Gran Canaria: the unique beauty of a special island

Gran Canaria is one of the 7 islands that make up the Autonomous Community of the Canaries. It is a thousand kilometers from Cádiz, the closest European port, and 210 kilometers from the coast of North Africa.

381,000 of its 855,000 inhabitants live in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the nerve center and capital of the island which, in the years before the pandemic, hosted almost half of the tourists who traveled to the island.
If we think that in normal conditions Gran Canaria could welcome something like 4 and a half million tourists a year, it is easy to understand what kind of importance the island has on a planetary level and how much it is loved by European travelers.
Generally it is German, English, Northern European and Spanish tourists who are most attracted to the beauties of Gran Canaria.

Beaches, sun, nature, gastronomy and the possibility of practicing outdoor sports all year round make this island a unique destination in the world. In recent times, the possibility of working in smart working has added new frontiers to tourism in Gran Canaria.

8000 remote workers now live on the island taking advantage of the high-speed internet connection and the possibility of integrating well into local communities.
For Gran Canaria it means hosting international talent while attracting a new form of tourism. The professionals who decide to come to work on the island are Germans, English, Americans, Italians and French who decide to stay in Gran Canaria for at least 2 months

Play sport

Route GC-200 in Gran Canaria
Route GC-200 in Gran Canaria-Photo by Polina Rytova on Unsplash

The climate of the Canary Islands generally favors outdoor sports activities. In particular in Gran Canaria, there are 7 golf courses among which it is necessary to mention the Real Club de Golf of Las Palma, the oldest in all of Spain, whose birth dates back to 1891. The spectacular landscapes of the island also give the opportunity to practice excursions and trekking among incredible scenarios: just imagine what a simple but healthy walk in the dunes of Maspalomas or a trekking on Roque Nublo can be.

Dunes de Maspalomas
Dunas de Maspalomas-Photo by Klaus Stebani from Pixabay

Then imagine the coast and the sea, where you can choose between different water sports: from sport fishing, passing through surfing, wind surfing or kite surfing, sailing, scuba diving and much more. Cycling finds in Gran Canaria an excellent response also from professional teams not only for the excellent climate which, even in winter, allows athletes to train in spring climates, but thanks to sinuous and well-kept roads in the interior and spectacular views along the coast..

Gastronomy

Tray,With,Assortment,Of,Fish,And,Seafood,
Tray with assortment of fish and seafood- Shutterstock image

So.
When it comes to Spain, the sea, mild climates and good food, I never know where to start.
The fish dishes and the restaurants on the coast just so as not to stray too far from the photo above.
But also and above all local products of the land and wines with a controlled designation of origin.
The flavors of Gran Canaria are original and natural, whether they come from the sea or from the land.
Patatas arrugadas, sanchocho and many varieties of stews are just some of the typical flavors of the island that you must absolutely try. The only coffee produced in Europe is grown in the Agaete Valley; Bodega Arehucas Rum is the largest and oldest of its kind in the entire European continent.
Gran Canaria is also part of the Saborea España project, created to highlight the products and ingredients of local dishes, as well as the skills of the chefs who cook in the island’s restaurants

A historical and natural heritage

Caves of Valeron
Caves of Valeron- Shutterstock image

Gran Canaria has unique climatic characteristics thanks to its peaks that reach maximum altitudes above 1900 m above sea level.
This means that it has been defined as a miniature continent and declared by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, thanks to the sustainable development of its environment and the conservation of the species living on the island.

If the tourists who visit Gran Canaria choose it for the climate, the sea and the beaches, it is indisputable that the historical and natural heritage of the island is unmatched in the world.
The natural pools in Guía, the Special Reserve of Los Tilos de Moya, the only remaining laurel forest in Gran Canaria, the Painted Cave Museum and the Archaeological Park, the beaches and steep cliffs around Agaete, the historic center of Arucas, the woods around Osorio in Teror and the Azuaje gorge in Firgas.
How not to mention the Nublo Rural Park and the Special Nature Reserve of the Dunes of Maspalomas which are probably the most representative of the island.

Roque Nublo
Roque Nublo_ Photo by Mandy Schneider from Pixabay

Gran Canaria also offers various archaeological sites not to be missed for any reason in the world, such as the Caves of Valerón (Santa María de Guía), the Roque Bentayga Visitor Center (Tejeda), the Archaeological Park of Maipés (Agaete), the Necropolis of Arteara (San Bartolomé de Tirajana), Cañada de Los Gatos (Mogán), the Visitor Center of the Guayadeque Ravine (Agüimes) and La Fortaleza Visitor Center (Santa Lucia de Tirajana).

Gran Canaria has also been declared a “Tourist Destination Starlight” by the United Nations for education, science and culture (UNESCO).
Astro tourism is one of the flagship projects of Gran Canaria, and has launched at conquer its spectacular night skies by fighting against light contamination in an attempt to restore the right to observe the stars.
The island wishes to recover the quality of the skies that the Aborigines used to see, with unique astronomical indicators, diversifying the range of tourist offerings and opening new windows of knowledge.
To this end, this defense of the skies over Gran Canaria has become the backbone of the intervention of the island’s authorities, while many are working to ensure that the original settlement archaeological site of Risco Caído, in Artenara, is declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, together with the Areas Sacred of the Montaña de Gran Canaria.

5 curiosities about Gran Canaria

curious frogs

  • British writer Agatha Christie traveled to Gran Canaria and stayed at the Metropole Hotel. She sat outside for hours and looked out at the sand and seascape. Some of her adventures by Hercules Poirot were written from the terrace of her hotel
  • Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck, was shot on Las Canteras Beach in 1954
  • Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria are trying to confirm their hypothesis that the 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused a tidal wave that reached Gran Canaria and generated the Maspalomas dunes. (other theories say that the sand came from the Sahara).
  • Gran Canaria has the “nickname” of miniature continent due to the great variety of landscapes and climates found on the island. On some winter days visitors can be on the beach with a mild 22ºC, then within an hour climb to the top and find snow, 0ºC.
  • Gran Canaria boasts 33 different protected areas that extend over 66,707 hectares, which is less than half of the total area of the island (42.75%)

Ibiza: a journey through beaches, markets, gastronomy and nature

Ibiza is well suited to all types of travelers. Whether you are a family, a couple, a group of friends or maybe sportsmen looking for a particular environment, in Ibiza you will find an island full of unique emotions and suggestions.
With its 572 km² of total area, Ibiza is easy to explore, as you won’t have to travel too many kilometers from one point to the other on the island. The points of greatest interest are generally about 15 ‘away from each other and thus, you will have all the time to discover the beauties, the beaches and the gastronomy that this Balearic island has to offer.

The pleasures of the island

Kayaking in Ibiza
Kayaking in Ibiza
Image from Promoción Turística de Ibiza

Ibiza enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate that allows you to visit it, taking advantage of a good climate all year round.
With 3000 hours of sunshine per year, very little rainfall, turquoise waters and the possibility of practicing many “sea sports”, Ibiza offers many possibilities and freedom for recreation.
There is certainly no lack of nature, sunsets, the typical scents of the Mediterranean and the opportunity to fully enjoy the beaches of the island.


The nature

Posidonia Oceanica
Posidonia Oceanica
Underwater sea, Mediterranean, Balearic Islands, Ibiza, Spain

40% of the island is covered with pine and juniper forests divided into 1800 different species.
The flora, of the Mediterranean type, has a variety of 940 different species. 43% of Ibiza’s land area is protected, of which around 18% is divided into eight natural areas.
If that wasn’t enough, keep in mind that 75.4% of the island’s coastline is protected. Just to name a few, make a note of the Marine Reserve of the north-east coast of Ibiza-Tagomago, the Natural Reserves of Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and the islets to the west.
Although the wetlands of the island attract many species of birds, the characteristic animal of Ibiza remains the pythous lizard, easy to spot on the walls or in the paths.

Ibizan podenco
Podenco
Promoción turistica de Ibiza
Image by Vincent Marí

Another characteristic animal of the island is the Ibizan podenco, a particular breed of native dog of Egyptian origin that seems to have brought the Carthaginians in 654 AD, when they founded the city of Ibiza.
It is an elegant, agile, strong breed with a very supple walk.

According to UNESCO, Ibiza is a privileged environment for the conservation of Posidonia Oceanica, a World Heritage Site as well as an aquatic and endemic plant of the Mediterranean.
These aquatic plants are not only responsible for the purity of sea water but significantly contribute to reducing the erosion of marine coasts. Posidonia Oceanica is also a form of nourishment for various marine species and, for all these reasons, it is essential that it be preserved, avoiding damage or loss over the years.

Sea Salines, Ibiza
Sea Salines
Image by Vincent Marí

Sea Salines has become a natural park since 2001. With an area of 3000 land hectares and 13,000 sea hectares, the natural park of Ibiza is an environmental wealth and protected reserve for 210 species of birds, among which flamingos, Himantopus and the Balearic Shearwater stand out.
The park, thanks to its salt pans, is able to produce 50,000 tons of salt every year.


The UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Phoenician city, sa Caleta, Ibiza
Phoenician city, sa Caleta, Ibiza
Image Consell d’Eivissa

In addition to the aforementioned Posidonia Oceanica, Ibiza can avail itself of UNESCO heritage sites of all respect and historical importance. In 1999, UNESCO declared the walls of Dalt Vila a World Heritage Site, as the best-preserved coastal fortress in the whole of the Mediterranean.
The same goes for the remains of the Phoenician city of sa Caleta and the necropolis of Puig de Molins, perfectly preserved over time.

The Renaissance walls that “envelop” the ancient city with the Cathedral and the Almudaina Castle on top, are the most important monuments of Ibiza.
Dalt Vila is made up of narrow labyrinthine streets, calli and squares that give a sense of serenity completely opposite to that of the port, the bay and the commercial area of the barrios of la Marina and Sa Penya.

According to UNESCO, the remains of the Phoenician city of Sa Caleta and the Phoenician-Punic necropolis are a very important testimony of the life, culture and urbanization of the Phoenician and Carthaginian cultures.

The underwater grasslands of Posidonia oceanica represent a natural wealth both for Ibiza and for the global marine biodiversity. The so-called “lungs of the sea” present in the waters of the island are among the best preserved in the Mediterranean and, as such, they must remain.

Shopping and markets

Artisania market, Ibiza
Mercado artisania, Ibiza
Image by Jon Izeta

Shopping in Ibiza could be just as rewarding as doing it in a big city: from major international brands to small and young designers, passing through local crafts, it will be possible to find and discover everything on the island.
Dalt Vila, the barrio de La Marina, Avenida Bartolomé Roselló and Marina Botafoch are just some of the areas where you can go shopping for “depth”. Letting yourself be carried away by the colorful shop in the middle of a street is certainly the best thing to do. You can come in and find many surprises all of a sudden.

Sant’Eulària, Sant Josep, Sant Antoni and Sant Joan contain a multitude of excellent commercial boutiques inspired by local products where you can find authentic treasures.
The markets of Las Dalias and Punta Arabí are absolutely worth a visit. Las Dalias opens all year round on Saturdays, while in summer it also has a night “version”; unique.
Punta Arabí for 25 years every Wednesday with about 400 stalls.

But if you love stalls and markets, you cannot miss the local handicraft stalls at the Port of Ibiza, Figueretes, Sant’Eulària, Sant Antoni, Sant Joan, San Miquel or the works of the potters of San Rafael.

Local gastronomy

Squid fried
Frita de calamar
Image by Vincent Marí

The gastronomy of Ibiza is mainly based on the Mediterranean trilogy, consisting of wheat, wine and olive oil. The sea and the land so generous have always given possibilities and multitudes of traditional recipes, elaborated according to the season and the climatic conditions of the island.

Flaó
Flaó
Image by Vincent Marí
Ibiza wine
Vino de Ibiza
Image by Vincent Marí

The food markets


The traditions of the island

Ball Pagés: Traditional Ibiza dance
Ball pagés
Image San Joan de Labritja

Ibiza boasts a rich heritage of traditions that allow anyone who visits it to immerse themselves even more in the heart of the island. The island’s countryside has been self-sufficient for generations thanks to the spirit of self-adaptation and the ability of the people of Ibiza to make the most of nature’s resources.
On the island you will find many examples of traditional architecture that, over the years, have allowed the Balearic island to get the nickname of Isla Blanca. Just get lost in the back streets to admire how many white houses have been converted into restaurants or to discover some very white building submerged in nature.

Rural architecture in Ibiza
Rural architecture, Ibiza
Image by Vincent Marí

Ball pagès, the traditional Ibiza dance, stands out for being a unique folkloric representation in the Mediterranean. With centuries of antiquity and an uncertain origin, this ancient courtship dance takes place in all the popular festivals of the island and in the weekly performances scheduled during the summer tourist season.

Playing sports in Ibiza

By bike in Ibiza
By bike in Ibiza
Image by Jon Izeta

Finding a sport that suits you in Ibiza shouldn’t be difficult. After eating, shopping, sunbathing on the beach and maybe staying late at night, a little healthy sport would be good for anyone. A lot of greenery lends itself well to sports such as golf, horse riding, walking, running or cycling, while the sea and the beaches offer the canonical multitude of water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing and much more.

It is almost superfluous to remember that Ibiza is also full of many sporting events throughout the year: marathon, half marathon, regattas, cycle tour, trial and much more. For professional and non-professional sportsmen, but also for all fans, in Ibiza there are always interesting events to follow.


What to do and see in Ibiza

Dalt Vila

Plaza de Vila, Ibiza
Plaza de Vila
Image by Aurelio Martinelli

All months are perfect for visiting the fortress district of Ibiza, although it is during the afternoons and summer evenings that you will find more “life” thanks to the restaurants open around the squares of Vila, Sa Carrossa and del Sol.
A walk to the cathedral and the castle will make you discover medieval palaces, secluded squares, art galleries and beautiful corners in the purest Mediterranean style.

The walls and ramparts: declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, the Renaissance citadel of Ibiza is the best preserved in the Mediterranean. It was built during the second half of the 16th century following the plan promoted by the monarchs Carlos I and Felipe II to modernize the military infrastructure of the strategic coastal territories of the Spanish Crown with the aim of improving the defense against attacks by the Ottoman Empire and others enemies of the time.
The complex, which was originally only accessed from the Portal de Ses Taules and the Portal Nou, is made up of seven bastions, of which the two on the western side are museumized: Sant Jaume and Sant Pere.
From the rest of the ramparts you can admire magnificent views of the city, the beaches of Ses Figueretes, Platja d’en Bossa, Es Cavallet and the nearby island of Formentera.

Museums:

  • Necropolis of Puig des Molins
  • Ibiza Museum of Contemporary Art(MACE)
  • Puget Museum
  • Cathedral and Diocesan Museum

The historic districts outside the walls: La Marina and Sa Penya maintain the port character of Mediterranean cities, with simple houses with white facades and a marked seafaring air. Located near the port, the streets of these neighborhoods are full of entertainment during the summer tourist season thanks to their boutiques, shops, bars, restaurants. Ice cream parlors and cafes, many with views of the marina and the luxurious boats that dock there. The Parque and Vara de Rey squares, with their remarkable colonial-style buildings, are worth a stop during a stroll through the center of Ibiza.

La Marina in te ebvening, Ibiza
La Marina
Image by Aurelio Martinelli
From Promoción Turística de Ibiza

7 things to do in Ibiza

  1. Go shopping in La Marina, Dalt Vila or Eixample, where Adlib fashion boutiques, stalls, traditional shops, national and international brands, art galleries, multi-brand shops await you.
  2. Take the water taxi that connects the district of La Marina with the promenade and the beach of Talamanca.
  3. See how the artisans work their pieces in the Sa Pedrera craft market, open to the public on Fridays.
  4. Enjoy the lively nightlife of the city, especially that of Dalt Vila, La Marina, the port, the promenade and Ses Figueretes.
  5. Walk along the walls from bastion to bastion, paying attention to its informative panels and museum spaces.
  6. Join the theatrical guided tours organized by the Municipality of Ibiza.
  7. Buy sweets in the cloistered convent of Sant Cristòfol, popularly known as Ses Monges Tancades (the closed nuns), and other Ibizan gastronomic products in the Mercat Nou and Mercat Vell markets.

Beaches

Talamanca, Ibiza
Talamanca, Ibiza
Image from Promoción Turística de Ibiza

The capital has accessible beaches where you can enjoy swimming and water sports. North of the town hall, in the bay of Talamanca, there is the 900-meter-long beach of the same name, with various services and catering. Closer to the historic center is the beach of Ses Figueretes, along which the district of the same name extends and a multitude of accommodation, restaurants, shops, cafes, bars and pubs. Following on from Ses Figueretes, there is Platja d’en Bossa, a long sandy beach shared by the municipalities of Ibiza and San Sant Josep which has one of the most developed tourist offers on the island.


8 things to do in Sant’Eulària

Las Dalias Market
Las Dalias market
Image from Promoción Turística de Ibiza
  1. Reach the islet of Tagomago by kayak or explore the stretches between Pou des Lleó and Canal d’en Martí and between Cala Llonga and Santa Eulària.
  2. Enjoy the rural landscape of Santa Gertrudis on horseback.
  3. Follow the circular trekking paths of the town hall, such as the one that goes up to the Torre d’en Vall.
  4. Surfing in Cala Martina and Cala Pada, getting started in the world of sailing on the beach of Santa Eulària and diving in Cala Llenya, Cala Mestella or Pou des Lle.
  5. Buy Ibizan-style souvenirs at the hippy markets of Las Dalias and Punta Arabí and visit the artisan market of Santa Gertrudis.
  6. Approach Sant Carles, Cala Nova and the hippy market of Las Dalias aboard a tourist train.
  7. Enjoy a trip along the east coast on board the ferry that connects the port of Ibiza with the tourist centers of Es Canar, Santa Eulària and Cala Llonga.
  8. Set foot on eleven shores in a single day following the Route of the Beaches, a circular route for mountain biking that passes through Cala Nova, Cala Llenya, Cala Mestella, Cala Boix, Es Figueral and S’Aigua Blanca, among other beaches.



The beaches of Sant’Eulària

Cala nova, Ibiza
Cala Nova
Image from Promoción Turística de Ibiza

Sandy beaches, steep cliffs rising from the coast, wild coves and a generous number of islets form the beautiful littoral landscape of Santa Eulària. Along its 46 kilometers, there are frequent shores of calm waters suitable for bathing children and with a wide range of services, such as Cala Llonga, Cala Pada, Cala Martina, Es Niu Blau, S’Argamassa, Es Canar, Platja des Riu de Santa Eulària and the urban beach of Santa Eulària, the first of the Balearic Islands to declare itself a “smoke-free beach” where smoking is not allowed.
The shores best known for their photogenic beauty are S’Aigua Blanca and Es Figueral – both overlooking the islet of Tagomago-, Cala Nova, Cala Llenya and Cala Boix – Ibiza’s only dark sand beach-, while the most intimate coves are Cala Mestella, Pou des Lleó, S’Estanyol and Cala Olivera.


What to do in San Josep

Es vedrà, Ibiza
Es vedrà, Ibiza
Image by Jamie Turek from Pixabay

The village of Sant Josep is quiet and surrounded by cultivated fields. Its small urban core has grown around its church and street. The temple was built in 1730 following the characteristics of popular Ibizan architecture and is the only church on the island with a sundial on the facade. You can have a coffee in the charming little square located in front of the temple, browse its shops and galleries and enjoy many local dishes in its many restaurants. In addition, fans of cinema and theater will find a rich program at the Can Jeron Culture Center.

The Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta is located a few meters from the Es Bol Nou beach. This deposit is one of the four sites in Ibiza declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its origin as a settlement dates back to the 8th century BC. and you can see the remains of the urban layout and two ovens.

7 things to do in San Josep

  1. Visit the Ses Salines Interpretation Center near the church of Sant Francesc. Inside, information is provided on the ecological importance of the salt ponds, the dune strings, the Posidonia oceanica meadows and the cliffs of the natural park and on the numerous marine and terrestrial species that host these habitats, such as the pitiusa lizard (Podarcis pityusensis ), the seahorse (Hippocampus ramulosus), the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), the flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) or the stilt (Himantopus himantopus).
  2. Stroll along the coast in search of the surveillance towers in the south and west of Ibiza: Es Carregador or Sa Sal Rossa, Ses Portes, Es Savinar and En Rovira.
  3. See the Ibiza sunset from the various bars and cafes located in Portmany bay or from the shores of Cala Tarida, Port des Torrent or Platges de Comte.
  4. Practice numerous water activities in the bay of Portmany, and in the nearby tourist centers of Cala de Bou and Platja Pinet.
  5. Plan an excursion to discover the ecological and landscape values of the Natural Reserves of Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and the western islets.
  6. Go to the Sant Josep market on Saturdays to look for local agricultural products (open during the summer tourist season) or take part in the colorful atmosphere of the Sant Jordi second-hand market (all year round).
  7. Climb to the top of Sa Talaia, the highest mountain in Ibiza with a height of 475 meters. It is one of the most attractive trips for hikers and cyclists in the municipality, as from the top you can enjoy a wonderful view over a large part of the island.

The beaches of San Josep

Platges de Comte
Platges de Comte
Image by Vincent Marí

Sant Josep has more than 20 beaches and coves for all tastes and needs, including Platja d’en Bossa, the longest sandy beach in Ibiza and one of the busiest thanks to the wide range of hotels, restaurants, clubs , pubs and water and nautical businesses.
The wild beaches of Ses Salines, Cala Jondal, Cala Bassa, the set of coves that make up Platges de Comte and Cala d’Hort stand out for their beauty and popularity, the best viewpoint on the famous islet of Es Vedrà. Other unique shores are Es Cavallet – of nudist tradition -, Cala Codolar, Es Bol Nou, Cala Carbó, Cala Molí or the beaches of Cala Vedella, Cala Tarida and Port des Torrent, with a family atmosphere.

What to do and see in Sant Antoni

Puesta de sol Sant Antoni
Puesta de sol Sant Antoni
Image by Menchu Redondo

The beauty of its bay, the spectacular sunsets with the Ponente islets in the background and a practically unchanged rural landscape are three of the great attractions of Sant Antoni, a destination open to all travelers that always surprises, whether near the sea or inland.

Sunset in Ses Variades: the stretch of the promenade between Caló des Moro and the breakwater is known as Ses Variades and during the summer it becomes one of the most visited places on the island thanks to the bars and cafes that play music at sunset, often offered by famous DJs.
Outside the summer tourist season, the promenade allows you to enjoy beautiful sunsets in a peaceful environment.

Route of the churches: the temple of Sant Antoni, whose origin dates back to the 14th century, is an excellent example of a Pythian church-fortress that still has its defensive tower and the starting point of this itinerary. Inland, the silhouettes of the small church of Santa Agnès, whose portico is located near the ancient main entrance, and the temple of Sant Mateu, crowned by a simple bell gable, give a singular beauty to the rural landscape of both. valleys.
For its part, a visit to the church of Sant Rafel, built in the late eighteenth century, offers an excellent view of the city of Ibiza and a curvilinear bell tower that gives lightness to the austere facade.

Almond blossom
Almond blossom
Image from Promoción Turística de Ibiza

Santa Agnès and the almond trees: this small hamlet is located in the Pla de Corona valley, one of the most peaceful places in Ibiza. The best time to visit is between January and February, when its hundreds of almond trees bloom.

The vineyards of Sant Mateu: the north of the municipality is traditionally linked to wine production and currently hosts the plants of two wineries on the island that produce wines with I.G.P. Ibiza, Vino de la Tierra | Vi de la Terra.

5 things to do in Sant Antoni

  1. Practicing water and nautical sports offered in the bay: diving, sailing, kitesurfing, paddle surfing, water skiing, parasailing, jet skis, kayaking, fishing …
  2. Enjoy a boat trip to admire the beauty of the cliffs of Ses Balandres and Cala d’Albarca, as well as the Natural Reserves of Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and the islets to the west.
  3. Walk the coastal path that connects Sant Antoni to Cala Salada, go cycling in the area known as Es Broll, stroll through the Pla de Corona until you reach the cliff overlooking the islets of Ses Margalides
  4. Buy local products in the Forada Market (Saturday), at the Sant Antoni Agricultural Market (Friday) or at the Sant Rafel Handicraft Market (Thursday, from July to September).
  5. Visit a winery to taste the wines of the island.

The beaches of Sant Antoni

Cala Gració
Cala Gració

Sant Antoni is home to coves and beaches ideal for children who also stand out for the beauty of the environment or its views. Within the urban core of Sant Antoni there are the beaches of Es Puetó, S’Arenal and Caló des Moro, which are added to the beaches of the bay that administratively belong to Sant Josep.
A few minutes by car or bus from the town are Cala Gració and Cala Gracioneta, two coves surrounded by pine trees, separated by a small promontory; the turquoise waters of the photogenic coastline formed by Cala Salada and Cala Saladeta – one of the most photographed in Ibiza – and the stone terraces of Punta Galera, an ancient stone quarry that has become a favorite place for nudist practitioners.

What to do and see in Sant Joan

Sant Miquel church
Sant Miquel church
Image by Vincent Marí

Sant Joan and its church: the town that gives its name to the town hall is a quiet and charming place, whose few houses are located along the road and around the church dedicated to an John the Baptist. The temple, completed in 1770, is structured around a single rectangular nave with a ribbed vault and seven side chapels. Other hallmarks of the temple are its bell tower, built in the 19th century, and its portico with two arches. On Sundays, the square in front of the church becomes a meeting point for visitors who go to the artisan and gastronomic market.

6 things to do in Sant Joan

  1. Admire the beauty of the cliffs of northern Ibiza aboard the excursion boats that depart from Portinatx.
  2. Explore the surroundings of the beaches of Portinatx, Port de Sant Miquel and Cala de Sant Vicent on a paddle surf board or on a pedal boat.
  3. Follow the itinerary that leads to Punta des Moscarter and the homonymous lighthouse, the highest in the Balearic Islands; or walk down to the remote virgin cove of Es Portitxol, on the coast of Sant Miquel.
  4. Admire the fabulous views from the top of the Torre des Molar, located a few kilometers from the Port de Sant Miquel and where you arrive after a trek.
  5. Buy handicrafts and agricultural products from the north of Ibiza at the Sant Joan Sunday market.
  6. Get on the tourist train that leaves from Portinatx and discover some of the most beautiful corners of the north of the island.

The beaches of San Joan

Cala de Sant Vicent
Cala de Sant Vicent
Images from Promoción Turística de Ibiza

The north coast is home to coves for all tastes, from those with all services to those hidden under the cliffs, suitable for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle or practice nudism. The beaches of Port de Sant Miquel, Cala de Sant Vicent, S’Arenal Gran, S’Arenal Petit and Port de Portinatx have equipment, restaurants, shops and water activity rentals, making them a very suitable choice for families.
Benirràs is also very popular, thanks to its hippy environment, its sunsets and the uniqueness of the landscape of its fishermen’s cottages with the islet of Cap Bernat. The remaining coves of Sant Joan are perfect for those who do not need services or for those who simply want a kiosk close at hand to be able to rent sunbeds and umbrellas: Cala de Xarraca, Cala des Xuclar, Cala d’en Serra, S’Illot des Renclí, Es Pas de s’Illa and Caló des Moltons.



Seville: all you need to know about the most beautiful city in the world

I never had any doubts: from the moment I set foot in Seville for the first time it was crazy love.
Imagine when I found out I had won a European scholarship that would have allowed me to live and work here for 6 months, how I felt!
Being able to explore this divine city, live it to the fullest every moment and discover every corner, tasting the delicious Andalusian cuisine, the one that I have always put at the top of my culinary preferences.

Seville boasts a divine climate, especially if you love heat.
There are around 3,000 sunny days a year in Seville but when it rains, it really rains, so be prepared for big sunny days as well as rare but powerful thunderstorms.

The monuments of the city

The Andalusian capital has three monuments included in the UNESCO heritage list:

  • The Catedral is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the Western world and the third in Christianity after St. Peter of the Vatican and St. Paul of London.
    The Giralda, with its 100 meters of height, is the minaret of the old mosque, demolished to make way for the cathedral and symbol of the city.
  • The Real Alcázar is the oldest royal palace in use in Europe. It is a group of buildings built in different historical periods whose origins date back to the 10th century.
  • The Archive of the Indies is one of the most important historical archives in the country, with approximately 43,000 documents relating to the discovery and colonization of America.
Image by nathan618 from Pixabay

The monuments of Seville are in every corner of the city and, if you have time to visit it calmly, you can discover them all. In my view, the beauties of Seville reside in being able to go out every evening with a mild climate, walking through the magnificent streets of the city or along the Guadalquivir, passing alongside the Torre del Oro, a 12-sided tower built in that point, just to better control the accesses that occurred from the river in the past.

The first real monument I came across while looking for a room in the city was however Calle Verde, a very narrow street not always counted among the major monuments of Seville and certainly neglected by tourists from all over the world. Walking down Calle Verde you will have the feeling of being able to spread your arms and be able to touch both walls on your sides … Not to mention the coolness (for Seville of course!) That there is compared to other parts of the city, where the scorching sun beats without find the obstacle of the houses.
However, I associate the most vivid memories of my past life in the Andalusian capital with Las Setas in Plaza de la Encarnación, a large building that acts as a parasol for the square itself.
A lot of Seville life passes through here and sooner or later you will find yourself stopping there or passing by too.
Guaranteed!

You can get lost in the streets and squares of Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter or enjoy the stroll in the Maria Luisa Park with the spectacular Plaza de Espana.
Do not miss the Hospital of the Santa Caridad or the Plazas de Toros de la Maestranza.
If you love the Baroque, you can immerse yourself in the Hospital de los Venerables or visit the beautiful Sevillian palace-houses they contain countless works of art, such as the Palacio de las Dueñas (de la Casa de Alba), the Casa de Pilatos (de la Casa Ducal de Medinaceli) or the Palacio de la Condes de Lebrija

Sevillian / Andalusian gastronomy

Croquetas de jamon
Image by Shutterstock

I don’t know if you can understand how good Andalusian cuisine is. As a tourist I had loved and appreciated it very much, but when I began to discover the more traditional cafes and restaurants, I found tastes and flavors even better than I could imagine. I hope my countrymen will not be offended, but for personal taste I consider Andalusian cuisine to be the best in the world, followed by Greek and then Italian (I hope no one is too offended by this bronze medal).

Breakfast with café con leche, tostada with serrano jamon and sometimes a glass of zumo de Naranja (orange juice), were for me the best way to start my days away from home (when I was having breakfast out).
Jamon serrano is something divine that you cannot even imagine and, if you want, you can have a little olive oil put on the bread they serve you for breakfast.
It goes without saying that Spain, Greece and Italy are competing for the scepter for the best olive oil and, not being an expert, I don’t know which is the best. I just believe they are all divine in their own way.
Try them on the go if you get the chance. I will not dwell on paella for a second because I think it has become too touristy a dish and perhaps some areas of Valencia could be more suitable to try it rather than Sevilla.

The variety of Tapas, as well as the bars and restaurants in the city is truly infinite. In Sevilla you go out every night because, apart from the climate, you can eat and drink something with very little money (I’m talking about the pre-pandemic period when I lived there).
The beauty is being able to be in company and taste different tastes by trying light and tasty dishes. And if you want to “break out”, you can eat something heavy or try 20 types of tapas in one evening.
My favorite tapas are croquetas (de jamon), but I assure you that in the past months in Sevilla I have tried many and very good.
Even the caracoles (snails) that may appear disgusting, are actually very good!
The top of the top, when it gets very hot, becomes dishes like gazpacho andaluz, a kind of cold vegetable-based soup.
A roommate of mine from Almeria used to bring trays full of them on Mondays when he came home.
You can’t understand what the Andalusian mother did!
If I think about it, I cry with emotion!
Despite everything, I think I didn’t have time to try everything, because Andalusian gastronomy contains so many specialties that it takes a lifetime to try everything…
and maybe a mother and a grandmother who have been cooking everything for you since You’re small!

Even the wine department certainly does not miss anything:
in Seville you absolutely must try the tinto de verano, a cold drink made from red wine with the addition of soda, ice and, if you ask for it, also lemon.
Generally in the more touristy places they serve it as it is, in the more “traditional” ones the bartender asks you if you want lemon.
Perhaps not everyone knows the rebujito. Yes, because in general it is consumed (even too much) during the Feria de Abril or in other events around Andalusia. The rebujito is made with dry white wine and soda and, during the Feria, it is served at the tables in glass jugs.
Needless to say, it’s so good that you don’t need to be a serial alcoholic to take it out in large quantities.
But then we dance, laugh, eat, walk … and work off a bit before night falls …


Flamenco

Photo by Matthew Waring on Unsplash

Flamenco, born and raised in some neighborhoods of Seville, such as Triana and Alameda, has been declared an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. In Seville many people spontaneously dance in the street, attracting the attention of tourists and people. However, it will not be difficult for you, walking in the evening, to notice that in some places flamenco becomes a primary attraction. In other less touristy and more distant places, it is a bit of a superfine and almost secret art, but it takes time and maybe some knowledge for you to discover them and be able to enjoy their true beauty.
One of the most important flamenco events in Seville is undoubtedly la Bienal de Flamenco, a festival that takes place every two years.

Events

Image by Luis Francisco Pizarro Ruiz from Pixabay

Seville is a city full of events and things to do. I think I only spent the time necessary to sleep at home because there was always an opportunity to go out, attend events or just see something nearby. The sea and the beaches are not far away and at the beginning of April you already risk getting a good burn on the beach if you are not careful! On the days I didn’t work or I didn’t have any special programs, I checked the events in the city on this website and, slowly, I admit, I became a bit of a habit, especially on Sunday afternoons when I went to relax with a cool glass of tinto de verano while listening to music across the Guadalquivir.

The most absurd events I have witnessed were two in particular that, in this pandemic period, have probably been moved or canceled (so check before you leave).
The Semana Santa is something crazy because you will see but above all you will hear people moving around the city for several days. Hooded and colorful people invade the streets of the city (each has its own neighborhood) accompanied by very noisy bands. Everyone takes to the streets to watch and the average crowd that will show up in front of you is that of a Queen concert at Wembley in the late 80s …

Not least is the Feria de Abril. Were it not that at least we sit, eat and drink. At the time I lived in Seville but I taught in a school in Dos Hermanas, the largest town in the Sevillian district.
For this reason I decided to do both Ferie de Abril. But I had the good sense not to eat and drink at the one in Sevilla.
I don’t think my liver could have endured two events that close together. At the Feria you go well dressed, you eat divinely and if you are able you can also dance…
Generally you are invited to the casetas and there you sit at the table with your friends. In Seville there are many private casetas where you can enter only by invitation and others open to all, while in Dos Hermanas I remember many more open casetas.
Always keep in mind that all hotels in Seville are packed during these events, so book well in advance and get organized.

Why go to Seville

Image byi Yanko Peyankov from Pixabay

Now.
I don’t know about you, but I believe that Seville, beyond so much monumental beauty, has a very special charm.
Its friendly and hospitable inhabitants who in 6 months always made me feel at home, even if I was hundreds of kilometers away from home.
My students inviting me out almost every night, then I found kind colleagues and wonderful people all over Andalusia.
It doesn’t take long to understand that, despite some flaws, the true beauty of a city like Seville actually lies in the people who live there, in the goodness , genuineness of the products of its gastronomy and in the beauty of being able to stay in a city where to meet friends in the evening is at least as important as having to get up the next day to go to work. In Seville I appreciated this: the fact that the people thought about enjoying their free time, even knowing that there were also commitments to keep.
In other cities it didn’t work exactly like that…
..and you weren’t even eating so well 😉




Menorca: the protected island where nature reigns


The image of Menorca is that of a green island with many pristine coves and beaches. In short: tranquility, nature and living at a slow pace. But if we go and see what beautiful “hides” this island, in reality, there is much, much more: the countryside activities, outdoor sports, local culinary delights, crafts and products.

In truth, Menorca is an island that shows its treasures to those who truly seek them.
The highest point on the island is Mount Toro which measures 358 meters above sea level. The north coast is rugged and wild with sparse vegetation and dark reddish sand. The southern coast, on the other hand, is made up of wooded ravines that descend towards coves and beaches with white sand and turquoise sea.

The blue sea of Menorca
Photo by Cyril PAPOT from Adobe Stock

The climate is particularly mild and temperate, although a feature of the island is strength of the north wind. It’s such a strong wind has shaped the landscape. The island is divided in eight administrative councils: Maó, Ciutadella, Alaior, Es Castell, Sant Lluís, Es Mercadal, Ferreries and Es Mig jorn Gran.

The biosphere reserve

Menorca has been declared a biosphere reserve since October 1993 by virtue of the close link between man and territory. Here the economic growth tries to be compatible with the conservation of the island and, with it, agriculture is also done in a sustainable way.
In the landscape it is clearly perceptible how agriculture still makes use of ancient customs, such as the use of dry stones used to delimit agricultural land for example.

The Albufera des Grau Natural Park, with its 5000 hectares of surface, represents the fulcrum of the biosphere and has a salt pan, a stretch of coast, several islets and wetlands where birds of prey and seabirds can find a home.
The ravines offer shelter to wealth of fauna and flora, including a number of endemic species and endangered aspecies like red kites and Lilford’s wall lizards. The dunes, streams, ravines, holm oak groves, wild olive trees and pines, all contribute to the uniqueness of Menorca as a Biosphere Reserve.

Image by jvilellaCFATB from Pixabay

Archeology in Menorca

The archaeological heritage of Menorca is almost as rich as the natural and marine one if you consider that on the island there are on average two monuments every square kilometer!
One of the most emblematic of Menorca is undoubtedly the Naveta des Tudons, buildings used as collective ossuaries built in stone between 700 and 1000 BC.
Trepucó, Talatí de Dalt, Torre d’en Galmés, Torralba d’en Salort, Cornia Nou are other sites that can give an excellent idea of the prehistoric past of the island.
They are monuments built using large stones without mortar that bring with them a sense of mystery and give an idea of the rituals performed by the first inhabitants who inhabited the island in the past.

The nature

The Menorcan countryside is unspoiled while 70% of the territory is protected. A long stretch of the northern coast is considered a Marine Reserve and many islets belonging to Menorca are unspoiled and have great ecological value.
These small islands are inhabited from endemic animals, including eight subspecies of the Lilford wall lizard, each subspecies unique and different. There are a number of good ecosystems to explore: woods, cliffs, wetlands, streams, spring pools, as well as ravines dug by the erosion of the limestone rock.

Salinas de Addaia.Mongofre Nou.Menorca.Islas Baleares. España.
Beaches

Along the 216 km of coast of Menorca there are about eighty sandy bays, as well as numerous coves and hidden coves in the shore.
Son Bou, with over 2.5km of sand, is the longest beach. The smallest beaches are barely 100 meters long, although size is beside the point when you are talking about genuine natural paradise placed in what is one of the best preserved holiday destinations in the Mediterranean.

Along the northern coast the landscape is wild and untamed, with predominantly earthy, ocher and golden tones. There are amazing beaches and coves, as well as fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving locations. Cala Pregonda might well be the best known natural beach, but Cavalleria and Cala Pilar are equally stunning.
The beautiful landscape of La Vall is where Es Bot and Es Tancat are located, the twin beaches of Algaiarens. Cala Presili and Cala Tortuga are neighbouring beaches located in the nature reserve Parque Natural la Albufera des Grau.
Those who prefer beaches with some facilities but still want a stunning setting will love the beaches at Cala Morell, Arenal de Son Saura (Son Parc), the wide sandy beach at Es Grau, or Cala Mesquida.

The southern coastline is irresistibly appealing, with turquoise blue sea, fine white sand and leafy woods providing shade almost down to the water’s
edge. The best known natural beaches are: the twin beaches of Son Saura, the famous beaches of Cala en Turqueta, Cala Macarella y Macarelleta, as well as Cala Mitjana and Mitjaneta. Trebalúger and Cala Escorxada beaches are two jewels which are somewhat quieter as it is quite a long walk to reach them. Binigaus is another delightful option: it is the widest unspoilt beach of the south coast and is easily accessible for a day at the beach, as is tiny Atalis beach, at the end of Son Bou beach. The most beautiful beaches next to resorts are: Son Xoriguer; majestic Cala Galdana, which is almost always calm, sheltered as it is by the cliffs; the long stretch of sand at Sant Tomàs and Cala en Porter. The beaches at Binibèquer, Punta Prima and Binissafúller stand out among the beaches in the Sant Lluís area.


Camí de Cavalls

The Camí de Cavalls is a great way to discover The magnificent landscape of Menorca. It is a 185 km route around the coast of the island which includes a variety of different scenarios Its exact origin is unknown; what is known is that the Camí de Cavalls has been used for many centuries as a link between the defense towers that had been built to watch over and safeguard the island from any possible attack or invasion. The path has had various uses over the centuries and has been possibly restored and open to the public in 2010. Today it is part of the long European remote trail network, numbered GR-223.

Cami de Cavalls, GR223. Binicalaf Nou. (2011) Minorca. Balearic Islands. Spain.

Gastronomy and local products

Simplicity is the essence of Menorcan cuisine; its foundation lies in people who are down-to-earth, but who know how to enjoy life and how to make the most of what they have. Within every apparently humble dish there lies a touch of refinement, a delightful hint of foreign cultures. Traditional cookery books all contain recipes for oliaigua and other vegetable dishes, seafaring delicacies such as caldereta de langosta, meat and game recipes, stuffed aubergines and other oven baked dishes like perol. There are lots of recipes for pastries as Menorcans have a very sweet tooth. Carquinyols, flaons, pastissets and
amargos
are some of the sweet and savoury pastries that are made here.
The one Menorcan product known worldwide is surely mayonnaise. Experts agree that it was originally a local sauce made here on the island and that it spread to the rest of the world after the French invaded Menorca in the 18th century. The theory is that the Duke of Richelieu tasted the sauce while he was on the island, and then took the recipe back to the French court where
it became known as mahonnaise, in reference to the town Maó

The local food industry has created a hallmark of guarantee Made in Menorca. A prime example is the cheese which has obtained the protected designation of origin (PDO) Mahón-Menorca and has recently been classified among the
best in the world. Menorcan cheese is square in shape, with a darkish reddish brown rind and a slightly salty flavour. The Gin from Maó has been attributed a
protected geographical indication (PGI) and is very well known both in Menorca and abroad. The Menorcan gin is the oldest gin in Spain. It is distilled from wine alcohol with juniper berries and a selection of herbs in old copper stills heated
by wood fires and is one of the most aromatic gins on the market.
There are some traditional liquors and spirits as well as the Menorcan gin that are produced on the island, such as herb liquors, the native camomile liquor and citric fruit liquors which are drunk after a meal as a digestif. In recent years
some artisan breweries have started up. The beer they brew is made from natural unpasteurised ingredients. The result is a range of signature
brews of different flavours and characteristics.

‘Vi de la Terra Illa de Menorca’ is a geographical indication of quality of wine. There are several wineries that have brought back traditional wine
making methods to the island, producing wines of a distinctive island character. A couple of wineries offer tours and wine tastings. Olive oil is another quality food product. There are a few extra virgin olive oils produced in Menorca, thanks to enterprising local producers, although only very small amounts are made at the moment. The hallmark ‘Made in Menorca’ recognises some of the local meat products, particularly cured pork. Carn-i-xulla is the most characteristic product, dating back to ancient roman curing methods.
Other types of cured pork products are ‘sobrasadas’ (both mild and mature), ‘botifarrons’ and ‘cuixots’. There is a small amount of honey made on the island. Prized for many centuries, the Roman author Pliny claimed the island’s honey was the best in the world next to Greek honey.


Menorca: perfect place to admire the stars

Preserve an island with respect for the environment and nature not only mean having a wonderful sea, lots of greenery and many animals but also being able to enjoy the sky without too much artificial light disturbing the vision of the night show.
Since 2019 Menorca also has the “Starlight” tourist destination certification, which means that this island has been selected among the ideal destinations to enjoy the wonders of the constellations and galaxies and meteor showers for example.
In Menorca there are some points suggested by Starlight where you can find the ideal conditions to observe the night sky. Cala Macarella is a quiet and isolated beach where you can see the stars without being disturbed by too many artificial lights. The lighthouses are instead spectacular places from which to observe the sea, the stars and, why not, from which to take fantastic photos to share or to take home and keep as a souvenir. The Faro de Cavalleria or the Favaritx (cover photo) will leave you breathless.

Image by Xose Vidal from Pixabay

Also worth considering Pont den Gil (pictured above) both for evening observations and for taking great pictures

Respect Menorca

Coming on holiday to Menorca does not only mean thinking about enjoying nature and a sea that is unique in the world but also about entering a protected area for a few days which, as such, must be preserved and respected.
The rule of the good tourist and the good traveler implies that in Menorca you have to respect some rules, such as the simpler ones of not dirtying the environment by leaving waste around or perhaps ruining the beaches and the sea. The butts are put in the ashtrays and everything must stay in its place.
The animals and plants that live here must continue to live in total tranquility, as well as the people who have always worked and lived here.
The earth and nature belong to everyone.
When we visit this and other paradises we try to take care of them!

Source: Menorca.es
Photos: Adobe stock, Pixabay and Unspash.