Travel guide to Spain’s Balearic Islands

Spain's Balearic Islands

For those not in the know, Spain’s Balearic islands are an archipelago near the Eastern coast, composed of over 150 islands, the majority are small and uninhabited, but you’ve definitely heard of the 4 larger ones: Mallorca, Menora, Ibiza, and Formentera.

These popular tourist destinations draw visitors from around the globe year-round for different motives, not just the balmy Mediterranean climate. Ibiza is of course well known as an international party destination, but all 4 of the islands have much more than wild nightlife to offer.

From cultural and culinary delights to excellent beaches, natural wonders and outdoor pursuits, the Balearic islands have something for everyone. Below we’ll break down some of the highlights of the biggest islands. 

Note: If you’re planning to visit the islands from Canada, just make sure to check if you need to first submit an ETIAS application

Spain's Balearic Islands

Mallorca

If you don’t know the difference between Mallorca and Majorca, rest assured that they are one and the same place: the former is simply the Spanish spelling! Whatever you choose to call it, the largest Balearic island is also possibly the most touristic, and much of its east coast is filled up with large resort developments.

But Mallorca is much more than just a cheap sunshine getaway for dancing and boozing. The main city, Palma, is full of jaw-droppingly beautiful architecture such as the 13th-century Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Palma, Moorish-style Arab fortress the Almudaina, and the hilltop Bellver Castle.

If you’re looking for more of an outdoor holiday than a city break, then Mallorca also has you covered. The island is filled with incredible hiking and mountain-biking opportunities, especially in the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range on the west coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While on the western side of the island you also should take a vintage tram ride from the historic town of Soller to the coast. And if you’re a fan of Spanish wine, then you’ll also be pleased to know that there are a variety of wine tasting experiences and lush vineyard tours to enjoy.

Menorca

The easternmost of the Balearic islands, Menorca was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993, limiting the amount of tourist development. This means it remains far more rural and untouched than its sister island of Mallorca, giving visitors a plethora of natural environments and less crowded beaches to explore.

And there is no shortage of gorgeous beaches: much of Menorca’s 216km coastline is lined with endless stretches of white and gold sands and rocky bays. The tourist resorts that are on the island are also far more removed from the main towns, making for more mellow city experiences.

The capital of Menorca, known as Maó or Mahón, is located on the east coast and is full of beautiful British-style Georgian architecture. The second-largest town, Citudella, can be found on the western side of the island and also boasts a gorgeous Old Town to explore.

If you decide to head inland, you’ll be treated to a landscape full of rolling hills and whitewashed villages, as well as a variety of intriguing stone monuments that date back to the island’s ancient past.

Ibiza

Ibiza

A popular hippie retreat in the 60s and 70s, Ibiza has since become an international party destination, and offers some of the best nightclubs in the world frequented by some of the planet’s most famous DJs.

If you’re looking to take in the thumping club scene, then the best time to visit Ibiza is in the summer season. And you’ll definitely want to head to either Ibiza City, the town of Sant Antoni, or the beach clubs of Playa de Las Salinas.

However, Ibiza has great weather year-round, and if you want to experience the quieter side of the island, consider visiting between October and May. Some of the smaller bars and clubs, and the biggest, Pacha, still remain open during the winter months.

You’ll also have fewer crowds to compete with if you decide to explore the island’s many hidden beaches and coves.

Formentera

The smallest and southernmost of the 4 largest Balearic islands, Formentera is the least touristic of all and has rightly earned a reputation for having some of the top beaches in all of Spain. The vast stretches of sand that line the island and crystal-clear waters make it an ideal destination for snorkeling and sailing.

Easily reachable by ferry from Ibiza, the island can be enjoyed on a day-trip or for a longer stay. The fact that the island is practically flat and boasts over 100 kilometers of biking trails also make it a popular destination for cyclists.

If you’re planning to take in all of the 4 main Balearic islands in one trip, then we recommended setting aside at least 10 days for your holiday. Any less would be a disservice, as there is just so much to see and do!

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