The Balearic Islands archipelago lies off the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, operating as an autonomous province of Spain. These islands are among the most beautiful and most popular in the western Mediterranean Sea. There are four main islands: Majorca (the largest), Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. These four islands alone feature more than 360 beautiful, golden beaches. Then there are also many smaller islands or islets, including Cabrera, just waiting to be explored.
Majorca, Minorca and another small island (Cabrera) make up what is known as the Gymnesian Islands. Ibiza and Formentera are often called the Pityusic Islands (perhaps an ancient reference to pine trees). Strategically situated between the European mainland and Africa, these islands were invaded by the Moors and many other cultures over the centuries. In fact, the Balearic Islands’ long history stretches back to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Phoenicia, and there are traces of human habitation going back nearly 8,000 years.
In addition to its stunning beaches, there are also caves to explore. The most popular are the Dragon Caves on Majorca with their sensational stalagmites, stalactites and an underground lake. Ibiza is world-renown for its sizzling nightlife. There are at least 13 wineries on the Balearic Islands, and wine has been produced on these islands since Roman times. Among Minorca’s treasured archeological sites are megalithic structures called talaiots and taules. The Cabrera Archipelago Maritime-Terrestrial National Park comprises a group of 19 small islands and islets located approximately 10 kilometers (a little over 6 miles) south of Majorca. The park is home to many species of seabirds, and its waters teem with dolphins, whales and other marine life.
With nearly 300 days of sun each year, gorgeous beaches, crystal clear waters, a rich cultural history and friendly locals (most of whom speak Spanish as well as their native Catalan), the Balearic Islands attract visitors from all over the world. Whether you prefer lazing on the beach or engaging in water sports, visiting the islands’ nature parks or touring archaeological ruins, winery hopping or clubbing at exclusive local nightspots, there’s something for everyone in the Balearic Islands.