Somewhere Wonderful on the Balearic Islands Is Waiting

The distinctive architecture in the old town of Ibiza is just as enticing as the mega clubs
The distinctive architecture in the old town of Ibiza is just as enticing as the mega clubs | © Sergio Torres Baus / Alamy
Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor14 July 2021

From July 19, 2021, the Iberian archipelago of islands is on the UK Government amber list, meaning travellers can start planning trips to popular destinations such as Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera and those who have been double-jabbed won’t need to quarantine on their return.

The Balearic Islands have always held a special place in the hearts and minds of British holidaymakers. Places such as Menorca and Mallorca are popular hotspots for sunseekers and the mere mention of Ibiza conjures up images of late-night parties and excitable youngsters going on their first solo trips abroad. All that might be true, but there’s also a lot of culture, history and speciality cuisine to enjoy for anyone looking for a broader travel experience.

Here’s a closer look at the main islands that form this sunny Mediterranean region, and some of the highlights you can’t miss on your next visit.

Menorca

One of the greenest islands off the coast of Spain, Menorca has your typical sandy beaches but also a fascinating coastline where trees line the outer reaches. There’s a great mixture of wildlife for anyone looking to explore the natural landscapes, plus a series of excellent facilities for international travellers. The tiny island of Isla del Rey can be easily reached from here and was once the site of a military hospital that has now been reclaimed by nature.

Menorca is home to beautiful stretches of coastline where forest and sea meet, such as that at Cala Macarelleta | Visions from Earth / Alamy

Mallorca

Mallorca stands out as the largest Balearic island and has found a sweet spot as the perfect destination for those looking for a bit more action and adventure than what’s on offer in Menorca, but not quite the hedonism for which Ibiza is best known. The island is easy to reach from mainland Spain and other parts of Europe, with the capital Palma oozing cosmopolitan cool that is a rare commodity outside of the big cities on the continent. There’s a great mix of no nonsense resorts and luxury hotels if you do opt for a holiday here, and plenty more to do with your free time.

For a slice of culture, Palma is home to the bay-side cathedral La Seu | © Susanne Pommer / Alamy

Ibiza

There’s no escaping the reputation Ibiza has cultivated over the last 30 years or so as one of the liveliest party destinations in the world. Locals have come to accept it but are just as proud of what the island has to offer away from late-night DJ sets and themed club sessions. Dalt Vila is a pretty little town that has an authentic charm to it and the beaches also serve as a wonderful location for divers to explore the coast.

Ibiza may be best known for its club scene, but there are plenty of pretty villages to explore | © Stephen Hughes / Alamy

Formentera

A short boat ride from Ibiza, but with an entirely different atmosphere, Formentera is a bohemian retreat waiting to be discovered. Explore the island on a day trip if you’re hopping from destination to destination, but we recommend spending a few days on Formentera and really soaking up the culture on offer. The chilled-out vibe is a nice change of pace and there are some fascinating architectural landmarks to discover.

Embrace the boho beach vibes on your trip to Formentera | © Visions from Earth / Alamy

Covid travel rules and guidelines

On 24 May, Spain removed all additional entry requirements for visitors from the UK unless they had previously travelled to an at-risk country. A health tracker form is needed before you travel by air. Local rules vary, but in general most restaurants, cafes and shops are open. The Balearic Islands have adopted some universal guidelines such as sensible social distancing and limited capacity in some indoor venues. It’s also worth checking if the beaches you want to visit have any additional rules in place. Overall though, Spain has taken a relaxed attitude and British visitors are expected to return in big numbers throughout the summer.

Before you head to the beach, check which Covid rules are being implemented | © PA Images / Alamy

Arrivals into the UK from the Balearic Islands will be welcome, as long as you take a pre-departure test plus a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of your arrival back into the UK. If you haven’t been fully vaccinated you need to take an additional day 8 test. You won’t have to quarantine at all – unless you test positive, of course – and won’t need to take any extra tests.

Things to do in the Balearic Islands

Dalt Vila

Historical Landmark
Map View
Spain, Balearic Islands, Ibiza, Eivissa, old town Dalt Vila
© AGF Srl / Alamy
Dalt Vila (meaning upper town) is the old town of Ibiza and sits on a hill, contained within ancient walls and looking out to sea. The main gateway into the old town is up a ramp and through an old drawbridge. The area is not simply a tourist attraction; it is still partly residential and offers tantalising glimpses of real life through the occasional open door. This is a fascinating area to wander around during the day or evening, with many little shops, galleries, museums and restaurants in the narrow streets.

Santa Maria Cathedral

Cathedral, Mosque
Map View
Catedral de Ciutadella Santa Maria, Santa Maria Cathedral, Ciutadella, Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain, Europe
© imageBROKER / Alamy
Like the iconic La Seu in Mallorca, the Santa Maria Cathedral in the city of Ciutadella was begun in the 13th century on the site of an old mosque (and still has part of the minaret that once stood here). Although much smaller, the interiors are equally impressive, with beautifully carved columns, a marble monolith altar and soaring vaulted apse.

Ses Illetes

Natural Feature
Map View
Formentera, Balearic Island, Spain. Beautiful picture postcard image of the Ses Illetes beach, voted the best beach in Europe.
© Michele Castellani / Alamy

Regarded as one of the best beaches in Europe, Ses Illetes can be found in the north of Formentera in an area that has little in the way of modern development. It is a popular spot with locals thanks to long stretches of sandy sunbathing locations, although the clean waters also look mighty tempting.

Where to stay in the Balearic Islands

Finca Hotel son Pont

Chain Hotel
4.5/5 (50 Reviews)
Finca Hotel son Pint_8f947fbf
Courtesy of Finca Hotel son Pint / Expedia

Spend an unforgettable holiday in this gorgeous manor house in the Tramuntana Mountains in Mallorca. Far from the tourist hotspots, Son Pont is a calming oasis where you can relax and unwind. Walk through the 140ha (346-acre) estate and discover relics such as the oil mill and chapel. The rooms are artfully decorated with wooden furniture that bring a warmth against the natural stone walls and modern bathrooms. After breakfast on the terrace, wander through the beautiful gardens, or bathe in the sun by the pool.

More info

La Quinta Menorca

Hotel, Luxury, Chain Hotel
4.7/5 (89 Reviews)
La Quinta Menorca_cdb7e860
Courtesy of La Quinta Menorca / Expedia

One of the best five-star luxury resorts on the island, this Menorcan hideaway is for adults only and makes a perfect retreat for couples. You can easily walk to some of the best beaches in Menorca and find some outstanding dining options in the marina area. If you feel like you’ve earned the right to a few lavish excesses this year, then this is the place for you.

More info

Blanco Hotel Formentera

Hotel
4.5/5 (15 Reviews)
Blanco Hotel Formentera
Courtesy of Blanco Hotel Formentera / Booking.com

Tapping into the bohemian reputation of the island, and as the name itself would suggest, this hotel is a sleek affair with excellent use of calming white tones that run throughout the property. Formentera is one of those destinations where you don’t need too much to have a great time, and this hotel offers the sort of value for money that lets you do the island on a tight budget without skimping on the necessities.

More info

Dorado Ibiza

Hotel
4.2/5 (43 Reviews)
Dorado Ibiza_ecb69120
Courtesy of Dorado Ibiza / Expedia

Don’t mess about – book a beachside property that has Ibiza in its DNA. The rooms are named after famous musicians and bands, with neat touches you can spot for yourself throughout. At times it feels like the party has come back to your room with you, and that’s no bad thing.

More info
These recommendations were updated on July 14, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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