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With a reputation as Spain's party capital at first glance, Ibiza may not at first appear like the destination of choice for anyone looking for a slightly more refined Mediterranean cruise experience. However by day, Ibiza retains much of the Spanish fishing village charm it enjoyed before being ‘discovered' as a luxurious retreat back in the 1960s and there are a number of cultural attractions to explore. Of course, Spain wouldn't be Spain without sea, sand and sun and of course, Ibiza offers plenty of all those things, too.
Though we associate the island with Spain, it was the Phoenicians who founded the port in 654BC. The Greeks came to the island during this time and later it became a Roman municipality during the days of their empire. The Vandals, Byzantine Empire and Moors all had possession of the island and even the Norsemen invaded, during Sigurd I's crusade to Jerusalem. In 1235 it was conquered by the Aragonese and colonised by Christians, who ran an autonomous government until King Phillip of Spain abolished their rule in 1715. Democracy in the 1970s brought into being the Balearic Autonomous Community, which as well as Ibiza, comprises Majorca, Minorca and Formentera.
For the slice of Ibiza life you'll probably be imagining on the days leading up to your cruise, the place to be is certainly the port area itself. By night, it's a hive of activity, boasting many lively bars and restaurants and by day, though still lively, takes on a different appeal and is a great place to relax and people-watch. It also serves as the gateway to the D'Alt Vila, an ancient fortified area where winding cobblestone streets and castle walls tell their own story of the town's history.
Key architectural attractions in Ibiza include Ibiza Castle, a cathedral which can be found at the highest point of the aforementioned D'Alt Vila. Though it's a cathedral, you'll soon see why it's referred to as a castle as its foreboding gothic exterior is all buttresses and fortifications. The cathedral is beautiful inside, as are the views which can be enjoyed from the castle. Iglesia de Sant Rafel is one of the town's most picturesque churches and another popular attraction. Conveniently, it lies close to the castle in the D'Alt Vila area and offers a picturesque, calming and welcome escape from the crowds.
Ibiza is a great place to shop, whether you want to indulge in a serious spree in the high end shopping district or pick up a souvenir in one of the many beach-front boutiques. Clothing outlets are abundant, so Ibiza's a great place to stock up on holiday clothes, wherever in town you are.
There are literally hundreds of places to eat in the greater Ibiza area, with a good proportion of those being in Ibiza town itself, so you'll have no problem finding a suitable place to eat. Seafood's obviously popular, as is traditional Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine, but in keeping with Spain's ex-pat appeal, you won't have to look far to find some traditional pub grub, if that's what you fancy.
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