The Balearic Islands are an archipelago off eastern Spain, in the Mediterranean. Mallorca (Majorca), the largest island, is known for its beaches, scenic coastline and the Serra de Tramuntana mountains to the north. Palma, the capital city, is known for its Gothic cathedral with an altar canopy by modern architect Antoni Gaudí, and Almudaina, a Moorish royal palace.
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Discover the Spanish Balearic archipelago
The Balearic Islands are well known for their sunshine and beaches, but just a short distance away from the resorts lies a wealth of beautiful scenery and handsome old towns.
There are four Balearic Islands. The largest is Mallorca, which has a cosmopolitan capital, Palma, and the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, now a Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as plenty of attractive towns and villages like Deià. Menorca is much quieter, with two towns, Maó, with its excellent Museu de Menorca, and Ciutadella; the fishing village of Fornells, is arguably the prettiest place on the island. The south of Ibiza is famed for its nightlife while the north offers a more relaxed stay and luxury rural accommodation. Formentera, the smallest island, is ideal for a quieter holiday.
These islands make up the autonomous region of the Balearics (Balears). Their name comes from the Greek word for sling, ballo. So famous were the ancient natives of the Balearics for their skill in hurling deadly lead pellets with slings that the Romans called the two larger islands Balear Maior and Balear Minor.
Places to visit in the Balearic Islands
Ibiza, party and hippy hub
This island is hugely popular with a young party crowd, who come here for the clubbing, sun and sea. Read more about Ibiza.
Mallorca, with stunning scenery and literary heritage
The largest of the Balearics has dramatic coastlines, bustling resorts, historic towns and great nightlife. Read more about Mallorca.
Menorca, for relaxation in beautiful surroundings
This beautiful, green, undulating island is the quietest of the three largest Balearics, with relaxed, pretty, atmospheric towns and attractive countryside in addition to beautiful beaches. Read more about Menorca.
Formentera, for unspoiled beaches
The 11km (7-mile) sea voyage from Ibiza takes 75 minutes by boat, or around half that by hydrofoil, but, whichever you choose, it’s more often than not a rough passage. There is no airport here, and very little water, which has hindered large-scale development. Once the sole retreat of the backpacker and laid-back beach bum, Formentera now caters for package tourists who come for the extensive, unspoiled beaches. There is not much to do here besides sunbathing and windsurfing.
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