Formentera’s 69-mile coastline has been compared to the Caribbean. The sand on the beaches is bright white and cotton soft. Rustic beach bars known as chiringuitos sell sangria and fresh fish dishes, and beachfront buildings are banned by island conservation law. Sunbathers in Formentera don’t keep office hours. Instead, they stick around on the sands until late evening to watch the sunsets.
Just 15 minutes from San Francisco, on the island’s north coast, Playa Illetes is Formentera’s poster child. It's been voted Europe's best beach by TripAdvisor, and it's easy to see why. The beach itself is flat, white, and topped with a few wooden restaurants, which serve up paella and fish platters. It's usually the first port of call for visitors from Ibiza, so you'll see speedboats and yachts moored in the water.
Cala es Ram is meditatively quiet. This pebbly beach on the island’s south side is framed by rugged cliffs and pine trees. You can even hear cicadas chirrup while you sunbathe. It goes without saying there aren’t any restaurants on this secluded beach, but you have got a sleek eco resort a few metres from the sand, which has a roof terrace where you can watch the sunset in comfort.
One of the things Formentera has in common with Ibiza is its hippy market. On a Wednesday and a Sunday, the streets of El Pilar heave with stalls selling children’s clothes, kaftans, woolly jumpers and wacky jewellery. It opens around 3pm and doesn’t close until dark. If you’re here with children, the street entertainers will keep their attention while you shop.
For island souvenirs, hit Es Pujols Promenade. Here, you’ve got stalls and stores selling mugs, T-shirts, beachwear and leather goods. The shops are open until around midnight in the summer months, so you can pop in for a browse after dinner. If it’s food and drink you’re after, the Centro Gabrielet in San Francisco has a good selection of fruit and veg, plus local specialities like honey.
Like its sister island, Ibiza, Formentera has plenty in the way of boutiques. San Francisco has the biggest selection. On Calle Santa Maria and Avenida Pla del Rei, you’ll find fashions by local designers as well as leather accessories shipped over from Milan. La Savina has a few speciality stores, too, which offer bespoke gifts and antique home furnishings.
Sunsets are at the heart of evening entertainment on Formentera. You can watch some of the best at Cala Saona, 20 minutes west of San Francisco, and at Piratabus, 20 minutes south west. The Blue Bar on Migjourn Beach has its own circular sunset viewing platform and a DJ plays music between 7pm and 9pm.
Es Pujols has a decent collection of bars. Head to Paseo Peatonal or Avenida Espalmador streets for cocktails and tapas. Then there’s San Francisco’s main square, which gets busy in the summer months. For all-nighters, though, you’ll need to head over to Ibiza. A boat leaves La Savina at 10pm and returns at 6am the next morning.
Fresh fish is everywhere in Formentera. It’s cooked in lots of different ways, but the most common methods include grilling it and sprinkling it with lemon juice, or baking it in a stew and mixing it with fluffy potatoes. Try rao while you’re here – this small fish is exclusive to the waters around the Balearic Islands.
Otherwise known as ‘peasant salad’, this dish is made with potatoes, peppers and dried fish, all coated with lashings of olive oil. The fish-drying method is a tradition in Formentera, and it involves cutting the fish into fillets, coating them in salt, and then hanging them out in the sun to dry for up to 4 days.
If you’re not a fan of big starters, order this local speciality. It’s essentially an eggless mayonnaise, made with garlic, oil and salt. Follow the example of the locals, and smother it over warm crusty bread before your main meal.
Coca looks and tastes a lot like pizza. It’s got a very similar base, but with a slightly thicker outer ring. In Formentera, it comes with a topping of roasted tomatoes, crunchy peppers, onions and garlic. Order as a main course and enjoy with a cold glass of the island’s white wine.
This herbal liqueur is made with thyme, wild flowers and sugar. It’s best enjoyed alongside desserts like flao – a round tart made with eggs, soft cheese and mint – or greixonera – a pudding flavoured with cinnamon and lemon.
Our top deals tailored to you, straight to your inbox Sign up for offers
More from TUI
About TUI MyTUI app Cookies Notice Manage Cookie Preferences Privacy Notice Terms & conditions Ways to Pay Media Centre Travel Jobs Affiliates Discover Google Play Store App Store for Ios Travel Money Holiday Budget Calculator TUI Group First Choice Holiday Brochures Travel After Brexit Holiday Weather
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and National Travel Health Network and Centre have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad.
See gov.uk/travelaware and follow @FCDOtravelGovUK on Twitter and Facebook.com/FCDOtravel - for the latest general FCDO travel advice, including coronavirus travel guidance, security and local laws, and passport and visa information.
See gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice - for FCDO travel advice about individual destinations.
See Travel Aware page - for travel advice from TUI.
See travelhealthpro.org.uk - for current travel health news.
The advice can change so check regularly for updates.
All the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Some of the flights on this website are also financially protected by the ATOL scheme, but ATOL protection does not apply to all flights. This website will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each flight before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk. ATOL protection does not apply to the other holiday and travel services listed on this website.