Off the east coast of Spain sits the small archipelago of islands known as the Balearics. On hearing the names Mallorca (the largest), Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, you might not expect much from these isles – their reputation is harshly doused in 'Brits Abroad' stereotypes and heavy partying (that's on you, Ibiza). But the truth is that anyone avoiding the Balearic Islands because of these pre-conceived ideas is missing out entirely on four islands steeped in beautiful coastlines, dazzling beaches, a strong dose of culture and historical towns. Whether you're into your diving, want to explore on foot or simply want to flop on pristine beaches, there's an island for you. These are the best Balearic Islands to visit for every type of traveller.

For nature-lovers and laid-back travellers: Formentera

This small place is one of the best Balearic Islands for peace and quiet. It's far less frequented or developed than its big sister, Ibiza, despite being only a 30-minute boat ride away, and has managed to keep a laid-back atmosphere, perfect for  those looking for a more chilled vibe. Nature lovers, too, should put this island on the top of their list, with its miles of rugged coastline dotted with white sand beaches, crystal clear blue sea ideal for swimming, snorkelling or diving, and salt flats that flamingos call home.

Slow is Formentera's default setting, so travellers who don't want the hectic, pulsing pace of Ibiza will feel right at home here - there's even a ban on new beachfront properties. In the sixties and seventies, the island became a bit of a draw for hippies, and the free-spirited feeling certainly lives on. There are plenty of markets full of local crafts, including the lantern-lit market of El Pilar de la Mola, coincidentally also the highest village on the island, so a trip there guarantees great views over the island.

Formentera-best-Balearic-islands-SpainSea views in Formentera © Tono Balaguer/Shutterstock

Inspired by our guide to the best Balearic Islands? Try our new tailor-made travel service and enjoy a fully personalised trip planned by a local expert. 

For families and beach bums: Menorca

While all the Balearics have great beaches, the ones on Menorca really stand out, often described as the easy option for reaching Caribbean-level quality sands. You'll often find little coves and secret hideaways of white, squeaky sand with rippling turquoise waves lapping onto shore, shimmering in the sun. So where to go? Check out Cala Mitjana, Cala Trebalúger, Calas Coves, Cala Macaralleta... we could go on, but you get the idea.

One thing you'll notice with the beaches in Menorca are the shallow waters, making this one of the best Balearic Islands for families, especially those with young children. It may spoil them for life, but some things are worth the risk! For families a little older and more daring, Menorca is the perfect place to get the gang into diving, with its impressive water clarity and amazing marine life. If you're on a budget or don't fancy the commitment to diving, the snorkelling is still fantastic here.

Menorca-best-Balearic-Islands-SpainMenorca is known for its Caribbean-style coves © Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

For the nightlife and culture: Ibiza

Predictable? Yes, perhaps. But Ibiza and nightlife truly do go together like a good gin and tonic. With its season of clubbing at renowned places like Pacha (and plenty more), stylish open-air bars with A-list DJ sets, there's enough options in Ibiza to keep you going into the early hours of every day of the week.

Ibiza as the best Balearic island for culture might come as a bit more of a surprise, however. Exploring the island's UNESCO-listed Old Town is enough to make you change your mind, with its majestic Dalt Vita Fortress and other snippets of history right in front of your feet. Another great spot to explore is the Es Cana market, where you'll find all sorts of trinkets and local crafts on offer.

Ibiza-best-Balearic-Islands-SpainIbiza Old Town by night © Mariusz Stanosz / Shutterstock

For those who want it all: Mallorca

The largest island, Mallorca, offers so much that it can't be placed under any one category. This is the best Balearic Island for a bit of everything: the beaches are jaw-droppingly beautiful and the nightlife here can suit all styles. With its 2,500 restaurants and 41 marinas, you won't be at a loss for any type of cuisine or a pleasing view while you dine.

Mallorca is also a great place to take your family, particularly teenagers, who will be kept adequately entertained without too much pouting. Palma offers attractive promenades and trendy boutiques as well as plenty of culture with the Santa María Gothic cathedral overlooking the bay and the Moorish-style Arab fortress, Almundaina. If outdoor thrills are more their thing, you can take your pick of cycling and hiking trails around the island, and Alcudia and Pollensa are great bases for adventures. For slowing things down, make a pit stop at the local wineries.

Mallorca-best-Balearic-Islands-SpainMallorca has something for everyone © Balate Dorin/Shutterstock

Share

Book Your Trip To Spain

Get your dream travel planned & booked by local travel experts

At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Learn Morechevron_right

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Explore places to visit in Spain

Your comprehensive guide to travel in Spain

Map of Spainchevron_right

Sign up for weekly travel inspiration

Sign up to our newsletter for weekly inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs