Ibiza has a reputation built on a foundation of wild parties and hedonistic nights. It’s the Balearic Island that never could say no to an after party but if you look beyond the bars, the White Isle’s appeal to all is even more apparent.
The fact that Ibiza’s old town secured a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Listed, should tell you a little about its historic importance. Dalt Vila’s history spans over 2,500 years and this is where the locals live. Far removed from the frenetic party hotspots of San Antonio, Dalt Vila promises a more leisurely pace to proceedings.
You’ll need sturdy shoes and a distinct lack of hangover in order to comfortably explore Ibiza’s most charming district. After making your way up a rather hefty hill, cross the drawbridge through the Portal de Ses Taules, ‘the gateway to Ibiza’, and you’ll find yourself in an ancient cobblestone courtyard that leads directly into the Plaza de Vila; Dalt Vila’s main square.
Much of Dalt Vila’s charm radiates from its Gothic Catalan architecture. Huge bolted doors open to reveal private chapels and stone courtyards, local craft shops and art galleries are carved into the walls of old fortifications and restaurants spill out onto pavement terraces; al fresco dining is a religion here and you’ll find endless spots for exceptional Catalan and Mediterranean cuisine.
Like many Mediterranean cities, Dalt Vila is built around its battlements, and the historic stone walls play an important role in the lives of locals. They eat breakfast within their walls, they shop on the cobblestoned streets in their shadows and they spend their evenings in the public squares at the heart of the battlements. Seven bastions were built to protect Ibiza and each of them offers stunning views across Ibiza and towards the island of Formentera. The battlements by the Cathedral of our Lady of the Snows’ overlooks the red cupolas of the 16th century Church of Santo Domingo and Dalt Vila’s main square. The battlements also house an archaeological museum, in which you’ll find one of the most impressive Roman artefacts in the world, all of which have been discovered on sites across the island.
Dalt Vila may provide a spot of respite away from Ibiza’s party-loving towns but the city holds its fair share of events too. Time your Mediterranean cruise in May and you’ll be in town for the Medieval Festival, with costumes, jousting, parades, birds of prey and row-upon-row of those infamous Ibizan markets. August brings the annual Jazz Festival to town, with performances held in the stirring surrounds of the Saint Lucia battlements.
Will your Mediterranean cruise visit Ibiza this summer? A call to the town of Dalt Vila is a must if it does.