the local custom of a menu del dia in the Spanish restaurants. You’ll score a hearty two or three-course set menu (often with a drink) at a very affordable price (ranging between seven and 20 euros, depending on the restaurant). This is a great winter habit too… and there’s siesta right afterwards to sleep it off!
- In Ibiza, tipping is not essential but a fairly standard practice and 10 per cent is the norm in restaurants and in bars if you’ve received table service (this also usually gets you a round of shots on the house after you’ve paid). If you’ve ordered your own drink at the bar, loose change will suffice.
- Sugar sachets are enormous in the cafés and restaurants here – one sachet is generally the equivalent of two teaspoons, so err on the side of caution if you don’t have a sweet tooth!
- The beach bars and restaurants are generally always busy and if you haven’t booked ahead, you’ll often have to wait hours for a table. There are plenty of places, generally small, roadside supermarkets en route to the beach, that sell snacks, sandwiches and picnic-style food if you’d prefer to BYO and eat when hunger strikes.
- Don’t drink the tap water - not in bars, not in clubs, not in your hotel, not anywhere! Unfortunately, the tap water on the island is treated sea water and not fit for consumption. Not even if you boil it! Bottled water is very cheap and easily accessible at all hours of the day and night – and if you’re here for an extended period of time, there are drinking water stations situated in Santa Eulalia and San Rafael where you can refill 25 litres for just two euros.
- No matter how much you may be tempted at 6am outside a nightclub, don’t take illegal cabs. You’ll spot the shady looking characters lurking around long taxi queues, haggling for prices, but the police have cracked down on this in recent years and if you get caught, you personally will receive a fine! Plus, it goes without saying that it’s just not really safe or smart…
- There’s no need to tip taxi drivers, unless they have taken you somewhere off the beaten track (many refuse to do so) or helped with luggage.
- Some common sense is really essential with hire cars in Ibiza. Always lock up – there are gangs of opportunist thieves lurking around beaches and in town, and as hire cars are easily recognisable they are also easy targets. Don’t make it any easier by leaving windows down, doors unlocked or bags on seats or in view.
- More on hiring a car: always get the insurance offered. Due to the many rocky dirt roads, the tight parking spaces and high risk of accidents, you risk being charged an excess for scratches and bumps when you return it if you haven’t opted for insurance. Not to mention it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Your car’s not where you left it? Ibiza’s parking police are extremely vigilant and if you’ve parked in a yellow or blue zone, or overstayed your metered time, you’ll be towed away as soon as you’re spotted. Be calm. They do leave a huge yellow sticker on the side of the road where your car was parked, with directions to the impound yard. You’ll need your passport, driver’s licence and any relevant paperwork pertaining to the car to retrieve it, plus cash (the fee varies depending on how long it’s been impounded).
- The new pay-by-the-hour parking station in Ibiza town (directly opposite the port) is the perfect way to avoid any confusion about parking and fines and it’s reasonably priced (around one euro an hour) for an afternoon of shopping or evening of bar-hopping!
- Do use the Disco Bus! It’s a really great, cheap way to get from your resort directly to the club door after hours and you’ll meet plenty of like-minded people on the same journey. It’s safe, fast and always reliable.
- Opt for the small ferry-style boats between resorts rather than taking a taxi – the fare is cheaper and the view far more beautiful!
- Check clubbing flyers for fine-print offers of discounted taxis. At some parties the promoter will refund the cost of a taxi if there are three or more clients paying full-priced door entry. You’ll need to present the taxi receipt at the door to receive the rebate.
Sights and attractions
- On beaches, in bars, in clubs and all around the island, keep a firm hold of your possessions, and handbags firmly closed. Unfortunately, theft during summer is rife, and the experts that do it are so fast you may not realise what you’re missing until they are long gone.
- Don’t just stick to one beach because it’s close to your hotel or where all the cool bars reportedly are – there are more than 90 amazing beaches in Ibiza, each one with its own unique charm and many accessible on foot from other major beaches or by public transport. Sure, you can go back to old favourites, but you might find something even better just around the corner.
- Be aware that sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach aren’t free. Once you’ve placed your towel (and your butt!) on one, you’ll be asked to shell out the nominal fee ranging between five and 12 euros, depending on which beach you’re at, and up to 100 euros for VIP daybeds in the luxury beach bars. While it’s nice to have beach service, I also enjoy just lying on the sand in front of the beach bars – it’s completely free but you can still hear the music and soak up the vibe.
- If the exorbitant cost of club tickets has left your wallet feeling a little empty, but you still want to experience Ibiza’s famous dance music culture, head to the famous Café Mambo on San Antonio’s sunset strip where the world’s most famous DJs drop in on a nightly basis and play for free, just after the sunset at around 9pm.
- You’ll save money on club entry by arriving early with discount-offer flyers or pre-purchasing tickets online or in authorized pre-sale outlets (all around the island – you’ll see the clearly marked signs in bars and shops); you can sometimes save as much as 20 euros. Don’t trust unauthorised ticket sellers on the beach, in the port or on the streets of San Antonio. They often have a loose agreement with door staff at the clubs and will sell you “guest list entry”. However, if the club is full, the guest list will be closed and you’ll lose your money, and miss out on entry.
Other useful tips
- Need fast, efficient WiFi? Ibiza is renowned for slow and unreliable connections, but if you need a quick online connection, head to McDonalds opposite the port in Ibiza Town. I know professional DJs who sit in there for hours downloading music because it’s guaranteed not to drop out!
- In the first week of January and July, Ibiza’s boutiques offer up to 50 per cent off their collections, but in the last week of those months they reduce the prices even further, up to 80 per cent, meaning you can nab a designer bargain at a high street price.
- Always keep your hotel balcony and windows locked if you’re not in the room, plus your valuables in the hotel safe (it’s worth paying the extra for) as theft rates are extremely high in summer. If you are robbed, the Guardia Civil office in San Antonio is the best English-speaking office to make your official report – many other offices are Spanish only, though your hotel reception should also be able to help you with any paperwork.
- Beaches and bars are where you’ll get the heads up on any secret parties or DJ line-up times. There are hordes of promo staff traipsing the beach handing out promotional flyers and ready to tell you what’s going on, so don’t be shy. Alternatively, if you’re just hitting the beach to relax and don’t want to be bothered, it’s as simple as avoiding eye contact!
- Ibiza is not known for its breakfasts! If you’re a late riser – as many of Ibiza’s night owls tend to be – it may be worth heading straight to lunch as your only breakfast options after midday tend to be a simple croissant and coffee. Damn good croissants and coffee though!
- May and October are both amazing months to visit Ibiza and the best time to score discount hotel rates across the island. The sun is shining, the beaches aren’t too crowded and there’s plenty to do, minus the busy tourist traffic.
- Bring a Spanish phrasebook with you. Though the staff in many places do speak limited English, you’re likely to find yourself in a situation where a little help goes a long way, whether it’s with food, in an emergency or just for directions.