Formentera, the last paradise in the mediterranean

Formentera, the last paradise in the mediterranean

Despite having some of the best natural beaches in the mediterranean sea, with white sand and water that dazzles with perfect clarity, mild climate along the year, great mediterranean food and being just 2 hours by plane (plus 30 min by boat) from the main european capitals, Formentera remains an unexploited paradise in the mediterranean sea.

This little, peaceful and hippie spanish island, together with it’s sister Menorca, hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years… specially if you compare it with it’s other balearic sisters Ibiza or Mallorca. In fact, even in August, when the island is packed of tourists, you can still enjoy it by avoiding the popular places and finding your spot at a hidden beach and watching amazing sunsets just by yourself.

I have just returned from a long week in Formentera (my forth summer so far) and I still discover amazing places that exceed my expectations. These are some of the places I like the most:

Best beaches

Formentera is about exploring and discovering the beach that suits your needs. You have plenty of options: from the long and sandy to the tiny rocky spots just for you and your couple. These are my suggestions:

  • Ses Illetes and Levante beaches
    Part of the Natural Park of Ses Salines (a World Heritage Site by Unesco) you will find a wild narrow piece of land with beaches on both sides (some people choose sides depending on the wind). The northern you get, the less people you’ll find. In august it is full of celebrities and some of the most amazing yachts you will ever see. Unless you get there by boat, the entrance fee is 2€ per scooter and 5€ per car. There is no infrastructure here apart from a series of wood-built beachside restaurants called “Chiringuitos”. I’d suggest “Tanga” for having the best value for money (35€pax, with great paella and seafood). “Juan y Andrea” is definitely the place to spot celebrities (70€pax) and “El Tiburón” to enjoy the best sunset. If you enjoy walking and swimming, try crossing to the private island S’Espalmador (ten minutes walk with water up to your neck + 30 min walk along the park to get to the strait from the nearest parking lot) or take a shuttle boat (20€ round ticket per pax).
  • Mitjorn beach
    Along the south coast of the island, Migjorn combines long sandy beaches with wild and rocky spots of bright green water, ideal for the lonely and nudists that prefer to be accompanied by a good book. In both cases, it is a great option if you travel with kids as it doesn’t get deep enough for swimming until you are far from the shore. Along the beach you will find great “chiringuitos” such as: Blue Bar (good food and good music) and the tiny “Lucky” and “Piratabus” (both always packed, relax and fun, perfect for sunsets).
  • Other beaches
    Try Cala Saona (Carved into a cliff) and Es Caló (tiny fisherman’s town with wonderful micro beaches a couple hundred meters to the west)

Best sunsets

As I have suggested before, Formentera is also about discovering and enjoying your own unforgettable sunsets, free shows repeated day by day, and each time in a different way… These are some tips:

  • Lighthouse at Cap de Barbaria: I do not know what is more beautiful: the lighthouse or the road that leads to it. Lunar landscape crowned by a lighthouse that rises in the middle of nowhere. One of the most magical places in the world.
  • El Mirador: best views of the island while you enjoy the sunset and a good drink
  • Punta de sa Pedrera: if you like to trek, this is one of the wildest places in the island. It offers magnificent views of the rugged coastline and Ibiza
  • Chiringuitos and Restaurants: as I’ve said before, try out Lucky, Tiburón, PirataBus, Chez Gerdi, Café del Lago…

Hippie spirit

The hippie phenomenon was introduced on the island back in the 60s and it still remains part of daily life: traditional craft markets, naturist culture, devotion to the sunset, Flower Power parties… The most important of all takes place in Sant Francesc central square every month of July were thousands of people, of all ages and backgrounds, dress with the hippie style and dance to the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s in a Plaça fully decorated with spectacular psychedelic projections on the church’s white wall. This party features DJ Pharma (Pep Lluis, the pharmacist of the neighbour town Sant Ferran), an institution on the island, that “gives everything” on the stage.

The artisans’ market of El Pilar de la Mola is the king of the hippy markets on the island, and the one cultural event for which the whole of Formentera – hippies, locals, Italians and the rest of the tourists – turns up to watch. It has a seriousness and quality that is surprising, and is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.


These are my top five restaurants:

  • Macondo: probably the best pizza in… the world! Full of locals and Italians
  • Fonda Pepe: An institution in the island. Full of locals. Mediterranean food + seafood
  • Can Carlos: Probably the most elegant restaurant in the island
  • Chez Gerdy: great decoration, great spot, great service and nice sunset
  • Can Carol: small familiar restaurant that openned in June 2013 in La Mola, good price, worth a try when you visit the artisan’s market
  • Aigua: my friend Sara suggests this Japanese restaurant at the port. The best views are at the right side

Where to stay

In Formentera I have always stayed at Casa Serena, a physical and spiritual oasis. Located in the best part of Formentera (five minute walk from Mitjorn beach), Casa Serena hosts couples and groups looking for peace a quiet. Their breakfast (with home made bakery) is just perfect. Yo can book one of the 5 rooms… or the entire house for you and your family/friends. Here you will find more info about rooms and rates.


One final tip: rent a scooter to move around the island. In Formentera there are no traffic lights. You can also rent a bicycle, but you have to be in a good shape


Photos by Pedro Sagüés
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Best restaurants in San Sebastian

Restaurante Branka. San Sebastian. Photo:

Best restaurants in San Sebastian

This is the second part of my previous post about the best Pintxos in San Sebastian. As I said, San Sebastian has multiple Michelin Star Restaurants: Arzak, Akelarre, Martín Berasategui and Mugaritz (all with 3 stars)…. Besides these restaurants, in this post I want to talk about those that haven’t got a Michelin star but are still amazing restaurants… and not that expensive.

  • UROLA: Traditional food since 1948. 45 € avg. price. c/Fermín Calbetón, 20. +34 943 423 424
  • BETI – JAI: Means “Always party” in Basque. Specialty in sea food. Avg price: 40 €. c/ Fermín Calbetón, 22. 943 427 737
  • EGOSARI: Bar and restaurant with good food. Avg price: 35 €. c/Fermín Calbetón, 15. 943 428 210
  • ALDANONDO: Great meat (“chuletón” in Spanish). Avg price: 40 €. Daily menu: 28€. c/Euskal herria, 6. 943 422 852
  • ASTELENA: Excellent food, specially the foie. Avg. price: 40 €. Daily menu: 22€. c/Euskalherria, 3. 943 425 867
  • GANDARIAS: Excellent food and wine list. Definitely a top restaurant in Donosti (San Sebastian in Basque). Great pintxos aswell. c/31 de agosto, 23. 943-426362
  • UREPEL: Great food but quite expensive. Avg price: 70 €. Menu: 50€. Pº Salamanca, 3, 943 424 040
  • BRANKA: A classic with nice views of the bay (check the webcam). Avg. price: 50€. It’s a nice walk to get there. c/Eduardo Chillida, 11. +34 943 317 096
  • BERNARDO: Excellent sea food. c/Puerto, 7, 943 422 055

Update: Lucía, a reader of this blog, suggests two more places. THANK YOU Lucía!!:

  • ZUBEROA: Located in Oiartzun, 10 km away from San Sebastian. In my opinion it’s one of the best restaurants to eat good modern basque food
  • ASADOR PORTUETXE: a much more traditional restaurant than the previous one. Awesome fish and meat. It is usually overcrowded so it’s recommended to book a table in advance

Did I miss any special place?

Is there any place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment 🙂

Map with the best restaurants in San Sebastian

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Pintxos in San Sebastian. Photo:

Best “Pintxos” (tapas) in San Sebastian

San Sebastian is the jewel of the Spanish Basque Country. A small, cozy and elegant city that features one of the most beautiful in-city beaches and bays in the world. San Sebastian is famous for its internationally renowned cuisine. Besides its multiple Michelin Stars Restaurants, there are hundreds of taverns that offer the famous “Pintxos” (the Basque version of tapas), snack that consist of a small mixture of ingredients usually placed on top of a slice of bread and fastened with a toothpick.

I was born in the Basque Country, and part of my family lives there. When I have the chance to visit San Sebastian, my uncle Miguel takes me to the places with the best “pintxos”. This is a selection of those I like the most:

Best Pintxos in San Sebastian’s Old District (“Parte vieja” in Spanish):

  • PACO BUENO: c/ Mayor, 6. Specialty in Butterfly Shrimps (in Spanish “Gambas rebozadas”).
  • GAMBARA: c/ San Jerónimo, 21. Also great food. You can either eat at the bar or at the dining room.
  • A FUEGO NEGRO: c/ 31 de agosto, 31. More sophisticated pintxos, great music and drinks.
  • MARTÍNEZ: c/ 31 de agosto, nº 13. Everything is simple, tasty and authentic.
  • LA VIÑA: c/ 31 de agosto, 3. Tasty scramble eggs with mushrooms (in Spanish “Revuelto de hongos”).
  • TXEPETXA: c/ Pescadería, 5. Close to the “Plaza de la Constitución” (worth a visit to this square). Specialty in anchovies (“antxoas”). Don’t miss them with spider crab (“antxoas con centolla”).
  • TAMBORIL: c/ Pescadería, 2. Good food in general. Smoking is not permitted.

Best Pintxos 5 minutes walk from San Sebastian’s Old District:

  • BASQUE: c/ Miramar, 5
  • HIKA MIKA: c/ Echaide, 4: Try the “pintxos de pastel de pescado”, “pintxos de ropa vieja”, “croquetas”, mmm…!!
  • MESÓN MARTÍN: c/ Elcano, 7: Good food in general. Dining room at the end of the bar.
  • ITURRIOZ: c/ San Martín, 30. In front of the cathedral. Good food in general.
  • BODEGA DONOSTIARRA: c/ Peña y Goñi, 22. Placed at the other side of the river but close to the old district: healthy, simple and well prepared.

Did I miss any special place?

Is there any place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment 🙂

Update: The people from (a website specialized in Pintxos) suggested “Gros”, on the other side of the river, as an area with a good choice of pintxos bars. Guys, thanks for the tip!

Map of the best Pintxos in San Sebastian

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Photos: These photos were taken by other photographers. I usually don’t bring the camera with me when I go for pintxos 🙂

Click on images to enlarge