Costa Cruises takes you on a discovery of the Balearic Islands. Here's what to do and what to see in Ibizia, Formentera, Majorca and Menorca.
Known as "islands of eternal spring" thanks in particular to the mild climate even during the winter, the Balearic Islands are an ideal destination for the holidays. A crossroads between East and West guard the imprint left by the civilisations of the past in a naturalistic setting of rare beauty. You can find fine sand, lovely beaches, ideal temperatures, but also great restaurants and an exuberant nightlife. In addition to the dreamy sea, bars, worldly non-stop entertainments, you'll find Gothic cathedrals, Neolithic megaliths, fishing villages, beautiful rural trails and expanses as far as the eye can see of orange and olive groves: Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Formentera are the largest in the archipelago and will in you over, revealing their treasures. You can range from St Mary's Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca, to the unique ecosystems of Menorca, declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco. Another pearl of the Mediterranean, Formentera awaits you attentive to its own identity and jealous of its own peace. And Ibiza will also surprise you for its pristine side, characterised by hilly villages and wonderful views. Discover with us the Islands and how to spend an unforgettable holiday.
What to see and do in the Balearic Islands:
It is the largest of the Balearic Islands and is the right combination of sun, beaches and sea, with breathtaking nature and landscapes such as the peninsula of Formentor or the torrent de Pareis that can't help but fascinate you when you visit them. The hinterland is criss-crossed by trails for walks and countless cycling paths. The landscapes give the feeling of being out of this world. The main resorts of the coast are lively and very touristy in the summer. The island is so frequented that Mallorca airport is the third most important in Spain after that of Barcelona and Madrid. The highlight is of course the sea: there are several, varied beaches both in the city and outside. Particularly noteworthy are the cove (calas), whose transparent waters are reminiscent of settings with Caribbean features. The watchword in these little corners of paradise is relaxation and contemplation of the landscape.
Palma of Mallorca is the capital and the centre of the island. The city, which can be considered one of the most beautiful historic centres of the Mediterranean, stands in a spectacular bay that makes it even more fascinating and characteristic. The first monument to visit is St. Mary's Cathedral, usually called the Seu. The building, in Catalan Gothic style, is distinguished, as well as for its majesty, for its location, being located in front of the sea and between two of the most important examples of Majorcan architecture: the Episcopal Palace and the Almudaine Palace. The first is also of Gothic origin, although it has undergone several changes over the centuries. The second, in which the first Roman centre on Palma de Mallorca is presumed to have been founded, is an admirable example of civil Gothic. The building, which has a refined Renaissance-style salon, is the Majorcan residence of the Spanish royal family. In addition to its artistic beauties, Palma stands out for its splendid boulevards, walks and gardens. Near Plaza de la Reina it hosts the Paseo of Borne, one of the city's historic roads, dotted with trees and benches that invite you to sit down and relax for a chat or with a good book. Equally characteristic is the Rambla, made colourful by the presence of a fresh flower market. In the vicinity of the sea, on the other hand, Paseo Maratimo embellished by the presence of palm trees. Along the three-kilometre walk you can come across the City Boat Club and theAuditorium, home to international music, folklore and theatre events.
It is the sea and beaches that make visitors’ hearts beat. One of the busiest beaches in Majorca is the Playa de Palma, where much of the island tourism activity is concentrated. For those who want to get away from the city, it can be nice to find the area of Magalluf: it is the most popular stretch of the coastline with the British and has a dense succession of bars, restaurants, discos, clubs and hotels. One of the best beaches in the north-east of the island is Playa de Alcudia, whose thin white sands stretch for over 7 kilometres. This beach is amongst the most equipped for water sports, first of all windsurfing. Playa del Mago, known for its crystal clear waters and for the presence of nudists, is also in the northern part of the island. From Palma, one of the most beautiful excursions crosses the Soller Valley with a narrow-gauge railway that passes between orange groves and almond trees to reach the centre of the city from which a decidedly retro-looking wooden tram will take you to the town's harbour. The country is dominated by Puig Mayor, the highest mountain on the island. The main attraction of the city, however, is Plasa Constitucio. There is a huge fountain, cafes and restaurants, mediaeval churches and historic 16th-century houses. Old olive trees and orange groves populate the city. For science enthusiasts and beyond, the Balearic Islands Museum of Natural Sciences is a must. Founded in 1992, this museum is dedicated to the study and conservation of nature. It exhibits permanent and temporary exhibitions related to the flora and fauna of Mallorca.
The island never ceases to amaze. There are, in fact, a whole series of "postcard" villages to visit, starting with Fornalutx. The origins refer to an ancient Arab farm, which later became a farmhouse in mediaeval times. The whole country constitutes a collection of great historical, architectural and landscape value: the simplicity of the stone buildings, all perfectly preserved, the austerity of the shapes and spaces and even the decorations, make the houses of Fornalutx the perfect example of typical Mallorcanian mountain houses. A magnificent lookout, la torre des Verger, known as Ses-Animes, is, on the other hand, the symbol of the village of Banyalbufar. The main feature of Banyalbufar are the "marjades" the terraces along the sides of the hills, which go down to the sea. Marjades were used for grow Malvasia grapes from which a wine appreciated in and out of Mallorca was born. At the end of the 19th century phylloxera killed all the vines; Since then the terraces are used for the cultivation of vegetables. Inside the town you can visit the beautiful monumental complex of Clastra de sa Barona, made up of a cloister and a 17th-century defensive tower. Don't miss the village of Estellencs. Continuing to the east you will be able to experience the atmosphere of Valldemossa, one of the most visited villages in Mallorca, built at the time of the Moors. Another treat will be Deià: a very small but enchanting village from which you can admire an extraordinary panorama: when sea and sky meet, words are useless. But on the island of Mallorca there will be unexpected surprises such as monasteries and churches, not to mention the cave of stalactites Coves del Drac, which hides a large underground lake, Lake Martel. Among other jewels the circular bay of Porto Cristo.
A small island, a two-hour ferry ride from Mallorca, but full of charm and beauty. In Menorca the coast is so jagged that it creates endless coves and inlets. To the north the beaches are darker, while in the south they are a bit wider and Caribbean-looking, amongst those not to be missed: Cala Escorxada and Cala en Turqueta. It is considered the island of relaxation and the sea, and has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco. Menorca welcomes the gaze of those who visit it with the soft forms of its landscapes and with the architecture of its white houses, which descend to the sea. The green vegetation in contrast to the crystal clear and transparent waters, creates fantastic plays of colour. In its 50 km in length, there are about 80 beaches It is a land of great charm, which keeps its natural characteristics and its cultural identity intact and unaltered. Everywhere, scattered all over its territory, there are 500 megaliths, a testament to a past of conquests and invasions by many peoples, which have forged its character and gastronomy. Romans, Greeks, Carthaginians, English and even Arabs over the centuries have inhabited the island, conditioning its culture every time and leaving signs of their civilisations.
Menorca offers the beauty and atmosphere of a nature still intact: you can enjoy the sun while lying on the great white beaches or hidden in the lonely coves, visit the natural parks and archaeological sites making it an open-air museum. Among the must-sees is the Natural Park of S'Albufera des Grau, more than 5,000 hectares in which to admire many species of animals, in particular waterfowl (anatidae, herons, cormorants) and birds of prey (osprey, kite and booted eagle). Among other curiosities many varieties of plants and trees, islets and numerous prehistoric remains. Continuing the naturalistic tour of the island, from Mount Toro you can admire one of the most amazing views of the island; While Es Pinaret will allow you to take a break from the sea, taking long walks in the woods. Don't forget the fabulous Ciutadella beaches, one of the most fascinating and magical places on the island.
The island's capital is Mahon. Legend has it that it was founded by the Carthaginian general Magon, Hannibal's brother, from whom the name also derives. The history of this city is intimately linked to the sea and the location in the Mediterranean of its natural port, the largest in the world after that of Pearl Harbour. Nearly 5 km long and 30 km wide, it was the main reason for which the British during their domination of the island decided to move the capital from Ciutadella to Mahon (1721). Today the Port is the most lively place in the town, especially in night. The town is spread around the Old Town, where the city's main monuments are concentrated: St. Mary's Gothic Church or the Carmen Church, to mention a few. Piazza de s'Esplanada is the centrepiece of the city's movida. It is a city with a cosmopolitan and shopping atmosphere, where you can buy the menorquinas, famous sandals of the island with leather upper and a strip around the heel of the same material. Many things to see in Mahon, starting with the many museums of the city, where the past and its traditions are told. The most important is definitely the Mahon Museum, where remains and artefacts testify to the ancient history of the island of Menorca. There is no shortage of beautiful beaches.
Just 2 kilometres from Mahon is the small village of Cala Mesquida, a beach particularly suitable for children both for its proximity to the capital and for its expanse of golden sand. Another charming town is Ciutadella, the ancient capital of the island. The particular mixture of Arab and mediaeval architecture of the urban structure, makes walking through the small streets of the city really fascinating. Es Born is the main walking place that ends in the square of the same name where the Municipal Palace is the most important of the buildings that you can find here. The Square is also the centre of events and parties that animate Menorcan life throughout the year. Ciutadella is considered the religious centre of the island: in addition to being the Cathedral headquarters, built in the 14th century by King Alfonso III, here you can admire important religious buildings, such as the the Cloisters of the Soccorso Church or the Santa Clara Convent. The island also offers unexpected surprises: a thousand-year history, a skilful cuisine, eclectic art.
Ibiza is known all over the world for being the island of fun, of clubs and of mile-long beaches. Its small bays and white-sand beaches overlook a crystal clear sea with a very rich seabed of marine varieties. The pleasant climate, with the sun almost always shining, makes them welcoming all year round, making it an ideal destination in every season. Ibiza is not only this: the exceptionality of the landscape, combined with its cultural richness, has led it to be recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The capital Ibiza, also known by the name of Vila, encompasses most of the monuments of the ancient core of the island: Dalt Vila. Founded by the Phoenicians, the city is surrounded by a Renaissance wall, the walls of which are contained between seven ramparts. The main entrance is the door of ses Taules, near the Old Market. Among the most interesting to see architectural examples in Ibiza are the Cathedral, dating back to the 14th century, the Episcopal Palace, theAyuntamiento (City Hall), the ancient seat of a Dominican Convent, and the castle overlooking the citadel. Among the most important museums are the Archaeological Museum, which preserves artefacts of the island from Prehistory to the Muslim period, and the Museum of Contemporary Art exhibits by local artists and foreigners residing on the island. The city of Ibiza has three beautiful beaches, Ses Figueretes, Talamanca and Platja d'en Bossa. But the beauty and relaxation are not over: one of the most famous beaches on the island is the playa de ses Salines, which stands out for the landscape scenery, but also for the trendy clubs. Near this beach, the name of which comes from the presence of a salt field in the immediate vicinity, extends the playa di Es Cavallet that has a particular record. It is one of the first nudist beaches in the world.
Equally well-known is the Playa d'en Bossa, ideal for those who opt for a holiday full of nightlife and fun. The many venues, animated by parties and music, make this beach a favourite amongst younger tourists. Whoever wants to carve out a few moments of silence, surrounding themselves with a spectacular landscape of mountains standing over a crystal clear sea, can go to the Cala Llonga. It is also worth visiting the Cala Conta, near Sant Antoni, the second city by size of the island. This small beach, about 800 metres long, is attractive especially for its sea, with wonderful hues, which become even more scenic at sunset. Not to be overlooked Sant Antoni, a resort full of beaches and coves, between edgy rocks or pine forests, where the water is so calm and clear that diving is very much practised.
Nature is also the protagonist in the protected air of Ses Salines, also declared a World Heritage Site. The main feature of this park is the presence of salt mines, which in the past were the main economic resource of the island. The area extends to the southern area and also includes the Formentera salt mines and the islets of Porcs, Penjats, Ses Espalmador and Castav. This reserve stands out for the richness of its animal and plant biodiversity and is a must-see for fans of birdwatching, as a place of passage for many species of migratory birds. Sedentary specimens such as flamingos are also included in the park's ornithological fauna.
Long beaches, golden coves, clear sea and cereal fields make Formentera a veritable terrestrial paradise, so much so that, like Menorca, the island has been declared a Unesco Nature Reserve and World Heritage Site. The inhabitants are concentrated in five towns: the capital San Francesc, La Savina, Sant Ferran (San Fernando), el Pilar and es Pujols. The port of Savina is the only public access to the island unless you reach it by private boat. In the capital, city life here takes place all around the small square, dominated by the 18th century church. The Church was the first of the entire island and in the past has served as a fortress to defend against pirate attacks
The beaches of Illetes and Llevant are the best known and frequented by tourists, for their white sand and Caribbean-lie sea, but also for the services they offer. To the other extreme, Cala Sahona and Migjorn Beach offer privacy and tranquillity. The first, with the blue of the sea looming against the red of the rocks, gives a very rare natural panorama; the second is amongst the largest on the island but, since it is located in the far south of the island, it is also the least frequented. The islet of Espalmador, where you will find only sea, nature and a large amount of animal species, is worth a visit.
Formentera enjoys a millennial past. This is evidenced by the Ca na Costa Tomb, dating back to the Bronze Age (approximately between 2000 and 1600 BC). The monument is located in the northern part of the island, near the tourist area of Pujols. In Formentera's artistic offering, The five defence towers built in the 18th century, to guard the coast and protect the island from pirate incursions, are also noteworthy. The oldest is the Torre di sa Guardiola.
Another gem not to be missed is the La Mola Lighthouse, also mentioned by the writer French Jules Verne in some of his works and for this remembered by a memorial plaque. The lighthouse is located to the south of the island, on a cliff at 120 metres. From here you can admire breathtaking views. The other two lighthouses are the Barbaria and, in the harbour, La Savina. The first rises from the ground and its beam of light even illuminates the rocks and cliffs on the horizon. Near the lighthouse, you can visit the watchtower that once served as an observation point to protect the island from attacks from invaders. For those who want to know other beauties of the island, no problem: the municipality has in fact prepared 20 itineraries that tourists can take on foot or bike to visit and learn about the most beautiful resorts on the island.
Discover Balearic islands with Costa Cruises
Sun, unspoiled landscapes, relaxation, but also paths and towns full of history and contamination. This is why the Balearic Islands represent a holiday not to be missed. Not to mention that the islands are full of clubs and restaurants and fun occasions. To this you can still add the possibility to taste traditional and typical food, ranging between specialities of meat or fish, soups or vegetables. But it's the dessert that will put everyone in agreement thanks to theEnsaimaida, a special cake with a thin layer of lard that is made to rise for hours and which is given a typical spiral shape. There are several versions, but tradition prefers it without filling, or with a special pumpkin fibre jam. Now you just have to choose the next destination and prepare for a beach holiday and emotions.