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A Guide To Island Hopping Around Spain's Balearic Islands

Menorca, Spain
Picture of Esme Fox
Updated: 29 October 2016
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Spain’s Balearic Islands have long been a popular holiday destination with both Europeans and local Spaniards. Lying approximately 300 kilometers off the coast of Valencia, the Balearic Archipelago is a unique part of Spain and is made up of four main islands – Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. While almost all residents on the islands speak Spanish, local dialects of Catalan are spoken among locals such as Mallorquín (in Mallorca), Menorquín (in Menorca) and Eivissenc (in Ibiza and Fomentera). Read our guide to find out all about each island and how to travel between them.

Mallorca

Mallorca is the largest island in the Balearic chain. Its capital, La Palma de Mallorca, is a charming city with a large Gothic cathedral and an attractive old quarter. Just south of Palma lie the infamous clubbing towns such as Magaluf and Palma Nova, and in the northeast of the island you’ll find the popular tourist resort of Port d’Alcudia. The northern coast of the island couldn’t be further away from the vibe of the party-going south however, and is characterised by small mountain villages and secluded boutique resorts such as Deià, Valdemossa, and Sóller. One of the best ways to explore these villages is to take the old wooden Sóller train from Palma de Mallorca through the mountains. As well as being known as a cheap package holiday island, Mallorca is also renowned for its natural beauty and array of adventure sports — particularly hiking, cycling, and mountain biking.

Getting there and away
Mallorca’s international airport in Palma serves many European destinations, and low-cost flights to the island are common. The island can also be accessed by ferry from mainland Spain, either in Barcelona, Valencia, or Denia. Once on Mallorca, both Ibiza and Menorca can be accessed by frequent ferry trips.

Soller, Mallorca
©AdrianPingstone

Menorca

Mallorca’s smaller sister is the island of Menorca, which lies to its northeast. A more quiet and laid-back alternative to both Mallorca and Ibiza, its lack of clubbing towns is why it appeals to many. Think sun-drenched beaches, cobalt blue inlets, and interiors filled with fields and rolling hills. Visit the the island’s lively capital of Mahón or Maó for a dose of culture and the picturesque port of Ciutadella to explore its atmospheric old town.

Getting there and away
Menorca’s Mahón Airport serves many European destinations, so you can fly there direct, without having to go to Mallorca first. If traveling around the Balearics, this is the best island to start with. From here you can take a ferry either to Palma or Alcudia in Mallorca and then on to Ibiza.

Menorca, Spain
©hugos007

Ibiza

Ibiza is infamous for being the Balearic’s party island and is known for its wild clubs and bars. Head away from this side of the island, however, and you’ll soon discover that Ibiza is more than meets the eye. Playa d’en Bossa on the east coast and San Antonio on the west coast are two of the top places for clubbing, while resorts such as Cas Mallorqui, Port de Sant Miquel, and Cala de Sant Vicent are quieter and more low-key. When you’re not hitting the clubs, you’ll find miles of hidden sandy beaches, hippy vibes, yoga retreats, and lovely boutique hotels.

Getting there and away
Situated to the southwest of Mallorca, Ibiza can be reached by ferry either from Palma or from the mainland and the towns/cities of Valencia, Denia, and Barcelona. International flights from many destinations arrive at Aeroport d’Eivissa.

Ibiza, Spain
Via Pixabay

Formentera

The tiny island of Formentera lies just six kilometers south of Ibiza, but couldn’t be further away in terms of atmosphere and character. Measuring just 19 kilometers across, it can be easily explored on a short trip or even a day-trip from Ibiza itself. With its chilled-out bohemian vibe, it’s known for its Caribbean-like white powdery beaches and turquoise blue waters. Two of the island’s most famous sights are its lighthouses — La Mola lighthouse, which was written about by Jules Verne and Es Cap de Barbaria, was featured in the well known Spanish movie Lucia y el Sexo. Snorkelling and scuba diving are also popular pursuits here.

Getting there and away
Formentera can only be reached by ferry from Ibiza and has no airport.

Formentera, Spain
© Travelbusy.com
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