Things to Do in Balearic Islands
The Caves of Drach (Cuevas del Drach)—an enormous underground expanse of undulating sandstone, stalactites and stalagmites, and semiprecious agates—create an imaginarium of formations. This exquisite ornamentation frames one of Europe's largest underground lakes, Lake Martel, where classical musicians on boats serenade visitors.
Playa de Muro is a beautiful six-kilometer-long sandy beach with turquoise water in northern Mallorca; it is one of the island’s newest resort destinations. It is a “Blue Flag” beach, meaning that it meets certain criteria in regards to the water quality, safety and services. Although quieter than neighbor beach Alcudia, Playa de Muro is less sheltered and can experience bigger waves during high winds. Playa de Muro is very popular with families thanks to its warm shallow waters; because of this, water-sport enthusiasts abound, be it for water-skiing, jet skiing, scuba diving, pedal boating or paragliding. There is also a wooden jetty for boats, and boat trips around the coast are offered.
The westernmost portion of the beach, near Alcudia, is lined with resort hotels and holiday apartments, which all have premium access to the beach. Note that it is possible for non-guests to rent loungers and parasols upon request; this is also where most of the restaurants, cafés, and bars are located. Further east is the two-kilometer long Es Brac area, very similar in shape and style but overally quieter. At the eastern end of Playa de Muro is Es Comu, where the unspoiled and non-serviced beaches are located. This is the true natural side of Mallorca, with plenty sand dunes, pine trees, and juniper bushes. This portion is not accessible from the street; there are two distinct entry points, in Casetes des Capellans and in Es Brac.
With its beautiful white sand beaches framed in picturesque rocky points, Puerto Pollensa (Port de Pollença) on majestic Formentor peninsula has become a magnet for holiday goers with a taste for the finer things in life. Everyone from families to water sports enthusiasts come for the cafe-lined promenade, marina, and the Bay of Pollensa.
Set atop a wooded hill overlooking Palma, the 14th-century Bellver Castle (Castell de Bellver) is known for its distinctive circular design—it is supposedly the only Spanish castle to bear this shape. Built for King James II, the castle later served as a military prison and mint and now houses the City History Museum (Museu d'Història de la Ciutat).
The unique cultural landscape of Serra de Tramontana landed it a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The craggy mountain range covers the northwest side of the island of Mallorca. Standing tall at 1,445 meters, the range’s principle peak Puig Major is the tallest in the Balearic Islands. The limestone mountains receive a higher amount of rainfall than the rest of the island, and often receive snowfall in the winter.
Due to the biodiversity of plant and animal species - and to protect against urbanization - the area has been protected as a natural reserve. Historic villages with structures such as water mills, farms, agricultural and irrigation systems remain in place. Some methods have been in use since the Middle Ages, and demonstrate both Christian and Muslim cultural influence in this area.
With ocean views of turquoise waters and pine-forested hillsides, it is a popular place to enjoy scenic hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
After King James I (Jaume 1) conquered the Balearic Islands in 1229, he began the conversion of a Moorish-era mosque in present-day Palma de Mallorca (Majorca) into a grand Catalan Gothic-style cathedral overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The golden sandstone façade, the city’s most notable landmark, took more than 400 years to complete.
Surrounded by sand dunes and rocky cliffs, Cala Comte ranks among Ibiza’s most spectacular (and popular) beaches. Visiting families come to swim in the calm, clear waters, while protected coves and enclaves appeal to sunbathers who prefer to go au natural. The beach is known as the best spot on the island to watch the sunset.
One of Ibiza’s most beautiful stretches of sand, Cala Bassa has become known as one of the island’s top beaches. Favored by locals and visitors alike, it’s a long crescent-shaped white sand bay with calm, turquoise waters that are great for water activities. Crowds are diverse and range from small children playing in the sand to adrenaline-seeking jet skiers and boaters. Many consider Cala Bassa to have the most vibrantly turquoise waters on the whole island.
Cala Bassa is a beautiful spot to relax and take in the natural coastal beauty, but it also has its fair share of facilities. From sun beds and beach chairs to restaurants, bars, showers, and lifeguards, the beach has a little bit of everything. Not to be overlooked, the Cala Bassa Beach Club offers up some of the DJs, dancing, and nightlife that Ibiza is famous for. The beach is a frequent stop of catamarans and boat tours of the island.
The island of Mallorca is known for its turquoise waters and scenic natural beauty, and Plajita des Coll Baix no exception to this. What makes this secluded beach special, aside from its idyllic surroundings, is the fact that it is protected and often deserted. Because it is difficult to reach, crowds are nearly nonexistent and you may even have the beach to yourself.
Opening out into a wide sea inlet, the soft and sandy beach is surrounded by tall, rocky cliffs and Mediterranean forest. It is hard to imagine clearer or more vibrantly colored waters. The stunning beach is most popular with those who love the outdoors and don’t mind some hiking — as it is only accessible by boat or foot. Those who go will undoubtedly agree that the trek is worth it. Boat operators often lead tours from town. It’s quietest in the morning and evening.
One of Mallorca’s biggest outdoor weekly markets, Inca Market takes over the island’s leather-making town of Inca every Thursday. Offering more than 100 stalls, the market is a great place for snapping up traditional local leatherware, handicrafts, delicacies, and fresh produce.
More Things to Do in Balearic Islands
The island of Mallorca is home to more than 200 caves and the Cuevas del Ham, or Caves of Hams, are one of the most popular to visit. Located along an underground river called the Sea of Venice, these caves are notable for their spiral and hook-shaped stalactites. Many travelers visit these caves during a multi-destination day trip.
One of the most popular day walks in Mallorca, the challenging Torrent de Pareis hike slices through the Sa Calobra Canyon and offers spectacular views of the Tramuntana Mountains. After completing the hike, enjoy access to remote and pebbly beaches, as well as the charming town of Sa Calobra.
Located on the western coast of the island, and about a 15-minute drive from Palma, Aqualand El Arenal is exactly where you’ll want to go to take your island adventure to the next level. The water park offers all sorts of hot-weather relief in the form of adrenaline-inducing slides, themed pool areas, and relaxing river cruises.
The park very much has something for everyone, too, satisfying those who seek thrills as much as those who just want to chill out. Attractions include wild slides of all types, from free-fall to twisty-turny, side-by-side races, and a tornado-style chute. Meanwhile, there are more tame activities such as the surf beach with its big waves, the Jacuzzi, and milder slides that are more suitable for little kids.
Port of Palma (Puerto de Palma) in Palma de Mallorca is one of the busiest in the Mediterranean, welcoming more than 1.7 million cruise ship passengers each year. As the gateway to the island of Mallorca and Spain's Balearic Islands, it’s a popular stop on Mediterranean cruises, with easy access to both Valencia and Barcelona.
Dating back to the 10th century, the Palma Arab Baths (Baños Árabes) are among Palma’s most fascinating archaeological sites and some of the last remaining relics of the Muslim era in the Balearic Islands. It is believed that parts of the baths are the only remnants of the Arab city of Medina Mayurqa.
Nestled deep within the orange-grove-covered Valley of Gold (Vall d’Or), Sóller is the ideal base for exploring the surrounding Serra de Tramuntana. Before taking to the trails, spend some time strolling the labyrinthine streets, admiring the art galleries, and enjoying what Sóller is best known for—oranges.
Built by the Romans, the Royal Palace of La Almudaina (Palau de l’Almudaina), overlooks the scenic bay in Palma, capital city of the island of Majorca, Spain. Visit this majestic site to see how antiquity lived throughout the centuries and today; the palace remains the official residence of Spain’s royals during visits to Majorca.
Arguably the most beautiful beach on the Balearic island of Mallorca – and certainly its most unspoiled – the three-km (1.75-mile) stretch of Es Trenc is found on the southwest coast near the resort of Colonia Sant Jordi. Thanks to the soft, sugar-like golden sand and the pristine, shallow water, this is a favorite beach for families; there are sunbeds and parasols to hire as well as lifeguards on duty in the summer months. Facilities also include several bars and restaurants along the beach, including the popular chiringuito (casual beach restaurant) of S’Embat in the purpose-built enclave of Ses Covettes, where several areas of the beach are given over to nudity. Despite its length, Es Trenc becomes very crowded in high summer, but a quiet spot can always be found. The beach also gets packed with wind surfers when the sea breezes start blowing. In winter it is often completely deserted apart from the migrating birds stopping over among the dunes, marshy wetlands and pine scrub backing the beach, which are protected as an Área Natural de Especial Interés (Natural Area of Special Interest).
Perched on the coastal cliffs of the island of Mallorca, Cala Figuera was once only a modest fishing village and small harbor. Today it is one of the most picturesque towns that has maintained its whitewashed homes and colorful boat houses, making it popular with visitors. There are no public beaches or easily accessible parts of the coast, so the village maintains its quiet feel.
Views of the clear waters are particularly worth seeking, from coastal paths winding along the cliffs and hillside. Rock and sand formations, beaches, coves, a lighthouse, and of course, the turquoise sea are all visible from relatively flat walking paths. The main cove is dramatically surrounded by steep mountains. Still operating as a fishing town, the seafood is the specialty of the restaurants here. As evening approaches, you may even be able to watch the fishing boats coming into port with their daily catch.
Though now recognized as one of the most beautiful beach areas of Mallorca, Cala Santany was not part of the initial tourism boom on the island — in fact it hardly welcomed visitors until the 1960s. That quiet, relaxed atmosphere remains undisturbed, though a variety of outdoor activities both in and out of the beautiful water are offered. The long, white-sand beach here is scenically surrounded by rocky cliffs and forests filled with pine trees. Boat trips, as well as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving all take place in the calm waters just off of the beach. Hiking in the nearby cliffs, or exploring the adjacent nature reserve are options to explore the Mediterranean landscape. There are also three main restaurants along the beach area with shaded lounge areas and local food and drink if you’d rather take the relaxed approach.
Along Mallorca’s southeastern coast you’ll find a collection of sweet coastal towns, idyllic beach coves, and one especially photo-beckoning sight, Es Pontàs. This natural rock arch loops high out of the clear, crystalline waters just off shore, where it lures everyone from sunrise seekers to picture takers and rock climbers.
And its location near other ideal island destinations makes it an even more deserving trek. While in the area, claim a plot of sand on the nearby, cove-protected Cala Santanyi beach; explore the sweet, old-world streets of the more inland town of Santanyi; and wander the coastal trails of Mondrago Natural Park.
The sleepiest and smallest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Formentera is the ultimate Mediterranean coastal idyll. Free from the all-night clubs and persistent touts of neighboring Ibiza, Formentera has a mellow, leisurely vibe. The island’s biggest lure is its natural beauty—escape to its white sands, clear waters, and scenic walking paths.
A Gothic-style church at the heart of Palma’s Old Town, the Basilica de Sant Francesc is one of the island’s most spectacular sights and historically significant structures. The basilica dates back to the 13th century when it was founded as a monastery. It has been known as one of the most famous churches on Palma since the Middle Ages.
The current sandstone facade was reconstructed in the 17th century after the original was struck by lightning. Its Baroque style is more typical of the Majorcan style. The inside of the basilica is just as impressive as its exterior, with high vaulted ceilings in classic Catalan Gothic style and ornate altar. Tombs and chapels line its walls, leading to its stunning medieval cloister filled with citrus and palm trees.
The statue outside the church is of Franciscan monk Junipero Serra. If his name sounds familiar, it might be because he went on to found the major cities in California - Los Angeles and San Francisco, among others. The church is considered a major landmark of Palma and is included in most all tours of the city.
Known for its vibrant nightlife and sun-soaked beaches, Ibiza offers much more than beats from a European DJ. Instead, consider exploring Es Vedranell and the other western islets—and their inlets—of Ibiza for a more laid-back experience that features protected nature parks, quiet beaches, and Mediterranean diving.
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- Things to do in Ibiza
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