Cheap thrills: How to have an affordable Ibiza holiday in 2019
Top tips for enjoying a perfect holiday in Ibiza on a budget, without breaking the bank
WHERE TO STAY?
Once upon a time, booking a budget hotel in Ibiza used to be fraught with all kinds of danger. In the late 90s, it wasn't unusual to return from the beach to find all manner of people rummaging around in your room looking for your holiday cash. But that was then and this is now. And these days the vast majority of Ibiza's most inexpensive hotels and hostels are as dependable as they economical. All of which means you and your mates will be able to find somewhere safe and secure to base your 2019 Balearic clubbing vacation without having to remortgage your denim cut-offs.
Those of you engaging Ibiza on a budget will want to base yourself in San Antonio; this is where the White Isle's cheapest one and two star accommodation can be found. Next, prioritise a hotel or hostel in San Antonio Town rather than San Antonio Bay, which is miles away from the central bus station that connects you to the rest of the island. Base yourself in San Antonio Town, however, and all the best party hubs on the west coast of the island are right on your doorstep, including bars like Café Mambo, Café del Mar, Babel, Golden Buddha and Bay Bar, daytime pool venues such as Ibiza Rocks and O Beach, and afterdark superclubs Eden and Es Paradis.
Obviously accommodation in the 1 and 2 star range is going to be relatively basic. So don’t expect boutique luxuries like branded bedrooms, neon lit swimming pools or even a balcony in some cases. Nevertheless, the staff at Hostal Rosalia, Hostal Rita, Hotel Adelino, Hotel Vedra, Hostal Florencio, Brisa, Hostal Mari, The Red Hotel and Hostel Roca are all super friendly and the majority of these digs have recently been renovated.
WHERE TO WORK?
Fancy working the season in Ibiza but don’t know where to start? Typically, most island newbies end up living and working in San Antonio in their first season. Ibiza Rocks, O Beach and Café Mambo are among the coolest and most reputable employers in town. These brands' also administer multiple businesses under their group umbrellas, which means they often have positions going (for the right person) even in mid-season.
Getting work in the West End can be hit or miss. Heaps of young travellers earn a decent wage selling shots and pulling pints and serving food here. However, less honourable employers in the district may ask you to work on a trial basis without being paid. This kind of arrangement isn’t uncommon, but refuse to work on this basis for more than a couple of shifts. Otherwise the situation will likely continue for an indeterminable time, prior to your eventual liberation and replacement by the next aspirant dupe.
When it comes to finding somewhere to live, O Beach typically help their workers find accommodation. Otherwise, you're pretty much on your own. If it's your first summer, a good place to start is www.ibizaworkersaccom.com. This online letting agency also has an office in the very heart of San An, run by a decent fella called Mark Saunders. Hit him up.
But before you ditch your day job and take flight, be aware that finding work in Ibiza isn’t as easy as it used to be. The recent ban on PRs and street sellers means there are now less entry-level jobs available on the island than ever before. Additionally, you'll also need an NIE if you're planning to work full time. For this reason, the biggest dance brands on the island now run open days in the UK over the course of the wintertime in order to cherry pick their staff, which means a large percentage of seasonal workers will have their summer roles confirmed before they fly out. Nevertheless, if you do decide to rock up on the island without confirmed employment, don't despair. Begin your search at the Ship Inn in San Antonio and start networking.
If you do manage to score the summer job of your dreams, the key now is balance. You'll have unlimited access to all the best nightclubs on the island and contacts to get you inside for free. But you'll also have to rise at 9am every morning to go to work. In the past, Ibiza workers had a reputation for getting smashed and getting away with it. However, for the most part that culture no longer exists. From the DJs to the waitresses to the dishwashers to the security teams, the scene as a whole now demands a more professional approach from its employees. So take it easy and try to cut out a position for yourself within the industry rather than simply hammering your immune system.
WHERE TO EAT?
Fact: you're not going to be able to afford to eat where the yacht-owning tourists eat. Instead, look out for those murky little bars where the locals like to sit outside chewing the fat. If you're in Ibiza Town, turn your back to the port and stride out beyond McDonalds and Burger King into the darkened back streets. Every third shop front here belongs to a small restaurant where the food is tasty and inexpensive. Start at Pizzeria Rione and Bar Los Amigos and work your way back into town.
If eating out is a luxury too far, you can always amass your holiday provisions in one the island's many supermarkets. Prices in Eroski, Mercadona and Lidl are on par with the big supermarkets here in the UK, which means you won’t have to take out another loan just in order to eat. Of the three big supermarket chains that dominate the island, Eroski is arguably the most expensive, but it also has the most stores. You'll find the majority of these strewn around Ibiza Town and another in the centre of San Antonio. Mercadona and Lidl both operate large stores on either side of the island. In San An, you'll often see gangs of British workers filling up their suitcases with mangoes and salted onduladas (crinkle cut crisps). Follow their educated lead and take your suitcases with you so you don’t have to make multiple energy sapping trips to the checkout.
The only township that isn’t served by a local supermarket is Playa d'en Bossa. There are plenty of Spa convenience stores situated along the Bossa strip, but they're small and the food is priced at day-tripper rates, so be warned. If you're lacking a fridge, cutlery or a 1970's kitchenette-style hob in your room, don’t despair. Seek out one of Lidl's Spanish tortillas (basically a kind of egg and potato omelette that you can eat cold) and wolf it down. In those anxious moments when your money is almost spent and your morale is dangerously low, the Spanish tortilla is a calorific godsend. And a 500g slab of the stuff won’t set you back much more than €1.50.
WHERE TO LOCATE VALUE BOOZE?
It's one of the big tradeoffs we all have to put up with when holidaying in Ibiza - the ridiculous drinks prices. But at least cocktail making is now viewed as an art form rather than a chore, which means today's ravers are finally getting some return for their hard-earned bucks.
In Ibiza Town, the port area was once the place to hang. But that was 20-years ago and now it's just a tourist trap. Alternatively, head up into the old town towards the bustling Calle de la Virgen. If it's early season, you'll be able to haggle out a deal before you sit down. Otherwise, duck into one of the many independently owned bars on the Plaza del Parque.
In San Antonio, the world famous bars along the Sunset Strip can be rather expensive.
Sunset seekers on a super tight budget may prefer to grab a takeaway bottle from one of the many convenience stores located nearby and watch the sun descend into the ocean from the edge of the rocks. This kind of cheap-skating used to be policed, but in recent years the local authorities seem to have accepted the fact that some people just can’t afford to drink at Café Mambo and Café del Mar. The fact that Mambo recently opened a takeaway booze hatch behind their main building also seems to indicate a change of heart. But even so, if you're thinking of boozing the evening away on the rocks, be respectful of each other and pick up your litter before you leave. After all, karma isn’t going to look too kindly on anyone seeding one of the most beautiful shorelines on the planet with shredded Rizlas and battered Kopparberg cans.
If you don’t care for sunset views, you can always pick up a beer or a shot from one of the many local bars dotted about the backstreets of San An or Ibiza Town. Wander off the main drag and you'll immediately stumble upon numerous dimly-lit options. Smile politely and order a Cerveza fría por favor. You'll be staggered at the cost. Or lack of it.
For the ultra austere among you, the only other option - apart from pilfering other peoples' watery dregs - is to hit the supermarkets. Of the three big chains we mentioned earlier, Eroski and Mercadona sell branded booze and local spirits, while Lidl only sell bottles marked with obscure stamps. In every instance, avoid the cheapest options unless you have a burning desire to spend the better part of your holiday clasping the toilet bowl.
When it comes to drinking in Ibiza's powerhouse superclubs, a handful of the island's best venues are now offering ravers the chance to purchase booze packages in advance, meaning you won’t have to pay full price on the night. At Amnesia, for instance, you can save up to 44% on drinks on selected nights. Hï are also offering discount bundles to their customers via their official website. If you're feeling thrifty, check 'em out.
WHERE TO PARTY FOR FREE?
There aren't too many free parties left on the island these days, but you can still listen to the very best DJs in world at Café Mambo and Cova Santa.
This summer, Café Mambo have a slew of huge pre-party residencies lined-up, including Claptone's new Pacha-based insignia, The Masquerade, which takes place on Mondays, Abode take over Thursdays, it's Defected on Fridays and Glitterbox on Sundays. And don’t forget the Bodyworks pre-party on Tuesdays, where Hï residents Solardo, Fisher and CamelPhat will perform on rotation.
When it comes to partying afterdark, SHADOWS at Cova Santa is by far the best free entry option on the island. The line-ups here are anything but Spartan, with trippy tech influencers Solomun, Nicole Moudaber, Audiofly and Michael Mayer joining Diynamic mainstay Magdalena on a stacked roster that will surely expose an entire generation of Brit clubbers to the esoteric wonderment of Cova Santa.
Elsewhere, you'll want to scrutinise Amnesia's early season promo offers, which include tickets to Do Not Sleep for just €30, with a round of drinks thrown in for good measure. And don't forget Ibiza's best boat party packages, where the ticket price often includes entry to at least one superclub dancefloor as part of the deal.
HOW TO GET AROUND THE ISLAND ON THE CHEAP?
Taking taxis everywhere will cost you a bomb. So don't do it. Instead, take the bus everywhere.
There are three main party resorts on the island: Playa d'en Bossa, San Antonio and Ibiza Town, all of which are serviced by the legendary Discobus, which covers the majority of clubland. There's the L3 Discobus which runs after midnight from San Antonio, via Amnesia and Privilege, all the way to Pacha in Ibiza Town. The L3B Discobus, which starts rolling in the mid-afternoon, connecting San Antonio with Ushuaïa and Hï in Playa d'en Bossa. And then there's a more local service connecting Playa d'en Bossa with Ibiza Town. A single ticket on any of these routes won’t set you back more than €3.50, so pick up a timetable and start devising a travel plan as soon as you land.
But Ibiza isn’t only about clubbing. The island bus network also connects you to some of the finest beaches found anywhere in the world. From San Antonio, you can explore Port des Torrent, Cala Gracio, Cala Comte, Cala Tarida and Cala Bassa for a few euros. There's also a limited service to Benirrás, home to the island's famous sunset drum ritual gathering. Google the beaches we've listed above and choose your favourite one. Or simply head off on a random mission, loaded, of course, with food, towels and plenty of bottled water.
Mental Note: Be sure to pay proper attention to the beach bus timetables. If you miss the last ride of the day and end up getting stranded you'll be forced to hail a taxi back to your hotel.
For full bus timetable information click here: www.ibizabus.com
WHERE TO BUY CIGARETTES?
In Ibiza, cigarettes, cigars, rolling papers and tobacco can only be sold by government-licensed tobacconists. And nowhere else. It's a situation that often renders smokers holidaying in Ibiza utterly confused, as they hurry from supermarket to convenience store to garage forecourt seeking their nicotine fix. All you have to do, of course, is drop by one of the many tobacco stores strewn about the island. These are emblazoned with a big yellow 'T' symbol and usually stay open until 9pm. After the sun goes down, you can still score smokes in most of Ibiza's top bars and nightclubs. The cigarette machines are slightly more expensive than the tobacconists and the product choice is obviously limited. Nevertheless, the price is still roughly 50 per cent cheaper than here in the UK.
WHERE TO FLY FROM AND WHEN?
Did you know you can often pick up BA flights to and from Ibiza as cheaply as you can Ryan Air flights? Last summer, we unearthed a BA flight departing Ibiza to London City for little more than the price of a dark rum mojito. Why was the flight so cheap? We're not entirely sure. Maybe the fact that we departed late on Saturday night on the 13th of month worked to dissuade holidaying ravers and superstitious hippies from travelling. But whatever the reason, the lesson here is not to assume without verification or absolute proof that the discount airlines are necessarily going to be cheaper than the larger international airlines.
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