A small cluster of islands off the east coast of Spain, the Balearics have long been a popular holiday destination for singletons, families and group travel, with each island boasting its own unique identity presenting a wealth of choice for visitors.
Collectively the Balearic Islands share many attributes, all with universal appeal. Stunning beaches, mild temperatures throughout the year and historic charm are just some of the virtues mass travellers have fallen for…
My own love affair with the islands started some twenty years ago as a teen travelling with friends, keen to enjoy the tourist hotspots of Menorca’s welcoming atmosphere; later as a “bohemian” student, Ibiza’s party island vibe firmly appealed. Now as a mum, it's Majorca and Menorca that are my chosen destinations for our ongoing family adventures, for whilst my family is young, ease of travel and family friendly attractions are at the forefront of my mind when planning any trip abroad.
So, whether you’re in search of a holiday haven with history, a family-friendly retreat, or perhaps a hedonistic party atmosphere is at the forefront of your plans, there’s something for everyone within each of these isles. Now is the perfect time to visit the Balearics…
Largest of the islands, this Balearic beauty has much to offer multi-generational groups as a holiday destination. The landscape is varied, with pretty port towns such as Cala Bona and Ca’n Picafort ripe for exploration, whilst coastal haunts such as Alcudia and Cala Santanyi provide the picturesque foundations for any sunshine-seeking break, and although small sandy coves and vast sweeping bays make up much of the island’s scenery, ancient olive groves and striking mountain ranges also feature.
Portals Vells is a family friendly beach, popular with locals and tourists. A vast sandy bay, flanked by trees, it offers plenty of shade and shallow waters for paddling, as well as numerous caves to explore for the adventurous. There is also a snack bar, a small restaurant and sanitary facilities. The bay attracts many large yachts in the summer months.
Illetas is a small and sheltered beach along the coast, south west of Palma. Picturesque and appealing with its soft golden sand and azure waters it’s incredibly popular; due to lack of space the beach can become a little overcrowded in the summer months, so it’s best to get there early. Sun loungers and parasols are available for hire and two popular beach clubs – Virtual Club and Las Terrazas are also located at Illetas.
Mallorca’s capital Palma is certainly one of the most attractive cities worldwide and is a tourist destination you can easily lose yourself in for days. Brimming with history, the Old Town is full of charm with its narrow tree-lined pedestrianised streets and ancient landmarks, such as Sa Seu Gothic cathedral. Those with a penchant for shopping will also be satisfied by the impressive array of boutiques which line the shopping quarter, and there is, of course, plenty of celebrated eateries and bars in Palma, whether your preference is haute cuisine or something more authentic and low-key.
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Serra de Tramuntana is a magnificent mountain range that stretches from Andratx in the southwest to the Cap de Formentor in the far north of the island. A spattering of ancient villages and towns line the route which also presents two spectacular beauty spots, the Gorg Blau lake and Cuber reservoirs along the way.
For those in search of a leisurely pace to their holiday, Menorca is the perfect location. It conforms to pretty much every cliché you can imaging when conjuring up ideas of the perfect sun-drenched retreat offering glistening seas, bleached-white beaches and sleepy seaside villages where you can while away the hours over an indulgent meal and jug (or few) of sangria…Inland, Menorca is rural, characterful, utterly charming, and ripe for exploration; many choose to do so on two wheels.
Those travelling with children will certainly want to pay a visit to dreamy Es Grau, a beach along the north-east coast of Menorca that sits just six miles from Mahon. The standout appeal of this sandy haven is the incredible bright blue water that sits like an enormous swimming pool in a crescent shaped bay and boasts over 50 meters of shallows…perfect for paddling with kids, frolicking with friends or floating around with loved ones.
One for snorkelling enthusiasts, Cala Pregonda sits within Menorca’s marine reserve and there’s plenty of sea life to explore through the clear waters and in the many islets that mark the curved bay. A little island sits in the middle of the bay, which is a great little spot for sunbathing.
The Cami de Cavalls is a strategically placed coastal path dating back to 1330 and King James II reign, where all inhabitants of the island were under obligation to keep a horse and defend Menorca’s shores, using the path to keep watch. Having been restored in 2010 the Cami de Cavalls network of footpaths is now one of Menorca’s biggest tourist attractions for both serious hikers and those simply wanting to explore small stretches of the historic, scenic coast.
Known as the bohemian party-loving sister of the main Balearic Islands, Ibiza offers much more than its voluptuous reputation as “hostess with the mostest” and presents an alluring mix of history, mystery and tranquil scenery that should, no doubt, appeal to any group of travellers seeking a sunshine break, with the opportunity to indulge in many activities, before and after dark. Explore the ancient Ibiza Town, peruse the island’s bohemian markets and sample some of the most legendary nightlife in the world…
The beach at Cala Llonga is a popular haunt, not only due to its proximity to Ibiza Town (a swift 10-minute drive) but with its vast curved bay, picturesque scenery boasting pine-clad mountains and many conveniences, such as bars, eateries, loo facilities and park for children, it offers plenty of opportunity to truly relax and unwind. At the height of tourist season Cala Llonga can become very busy, but the beach itself is so big, there tends to still be enough room to lay a towel amongst the hired sunbeds, if you happen to arrive post-brunch.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Dalt Vila is as rich in charm as it is history. Offering an authentic flavour of the Ibiza rarely raved about, this Spanish idyll is the perfect place to explore on foot for a day’s escape from the fashionable crowds of party people. Here you can meander through cobbled streets and enjoy a leisurely vino at a tiny fairy-light adored café whilst people watching; this is where you can catch a glimpse of true Ibiza life.
If you’re visiting the island for its party scene, Ocean Beach Ibiza is the ultimate beach club. A decadent hive of activity where the fashionable and beautiful gather to see and be seen, its popular with celebrities visiting Ibiza. This all-day DJ’d pool party, is the perfect spot to enjoy a bottle of champagne whilst reclining on an enormous canopied daybed in your finest swimwear.