Balearic islands travel guide: where to go, stay and eat

·6-min read
 (Sentinels)
(Sentinels)

With hardly any green list destinations and Portugal being rapidly removed from the table, this summer has felt like a kick in the Balearics. But now our favourite holiday isles of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza, and don’t forget little Formentera, have turned green and we can finally have a Mediterranean holiday.

Spain’s Islas Baleares (the Balearics) are places we’ve probably already been with our families for nice times and with our mates for slightly naughtier ones. Whether you want to revel or relax, the islands have got your back – and it’s always worth coming back to discover what you might have missed before: the hikes and nature reserves, the new restaurants and hotels wrapped in intriguing architecture, the art and culture.

No-one island hops but maybe we should, just like in Greece – cheap ferries, domestic flights and even (coming soon) new seaplanes link the islands so you can easily have twice or thrice the sun by splitting your time.

Mallorca

What to see

Welcome to Love Island – the town of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar on the eastern side of Mallorca is the location of the villa where, from this week, the new series of islanders will be finding out who is 100% who’s type on paper. Mallorca has blissed-out beaches and a mountainous spine in its north west which is ideal for cycling and hiking. Palma, the cosmopolitan capital of the Balearics, boasts restaurants and galleries dedicated to Miro, who lived here, and plenty of places to party on its periphery – you all know Magaluf and Palma Nova of course from boozy teenage holidays misspent. But Mallorca has a new generation of boutique hotels and an unspoilt interior barely touched by mass tourism. Take the train to Soller for an old time adventure or book some tennis lessons – Rafa Nadal is from the town of Manacor and the sport is wildly popular on the island. Or pick up some Camper shoes – one of Mallorca’s other big exports.

 (Cap Rocat)
(Cap Rocat)

Where to stay

El Llorenc Parc de Mar offers a 360-degree rooftop terrace and spa in downtown Palma. Brondo Architect Hotel prides itself on putting design front and centre, and it shows. Jumeirah looks like a Bond villain’s lair – perched on the cliffs above Port Soller and full of gadgets, access tunnels and luxe finishes. Recently restored and looking flash, Can Cera offers luxury in Palma’s old town. Cosy and stylish and set in a striking historic Palma townhouse, Can Alomar impresses. In the quiet east of the island, Can Ferrereta brings luxury to an old building. With just 32 rooms, Sant Francesc is a boutique bolthole in Mallorca’s capital that you will be happy to come home to. The old fort at Cap Rocat is now a luxury hotel surrounded by a massive marine nature reserve and you’ll feel suitably secluded when you stay here.

Where to eat and drink

Awarded a star in the 2021 Michelin guide, the ambition of the cooking at Dins Santi Taura is clear. As befits its place in Cort, a member of Design Hotels, Raw & Grill - The Brasserie brings the hotel’s design features and the fiery flavours of the whole Mediterranean to bear.

 (Can Cera)
(Can Cera)

Menorca

What to see

This quiet island is famous for its mysterious megaliths – the T shaped taulas monuments that date back to ancient times before even those dinosaurs The Rolling Stones were a glint in their parents’ eyes. Menorca has a monastery on a mountain, a leper colony in a harbour, and the quaint old towns of Mahon and Ciutadella. And in between, plenty of autumnal shades of sun-crisped countryside where vegetables are grown and animals roam. Almost 100 years of British rule in the 1700s has given Menorca the distinct air of Albion, Georgian architecture abounds – and the throngs of British tourists today only reinforce this feeling.

 (Torralbenc)
(Torralbenc)

Where to stay

Torralbenc is a gorgeous finca in the Menorcan countryside where each room comes with a private terrace and fresh, bright white interiors.

Where to eat and drink

Restaurant with rooms Mon offers Menorcan hospitality and high grade cooking on the historic waterfront in Ciutadella.

Ibiza and Formentara

What to see

The White Isle was where hippies flocked and house music mushroomed, where Balearic beats were coined and where the parties at Pikes never stopped and the Club Tropicana drinks were free. Covid put a stop to partying but the island is hopeful that can return in earnest this summer – Ibiza Rocks hosts pool parties from July 8, with Nathan Dawe opening the summer season. New hotels and restaurants are catering to the private jet crowd while those who eschew the chemical clubbing take up yoga and meditation at mountain retreats or go off grid on millionaire’s islands like Tagomago. Ibiza Town has plenty of distractions, while the north is quiet and boasts deserted beaches suited to sunset chilling. A short ferry ride from Ibiza, the tiny twin island of Formentera is famous for its mind-blowing beaches, its nudist hang out spots, its serenity and the various nature reserves and bird sanctuaries that make it a peaceful paradise.

 (Pikes Ibiza)
(Pikes Ibiza)

Where to stay

Austrian’s Andi Lackner and Andreas Oberkanins opened Legado as a home from home finca in the countryside and if you want relaxation, this is the place. New this month, shaking up the island’s hotel scene is the brand new W Ibiza which has everything you need for a glamorous stay. With boho interiors and striking architecture by MG&AG the freshly unboxed Oku is a key destination in Ibiza this summer. Petunia overlooks the lesser isle of Es Vedra and can organise boat trip if you ever get bored of the luxury here. The brand spanking new Riomar is an impressive addition to the island on the beach at Santa Eulalia Bay.

 (OKU)
(OKU)

Where to eat and drink

Pharrell Williams and Jean Imbert’s ToShare restaurant concept comes to Ibiza with the new El Silencio, which opened this month and proffers octopus, garlic and padron peppers among its standouts (to share, natch). Pamela’s is the high camp, pink-flecked brainchild of Lee Milne, where dinner is served with pizzazz. Aubergine’s vegetable garden forms the basis of its farm-to-table philosophy while sister La Veranda charms with its cosy fare. Of course there’s grilled octo on the menu at Las Brisas Restaurante and plenty more too, plus those sea views – it’s at the impressive Las Brisas Hotel. Healthy local food and a warm welcome are on the menu at Cas Gasi, an agriturismo which also has rooms.

Wizz Air flies to Mallorca from London Luton (wizzair.com); Jet2 flies to Ibiza and Menorca from London Stansted (jet2.com)

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