A Guide to the Balearic Islands

Beach in Deia, Mallorca

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The Balearic Islands are the kind of place you have to see to believe. With rugged natural beauty, postcard-perfect beaches, and some of the world's most iconic nightlife, it's a whole world within an archipelago.

The best part is that each island has something new and different to offer, so even if you're looking for a diverse travel experience, they still make a great option. You can quickly be partying in Ibiza one night and head to Mallorca the next day for some hiking in the Tramuntana Mountains (though it might be a better idea to sleep off your hangover first).

If this gorgeous corner of paradise sounds like your kind of place, read on for our picks for the top things to do on each of the Balearic Islands.

01 of 07

Explore Natural Beauty in Mallorca

The Tramuntana mountains in Soller, Mallorca, Spain

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Thanks to the jagged peaks of the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range lining the northwestern half of the island, Mallorca is the most rugged of the Balearics. As you may have imagined, this means that the hiking opportunities are out of this world. Where else in the world can you see stunning sea views as you traipse through the mountains?

But there's even more to love beyond the sierra when it comes to Mallorca's endless natural beauty. At the opposite end of the island lies Mondragó Natural Park, a pristine oasis of calm beaches surrounded by lush greenery.

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02 of 07

Explore Culture in Ciutadella, Menorca

Ciutadella, Minorca
Andrés Nieto Porras/Creative Commons

Menorca is one of the most low-key of the Balearic Islands, with an understated beauty that provides a complementary contrast to the flashiness of Ibiza and the glamour of Mallorca. But that doesn't mean it's boring—far from it. Those who write off the islands as a beach and party destination may be pleasantly surprised to learn that there's plenty of history and culture to be found here as well.

The Menorcan city of Ciutadella is a prime example of that. Its stunningly preserved historic center and vibrant cultural festivals make it one of the islands' must-visit towns. Save the date for the night of June 23, when locals take to the beach and the streets to celebrate the arrival of summer with fireworks and bonfires in a celebration known as St. John's Eve.

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03 of 07

Party Until Dawn on Ibiza

People watching sunset. Café del Mar, San Antonio
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Let's face it: you probably came to Ibiza for one main reason—the nightlife. We can't fault you there. We'd even go so far as to say that experiencing Ibiza's iconic nightclubs and all-night fiestas should be on everyone's bucket list.

The two most prominent party destinations on the island are Ibiza Town and San Antonio, both of which are packed with massive nightclubs and beachfront discotecas. For a more low-key scene, head to the town of Santa Eulalia, which boasts a smaller but lively bar scene that draws trendy locals and visitors in the know.

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04 of 07

Hit the Beach in Formentera

Ses Illetes beach, Formentera

David Navarro Azurmendi/Getty Images

 

All of the Balearic Islands have beaches, but there's something special about Formentera. As the smallest of the habited islands, it's a bit off the beaten track, drawing a mainly local crowd to its most popular beaches while offering plenty of hidden coves and corners for those who want a bit more privacy. As far as paradise goes, it's safe to say that this is the closest you're going to get.

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05 of 07

Visit an Off-the-Beaten-Path National Park on Cabrera

View across bay to the castle, Cabrera, Mallorca
David C Tomlinson / Getty Images

Floating just about 10 miles off the southern coast of Mallorca lies the uninhabited island of Cabrera, home of an eponymous national park of the same name. The Cabrera Archipelago National Park offers unspoiled natural beauty for as far as the eye can see. Home to hundreds of unique marine flora and fauna species, the area is under special protection to ensure that visitors will be able to enjoy it for years to come.

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06 of 07

Explore History and Nature on Dragonera

Seascape with Dragonera Island and cliffs against a cloudy blue sky and with turquoise blue sea water
Ana Maria Serrano / Getty Images

Another easy excursion from Mallorca, the uninhabited island of Dragonera lies just off the western coast of the archipelago's largest island. Like Cabrera, it's home to a lovely natural park, but history lovers will want to take note of the small but fascinating collection of ruins housed on the island. Keep an eye out for the ancient Roman necropolis and the 18th-century defensive watchtowers as you explore nature, and be sure to take in the breathtaking views from the Es Pareto mirador (viewpoint) before you leave.

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07 of 07

Sail to S'Espalmador

Platja de s'Espalmador, a quiet beach on Cabrera's sheltered bay, Parc Nacional Maritim-Terrestre de lÆArxipelag de Cabrera, from hillside.
David C Tomlinson / Getty Images

The tiny island of S'Espalmador, which lies between Ibiza and Formentera, is privately owned, having been purchased by a family from Luxembourg for a cool 18 million euros in 2018. However, you can still sail out to it from either Ibiza or Formentera (part of it can even be reached from Formentera by foot at low tide), and it's well worth the small excursion. The sparkling blue waters and fine white sand look like something straight out of the Caribbean, and though it may be small, the island provides views you'll remember for a lifetime.

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