The 12 Best Things to Do in the Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands might be Spain's hottest Mediterranean destination, but they offer so much more than fun in the sun. Sure, the beaches are great (we've included some of them here, of course). But the archipelago also boasts its own unique culture that's different than the vision of Spain you might be expecting—in the best way possible. Here are 12 of our favorite things to do to start your Balearic adventure.

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Visit the Storybook Town of Valldemossa

Town of Valldemossa on Mallorca

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The thriving regional capital of Palma de Mallorca gets a lot of hype, but don't sleep on the town of Valldemossa, either. With a cozy location at the foot of the Tramutana Mountains, it packs breathtaking natural landscapes and stunning historic architecture into one incredible pueblo.

Don't miss the Real Cartuja de Valldemossa, a monastery-turned-palace dating back centuries that will whisk you to the past. When you get hungry, stop at Forn Ca'n Molinas for local baked goods such as coca flatbreads and sweet ensaimada pastries.

02 of 12

Eat Delicious Local Cheese in Mahón

City of Mahon, Menorca

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As the second-largest of the Balearic Islands, Menorca is home to no shortage of fabulous destinations. But let's focus on a classic for now: the island's capital, Mahón.

With its classic British colonial architecture and sweeping seaside views, Mahón is the stuff dreams are made of. However, there's one main draw here, and that's the eponymous cheese.

Mahón cheese is one of the island's greatest and proudest delicacies. Try some straight from the source at a local market like Mercat des Claustre, or at a laid-back tapas bar such as Can Vermut.

03 of 12

See History Up Close at the Torre des Savinar in Ibiza

Pirates' Tower in Ibiza

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Address
07839 Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Balearic Islands, Spain

There's more to Ibiza than its iconic nightlife scene. On the southwestern corner of the island, you'll find a winding path leading along the edges of the cliffs to the Torre des Savinar, or "Pirate's Tower."

Built in the late 18th century, the military structure no longer serves its original purpose as a watch tower, yet it still provides sweeping views of the nearby coastline. It's not the easiest point to access, but it makes for a great hike—and a bucket list item few can check off.

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Ride Your Bike to Illetes Beach on Formentera

Ses Illetes beach, Formentera

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A gorgeous natural paradise like Formentera is meant to be explored as thoroughly as possible, and there's no better way to do so than by bike. Rent one from one of the many bike hire companies available on the small island, then take it for a spin. Our destination of choice: the stunning white-sand Illetes Beach, which will make you feel like you've somehow cycled your way into a postcard (believe it or not, those views are real!).

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05 of 12

See Stunning Scenery at Cap de Formentor

Cap de Formentor, Mallorca

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Address
Cap de Formentor, 07460, Balearic Islands, Spain

Not to be confused with the island of Formentera, Mallorca's Cap de Formentor provides some of the most dramatic scenery on the archipelago. This junction of the Tramutana Mountains and the Mediterranean provides jaw-dropping views in every direction. Rent a car and drive out to the famous lighthouse or hotel, or spend some time hiking in what might just be the most incredible wilderness you'll ever see.

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Step Back in Time in Ciutadella

Ciutadella, Minorca
Andrés Nieto Porras/Creative Commons

Whereas current local capital Mahón brings a much more modern vibe, Menorca's historical capital, Ciutadella, feels like something from another era—and in many ways, it is. With incredible archaeological finds and a beautifully preserved historic center, spending time in Ciutadella is like entering a time warp. Easy access to some pretty incredible beaches doesn't hurt, either.

07 of 12

Explore Sant Antoni, Ibiza's Second-Largest Town

Boats in the water in Ibiza

Photo by Alex Tihonov/Getty Images

If you're looking for a happy medium between local island life and Ibiza's famous party scene, Sant Antoni de Portmany is calling your name. It's got all the charms of an authentic Balearic town: historical sights, killer beaches, and a great local dining scene. However, after the sun goes down, legendary nightclubs like Eden (Carrer Salvador Espriu, s/n) and Es Paradis light things up until dawn.

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See Formentera from Up Above at Faro de la Mola

Lighthouse on a cliff in Formentera

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Address
07872 El Pilar de la Mola, Balearic Islands, Spain

Perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff 120 meters (about 394 feet) above the Mediterranean, the Faro de la Mola lighthouse provides some of the most breathtaking views of Formentera. This is the island at its purest; there's nothing but craggy cliffs and sweeping sea views as far as the eye can see. Despite its remoteness, it draws its fair share of nature lovers and photographers alike, all eager to capture this one-of-a-kind location.

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09 of 12

Experience City Life in Palma de Mallorca

City center of Palma de Mallorca

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Urban adventurers, this one's for you. While the Balearic Islands are teeming with beautiful natural paradises, a trip to the archipelago wouldn't be complete without a jaunt to its capital: Palma de Mallorca.

Combining the best of a thriving metropolis with the chilled-out calm of a laid-back island destination, Palma has it all. Take some time to explore the historical sights like the famous cathedral, but leave plenty of time for strolling around and enjoying the city's unmistakeable atmosphere.

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Go Swimming at Cala Mitjana

Cala Mitjana beach

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Address
Cala Mitjana, Spain

Fine white sand, gorgeous turquoise water, and lush greenery surrounding it all—need we say more? That's what's in store at Cala Mitjana, one of Menorca's most mythical and iconic beaches. Yes, it's popular, but for good reason. It's also quite large, so you'll have plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the island sun.

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Get Lost in Ibiza's Dalt Vila

Dalt Vila in Ibiza

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Address
Dalt Vila, 07800 Ibiza, Islas Baleares, Spain

Ibiza really does have it all, and its fortified old town, Dalt Vila, proves it. As you enter the quarter through the dramatic old city gate and explore its hidden corners and magnificent views, you're in for a treat. This beautifully preserved area is one of the islands' greatest historic gems, and even if you mainly came to Ibiza in search of nightlife and beaches, it's well worth checking out.

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Walk the Camí de Sa Pujada in Formentera

Sa Pujada path in Formentera

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Address
Formentera 07872, 07872, Islas Baleares, Spain

They say all roads lead to Rome, and while the Camí de Sa Pujada might not do that exactly (it's confined to an island, after all), the original pathway was developed by the Romans. It's one of the most iconic hikes in the Balearic Islands, all thanks to sweeping sea views with a side of ancient history.

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Don't Leave the Balearic Islands Without Doing These 12 Things