Are you looking for things to see and do in San Antonio (Sant Antoni de Portmany), that don’t necessarily involve copious amounts of booze, banging clubs, and noisy bars?
As Europe’s premier party capital, many believe the whole of Ibiza Island is one of twelve-hour drinking sessions, noisy bars and clubs open throughout the night.
Although this analogy is still valid in some areas, things have changed significantly over the last 20 years.
San Antonio began life some two-thousand years ago as a rustic, sleepy little Spanish fishing village on the west coast of Ibiza. It remained that way, more or less, until the early 1960s, when the Spanish government began to realise there were some serious euros to be had from the hot Mediterranean sun.
As bars, clubs, and apartments mushroomed along the coast almost overnight, young 18-30 Brits, with a smattering of Germans and Italians, began to turn the island into the anything-goes party capital of Europe.
It was also a period when the island’s reputation began to suffer, with stories of drunken rowdiness, drug taking and fighting. As a result, tourist numbers began to drop off in favour of the other islands, where visitors could enjoy their sunshine holiday in quieter surroundings.
However, learning from their mistakes: since the early 1980s the authorities have worked hard to improve the situation. Although still the young party people’s favourite clubbing destination, Ibiza now concentrates on what it offers in other areas.
In this blog, for all who prefer a more varied holiday experience, I have compiled a list of the best things to do in San Antonio, from the best clubs to visit, to fabulous beaches, e-bike tours and exploring the coast by water.
Read also: Where to stay in Ibiza
15 Best Things to Do in San Antonio (Ibiza)
1. Stroll the beautiful San Antonio Promenade
Having dropped your bags in the apartment, a stroll along San Antonio’s picturesque promenade should be high on your list of things to do in San Antonio.
Running from the northern end of San Antonio Town, the promenade meanders three or four kilometres around the Bay of San Antonio towards the marina and main port.
Although one of San Antonio’s busiest areas both day and night, it is a great walk to release the stress and tension that builds up on a long flight.
Wide, and planted with palms and succulents, you will stroll past beaches offering a variety of water activities, including paragliding, banana boats, fly-boarding, jet skis and pretty much every other water sport you can think of.
The shoreside is lined with touristy shops, children’s playgrounds, fountains that light up at night, and bars, restaurants and fast-food joints to suit every need and palate.
It’s a great place to help you decide what you want to do on your holiday and somewhere you will walk along numerous times during your stay.
2. Walk towards the port and visit the Coves Blanques lighthouse
Initially constructed on an uninhabited area of the San Antonio coast, the Coves Blanques lighthouse was commissioned in 1897. As the town’s urban sprawl spread along the coast, the lighthouse became a part of suburban San Antonio, and today is easily reached from the footpath at the base of the harbour’s breakwater.
Plagued with problems over the years, the lighthouse was finally decommissioned in 1963 and remained empty and neglected for over 50 years.
Rescued by the local council in the early 2000s, the lighthouse was fully refurbished and in 2010 opened as a cultural centre and exhibition hall, holding various cultural activities and exhibitions of all kinds throughout the year.
3. Look for things to do in San Antonio from your favourite beach
For those visitors to the beautiful Balearic Islands who want nothing more than somewhere to lay their towel and soak up the rays, the nearest beach to the apartment will normally do.
For others, their best beach experience involves more than just sand, sea and sun. Is it safe for children? How noisy is it? Does it have good facilities and is it easily accessible with buggies?
With a stay in San Antonio, you have a good selection of beaches, all within easy walking distance. At first sight, all appear very similar, but dig a little deeper and you will find that strip of golden sand that will hit your particular spot.
Take your pick from these local beaches, or be a little more adventurous with a trip further around the coast to explore some of the best beaches in Ibiza.
Es Pouet beach: Off the main promenade, Es Pouet has it all. Facilities are good, with shops, bars and cafes, sun beds, parasols and lifeguards.
Disabled access is good, with amphibious wheelchairs available. Off the small jetty, local ferries take visitors further afield. You can hire boats and kayaks or ride on the banana boat. The water is shallow and safe for kids.
Playa S’Estanyol: Off the promenade, a little further around the coast. S’Estanyol beach comprises two small sandy coves with the usual shops, bars and cafes, sun beds, shades and lifeguards.
Several water sports are available, including inflatables and pedalos. Coastal waters are shallow and child friendly.
Playa Pinet: A little further along the coast will bring you to Pinet Beach. With a tree line to the rear of the beach blocking out the harsh concrete apartments, you will find cafes and bars on the beach, where your toes can play in the sand while you sip your pina colada.
Bars, cafes, shops and a small supermarket are by the beach. Sunbeds, shades, pedalos, paddleboards, banana boats and water skis are available. Shallow waters and a lifeguard make it safe for the little ones.
Playa Xinxo (Cala de Bou:) The last in the local group. All the usual facilities apply, including good access for disabled visitors. A strip of clean golden sand and shallow waters for some distance out make it safe for the kids. A range of water activities, including pedalos, are available.
Other amazing beaches near San Antonio are Cala Gracioneta, Cala Comte, Cala Salada and Cala Bassa.
4. Pay a visit to the Aquarium Cap Blanc
Head towards the northern end of San Antonio along the coastal path, and you will come across the Aquarium Cap Blanc.
Built originally in a large natural cave as a lobster hatchery, it was converted into a public aquarium in 1989, specialising in marine species from around the Ibizan coast.
It’s not only its setting in a water-hewn cave that makes it different. Inside, a walkway guides you around the exhibits where you can look down into open-top aquaria, much as if you were snorkelling.
Smaller species, Crustaceans etc, can be viewed through the glass in standard aquaria.
The aquarium is a member of CREM, a recovery network for injured marine species such as turtles, that are treated and rehabilitated before being released back into the wild.
It also undertakes educational activities with schools and colleges and offers internships to university students.
To round off your visit, the aquarium has a lovely terrace café area where you can enjoy grilled sardines with fresh local salad while you take in the beautiful views across the Bay of San Antonio. Definitely worth adding to your things to see in San Antonio list.
5. Take a boat excursion – one of the best things to do in Sant Antoni de Portmany
With the warm sun glistening off the blue Mediterranean Sea, what better way to lay back and relax than with a day on the water?
Plenty of boat trips are available from San Antonio, ranging from fun waterborne discos to visiting close-by beaches for a little swimming and snorkelling, to laid-back lunch cruises and trips around the island.
As you stroll the promenade, you will find plenty of trips advertised along the way. However, to be sure of getting what you want, pre-booking online is the best option, especially if holidaying in a group or family party.
The following is just a small selection of what is available. All prices are approximate.
- Sunset Boat Trip: – A three-hour sunset cruise from San Antonio harbour. The trip runs up the coast, taking in numerous coves and taking a break for you to try some swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Cost €80.
- Cala Salada & Ses Margalides Cruise with Snorkeling: Cruise the northern coastline of Ibiza on a catamaran cruise. Swim, snorkel, or paddle in the blue waters; visit the aquarium, enjoy a lunch stop, relax on Cala Salada & Ses Margalides, 2 pristine white sand beaches. Cost: €39.
- 3.5-Hour Sunset Party Cruise with DJ: Cruise the spectacular Ibiza coastline while taking a musical journey from classic house to forward-thinking dance floor hits. Watch the sunset while you sip 2 included drinks.Cost: €49.
- Glass Bottomed Catamaran Tour: See what goes on above and below the waves. Available as a day or evening trip, you can visit beaches only accessible from the sea and spend an hour at both Cala Bassa and Cala Conta beaches. Cost €69.
- Chill Out Boat Trip Ibiza: Three hours of laid-back relaxation stopping in various bays. Fresh fruit and drinks are included, lounge beds and part shaded deck are available as is equipment for snorkeling and stand-up paddling. Cost €80.
All-day trips around the island of Ibiza are also available, as are trips to the Island of Formentera, where you can explore the island before being picked up around five hours later.
6. Discover the real Ibiza on a quad, buggy, or scooter guided tour
Around San Antonio, you will find plenty of agents where you can hire everything from a car to a quad, a buggy, or an e-bike, and do your own thing.
To make the most of this idyllic island though, a guided tour is the way to go. Fully trained and experienced guides will lead you to some of the most memorable things you will see in San Antonio and the surrounding coast and countryside.
From the stunning Ibiza interior to beaches and coastal areas unreachable by car. Discover forests, cultivated groves, and villages where you can take time to enjoy a snack and drink.
7. Visit the Church of San Antonio
Located just off the promenade as you head toward the port area, the church is the second oldest in Ibiza. It was built in 1305 by the Archbishop of Tarragona to serve the religious needs of the local population.
In the early 16th century, the coast was regularly plagued with marauding pirates, and the church was substantially fortified, including steel doors and cannons on the roof, to protect sheltering residents and repel any pirates who got too close.
The church is open most of the day, with a mass held at 19.00. Its collection of artefacts, statues and paintings also makes it worth visiting.
Other local places of worship include the Church of Sant Rafael, the underground Chapel of Sant Agnes to the north of the town on the Cala Salada road, and the small Chapel of Buscastell.
Read also: Best things to do in Ibiza
8. More things to do in San Antonio: View the cave paintings at Ses Fontanelles cave
Not the easiest attraction to reach, but if you have a passion for prehistoric cave paintings and magnificent views, it is an excursion well worth the effort.
From Cala Salada, the walk takes around one hour over a rough, rocky trail.
If you are considering renting a car, make it a 4×4. Once you leave the main tarmac, the rough track is strewn with rocks and potholes, but you can get close to the cliffs, leaving just a short hike to the cave.
Used back in the day as a wine cellar, the cave at Ses Fontanelles sits around 50 metres above the beach.
The paintings were discovered in 1917 by French archaeologist Henri Breuli and are thought to date back to the Punic era, around 200 BC.
Unfortunately, in recent years the entrance has been fenced off to protect the cave paintings from deterioration caused by human breath.
Nonetheless, you can still make out the paintings as you look into the cave and resin replicas have been placed around the entrance for closer examination.
It is also an excellent place to rest and eat your packed lunch, enjoying the stunning views across the bay and along the coast.
9. Sunset Strip – the place to be for the best sunsets in Ibiza
Pick up the promenade and head towards the port. Walk to the end of the harbour, pick up the steps off to the right, and you’re at the beginning of Sunset Strip.
The promenade is lined with café/bars and restaurants on the one side and tables and chairs on the sea side for visitors to enjoy a drink or meal as they photograph the setting sun.
You’ll find new bars such as Space Eat and Dance, Savannah, purporting to attract a more mature clientele, and old favourites from the 1980s, such as Café del Mar and Café Mambo, regularly crowned best bars on the island, that have stood the test of time.
Most of these vibrant bars hold pre-party parties. With DJs from all musical genres playing their sets, it gets very busy, so early arrival is recommended.
It’s a long promenade, and the further you walk it does get a little quieter, but only a little. Nonetheless, even if you’re not a party person, the fabulous sunsets and sheer vibrancy of the area mean you have to add at least one visit to your things to do in San Antonio list.
10. Dining out in San Antonio, Ibiza
One thing’s for sure, with fast-food joints on almost every corner, and most bars offering everything from a full-English to tapas plates, you won’t have a problem finding something to eat in San Antonio.
However, I have highlighted a few well established, quality restaurants for those looking for something a little more for that special occasion or family get-together.
Es Tragon – Nestling in a pine wooded area just a five-minute cab ride from San Antonio, Es Tragon restaurant is the island’s only Michelin star award winner. A great place to enjoy a taste of traditional Mediterranean fine dining, although you will pay a premium.
Rincon de Pepe Tapas Bar – Located in San Antonio town at Calle San Mateo, by Fountains Square, this restaurant opened in 1962. It is one of the town’s oldest restaurants specialising in Spanish tapas dishes, steaks, fish, shellfish and kebabs.
Rita’s Cantina – One of my favourites. Open from 08.00am to 01.00am. This is a great little bar for breakfast, brunch, lunch or snacks in a lovely setting by the marina.
La Cantina Canalla – If you have a taste for Latin American food, then this is worth visiting. Located at the bottom of West End, La Cantina Canalla is not a Mexican restaurant but Peruvian. If you’re not sure, ask for a tasting plate. Great food, reasonably priced and excellent service.
Relish – Located on the waterfront, Relish is a great venue to seek out your favourite comfort food. Open from 17.00 to 23.00, pick from pork belly and juicy burgers, steaks, curries and pasta, along with vegetarian and vegan options – all at very reasonable prices.
11. We’ll meet at El Huevo de Colón (The Egg of Columbus)
Located on the large roundabout at the entrance to San Antonio, the egg was unveiled in 1992, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering America.
At 6 metres high, the egg has a hole through the centre holding a model of the Santa Maria Caravel, the sailing ship Columbus skippered on his journey.
Easily located, the egg is often used as a meeting place for groups who get split up as they explore the town and surrounding area, and is one of the town’s most photographed attractions.
12. Check out the West End Party Venues to suit all pockets
Are you ready for a little hard-core partying? If you’ve previously visited the Sunset Strip, you’ve already got a foot on the party ladder.
The ‘West End’ is San Antonio’s main area for throbbing bars and pulsing clubs that draw party people like a magnet from as far afield as Ibiza Town and beyond.
The main zone begins around 100 metres from the beachfront and includes a few of the nearby smaller streets. The whole area is fully pedestrianised with themed bars and clubs catering for every musical genre you can think of – and some.
13. Go wild in San Antonio super clubs
Located close to the West End, two of San Antonio’s favourite super clubs are arguably Eden, reputed to have the best sound system on the island, with regularly changing DJs and genres. And Es Paradis, a club that dates back to the hedonistic party days of the 1970s.
It became famous (infamous?) for its renowned water parties, which it still continues today, and which regularly packs them in throughout the season.
If you can’t find what you want in San Antonio (which is highly unlikely), you can enjoy other super-clubs such as Amnesia, Pacha and Hi Ibiza. The journey takes around 20 minutes by cab, or you can catch the party bus from the main bus station every thirty minutes from midnight.
14. Enjoy daytime pool partying in an upmarket environment
Check out these two daytime venues if you prefer to avoid the large crowds but still like to party. Just don’t expect to pay €2 a pint or €6 for a cocktail.
Ibiza Rocks Hotel is located off the San Antonio promenade, with events and facilities open to resident and non-resident guests.
Listen to the latest hits from international stars such as Craig David, Joel Corry, Becky Hill and Fatboy Slim while enjoying your pool party. Event tickets are generally between €20 and €50, depending on the event.
Located on the seafront alongside the San Antonio promenade, O Beach Club opened in 2012 for a more discerning clientele.
On the terrace you can enjoy professionally curated cocktails as the party kicks off. Or just relax in one of the numerous hammocks or VIP tables around the pool area, while resident DJs spin nostalgic sets or the latest house music.
For over 18s only, the club opens at midday to 10.00pm, and entrance fees range from €20 to €40 depending on the event. Booking online will attract a discount.
15. Find a unique holiday souvenir in picturesque Sant Rafel de Sa Creu
If your body’s telling you it needs some time away from the sand, sea and crowded beaches, consider a few hours in Sant Rafel de Sa Creu.
This pretty village is located five miles inland from San Antonio. Just an eight-minute cab ride or 15 minutes by bus, it has, over the years, developed a reputation for its authentic, traditional gastronomy. That alone is enough reason for a visit, but there is much more to Sant Rafel de Sa Creu.
Since the 1970s, it has been attracting national and international ceramists, artisans, potters and artists to set up homes, workshops and studios. So much so that it has been declared a place of special artisan interest by the island council.
As you explore the village streets, you will find exhibition halls, Artisan workshops and studios where you can watch potters and ceramists producing their products, and browse the shelves for that totally unique memento.
Throughout the summer, on a Thursday morning, an Artisan market is set up on the main street, selling everything from pottery to ceramics, hand-made goods, paintings, clothing and woven baskets; and attracting many locals from the surrounding area.
So there we have it, 15 of the best things to see and do in San Antonio.