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.
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.
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.
Port de Maó (Port Mahon, the capital of Menorca, has plenty to offer, including one of the largest natural harbors in the world. There are tiny streets to stroll, shops to explore, cakes and meals to be had, drinks to be sipped, and a market housed in what used to be an old convent.
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.
The tallest point in Menorca is Monte Toro, also called El Toro, where you can see the entire island on clear days. Built atop the summit is the Mare de Deu del Toro sanctuary, a significant pilgrimage place with a shrine to Menorca’s patron saint. There, a whitewashed exterior leads to a small chapel with a carved image of the Virgin Mary.
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.
Claiming a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, this craggy mountain range rising sharply from Mallorca’s northwest coast is prized for both its striking landscapes and cultural history. Alpine roads wind through pine forests and boast oceans views at every hairpin turn, while traditional villages provide a link to the island’s long Christian and Muslim heritage.
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.
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.
More Things to Do in Balearic Islands
Perched on a dramatic hill, Ibiza Castle (Castell d'Eivissa in Catalan) marks the top of Ibiza’s Dalt Vila, or Upper Town. The island landmark was built over the course of more than 1,000 years and is an architectural hodgepodge of pale-colored stone that combines elements like a 12th century medieval design with 18th century barracks.
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.
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.
Get to know Mallorca beyond its beaches during a visit to the old stone city of Valldemossa, located high in the Tamuntana Mountains, or to La Granja, a former convent surrounded by gardens. Many visitors climb winding roads up into the mountains via bus, taxi, or rental car during a day trip to see these popular sites.
Impossible to miss in the heart of Palma’s Old Town, Plaza Mayor is the Mallorcan capital’s largest square and a lively meeting place at any time of day. Constructed in the 19th century on a storied piece of land, today the sprawling rectangular plaza serves as a shopping and dining hotspot for locals and visitors alike.
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.
Sitting pretty on a hilltop in Ibiza Town (Eivissa), the fortified area of Dalt Vila has been occupied since Phoenician times. Behind its chunky defensive walls and 16th-century bastions lies a maze of cobbled streets that slope up to the cathedral at the summit, where views of the glistening coast await.
Ses Salines natural park is made up largely of water (a whopping 75 percent of the area and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is known for its beaches and biodiversity—178 plant species and some 210 species of birds, including flamingos, Audouin’s gull, and Balearic shearwater.
Lovers of modern and contemporary art (or casual travelers looking for insight into the Spanish art scene) will find one of Spain’s most important and comprehensive collections at the Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Palma. Opened in 2004, the museum maintains a collection of more than 500 pieces, with a heavy emphasis on artists working in the Balearic Islands since the early twentieth century.
Set amid some of Palma de Mallorca’s most historical structures, including the Sant Pere Bastion (sixteenth century) and the Aljub reservoir (seventeenth century), the museum building is much more modernist, made from concrete and glass, yet manages to fit in harmoniously with its surroundings.
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).
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.
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.
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