Best Things to See and Do in The Balearic Islands
Traveling experts from all over the world share their very best of what to see and do on Spain’s famous Balearic Islands.
Before COVID took the world by storm this Spring, the plan was for my family to take a lovely Mediterranean cruise including stops at the Balearic Islands. Before I even had a chance to begin researching the best things to see and do there, the trip was cancelled.
What a pity!
Three years living abroad in Barcelona has afforded our family the opportunity to see some truly remarkable parts of Spain.
We’ve hiked the trails of Montserrat. Swam in the crystal clear waterfalls of Las Fuentes de Algar. We’ve marveled at untouched medieval villages of Beget and Rupit. And were swept away by the mountainous cliffs of the Costa Brava.
Each region truly more breathtaking and awe inspiring than the next! So naturally we were overjoyed to experience all the Balearics had to offer.
We’ll have to set our sights on a 2021 trip, but in the meantime I’ve tapped into some of my fellow global nomads to share their Balearic Island favorites!
Cala d’Hort – Ibiza
Contribution from Two Bad Tourists
Ibiza may be known as one of the international party capitals of the world with its resident DJs, celebrity appearances and renowned clubs, but it’s got a lot more to offer beyond just parties.
Similar to other popular European party island destinations like Mykonos (Greece) or Hvar (Croatia), the island also has a softer side to explore as well as a quaint old town.
Ibiza’s rugged landscape, natural beauty and amazingly blue waters create the perfect combination offering many stunning places to visit.
There are numerous beaches around the island so it’s not difficult to find some secluded beaches and coves even during the high season. By heading a bit outside of Ibiza Town, you can explore some of these coves to find the quiet, relaxing patch of sand away from the large crowds.
Cala d’Hort is one of those coves located away from the main touristic areas of the island. The cove offers a medium-sized beach with lovely views of the island of Es Vedrà, which rises dramatically from the sea only several hundred meters from the shore.
The beach has both a sandy and pebbly side so you can choose which suits your taste. If you make it all the way out to Cala d’Hort, nothing beats a delicious paella lunch while sipping a fresh sangria with friends, family or someone special, overlooking the cove. Head up the cliff and enjoy lunch at El Carmen, which won’t disappoint as the paella here is wildly popular.
The views from the outdoor terrace are stunning as it looks out over the waters with great views of the islands, sailboats and sunbathers below.
Day Trip to Formentera – Ibiza
Contribution from Travel-Boo
If your idea of heaven includes unspoilt white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and quaint fishing villages and bags of charm, then Formentera, the smallest of the Balearic Islands, should be on your bucket list of places to visit!
Given its close proximity to Ibiza, planning a day trip to Formentera from Ibiza is a great way to explore this idyllic island.
Several operators offer regular ferry connections between the two islands with the trip lasting between 30-minutes to an hour
Once there, you’ll no doubt want to head to one of the gorgeous beaches with its powdery white sand and pristine waters. These include Playa de Ses Illetes, Playa Migjorn, Cala Saona and Playa de Llevant to name but a few.
For water sports enthusiasts, Formentera offers a host of different activities including paddle boarding, snorkelling as well as sunset sailing excursions to make the most of this incredible island.
Lastly, one of the best ways to really get grips with exploring this stunning Spanish isle is to rent a scooter and discover all the hidden gems the island has to offer. Travel to the highest point on the island to the Mola lighthouse, visit the La Mola artisan market or check out the Ses Salines Natural Park.
Although many travellers visit Formentera for a day, almost all of them fall in love with this Balearic gem and wish they stayed for longer. With so much to see, do and explore it’s easy to see why!
Cuevas del Ham – Mallorca
Contribution from The Traveling Twins
While visiting Mallorca with kids, we discovered by pure accident Cuevas del Hams. We wanted to visit the famous Drach caves, but on the way (we rented car) I noticed a big billboard saying “here to the cave” so I turned parked the car and realized we are in the “wrong cave” only after I bought the tickets – oops.
Cuevas del Hams, which you can translate to Fishhook cave comes from the strangely shaped stalactites resembling fish hooks. The cave was discovered in 1905 and since 1912 is one of Mallorca tourists attractions.
Visit in the cave starts from a short movie showing the history of the cave and how it got discovered. Later on, on one of the cave walls, we saw a multimedia show about the creation of the universe.
Part of the Hams cave accessible to the tourists (500 meters walk) is divided into twelve steps; at each stop, you can listen to the audio guide and see beautiful lit stalactites.
The cave tour finishes with the “Magical Mozart” music and light show on the underground lake.
Hams cave even though smaller then Drach Caves is an excellent alternative to it, as its less crowded and same beautiful.
Tickets to the cave (if bought on site – online are cheaper)
- Adult tickets (above 13 yrs.) 22€
- Kids tickets (5-12 yrs.) 11€
Tramuntana Villages – Mallorca
Contributed by Brainy Backpackers
Exploring the charming villages in Tramuntana in Mallorca is a must when on the island.
The mountain range stretches across the western part of the island and besides its amazing natural resources and hiking opportunities, it’s dotted with picturesque villages.
Surrounded by lemon trees and orange trees that give color to the green landscape. In winter you can witness fields of almond blossom. But all year round, there are spectacular views.
Many of the remote villages are situated on the mountainside overlooking the deep blue Mediterranean ocean in the far end of the valleys below. Others are surrounded by green countryside, lush trees, and the odd farmhouse.
This part of the island is perfect for a Mallorca road trip. Make sure you visit the medieval village of Pollensa with more than 300 years of history.
Among other ancient cultures, you can witness the remains of both the Romans and the Moors.
Also Fortnalutx is mesmerizing with its rustic houses and magnificent views. Soller is the most popular day trip from La Palma. From there you have to take the old-fashioned tram down to Port de Soller. It’s only a 15-minute ride, but it’s so beautiful. If you want to stay the night in a town where there is a bit more life, this is the place to be.
Finally, Valdemossa and Deia also deserve your attention with their astounding locations. A road trip along the hairpin road is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, for families, or even for solo travelers wanting to get away from the busy city life of La Palma.
Cap de Formentor – Mallorca
Contribution by Live Your Dream Today
Cap de formentor is one of the most iconic places to visit in Mallorca. It’s also one of the windiest places I’ve ever seen which is why it’s called by locals the meeting point of the winds.
With its tall sheer cliffs coming right into the deep blue waters it’s a must see for everyone who comes to Mallorca and doesn’t struggle with the fear of heights.
There are quite a few lookout points along the Cap de Formentor with all the beautiful angles to overview the sea and other Balearic islands. The most picturesque place, if you should choose one, is the viewpoint called Mirador del Mal Pas.
Other than that, there are plenty of opportunities for breathtaking memorable photos if you don’t mind the wind and are willing to climb a few steps. The highest point of the Formentor cape is the white lighthouse that is called the Land’s End of Mallorca and open to visitors.
Make sure to visit the beach called Playa de Formentor and spend some time unwinding near the clearest blue water and embracing the beauty.
You can easily get to Cap de Formentor by scheduled bus from the central station in Mallorca or another nearby town. Coming by car or bicycle is also a popular option but be careful as the road is very steep.
Catedral-Basílica de Santa Maria de Mallorca – Mallorca
Contribution by History Fan Girl
No trip to Palma de Mallorca is complete without visiting the beautiful, waterside Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca.
Nicknamed La Seu, Palma’s cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece hiding a precious secret inside. Built between 1229 and 1601, it’s only four meters shy of the height of the tallest Gothic Cathedral in Europe, but its location above the water makes it feel like it towers even higher.
Inside La Seu is some of Gaudi’s strangest work. He had been hired to help with the restoration of the cathedral to mark it’s three hundred year anniversary. When he realized the city was not interested in major changes, he left. However, there is still a canopy and a baldachino visible as well as other changes to the church’s interior. If you are a Gaudi fan, this site is a must-see.
During the summer, you will want to buy your tickets early. However, if you’re visiting Mallorca in winter, you will find fewer crowds and you can see the cathedral at your leisure. Tickets are available at the door. However, check the opening hours before you arrive as they change from season to season.
If you are a practicing Catholic you are welcome to attend for one of the Cathedral’s Mass celebrations.
Walk the Cami de Cavalls -Menorca
Contribution from Le Long Weekend
Walking the Camí de Cavalls track in Menorca is an excellent way to experience the wild and rugged nature of this unspoiled island.
Spanning over 185km, and the entire coastline of Menorca, it’s not a walk you’d complete in one trip (unless you’re there specifically for that task!). However, as the track takes you past some of the most incredible beaches on the island, you’d be remiss to not tackle at least one of its 20 ‘stages’.
Well signposted, and well maintained, it’s a breeze to hike along (or bike if that’s more your style). And in some parts, it’ll take you away from the more frequented coastal trails, meaning you’ll find tranquillity – even in the height of summer.
The history of the trail is just as interesting as the trek itself. It has existed since 1330 when the current king ordered all residents to own an armed horse (in the case it was needed to defend the island) – the track was the main right-of-way connecting different parts of the island.
Its restoration was completed in 2010 and today it’s well and truly an integral part of the landscape. Walk even part of it and you’ll leave with a new appreciation of this special Balearic Island.
Bellver Castle – Mallorca
Contribution by A Rai of Light
Palma makes an excellent base for exploring the rest of Mallorca as most of its attractions are easily accessible from the capital. The Gothic-style Bellver Castle, located to the west of the centre, is a must visit.
More so, if you’re interested in history, unique architecture, or wonderful views. Built way back in the 14th century, the rather grand fortress is filled with history having served as the residence of the Kings of Majorca and as a military prison.
It is now the premier tourist attraction on this vacation island as well as the home of the city’s History Museum. The museum comprises eight rooms, including the castle chapel and old castle kitchen, covering different periods of the island’s past.
Find artefacts from the Roman, Arab and Spanish periods, providing a significant picture of the history of the island and its people. With its commanding hilltop position, there is a 360-degree view from the summit of the Bay of Palma, the port, and the mountains of the Tramuntana in the distance.
Using a public bus from the city centre means a steep walk up the hill from the bus stop. Alternatively, it is possible to arrive by car with ample parking at the entrance.
Punta Arabi Hippy Market – Ibiza
Contribution from Paulina on the Road
If you happen to be by one of the most graceful Spain’s Balearic Islands, Ibiza, nothing can be more exciting than shopping from the hippie flea markets. Ibiza is an archipelago of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea, which is quite known for the lively nightlife.
Opened in 1973, Punta Arabi Hippy Market is located on the east coast of Ibiza, around 20 km from Ibiza Town. Indeed, it’s the earliest and currently, the largest hippy market, present in Ibiza.
It has no less than 500 stalls offering expressions and artworks, fashion related things, extras and gastronomic items, and many more!
Each Wednesday all through the mid-year, you can expect heaps of hippy-style, unique jewelry, delectable food stalls, and unrecorded music to engage the groups.
Additionally, a range of various items is also sold at reasonable prices. Even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll surely fall in love with the atmosphere and culture.
Alongside this, it is worth seeing as it provides a sense of relaxation.
With natural landscapes on roads, sunsets, stunning seaside, peaceful villages, yoga retreats, bars, and shops, this market is a perfect place to enjoy. Besides that, this eccentric market is an excellent spot for families, with a devoted kids’ zone.
The entire market is concealed by tall pine trees that help hold the temperature down. It remains open from the morning itself, so you must arrive there beforehand with your family to dodge the hottest time of the day.
Otherwise, you can also shop from other markets, such as Las Dalias Ibiza Flea Market, Sant Joan Market, etc. Apart from that, there are various meals and beverages available, like local drinks- (Sangria, Hierbas, Frígola, etc.) and the best Spanish snacks, including Paella, Bullit de peix, Fideua, Sofrit pagès, Tapas, and pintxos, etc.
Secret Cove Hiking – Mallorca
Contribution by The World in My Pocket
Mallorca never stops to surprise you with its amazing beaches of white sand and crystal-clear water. Not many know however that the best beaches are accessible by foot or by boat only. Some hikes are easier than other, but never less, they are all spectacular.
Hiking to secret coves is actually a fantastic way to discover the non touristy Mallorca, because the chances of finding other people around are very slim. Don’t be shy and ask the receptionist of your hotel where the nearest hike to a secluded beach is.
An easy hike accessible to the entire family is from Port Pollenca to Cala Boquer, a small cove in the North of the island.
The hike to Cala Boquer is not hard, being suitable for the entire family. The trail is in full sun so don’t attempt this at lunchtime, when the temperatures in Mallorca are very high.
Once you reach Cala Boquer you will think that you’ve arrived in paradise. Whilst the beach is rocky, the sea has so many different shades of blue, from turquoise to azure, from ultramarine to teal.
Another hidden cove only accessible by foot is in Sa Calobra. Whilst most of the people stay in the main area of the bay enjoying a cold drink in the sun, it is worth exploring the surroundings.
A nearby path leads to a secret lagoon, through a mountain tunnel. Here you will find a secluded beach and a lake, facing each other. Whilst the color of the sea is pure azure, the lake is a pretty shade of dark teal. Behind you can see Sierra de Tramuntana’s highest peaks.