Collectively accounting for a vast amount of the holidays taken every year by British holidaymakers, the Balearic Islands are popular for good reason.
With Majorca providing family friendly fun in some places and all out entertainment for those who don’t need sleep there is more than enough to keep most people happy. The different resorts offer different atmospheres with some providing family friendly activities like go-karting, fairs and water parks and others featuring all night bars, bustling clubs and plenty more besides.
With those excitable young people taken care of by Mallorca its quieter neighbour Menorca is free to cater to those in need of relaxation, offering laid back charm aplenty and a selection of activities to keep visitors entertained, from water sports on the beach, shopping and a number of quiet bars and welcoming restaurants to frequent.
In contrast, Ibiza offers those party people their own little slice of heaven. For those who want to party well into the morning and sleep well in to the afternoon Ibiza is the perfect spot, offering well known nightclubs, with special guest DJ’s throughout the summer. You might be surprised to discover that Ibiza has another, more gentle side to it, resorts where there isn’t a nightclub in sight, allowing guests to enjoy their days of activity and nights filled with peace and quiet.
Ibiza Town (Eivissa), the island’s capital, is dominated by its old town, Dalt Vila, whose encircling walls are the longest in Spain. Within the walls you will find a cobbled maze packed with whitewashed houses, tiny bars, shops, flea markets and restaurants serving local fare. The capital has two archaeological museums containing a treasury of Carthaginian art. One, thePuig des Molins, is built adjacent to a necropolis, and tours of the burial chambers are given.
It is the beaches, though, that most people come for. They start immediately south of town, but the best, and certainly the trendiest, are generally agreed to be those at Las Salinas. Santa Eulària, to the north, is an important resort, as is Sant Antoni on the west coast, though this is very much the land of the cheap package holiday. Portinatx and San Miguel, in the north, are much smaller and quieter resorts, and you can visit caves at San Miguel.
Valldemosa, which lies just inland, is a magnet for tourists who come to visit the monastery ofLa Real Cartuja, built on top of a royal castle. In it, you can see exhibits relating to the novelist George Sand and her companion, Frédéric Chopin, who rented rooms here between 1838 and 1839.
The road between Sóller and Pollença is difficult and not particularly interesting, with the exception of the Monestir de Lluc, home to La Moreneta (the Black Madonna). Pollença itself is worth a visit to see the Calvario and a Roman bridge, while the nearby Port de Pollença is a very pleasant resort, not overly spoilt by tourism. To the north are the isolated and splendid cliffs of the Cap de Formentor. Heading south from this northernmost point, you will find the walled town of Alcúdia with its Roman ruins and popular Sunday market, and the busy beach resort of Port d’Alcúdia.
The main town at the easternmost end of the island is Cala Ratjada, a combined port and resort. Porto Cristo, further south, is a pleasant resort built around a protected harbour. One of the most popular tourist excursions on Mallorca, however, is a trip to the nearby Coves del Drac(Dragon’s Caves), where you can see dramatically lit formations, and the similar Coves de Artà.
The capital and deep-water harbour of Maó was occupied by the British for a large part of the 18th century. The little city clusters on the cliffs above the port, and buildings in the older quarter of town have a distinctly Georgian appearance. A boat trip around the harbour makes a fun excursion.
Ciudadela (Ciutadella), on the west coast, also has a fine harbour, but is more akin to Andaluciathan old England. Ses Voltes, the street leading to the Gothic cathedral that was begun in the 14th century, is all archways and completely Moorish. Visit the city museum in the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) for its rather curious exhibits on the history of the island.
Menorca’s best beach and resort is Cala Santa Galdana, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped cove developed in a restrained fashion. Further along the coast, on the way to Maó, is the Cova d’en Xoroi. These caves in the tall cliffs have been made into an innovative bar with fantastic views, and should not be missed. Fornells, on the north coast, is another relaxed resort which also remains an active fishing port.