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Exploring Dalt Vila, Ibiza Town

Be you a first time visitor or an experienced explorer, Dalt Vila never fails to amaze and impress - and it's completely free!

Exploring within the fortified walls of Ibiza Town's Dalt Vila ("high town") has proven to be the highlight of many an Ibiza holidaymaker's stay here. With the summer season about to start, and the famous Medieval Festival just around the corner, we set out to this UNESCO World Heritage site to remind ourselves once again of its charm.

Dalt Vila is a higgledy-piggledy maze of cobbled streets. It is a residential area, as evidenced by laundry flapping over the balconies, and the local Ibiza people going about their day in the midst of the tourists. But in amongst the traditional white-washed houses, is a fascinating combination of art, style, culture and, of course, history.

There are three official "routes" around Dalt Vila and you can get a map from the tourist information office. These are a good guide especially if you are visiting for the first time. As we've both been to Dalt Vila before, my editor, Cat, and I decided to simply "follow our noses" and see if we could find anything new. We certainly did!

The town is brimming with history and two of the most prominent figures from the island's past have monuments to their honour here. Look out for the bronze statue of Isidor Macabich…a priest and historian who was the first person to study the history of Ibiza in detail. In Plaza de Espana, there is a monument to Guillem de Montgri who, in 1235, conquered Ibiza for King Jaime I. This reclining statue is a replica of the tomb of Guillem de Montgri in Gerona.

For an insight into Ibiza during the Arabic era, the Centre d'Interpretacio Madina Yabisa on Calle Major is well worth a visit. Part of the Islamic wall and two towers that protected the port and city from the eleventh to the sixteenth century are actually still preserved inside the building.

Art-lovers would be well advised to visit Museu Puget which can be found (like the Centre d'Interpretacio Madina Yabisa) on Calle Major. As well as hosting temporary exhibitions, the museum has a permanent collection of works by Ibiza artists, Narcis Puget Vinas (1874 - 1960) and his son Narcis Puget Riquer (1916 - 1983). Bizarrely, both father and son had to give up painting in the 1950s due to their spontaneous failing eye-sight. The styles are very different, and give a colourful and interesting insight into Ibiza life and characters spanning many decades.

But if museums are not your thing, there is still plenty to keep you happy in Dalt Vila, not least of which are the spectacular views. From the highest level the public can reach, on one side is the airport, Playa d'en Bossa and the salt pans of Las Salinas, whilst on the other, you can see right across to Talamanca and Marina Botafoch. The island of Formentera is also clearly visible. The quaint, white houses with their red and orange roofs, the sparkling turquoise Mediterranean and the backdrop of lush green pine hills is glorious and awe-inspiring to say the least; truly the stuff of picture postcards.

As you are wandering around Dalt Vila, don't be afraid to peer through the sturdy wooden doors if they are standing ajar. This is a town of contrasts and surprises, so quite often you will find a pretty courtyard, or gift shop selling local crafts. On Calle Conquista, we even came across a display of handprints of celebrity guests to Ibiza, including those of Penelope Cruz. Very Hollywood Boulevard!

For a break from exploring and a well-deserved relaxing drink or meal, you will find plenty of bars and restaurants of all descriptions. Of particular note is Tentazione Restaurant which is literally built into the walls of Dalt Vila. For a more budget-friendly way to enjoy your day, there are plenty of shaded picnic areas, and public WCs.

Our time was limited in Dalt Vila and this, in no way, purports to be a detailed guide, more an insight into the great variety of things to enjoy. We haven't even touched on Nuestra Señora de las Nievas cathedral right at the top of the fortification, nor the sixteenth century Santo Domingo Church. And what about the other museums, such as the Archaeological Museum of Ibiza in Cathedral Square? Or the Convento de San Cristobal, a nun's convent which is open to the public? We could go on, but you get the picture. There is lots to see and do here, and enough variety to please everyone.

However, it is very easy to lose track of time in Dalt Vila, and we were astounded to discover (courtesy of Cat's pedometer) that in two and a half hours, we had walked over eight kilometres. So, our main advice is make sure you wear comfortable shoes or trainers; flip-flops and crocs can be treacherous on the slippery cobbles.

Oh...and don't forget your camera!

Quick Facts

What? Dalt Vila

Where? The grand fortress that sits above Ibiza Town

Why? An amazing day out, completely free of charge, with stunning views, great museums and complete immersion in history

When? Year round but we especially recommend the Medieval Festival and the IMS Grand Finale

Disabled facilities? Regrettably the 2,500 year old UNESCO venue does not easily accommodate disabled access. Most of the routes are cobbled.

Average Spend per head? Free

Top Tips? See ‘When' above – if you're on the island try not to miss these two events!

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