In physical terms as well as in its atmosphere and adventure, IBIZA TOWN ( Ciutat d'Eivissa ) is easily the most attractive place on the island. Approach by sea and you'll get the full frontal effect of the old medieval walls rising like a natural extension of the rocky cliffs which protect the harbour. Within the walls, the ancient quarter is topped by a sturdy cathedral, whose illuminated, but often inaccurate, clock shines out across the harbour throughout the night.
Daylight hours are usually spent on the beaches at Ses Salines and Es Cavellet or the nearer (but not so nice) Figueretes. In summer, the streets are packed with people exploring the whitewashed, warren-like port area, where many of the fashionable boutiques stay open until 2am in summer, and stalls line the pavements, selling everything from jewellery and sarongs to Ibiza-mix CDs. Bars stay open until 4am or later, and afterwards the action moves to the clubs until daylight, and for the serious hedonists, there are yet more after-hours bar-clubs. As a break from the stress of sunbathing and the simple pleasures of wandering the streets, there are a couple of modest museums and fancy modern art galleries with prices that will amaze you even if the displays don't.
Drinking and nightlife
Let's face it, this is why so many people flock to Ibiza in the summer. However good the restaurant scene in Ibiza Town, it's something of a sideshow compared with the bars and clubs which have made the island internationally famous - you come to Ibiza to party. Together they keep the place going pretty much twenty-four hours a day, and with money, mobility and stamina the night is yours, never mind the morning. The town's bars throng the streets of the lower town, where unsuspecting visitors are herded into terrace bars around PlaÃ§a de sa Tertulia by teams of hustlers and fleeced for as much as ?6 for a beer. Better to start the night in PlaÃ§a des Parc in Sunset or Madagascar, where prices are more reasonable, and then head for the stylish bars of Sa Penya - Bar Zuka on c/de la Verge, Base Bar and Rock Bar at the eastern end of c/Garijo - all attract a seriously funky, clubby clientele. The gay scene is centred on c/de la Verge, perhaps the wildest street in the western Mediterranean, where dozens of bars, and myriad shops cater for an almost exclusively (male) gay crowd; Caprichio and Teatro are both fashionable spots, but the DÃ´me bar close by at c/d'Alfonso XII is the really Ã¼ber -hip gay destination bar. Meanwhile, clubs - some of the globe's most spectacular venues - are spread across the southern half of the island, but primarily in Sant Antoni, Sant Rafel, Platja d'en Bossa, and of course, Ibiza Town itself. It's actually quite easy to hop from one club to the other courtesy of the Disco Bus (nightly 0.30am-6.30am; ?1.80 per journey; details from the tourist office). Neither is there much difficulty in finding out what's happening: each club employs PR people, who descend on Ibiza Town to parade through the streets in a competitive frenzy of night hype. Processions of stilt-walkers, silver- and gold-painted angels, devils and dwarfs strut through the streets, drumming up custom. Many of the happening bars also hand out free club entry tickets in return for your custom, which represent a significant saving. None of the clubs open until midnight, but there again they do carry on until at least 7am. Most have a policy of a free drink with the admission price and the majority accept credit cards. For live music , the prime spot is Teatro Pereira , c/Comte de RossellÃ³ 3, housed in the old municipal theatre near the Passeig de Vara de Rey. This splendid old building, has a great atmosphere and showcases live acts each night - blues, R&B, reggae, rock and jazz. Open 8pm-5am all year, it has no admission fee but the drinks are expensive.
Ibiza Town has plenty of cafÃ©s and restaurants to cater for the crowds. Many of the pricier places are up in Dalt Vila - mostly on PlaÃ§a de Vila and Sa Carrossa - or down by the waterfront, while the less expensive establishments are dotted round the lower town in between. Opening hours are fairly elastic, with many places staying open from the morning until very late at night. For an early breakfast , head for Madagascar , on PlaÃ§a des Parc, or the Croissant Show on PlaÃ§a de sa ConstituciÃ³.
If you plan to prepare your own meal, or want to gather ingredients for a picnic, be warned that the covered market in PlaÃ§a de sa ConstituciÃ³ sells vastly overpriced fruit and vegetables, so you're better heading to the Supermercado Spar, on the east side of PlaÃ§a des Parc, or the SYP store at the southern end of Avgda. d'Ignasi Wallis.
There's sea and sand close to Ibiza Town at Figueretes , Platja d'en Bossa and Talamanca , but the first two of these are built-up continuations of the capital with over-exploited beaches, and only at the third is there any peace and quiet. All are accessible by short and inexpensive ferry rides from the terminal near the foot of Avinguda Santa EulÃ ria
Not quite as grand, nor as ancient as the Dalt Vila, the Sa Penya quarter of the lower town snuggles between the harbour and the ramparts, a maze of raked passages and narrow streets crimped by balconied, whitewashed houses. Here, especially along the waterside promenade and c/d'Enmig, the evening passeig reaches its exuberant peak and everyone - local and visitor alike - gravitates towards the bars and restaurants. This is where many of the shops are too, occupying almost every doorway that isn't a bar.
Finally, and further to the west, the new town is generally of less interest, but there's activity here as well, centred on the boulevard-like Passeig de Vara de Rey and the leafy, traffic-free PlaÃ§a des Parc just to the south. Both places have scores of cafÃ©s and restaurants and are popular meeting places.