A guide to things to do in Formentera
The magical isle of Formentera is the smallest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, a treasure trove of jewel-toned flora and fauna surrounded by shimmering blue seas. Its quiet charm and tranquil ambience is what sets it apart from its neighbouring islands Ibiza and Majorca, making it a haven for the glamorous Mediterranean celebrity-set.
Bask on the beach
First on the list of Formentera’s things to do involves beach life – one of the most glorious things here is to simply bask on the beach. With its powder-soft sands and turquoise-clear waters Formentera is pure heaven for sun worshippers and beach lovers. If you are looking for that golden tan and sun-kissed hair to go with your designer shades you will be spoilt for choice, the island has 20km worth of sunbathing territory to choose from.^Playa es Pujols is a hit with families and water-sport enthusiasts while Playa Illetes, a beach of legendary beauty, is fast becoming the destination du jour for island getaways. Other popular spots include the Migjorn and Llevant stretches with most beaches complemented by a good selection of welcoming chiringitos (beach bars) offering refreshing drinks and mouth-watering tapas.
Venture off the beaten track
If you fancy a break from the beach, head inland. Cycling is one of the best ways to see the island and it’s cheap, at just £5 a day to hire a bike. The island is criss-crossed by Circuitos Verdes, 20 designated cycling and hiking trails that will take you off the beaten path to some of the island’s most beautiful spots. The picturesque trail through the Ses Salines Formentera Natural Park covers a wide expanse of the island, from the Es Trucadors peninsula to the wetlands around Estany Pudent and the old salt pans around Estany des Peix. Take in the panoramic views and breathtaking sights of vineyards, dunes, pine groves and fig trees as you cycle through nature parks, farmland, beaches, and towns that have been declared Natural Areas of Special Interest.
Discover the Freus Marine Reserve
The Freus Marine Reserve is the only natural area in the Mediterranean Sea included on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites. It was created to protect and to regain threatened species and abounds in a rich variety of vibrant marine life. The underwater landscape of caves, shipwrecks and seagrass play host to a myriad of multicoloured aquatic creatures from sea turtles to starfish and the year-round constant temperature and crystal-clear water make for perfect diving conditions.^Discovering the Freus Marine Reserve and its secret corners by canoe or kayak is an adventure all on its own. Paddle alongside rocky and rugged coastlines at your own pace, taking time to stop for a swim or to indulge in a spot of snorkelling.
Explore the ancient ruins of Formentera
If your Mediterranean dream includes a location steeped in history, there are several beautiful monuments and historical sites in Formentera that are worth a visit. The remains of the Cap de Barberia Megalithic Settlement show that the island was inhabited from 2,000 BC onwards. In the capital of the island stands The Church of Sant Francesc Xavier which, in the 18th century was used as a fortress against pirate raids from the nearby Barbary Coast, eventually becoming a refuge and shelter for the parishioners. Other attractions not to be missed include the ruins of the Can Blai Roman Castellum and the iconic La Mola Moli Vell, a windmill dating to 1778.
Sample the good life
In Formentera Spain, your list of things to do should definitely include the village of San Francisco which is known as the capital of the island – many of the island’s festivals and important events are celebrated in its main square. Home to tiny boutiques, bars and eateries San Francisco is at its busiest during the day. Massages and yoga classes are popular with tourists as are the bohemian hippy market stalls selling pottery, wood carvings, paintings, hand-made jerseys and country-style leatherwork.^A lot of the island’s villages feature traditional church squares, open-air cafe bars and classic Mediterranean architecture. Many of Formentera’s things to do revolve around music and festivals. In the summer it is possible to enjoy flamenco, classical guitar and piano, choirs, rock and blues, Catalan folk music and jazz. The atmosphere generated in the village squares by this unique blend of music, dancing and tradition is a magical experience.^Formentera might be small in size but it has a whole lot of things to do. Whether you are at a beach party on Es Pujols, or watching the yachts and ferries coming and going from the village and harbour of La Savina, the allure of this intriguing location will awaken your senses. If you’re planning your holidays to the Balearic Islands, the dazzling oceans and sweet summer fiestas of Formentera are but a hop, skip and a jump away – your island of paradise beckons.