The island of Ibiza, off the eastern coast of Spain, has long been known as a wild summer party destination, drawing visitors from around the world to its electronic music scene and picturesque Mediterranean beaches.
Venturing there in winter, as I recently did, is quite a different scenario. There is a cold chill in the air, a majority of the businesses are abandoned for the season, pools are drained and ATMs are dismantled. The party has definitely moved on. So, why would anyone plan a trip there during winter?
Well, for one thing, you will have the whole island to yourself. And with the party shut down, you will have the opportunity to explore a bit more about what makes this island such a special place.
Consider it an exclusive retreat, with maybe a few urban art surprises just waiting to be discovered.
The Bloop Festival's Open Air Gallery is an ongoing project whose hope is to bring an extensive gallery of urban art to the island of Ibiza. Since its inception in 2011, there have been nearly 30 murals added to the walls, painted under the often-blue skies of this Balearic island.
All of the murals are painted with a specific social theme each year, with topics as diverse and as broad as Change, Appearance, Fear, and Control, allowing artists the license to interpret the year's theme as they see fit. For example, artist INO painted the concept of Change by portraying the Earth as a scoop of ice cream melting precariously off its cone, as a nod to the current climate crisis. The artist Phlegm, who worked under the umbrella of Control, painted a giant robot, examining and categorizing its collection of specimens, much as people tend to be controlled by the grip of technology these days.
The walls are painted in different towns across the island, with the majority having been painted in Sant Antoni de Portmany (Sant Antonio) and Eivissa (Ibiza Town). There is a map of all of the walls on the Bloop Festival website.
Elsewhere on the island, about halfway between Sant Antonio and Ibiza Town, lies a bit of an island jewel. British artist Fin Dac has painted an entire building of portraits of women in his characteristic masked style, on the facade of the Nagai Japanese Restaurant.
There are many other treasures to be found on the island. Just wandering around Ibiza Town, you are sure to stumble upon some walls worthy of your attention, including the Tribute to Women wall, a collaboration between Jerom Ibiza, Twoflü, and the Bronx's Aída Míro.
Ibiza is just a quick hour's hop from Barcelona. You can find cheap flights round-trip for less than 100 dollars in the winter. Once arriving on the island, cabs are plentiful with fixed metered rates, willing to take you anywhere you need to go.
My recommendation is to base yourself in Ibiza Town, which offers an ideal position as well as access to some decent restaurants and local sights. I stayed at the Hotel Royal Plaza, which, although caught in a bit of an 80's time warp with its music and decor, was quite comfortable, with a rooftop pool (which I didn't use because it was freezing) and included both breakfast AND dinner, which were both delicious.
If you want to get out of town, just hop in a cab (Ubers are nonexistent), but if you want to have a bit more control and move about the island at your own speed, hiring a car might be a good option.
Although many may prefer a summer holiday to the island of Ibiza, if you are open to exploring a bit off the beaten path and foregoing the all-night parties in the dead of winter, you may be surprised by the hidden treasures that await. And if you do choose to visit in the peak season, you are sure to have a blast. Just be sure to leave some time for the bounty of urban art at your disposal.