Our Guide to Visit Formentera for a Mediterranean Getaway
If you’re ready for a laid back, beach-filled Mediterranean getaway, then you should plan to visit Formentera. We continue to be surprised at how few people think of this smallest of the Balearic Islands, since the typical, more popular destinations are Ibiza and Mallorca. Many of the locals here on the mainland Costa Blanca where we live, like to say that Formentera is what Ibiza was twenty years ago – pristine, bohemian, and laid back.
After enjoying a four-day getaway there ourselves, Formentera has gained a place in our hearts that will definitely draw us back for a return visit. From entrancing pink sands and golden sunsets to Caribbean-rivaled turquoise waters, it holds an abundance of natural beauty and vibe for such a small island. Whether you’re looking for a weekend escape or an extended vacation, here is how to visit Formentera for a Mediterranean getaway you’ll never forget.
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Table of Contents to Visit Formentera
How to Get to Formentera
How to Get Around Formentera
Where to Stay in Formentera
What to Do in Formentera
What to Eat & Drink in Formentera
When to Visit Formentera & Other Tips
How to Get to Formentera
There are three ways to get to Formentera: by plane and ferry, or by sailing.
Getting to Formentera by Plane & Ferry
Depending on where you’re coming from, flying may be the best option. Since there is no airport in Formentera, it will involve flying to Ibiza and then taking a short ferry ride from Ibiza to nearby Formentera. The ride averages about 35 minutes one-way and costs start around 22€ one-way.
Getting to Formentera by Ferry from Mainland Spain
Taking a ferry to Formentera from mainland Spain is a great way to travel there. We recommend going from Denia, which is the closest port on the mainland and only about a 2-hour ride. It’s also where we live and we highly recommend tying in a couple nights in Denia to discover this town and its wonderful gastronomy and beaches. You can also take a ferry from Valencia, Alicante, and even Barcelona.
Balearia is the main ferry company here in Spain and their headquarters is in Denia. They do the routes from the Spanish ports throughout the Mediterranean. For help planning and booking your trip and ferry tickets, contact me today.
Traveling with Your Bike to Formentera
When we first went to Formentera, we took the Balearia ferry and took along our bicycles, which were free to take along as part of their green initiatives. You can also take electric scooters on Balearia ferries for free! Just make sure that at the time of booking, you indicate that you are taking a bicycle or electric scooter with you.
The experience of taking our bikes was really great. We got to line up at the front of all the vehicles and be the first ones to board. They guided us into the bottom hold where the cars go and attendants were very kind and helpful in directing us where to place our bikes along the side wall and strapped them in securely for us.
Getting to Formentera by Sailboat
For those wanting an even more unique experience, sailing to Formentera is a great way to go. We sailed from Denia Formentera as part of a sailing trip to Ibiza and we loved it! It does take around eight hours to sail to either island from this point on the mainland, even when motoring. But that is why many sailing charter companies here plan to leave at sunset and sail through the night so that you arrive at sunrise and have a full day to enjoy your destination.
And of course, you can sail from Valencia or Alicante to Formentera as well but it will take longer. Our second time to Formentera, we anchored a night in the Cala Saona which was gorgeous with a sailboat!
How to Get Around in Formentera
The great thing about getting around Formentera is that the island is mostly flat except at the far south east end. This area of Mola rises up to a plateau area with fantastic views and a lighthouse.
With this in mind, getting around Formentera by bicycle is a fantastic way to experience the island. This is especially the case because Formentera has 32 green routes with over 100 kilometers of trails, making it quite safe to ride bikes and hike.
We loved riding our bicycles around Formentera and they’re not even electric bikes. The paths were well marked with some being hard-packed sand and others being paved. Some stretches were on paved roads but most were less-traveled with little traffic.
Can you get around Formentera with no vehicle and only bikes? Absolutely! When we went with our two other friends, that is what all four of us did. And when we wanted to go out for a nice dinner one night further from where we stayed, we simply shared a taxi which worked great. There are plenty of places to rent bikes in La Savina and throughtout the island if you don’t want to bring your own.
Car Rentals & Scooters in Formentera
The other most common way to get around the island when you visit Formentera, is by car rental. Funner yet is to rent scooters for traveling Formentera, or go classic with one of those fun, open jeep-like vehicles.
The roads are quite straight on the mostly flat terrain and villages are spread out, making the roads quite safe and easy to navigate.
Where to Stay in Formentera
Above Image – The classy Cala Saona Hotel & Spa is the backdrop for this gorgeous cove.
If you want to stay in a budget-friendly apartment in Formentera, we highly recommend where we stayed at Viviendas Turisticas S’Estanyol. The two bedroom, one bathroom unit was on a higher floor of a simple yet charming white-washed building. It was located conveniently near the ferry port in La Salvina and had a nice balcony with views of the fishing boats in a small bay on the western side of the narrow straits here.
For a fantastic hotel in Formentera, check into the Cala Saona Hotel & Spa. Not only is the small bay enchanting, but the hotel and its delicious restaurant has spectacular views, as well as an idyllic chiringuito (beach bar) and another local restaurant. Since it’s on the west side of the island, it’s also one of the best places to watch the sunset. Further below we’ll share more about this particular beach area.
While staying in La Salvina is a great option because of how close it is to the port, another wonderful part of the island to stay is the Platja de Migjorn area, which we’ll share more about in this article. Since the island is so small, staying inland is wonderful as well, with plenty of beaches within a short distance in any direction.
What to Do in Formentera
Above Image – The boardwalk on the stunning Playa Illetes.
As we’ve mentioned, cycling around Formentera is a great activity to enjoy on your visit. Just make sure that it’s not when it’s too hot, which tends to be from July through August.
TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT
Admire the Ses Salines (salt flats) just east of La Salvina. The waters here vary in beautiful shades of pink and blue thanks to the high salt content. It’s also a bird watcher’s paradise with amazing biodiversity, and can be seen from one of the Formentera Green Routes.
Then there’s also other great activities like hiking and seeing the historic sites. Formentera has several historic sites, from 18th century defense towers to old world churches and even a windmill.
Historic Sites in Formentera:
- Church of Sant Francesc Xavier
- Capella of Sa Tanca Vela
- Cap de Barberia Megalithic Settlement
- Cana Costa Megalithic Site
- Can Blai Roman Castellum ruins
- The Windmill Molino viejo de la Mola
- Far de la Mola Lighthouse
Historic Defense Towers in Formentera:
- Torre De Sa Guardiola
- Torre La Gavina
- Torre del Cap de Barbaria
- Torre Des Pi Des Català
- Torre de sa Punta Prima
The Best Beaches in Formentera
Of course, the best thing to do in Formentera is enjoy the beaches. It truly is a treasure chest of beaches that you will never tire of discovering. Even though the island is small, there are so many little coves, bays, and sandy stretches to explore and experience. Here are some of our favorite ones that we absolutely fell in love with.
Above Image – Look for the pink sand along the water’s edge in the Playa Illetes.
Playa de Les Illetes, Formentera
Les Illetes beach is the most popular and best known beach in Formentera, and once you’re there, you’ll see why. It’s a long sandy strait that extends north like an elegant finger point to Ibiza. Made up of sand dunes with rustic, green shrubs, it’s quite easy to ride bikes down here if you stay on the dirt road and trails. The narrow strait is so thin that in some places you can see to either side.
Platja de Les Illetes is on the westside with entrancing, calm waters and the most beautiful pink sand I have ever seen. Sit right on the shore where the water laps back and forth, and when it rolls back you’ll see the pink sands swirling.
Playa de Llevant, Formentera
On the east side of Playa de Les Illetes is Playa de Llevant, which very appropriately means east in Catalan. This side gets more wind and waves, creating an ideal beach for kitesurfing and windsurfing in Formentera.
Cala Saona, Formentera
When you visit Formentera, the Cala Saona is the best for sunset. Located on the west side of the island, this small bay has an ideal sandy beach at the foot of the Cala Saona Hotel & Spa. The beach is public with sunbeds and umbrellas you can rent.
Make sure to enjoy drinks and lunch at the hippie-shack-style chiringuito that is perched up on the rocks along the south side. There is also a local restaurant on the opposite side and the restaurant and lounge area in the hotel, which has great views of the bay. This is also the perfect place to anchor a sailboat if you get to enjoy sailing around Formentera, which we’ve enjoyed and highly recommend.
Platja de Migjorn, Formentera
The Playa de Migjorn is a large, gently curved stretch of sandy beach on the south side of Formentera. There are adorable beach bars and restaurants along here, tucked into the natural sand dunes.
We enjoyed a great lunch at Sol y Luna Restaurant after having a refreshing swim here. Slightly further east from this area, is the iconic Blue Bar which is famous for its closing parties late into the night and known as the place to enjoy music and drinks.
Above Image – The Playa Illetes has Caribbean-like colors.
There are so many stunning beaches in Formentera, that it’s hard to experience them all. Aside from those that I’ve mentioned, there is Playa los Arenales, Calo d’Es Mort, and Platja del Pujols, to name just a few. Overall, keep in mind that the beaches on the east side of Formentera are likely to have more waves, choppy water, and wind.
Sailing Around Formentera
Sailing is another great activity when you visit Formentera. It doesn’t have to be restricted to sailing to Formentera as your means to get here, and instead can be enjoyed as a half or full day charter.
Or maybe a sailboat is your accommodation for your stay in Formentera. With all the splendid beaches and protective coves to anchor in, sailing around Formentera is a great experience to have.
Visit Formentera for the Formentera Jazz Festival
What could be better than days of world class, live jazz music in the gorgeous, Mediterranean setting of Formentera? If you’re into music, then you’ll want to visit Formentera for this annual music festival that takes place each year, usually the first weekend of June.
For four days, different jazz groups perform at various places throughout Formentera. You see, Formentera has a history of drawing celebrated creatives and artists throughout the 60s and 70s, such as Pink Floyd, Gilberto Gil and King Crimson. Today, music continues to be celebrated along with the vibrant art that Formentera inspires. The festival also honors the importance of the environment by hosting a ‘Plastic Collection’ event on the last day.
Visit FormenteraJazzFestival.info to learn more.
Where to Eat & Drink in Formentera
For Breakfast & Brunch
Our favorite place for breakfast in Formentera, which was so good we went everyday, is Blau Formentera. It’s location is right in La Salvina and around the corner from where we stayed. Their Acai bowls, artisan bagels, pastries and pancakes, as well as various other homemade breakfast dishes, are to die for! And there’s even more, such as great eggs benedict. From what we’ve heard, they now also serve lunch and dinner.
Dinner in La Salvina
The Quimera Restaurant in the Hotel La Salvina is a charming place for dinner. Facing west, it’s perfect for sunset with the colorful, local fishing boats anchored in the small bay. The food we had here was delicious and I remember that they had a contraption blowing bubbles on the lounge terrace where we started with drinks. It was a wonderful overall experience.
Above Image – The perfect sunset view from the restaurant at Cala Saona Hotel & Spa.
Cala Saona Hotel & Spa for a Nice Beach Dinner in Formentera
I know, I know – there are so many countless great places to enjoy dinner on the beach in the Formentera. Along the enchanting stretch of Platja Les Illetes are a few choices.
Yet moving away from the more popular beach spots, we recommend the restaurant in the Cala Saona Hotel & Spa. With the restaurant being positioned higher up from the small bay beach below, and the open-air terrace seating area, the views are spectacular. Facing west, it is ideal for sunset where you can admire the sailboats anchored in the cove. It’s a wonderful spot for a romantic dinner date in Formentera or to enjoy with a group.
Chiringuito Saona for a Great Beach Bar in Formentera
One of our favorite beach bars to enjoy when we visit Formentera, is the Chiringuito Saona. Located on the sandstone cliffs overlooking the Cala Saona, it features wonderful drinks along with traditional plates of Spanish food and an array of bocadillos (sandwiches). Keep in mind that they take only cash, no credit cards.
Sol y Luna Restaurant for Lunch on the Beach in Formentera
Venture to the Platja de Migjorn for a delicious lunch on the beach at Sol y Luna Restaurant. Even if you can’t sit on the outdoor terrace, the interior is charming with its old world Spanish style and open layout. The boquerones fritos (fried fish) and other seafood are quite good here.
Above Image – The blue sea views from the terrace at the Blue Bar.
Blue Bar for Drinks and Music in Formentera
You can’t visit Formentera without spending time at the legendary Blue Bar. Also on the long, curved stretch of Migjorn Beach in the south of the island, you can’t miss the bright blue color of the building and practically everything that goes with it.
The Blue Bar is known as the place to finish the night, usually into the wee hours of the morning. Whether it’s a DJ or live band, music is also key to the Blue Bar’s existence. It sits frontline on the sandy dunes and has eye candy views of the blue Mediterranean waters.
When to Visit Formentera & Other Tips
Above Image – Sunset from Quimera Restaurant in La Savina.
As you can probably guess, July and August are the busiest and hottest times of the year to visit Formentera. We actually visited in August our first time, but it was the first August after the COVID-19 Pandemic, hardly anyone was traveling, and the ferry tickets were a great deal cheaper. We even rode our bikes around the island in this crazy hot weather, which we survived but do not recommend.
An ideal time to visit Formentera is May through June since many businesses are opening up for the tourist season starting May 1st. The water may still be a bit brisk (the Mediterranean is quite cold), but the warm temperatures and frequent sunshine will balance it out.
Another great time is September in Formentera and early October. September is when we sailed to Formentera from Denia and the weather could not have been more perfect. Businesses are still open and the water is ideal after warming up all summer.
The rest of the year, many businesses are closed for the winter months in Formentera. However, there are still accommodations and services also open in the winter and it can be a fantastic trip to get away from people and busyness for enjoying some well deserved peace and quiet. Keep in mind that it can still be somewhat chilly during these months (getting as low as 60 degrees fahrenheit) with some rain showers and storms, but is otherwise sunny and mild.
Here are some other great tips for visiting Formentera:
- Pack water shoes for the rocky beach areas.
- Include snorkel gear in your bag.
- Take a water bottle and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Lather on a good, reef safe sunscreen to protect from the intense Mediterranean sun.
- In the high season, book restaurants in advance to make sure you get a table. For the chiringuitos (beach bars) you can be more spontaneous.
Plan to Visit Formentera
Above Image – The Migjorn beach area near the Blue Bar.
Are you ready and eager to visit Formentera? With its sibling Balearic Islands known best by the world, Formentera is a great off the beaten path, less frequented treasure to enjoy.
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Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego
Fora Travel Advisor & Content Creator
I love living in Denia, Spain and traveling worldwide. My idea of a great time is ‘eating and drinking’ my way around a new place and meeting the people. As a Fora Travel Advisor, I specialize in custom travel planning for trips throughout Europe, as well as scouting trips for moving to Spain. Here on MoveToTraveling.com you can enjoy our Europe travel resources to experience Europe and live in Spain.