When the hordes have departed and the sun has mellowed, the true magic of a holiday in Ibiza is yours for the taking during the laid-back winter months
Forget about clubbing until dawn and boozy stags and hens, Ibiza off-season is a truly magical and peaceful place just waiting to be discovered. And I should know, as my husband and I have owned an apartment on the island for six years now, and have many friends who live there all year round.
The roads are empty, the hire cars are cheap and plentiful, and there’s something unbeatable about relaxing and eating al fresco in the warm winter sun.
So if you’re looking to boost those vitamin D levels this winter, here are my insider tips and tricks for making the most of a short break in off-season Ibiza.
Our first Ibiza winter was interesting to say the least - the apartment was so cold we ended up sleeping in jumpers and socks. Needless to say, the following year our luggage included some hardcore heaters and lots of warm, snuggly clothes. Days can be pleasantly warm; we once enjoyed a beach barbecue with friends on New Year’s Day in 22c heat. However, when the sun dips it gets quite cold so you’ll need a warm coat. Wear layers for day so you can dress accordingly, and take jumpers and coats for evening. And pack a hat for walks on the beach to avoid painful, wind-nipped ears.
Where to stay
Many hotels are only open during the summer months, but there are a few open all year round. We once stayed at the Simbad Hotel in Talamanca. This good value, modern hotel is situated on the beach so ask for a room with a sea view. It is also within walking distance to Pacha, the only club open all year round. Also affordable are Lux Isla in Talamanca and Hostal La Marina in the centre of the old town. For more winter hotels visit www.ibiza-spotlight.com.
Hiring a villa off season can be surprisingly affordable, especially if you can get a group together. Okay, you might not want to use the outdoor pool, but for privacy and great facilities, it's well worth looking into. Our friends at www.ibizahideaway.net are always happy to assist and can provide options for all budgets and lengths of stay.
I’m always on the hunt for cheap car hire, and it’s an ongoing personal challenge to track down the best rates. We always pre-book online (book well in advance as the closer you get to departure, the more you will pay), and pick up/drop off at the airport. Try www.aurigacrown.com; www.doyouspain.com or the search engine www.carrentals.co.uk, which trawls though hundreds of companies to find the best deal.
What to do and see
Once you’ve got wheels, don’t forget to use them! Ibiza is very easy on the eye, and you can easily drive from one side of the island to the other in less than an hour. Around Christmas time, Las Dalias hippy market is open every day and is worth a visit; beforehand or afterwards, stop off in Santa Eulalia and sit outside Cosmi or Royalty cafés for lunchtime tapas and people-watching in the sun. The north of the Island is totally tranquil in winter; you may not find much open but who cares when the surroundings are so very Ibiza? Further south, Salinas Beach, loved by the fashion crowd during summer, is perfect for brisk beach walks to ease away a hangover.
Food and drink
We heart Rita’s Cantina (Paseo Maritimo 9, 07820 San Antonio; +34 971 343 387) in San Antonio harbour, which serves great breakfasts, smoothies, fresh juices and light lunches, inside and outside, all year round. Also in San An harbour and a few doors down from Rita's is Savadero, which is the place to go for authentic paella and other Spanish dishes, including Gambas al Alijo (prawns in oil and garlic). Slightly pricier but in an unbeatable setting on Cala Jondal Beach is Yemanja (+34 971 187 481/ yemanjaibiza.com), which attracts locals and visitors in the know. For an affordable curry in the evening, try the bohemian Ancient People (Avda Espana 32, Ibiza; +34 971 306 687/ ancientpeopleibiza.com) Indian restaurant in Ibiza Town, followed by a chupito or two at Lo Cura bar. Another place to head for in Ibiza Town is Plaza del Parque, a square with bars, restaurants and a sweet little herbal tea café.
Nightlife is low-key in winter and I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking to party all night, every night. Pacha is the only club open all year round, although New Year’s Eve is livelier with a few places open. However, don’t bother going out until after midnight, as you’ll probably be the only people there. Underground, a free to enter club on the main Ibiza Town/ San Antonio road is ideal for those on a budget and is usually open on New Year’s Eve (look for the lit up ‘U’ to check it’s open), while Aura and Ocho on the Ibiza ‘restaurant road’ towards San Carlos, were both open last new year and were seriously rocking.
Take it home
Don’t leave Ibiza without a bottle of Hierbas, the traditional Ibicencan alcoholic drink, or some salt from the salt flats in Salinas.