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Which are the best Balearic islands to visit?

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The best Balearic Islands to visit

Littered with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, destination cities and wildly competitive gastronomy, the Balearic Islands’ points of interest include pristine beaches, scenic coastlines and a constantly shifting horizon. Vastly different in their separate identities this archipelago off eastern Spain comprises the four largest islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, alongside clusters of equally alluring minor islands and islets for the ultimate charter experience.

Mallorca

Explore wildlife, rolling hills and rocky trails in the Serra de Tramuntana
Explore wildlife, rolling hills and rocky trails in the Serra de Tramuntana

Mallorca is a Balearic island abundant in diversity. The imposing Serra de Tramuntana is a stunning mountain range that runs along the northwest coast and forms the backbone of the island. Blanketed in lakes, canyons, cliffs and deep anchorages it is a playground for the adventurous. In contrast, the southeast inland plateau affords fertile vineyards, olive groves, almond orchards and shallow waters rich in turtles.

Why visit Mallorca?

Mallorca pairs sleepy stone-built villages with a cosmopolitan vibe. A top pick for an ideal sailing vacation, its perfect balance of Mediterranean beauty and international arts has visitors languishing far longer than planned. On the east side of the island is an inlet surrounded by low cliffs topped with green. The beach is small, only 20m long, but the inlet is an oasis because it's a 20 minute walk to get there by land.

Cala Mitjana on the east coast is a heavenly spot and not easy to reach by land
Cala Mitjana on the east coast is a heavenly spot and not easy to reach by land

Palma

Superyachts abound in Palma's marinas overlooked by Mallorca's magnificent cathedral
Superyachts abound in Palma's marinas overlooked by Mallorca's magnificent cathedral

Quaint cobbled streets, bustling bistros and Gothic landmarks make capital Palma a heavenly charter destination for the culturally astute, but at the centre of its offering is a serious sailing scene and a lively nightlife. Home to more than half of Mallorca’s population, Palma owes much of its alluring milieu to its abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants and traditional tapas bars.

Alcúdia

Alcúdia is a lesson in unassuming luxury. Away from its huge swathe of white sand beach, its peaceful narrow streets belie the grandeur that exists behind the walls of many of its establishments. Bookmark a stay at the Can Mostatxin hotel, which after six years of renovations, opened its doors to offer 15th century-styled indulgence. A trip to its sunken grotto-like spa is a highlight moment.

You can lose hours wandering round Alcucia's picturesque historic streets
You can lose hours wandering round Alcucia's picturesque historic streets

Ibiza

Ibiza has all the high end boutiques you would expect to find
Ibiza has all the high end boutiques you would expect to find

Once globally recognised as the party island, Ibiza is today prized for its impressively varied offering. Its peak season serving of international DJs in the livelier areas of Ibiza Town and San Antoni is balanced by the bohemian vibe, stylish marinas and a destination wellness scene in the north. A trip to the litany of high-fashion boutiques in the morning is balanced out by an afternoon spent on quiet sandy coves before dining out under the stars.

Why visit Ibiza?

A visit to Ibiza is identified by the windmills and prickly pears of the south and the terraced pine-clad hills of the north. Es Broll de Buscastell, the site of an ancient freshwater spring, is singled out as one of the top 10 things to do in Ibiza. For a little more vigour, head to pedestrian-only Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera, near the centre of the island, for its boutiques awash with artisan jewellery, leather goods and home décor.

Not just a laid back clubbing capital, Ibiza has a wellness focus in the north and space to escape inland
Not just a laid back clubbing capital, Ibiza has a wellness focus in the north and space to escape inland

Old town of Eivissa

Ibiza's old town, Dalt Vila, has been settled since the 7th century BC
Ibiza's old town, Dalt Vila, has been settled since the 7th century BC

Eivissa (or Ibiza Town) is the cultural capital of Ibiza, a port city with a sophisticated marina and a must-visit harbour promenade. Divided into three distinct districts, the Old Town – the pretty citadel of Dalt Vila – is where the historic cathedral affords the best views around. This area, once a central fishing village, is today home to art galleries, history museums and evening markets where artisans sell their handcrafted wears.

Cala Portinatx Beach Resort

Situated on a cliff above one of the most sought after coves in the Balearics, the Cala Portinatx Beach Resort is one of the best places in Ibiza for families. With a private beach lapped by crystalline waters, it provides top tier service set among chic avant-garde décor and a roster of activities from Pilates to kayaking. Drop anchor and visit by day or check in overnight and make the most of its lavish spa.

Cala Portinatx is an exceptionally well sheltered bay with crystal clear waters
Cala Portinatx is an exceptionally well sheltered bay with crystal clear waters

Menorca

Menorca is famed for its hiking and biking trails
Menorca is famed for its hiking and biking trails

Menorca is all about getting on the water, whether by yacht, tender or paddleboard. The island enjoys a slower pace of life than its neighbouring locales, with quiet coves dotted around every corner. In place of vertiginous cliffs are gentle rolling hills making it a favourite with cyclists, hikers and walkers, too – particularly Cami de Cavalls, a restored medieval bridle path that traces the coastline 125 miles around the island.

Why visit Menorca?

The best part of Menorca for families is the U-shaped iridescent bay of Cala Macarelleta – a must-visit beach on a Menorca itinerary. Alternatively, drop anchor at Punta de Macarella to visit Cala Macarellahas, another top-rated beach that enjoys south-facing sands and tasty barbecued fare courtesy of Cafeteria Susy.

Cala Macarelleta is one of Menorca's most famed beaches, and you can see why
Cala Macarelleta is one of Menorca's most famed beaches, and you can see why

Mahón

The architectural variation in Mahon reflects its contested past
The architectural variation in Mahon reflects its contested past

Known for its British-style Georgian houses and sheltered harbour, Mahón is the capital city and a favoured Menorca tourist attraction. It’s home to creamy Maó cheese and one of the largest natural ports in the world making it a perfect choice for larger yachts in need of deep anchorages. A stroll around the old city centre will reward you with a mix of colonial, Baroque and neoclassic architecture.

Talatí de

The revered Talatí de is a Talaiotic-era settlement from the late Bronze Age. Located in the village of Talatí de Dalt, it is noted for its larger-than-life stones. Delicately balanced since time immemorial, it has long been prized as a unique monument on the island – viewing is highly recommended.

Menorca has a rich and varied history dating back to prehistoric times
Menorca has a rich and varied history dating back to prehistoric times

Formentera

Cala d'Es Mort perfectly encapsulates Formentera's natural beauty
Cala d'Es Mort perfectly encapsulates Formentera's natural beauty

Just three nautical miles south of Ibiza, Formentera is a jewel of an island. The smallest and most southerly island of the Balearics, it is often referred to as Ibiza’s secret sister thanks to its proximity, but its laidback ambience provides cool relief from the hedonistic offerings nearby.

Why visit Formentera?

Of all the Formentera things to do, whiling away the hours on one of its golden sanded beaches is ranked first. Snorkelling and swimming in the turquoise waters is a close second, after which a visit to the five-star oasis of Five Flowers hotel near Es Pujols beach will gift nightly illuminations of the pretty building viewed while enjoying a drink from the rooftop bar.

The waters off Es Pujols are impossibly inviting
The waters off Es Pujols are impossibly inviting

Beautiful beaches

The incomparable Platja de Ses Illetes
The incomparable Platja de Ses Illetes

Among all the many strips of powder-soft sand beaches that adorn Formentera’s coastline, Platja de Ses Illetes is arguably the best. Roughly translated to mean ‘beach of the small islands’ it is Caribbean-esque in its life-affirming beauty, where sandy dunes are ringed by turquoise, shallow waters making it an ideal location for swimmers and sunbathers alike.

Parque Natural de Ses Salines

Located between the two islands of Ibiza and Formentera, the Parque Natural de Ses Salines shines a light on the rich biodiversity found in the Pityusic Islands. A nesting area for migrating birds, it is also home to flamingos, the Pityusic lizard and harbours the remains of ancient civilizations and historic traces all along the coastline.

Formentera has fascinating indigenous wildlife
Formentera has fascinating indigenous wildlife

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