Places of interest in Formentera
As we launch our Green Traveller's Guide to Formentera, Rhiannon Batten features a range of visitor attractions and other places of interest on this beautiful island.
All photos Formentera Tourism, where not indicated see below for individual credits
Places of interest in Formentera
Es Caló de Sant Agustí
A traditional fishing village to the east of the island’s north coast, Es Caló’s picturesque natural harbour is lined with simple wooden boathouses designed to protect the locals’ small vessels from the salt water. One of the best places on the island to see these traditional dry docks (with their distinctive matchstick-style wooden ramps and roofs they were declared an official site of cultural interest since 2002), the village is also a great place for a post-swim lunch or dinner, with several restaurants to choose from. To the west are the sandy coves of Ses Platgetes and, to the east, the cliffs of La Mola, reachable on foot via green route 25, which follows a historic path to La Mola lighthouse known as the Camí de Sa Pujada.
At the crossroads between Es Pujols, Sant Francesc Xavier and the east of the island, the small town of Sant Ferran de ses Roques is centred around a pretty square that’s home to a historic church. In the 1960s and 70s the town became a gathering place for counter-cultural idealists seeking a more low-key alternative to the buzz of neighbouring Ibiza; their hangout, the Fonda Pepe café and restaurant, survives to this day. As does the town’s reputation as a liberated, creative kind of place. Musicians often play in the square during the day and the town is home to a long-standing craft market.
When Enric Majoral and his partner, Dolors Ballester, arrived on Formentera on a wave of New Age optimism in the 1970s they were seeking a new direction. Eric found it in jewellery, teaching himself the craft over time through experimentation and graft. Four decades later his name has evolved into a highly regarded, and highly sophisticated, brand. Now aided by his son Roc, Majoral’s jewellery is directly inspired by the island, evoking its distinctive forms and places with sinuous gold forms that hint at the shimmering sea, rocks and waves. majoral.com
Once a fundamental part of the island’s landscape but now serving a more photogenic purpose, Formentera’s mills demonstrate how important wheat was to this self-sufficient community. In the 18th century seven large mills were built, designed to run on the island’s bounteous wind power: Molí Vell and Molí d’en Botigues in La Mola, Molí d’en Teuet and Molí de ses Roques near Sant Ferran, Molí d’en Mateu and Molí d’en Jeroni west of Sant Francesc Xavier and Molí d’en Simon in Es Cap de Barbaria. The best-preserved today is Molí Vell, which is open as a visitor attraction.
Arts and crafts markets
A legacy of the island’s bohemian past, Formentera’s arts and crafts markets remain a highlight for visitors to the island today. Running from May until October, the largest are at La Mola on Wednesdays and Sundays and Sant Ferran every day except Wednesdays and Sundays but there are also markets at Sant Francesc every morning, La Savina every day (from June to September) and Es Pujols every evening. Focusing on products designed and produced on the island, they’re great places to buy baskets, espadrilles, jewellery, textiles, glass, ceramics and leather. As is the Antoni Tur Gabrielet craft centre in Sant Francesc Xavier, where you can also find local fruit, vegetables, eggs and honey.
Pirates have long been the bane of island-dwellers and Formentera is no exception. In the 18th century the threat was so severe that four watchtowers (plus a fifth on a neighbouring islet) were built here to warn of possible pirate incursions from North Africa. Set at strategic points on the island, but close enough to communicate by smoke signal, they are Punta Prima near Es Pujols, Des Garroveret or Des Cap tower on the Cap de Barbaria, sa Gavina close to Can Marroig and Pi Catalá next to Migjorn beach. The latter is the only one open to visitors today; built in 1763, it was restored by Formentera architect Marià Castelló in 2016.
Far De La Mola
The island’s best-known landmark, La Mola lighthouse perches above cliffs in the very east of the island. Designed by the architect and engineer Emili Pou y Bonet in 1861, today it houses a small exhibition on Formentera’s maritime heritage and is a popular spot to watch the sunrise or sunset. At a lofty 120 metres above sea level the views out across the Mediterranean from here are spectacular. It also has a place in literary history; in his novel Hector Servadac, Jules Verne used La Mola as the inspiration for his “lighthouse at the end of the world”. The most pleasant way to reach it is walking or cycling to it along green route 29.
Estany Pudent y Ses Salines
A large lake in the north of the island, between La Savina and Es Pujols, Estany Pudent is a must-visit for birdwatchers and, as such, off-limits to swimmers. Flamingos, storks and shelducks can often be spotted from the Es Brolls walking and cycle path, which fringes the lagoon, as can several species of waders, ducks and herons. It’s also home to one of the largest concentrations of black-necked grebes in Europe; sometimes they flock here in their thousands. Nearby are the salt flats of Ses Salines, which flush pink and violet in the summer. In use for centuries, their importance in the island’s long history of salt production saw them declared a monument of historical cultural interest in 2004. See also our section on birdwatching in Formentera in Activities in Formentera.
Can Marroig and Punta de Sa Pedrera
Once a quarry but now a lagoon-like cove, Sa Pedrera sits ethereally between La Savina and Cala Saona on the island’s eastern coast. A pool of shimmering aquamarine water almost encircled by high chiselled walls, its dramatic form really dazzles when visited by boat. Better still, go snorkelling here; among the site’s rich marine life is posidonia oceanica, a seagrass plant so special that Formentera’s underwater meadows of it have World Heritage Site status. Nearby is the Can Marroig estate whose shady pine and juniper trees make a lovely picnic spot.
Sant Francesc Xavier
The historic centre of Sant Francesc Xavier, the island’s main town, looks a little like a film set from a stylised Western. In pride of place is the parish church, a magnificently austere whitewashed building designed, in 1738, as a fortress as well as a religious sanctuary. The surrounding square, dotted with palm trees, is also flanked by some spectacular 19th and early 20th century townhouses, with painted stonework and dainty balconies. Also in this area is the small, barrel-vaulted chapel of Sa Tanca Vella. After exploring the local architecture, sit and soak up the atmosphere from one of the town’s bustling pavement cafes and bars.
S’Estany des Peix
Tucked to the west of the port at La Savina, S’Estany des Peix is Formentera’s answer to Tahiti – a sweeping, shallow lagoon with an opening to the sea that allows small boats to enter and moor in its topaz waters. Its sheltered location means the lagoon is ideal for visitors wanting to try out windsurfing, kayaking and sailing in calm conditions while the shallow coves that pepper its banks are popular with families. As is Caló de s’Oli, a beach-fringed rocky spit on the other side of the lagoon from La Savina.
Es Cap de Barbaria
If this lighthouse in the far southwest of the island looks familiar that might be because it appeared in Julio Medem’s 2001 film Sex and Lucía. Its cinematic silhouette - a white-washed beacon soaring from the desert-like landscape that surrounds it - draws large numbers of visitors, especially at sunset. Follow their lead and you’ll find yourself not just at the southernmost point of Formentera but also of all the Balearic Islands; head south from here you won’t hit land until North Africa. Also at the Cap is the Foradada cave, with its beautifully framed viewpoint overlooking the sea, the remains of various prehistoric sites and one of the island’s historic watchtowers.
It’s not always easy to persuade young children to go sightseeing when they’d rather be filling buckets and spades at the beach. Help is at hand on Formentera, though; the local tourist office has created a family ‘gymkhana’, in which two fictional children’s characters, Trobi and Tana, lead younger visitors around 10 of the island’s natural and historic sights. At each location a QR code provides age-appropriate information about the site. If families visit and activate the QR code in at least six of the 10 locations, they can pick up Explore Formentera with Trobi from local tourist information offices. This free book details the adventures of Trobi and Tana around Formentera.
Museums & galleries
The soft light, azure sea and rocky beauty of Formentera have long drawn artists, musicians, filmmakers, and craftspeople to its shores. Not least in the 1960s, when an influx of cosmopolitan creatives arrived to set up studios and workshops. Their work, as well as that of contemporary and visiting artists can now be seen in three main locations: the Sala d’Exposicions Ajuntament Vell, in Sant Francesc Xavier; the sleek white Centro Antoni Tur “Gabrielet” in the same town; and La Mola lighthouse, which has an exhibition on the maritime heritage of Formentera as well as a cultural space for concerts, conferences and plays. Visiting historians won’t want to miss the Formentera Ethnographic Collection in Sant Francesc Xavier either. Its displays give a glimpse of life on the island before the mid-20th century.
The google map below shows the location and details of all the places to stay, local food and drink, nearby attractions and activities in our Green Traveller's Guide to Formentera:
Green = Places to stay Blue = Local food & drink Yellow = Attractions Purple = Activities