The Balearic Islands off the southern coast of Spain are most often associated with party-goers and British ex-pats. However, in overlooking this stereotype the discerning traveller will soon find islands that play host to a great history, a proud people and a stunning landscape.
The four largest islands of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera make up an autonomous community with Palma in Majorica (the largest island) being the capital. Although a province of Spain, the Balearics have their own president, their own flag and Catalan as well as Spanish is an official language here. The easy distances between the islands and their close proximity to Spain make the Balearics a backpacker’s dream for getting around.
The largest of the Balearics, Majorica offers backpackers a surprising array of rural villages and rugged landscapes in the hilly north-west of the island. The Tramuntana Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and make the perfect location for hiking or cycling. The rocky coastline also offers superb beaches. The hidden Sa Colobra beach is one of the most popular with locals, presenting backpackers with an opportunity to mingle far away from noisy tourists.
Named for its diminutive size in comparison to Majorca, Menorca holidays offer visitors the chance to relax in its famous turquoise waters and marvel at its spectacular scenery. An ideal destination for backpackers, wandering along the local roads will lead you to uncover historical buildings, 18th century churches and plenty of green hillsides. Plenty of youth hostels make for cheap and cheerful lodging, and heaps of canoeing and kayaking courses give visitors an alternative way to explore the island’s coast.
Of all the Balearic Islands, Ibiza is most famous for its nightlife. However, if the pull of the clubs doesn’t entice you, you’ll find plenty more worth doing on this small island. Away from the noise, you’ll find friendly locals, cosy villages and plenty of cheap wine. Watching the sun go down from your rock on the beach with a glass of wine in hand is a serene low cost alternative to the thumping bass of the expensive club scene. If dancing the night away is on your agenda however, you’ll have no problems here in the clubbing capital of the world.
Just a mere hop, skip and a jump away from Ibiza, the tiny island of Formentera is as far removed from club life as you can get. The small size of the island means that next to its noisy neighbour, it is practically unspoiled. Its clear waters and long white beaches take you to a new world of seemingly uninhabited bliss – the population approaches a meagre 7,000 although this increases in the busy summer months. Formentera does not have an airport making it accessible only by sea. This makes a backpacker’s dream of island hopping a reality as you can easily enjoy the hustle and bustle of Ibiza before taking a short boat ride to this apparently undiscovered paradise.