While swathes of the Balearic coastline have been blighted by ugly high-rise tourist resorts (particularly in Mallorca and Ibiza), if you know where to go, there are still plenty of adorable seaside pueblos to enjoy. If you’re hoping to steer clear of the likes of Magaluf and San Antonio but still want to be on the coast, then read on for some of the most picturesque, unspoilt seaside towns to be found in the Balearic Islands.
The road leading to Banyalbufar is dramatic enough, but as you round the last bend, the sight of this village clinging to the west-coast cliffs of Mallorca is breathtaking. Cultivated by the Moors, the area is famous for the hundreds of terraces cut into the hillside, a task that seems impossible in an age without machines. The village itself has steep winding streets, pretty houses and a number of eateries and small hotels, all with the most incredible views.
Es Calo de Sant Agustí, Formentera
This tiny, stunning fishing village consists of little more than a few houses and apartments at the back of the pier and ramshackle wooden fishing docks on a small cove with turquoise waters. Originally, there was just the small harbour with wooden jetties and nothing much else, and it was used by monks to import and export goods from the nearby monastery. These days, Es Caló de Sant Agustí has a couple of excellent seafood restaurants on the rocks at the back of the cove.
Es Cubells, Ibiza
Perched on the cliffs with stunning views over the sea to the island of Formentera, the tiny village of Es Cubells is in an idyllic location. One of the few coastal villages in Ibiza that has not succumbed to rampant tourism, there is very little here aside from the dramatic white church and a couple of family-run restaurants, making it a very peaceful place to visit. There are steps leading down to the sea below, so after a spot of lunch and a wander around the church, you can head down the cliff for some beach time.
Port de Soller, Mallorca
With a stunning horseshoe-shaped harbour, and surrounded by the Tramuntana mountain range, this picturesque port town has incredible sea and mountain views. The promenade takes you around the bay, with boats bobbing on one side of you and the bustle of cafés, restaurants and bars on the other. With the only sandy beaches on this stretch of coastline, Port De Soller is a popular holiday destination, but one that has thankfully not been overdeveloped. An antique wooden tram also runs from the port into the even prettier inland town of Soller, with its weekly market and many shops and restaurants.
Technically a city, but more like a large town, Ciutadella (once the island’s capital) is an ancient port and a ridiculously picturesque place to visit. The old town is characterful and well preserved, with wonderful and often colourful architecture reflecting the port’s rich history. Narrow streets and cobbled walkways, lined with traditional rustic houses, give way to plazas with dramatic churches, and the shops and restaurants throughout the old town and marina area feel quite chi-chi. Ciutadella is well worth a visit; after all, it’s not known as vella i bella (‘old and beautiful’) for nothing.
Porto Petro, Mallorca
Porto Petro is a small but very pretty fishing village on the east coast of Mallorca. There is no beach, meaning the tourist hordes tend not to venture here, so it’s relatively quiet and feels a million miles away from the busy resort at nearby Cala D’Or. There’s not a huge amount to it aside from the harbour, but it’s a lovely place to wander around, and very close to the Mondrago nature reserve. The marina is backed by a number of great restaurants and cafés with outdoor seating, making it the perfect place for a long leisurely lunch while watching the boats bob in the water.
Es Grau, Menorca
Es Grau is a seaside holiday destination, but it is small enough and beautiful enough not to feel like a resort and, despite the visiting tourists, it has retained its traditional village feel. There are a few restaurants and a couple of non-tacky gift shops in this small fishing village, which mainly consists of rustic whitewashed houses, stepped alleyways and a beach backing onto the S’Albufera des Grau nature reserve.