Ibiza holidays

24 hours in Formentera – Sant Francesc and Illetes

To experience the true essence of Formentera, you need to head ashore and explore the colourful, character-filled villages and all the treasures within them, starting with the island’s capital,...

A day trip to Formentera has become known as an Ibiza holiday essential in recent years, however those in-the-know (especially white isle residents) will tell you a basic boat trip only skims the surface of our sister island’s magic.

To experience the true essence of Formentera, you need to head ashore – beyond those famous beach restaurants – and explore the colourful, character-filled villages and all the treasures within them. Starting with the island’s capital, Sant Francesc…

10am – Breakfast

A full day in Formentera requires a serious fuel-up and there’s no better way to kick start your adventures than with breakfast in the island’s capital, Sant Francesc. Here you’ll find CaNa Pepa – a kitsch Spanish finca buzzing with an eclectic crowd of cool hipsters and fashion-forward islanders, giving you a true taste of modern Formentera life. Watch the sleepy village awaken beneath the canopy of vibrant pink bougainvillea or relax and unwind in the intimate private courtyard overlooking the church. With fantastic coffee and an array of options to suit all appetites – including Formentera’s finest eggs Benedict and scrumptious homemade pancakes – breakfast at CaNaPepa sets you up for the day nicely. – +34 608 576 060   

12pm – Shopping

A post-breakfast stroll throughout Sant Francesc is obligatory. A hub of creativity and craftsmanship, the independent boutiques peppered throughout the village showcase a unique fusion of fashion, interiors and culture that define Formentera. Top local picks include hand-made jewellery by Lorenzo Pepe, one-off fashion finds from Rhei, classic high-end fashion from Muy – also filled with plenty of dreamy interior design inspiration – and contemporary clothing, hip accessories and trendy homewares from Balafia. Market stalls scattered throughout the centre every morning during the summer mix modern day influences with an authentic bohemian style that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.

2pm – Lunch

If all that shopping has built up an appetite, head to the white sandy shores of the world-famous beach, Illetes – after a picturesque ten-minute drive through La Savina – and walk up to Es Moli de Sal for lunch. This old white mill on the hill has been transformed into a stylish eatery filled with comfy, driftwood furnishing, offering one the best view points on the island, with the beach of Illetes on one side, the port of La Savina on the other and Es Vedra in the distance on the horizon. The menu is a typical Mediterranean affair, with distinctive Formentera touches – the paella and potato gnocchi are not to be missed – and an extensive wine list provides the finishing touch to wash it down. Es Moli de Sal has been known to attract celebrities and royalty, including the King of Spain from time to time, so reservations are essential. – +34 971 187 491

5pm – Sun, sea and swimming

Sun worshippers rejoice – there are still plenty of hours left in the day to soak up that blazing Mediterranean sunshine and after lunch is the ideal time of day to hit Illetes. Year after year, this stunning playa is declared one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches and it’s easy to see why, with its seemingly endless strip of white sand and crystalline shallow waters that rival the Caribbean. Mix with the jet set, who are constantly streaming into the beach from their luxury yachts moored a little further out at sea, the Italian expat community, local Formentera families and day-trippers from Ibiza – all vying for a sunbed or a patch of sand of which to call their own for the day. Once you’ve pitched up, the best thing to do is, quite simply, nothing! Just sit back, relax and enjoy this slice of heaven!

9pm – Sunset

When you’re on this side of Formentera, the sunset is simply too good to miss so when you’re done with the beach, head into über-popular beach club Beso Beach – quite simply the place to be on Illetes as dusk falls. As the sun goes down, the action at Beso Beach heats up – it’s impossible not to be drawn in by the music and electric atmosphere. Sip on the beach club’s signature mojitos on the sand as you feel the last of the day’s warm sun as you soak up the scenery, good music and good vibes. If you’re in the mood for a party, this is the place to get it started – be warned, spontaneous table dancing has been known to happen quite regularly! – +34 971 931 204

9.30pm – Dinner

Ca Na Joana was born five years ago in one of the oldest houses in Formentera – a 17th century building tucked neatly away from the town centre – and is now considered one of the best restaurants in Formentera. Combining traditional Spanish architecture with soft hanging lights and elegant detailing such as a stunning archway of flowers flowing over the rooftop and allowing space for quirky touches throughout, it boasts a warm and peaceful ambience and is the perfect setting for a romantic, candle-lit dinner. The exquisite Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and the warm, welcoming service allows you to feel at home here. There is no formal dress code despite its high-end reputation – expect a relaxed affair where it’s as acceptable to come straight from the beach as it is to get dressed up and feel as fancy as the furnishings! – + 34 971 323 160

11pm – Live music

For a change of scenery and some entertainment with true Formentera soul, head to Fonda Plate for authenticity, happy vibes and soulful music. This bar is very representative of the historic image of Sant Francesc and home to some of the best live music on the island, any night of the week. Centred in the middle of town with a vine-covered terrace adorned in white fairy lights opposite the church, this truly is the heart of Formentera by night. Dance the night away to one of the island’s most-sought after local bands who have no trouble in getting the crowd on their feet and creating an environment filled with energy, alongside locals and holidaymakers looking to make their night last longer. +34 971 322 313

12.30am – Late night hangs

A great place for late night hangs or pre-clubbing drinks, Sabor boasts chilled out music and a quirky, Renaissance-inspired interior with comfy seating. There’s a certain charisma and urban edge about this Italian-run night spot. Friendly and fun, Sabor Ibérico attracts the local hipster community, offering an atmosphere where you can sit and relax, sipping on a glass of wine or cocktail at your own pace. Well, at least until last drinks are called at 2am! +34 611 254 875

2am – Lights out!

Blending in neatly with its surroundings thanks to minimal white decor, soft furnishings and subtle Spanish influences, this luxurious contemporary hotel respects the beauty and tranquillity of the village. The ideal place for a blissful nights sleep after a busy day in Formentera, Es Mares Hotel & Spa is centred in the middle of Sant Francesc and possesses a serenity that allows you to disconnect from the rest of the world. Rest your head on luxurious fluffy pillows and delve into crisp white sheets and enjoy your beauty sleep before arising for a morning of spa treatments, a dip in the courtyard pool or a gym workout. Another 24 hours in Formentera awaits. – +34 971 323 216 Words and photos by Mimi Gerrard-Morgan Illetes photo by Ana Lui