What to see in San Antonio, much more than a party destination
The town of San Antonio Abad (Sant Antoni de Portmany, in Catalan) is found in the north-western part of the island, bordering the municipalities of San José (Sant Josep de Sa Talaia) *internal link, Ibiza Town and Santa Eulalia (Santa Eulària des Riu). Its main population hub, also called San Antonio Abad, borders the Bay of San Antonio on the island’s western coastline and is one of Ibiza’s main tourist destinations. Since the 1970s, its vibrant bars and ‘superclubs’ have raised the international profile of this small coastal town.
Every summer, swathes of young tourists come from all over Europe to experience it for themselves. However, it is important to stress that San Antonio Abad is much more than a mere party destination. During your stay in the town you’ll be able to try your hand at different water sports, visit caverns bearing original cave art on their walls, go for a refreshing dip in the waters of its idyllic beaches and coves *internal link and admire its wonderfully preserved churches and lighthouses. If you’d like to know more, we suggest that you keep reading.
- Things to see and do in Sant Antoni de Portmany
- Three villages with Ibizan charm
- What awaits you in San Antonio
- Nightlife in Sant Antoni de Portmany
- Restaurants in San Antonio
- The Bay of San Antonio and its beautiful coves
Things to see and do in Sant Antoni de Portmany
It is not uncommon for Sant Antoni de Portmany to only be associated with its municipal capital. For this reason, we are now going to shine a light on some of the lesser-known attractions found around this wonderful town.
Cap Blanc Aquarium
The cave of Cap Blanc is also known as “Sa Cova de ses Llagostes”, due to the fact that it once served as a lobster nursery. Located just a couple of kilometres north of San Antonio, it was converted into an aquarium in 1989. Nowadays, it offers visitors a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most emblematic species of the Ibizan Mediterranean. It also organises “sardinada” events every weekend, where attendees can sample Ibizan-style grilled sardines and payés salads as they soak up the gorgeous sea views.
Ses Fontanelles cave
By following the coastline northwards you’ll end up at La Cova de Ses Fontenelles, where French archaeologist Henri Breuil discovered original cave paintings back in 1917. Often referred to by locals as la Cueva del Vino due to the fact that it once served as a rustic wine cellar, its walls still preserve traces that date back to the Punic period. As you make your way to this unique cave you’ll be able to enjoy unparalleled views across the Bay of San Antonio and, in the distance, the 11 islets of Poniente.
Three villages with Ibizan charm
If you’re planning on coming to the inland part of the island (and Sant Antoni in particular), you’ll be able to visit several quintessentially Ibizan towns and villages. Let’s take a look at three:
Sant Rafael de Sa Creu
This peaceful village, which lies to the south of the municipality and on the border with Ibiza Town, is considered by many to be one of the first settlements on the island. We particularly recommend visiting its beautiful church and its famous craft market, which runs every Thursday.
San Mateo de Albarca
Slightly to the north is the village of San Mateo, which is dotted with small family-run wineries which run their own wine tasting sessions. Sa Cova and Bodegas Can Maymó are two such examples.
Santa Agnés de Corona
Even more to the north, surrounded by fields of almond trees, is the village of Santa Agnés de Corona (known as Santa Inés, in Spanish). We recommend taking the hiking trail from the village to the Las Puertas del Cielo viewpoint, which offers breathtaking views across the sea and surrounding cliffs.
What awaits you in San Antonio
Let’s take a look at some of the main attractions that await you in San Antonio Abad.
Sant Antonio church and the Coves Blanques lighthouse
Before embracing San Antonio’s famous festive atmosphere, why not visit some of its cultural and historical landmarks? We recommend heading to the old town to visit the San Antonio church: a fortress-temple that was originally built in 1385 to defend the town from pirate invasions, which were commonplace at the time. Another of its main tourist attractions is the Coves Blanques lighthouse, which was built in the late 19th century and stands close to the beachfront promenade. Nowadays, its interior is used as an exhibition hall.
Nightlife in Sant Antoni de Portmany
As you might expect, there are hundreds of ways to enjoy yourself after dark in Sant Antoni de Portmany. Boat parties are particularly popular, with many companies organising these group events. The price for these trips often includes entrance to one of the area’s large nightclubs at night. Two of the most popular ones are Edén and Es Paradís, which are in the inland part of the city. Amnesia Ibiza and Privilege Ibiza are also just a 15-minute drive from the town centre.
We also recommend visiting the so-called West End of San Antonio, which is found in the heart of the old town. This district of pedestrianised streets becomes a veritable hotbed of tourists ― predominantly British― once the sun goes down. This lively area is brimming with reasonably-priced bars, pubs and small nightclubs, hence its popularity amongst visitors.
If you’re looking to get the party started while the sun is still shining, there’s no better place than the Sunset Strip: a stretch of the flowery beachfront promenade where you will find some of Sant Antoni’s most legendary bars. Two such examples are Café Mambo and Café del Mar, which are renowned for their unforgettable chill-out sessions and the spectacular views of the famous Ibizan sunset that can be enjoyed from its terraces.
Restaurants in San Antonio
Delicious local cuisine is another of the main pillars that sustain this coastal town’s roaring success. The beachfront promenade, for example, is home to a wide range of bars and restaurants with diverse and vibrant menus. Villa Mercedes, for example, offers live music sessions and Mediterranean fusion cooking in an old house which overlooks the Port of San Antonio. Mint Lounge Bar, Fresh Ibiza and Savannah, all located on the Sunset Strip, also allow diners to enjoy their dinner as they gaze out at a spectacular Ibizan sunset.
Other excellent dining establishments are found in the town’s historic centre, such as El Rincón de Pepe, famed for its delicious tapas dishes; and the Restaurante Es Ventall, renowned for the quality of the ingredients grown in the local vegetable garden, which are cooked in a wood-fired oven.
The Bay of San Antonio and its beautiful coves
We simply must mention the beautiful beaches and coves that punctuate the western Ibizan coastline, with the San Antonio area being a particularly spectacular stretch. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Playa de S’Arenal (or playa de San Antonio)
This is the main beach in Sant Antoni de Portmany and one of Ibiza’s only urban beaches. Without having a main attraction, the Playa de S’Arenal has a series of key benefits: it can be accessed by people of all ages and mobilities; it has all the basic facilities required for a day at the beach; you don’t need to travel to get there; and it is possible to try a wide range of exciting activities, such as renting a jet-ski or trying your hand at surfing, windsurfing or diving.
Playa de Cala Gració and cala Gracioneta
Lying to the north of Sant Antoni de Portmany are two small and charming coves. While there are parking facilities nearby, we recommend travelling to these coves by foot. Cala Gració is the perfect spot for families travelling with kids. Its neighbouring Cala Gracioneta, meanwhile, home to the famous El Chiringuito restaurant, is a hotspot for nudists.
Cala Salada and cala Saladeta
If you continue to hug the coastline as you head further north you’ll reach these two secluded coves, notable for their shimmering waters and fine golden sands. Difficult to access, the small inlet that houses Cala Salada and Cala Saladeta is a regular stop-off point for the many boat trips that depart from Sant Antoni de Portmany on a daily basis. Nearby you can also visit Punta Galera, a narrow spit of smooth rock that extends into the sea, offering beachgoers a platform from which they can launch themselves into the water. Its characteristics also make it very popular amongst nudists.