59 Best Sights in Ibiza and the Balearic Islands, Spain

Cartoixa de Valldemossa

Fodor's choice

Originally built as a palace in 1309, the monastery was founded in 1399, but after the monks were expelled in 1835, it acquired a new lease on life by offering apartments to travelers. The most famous lodgers were Frédéric Chopin and his lover, the Baroness Amandine Dupin, the French novelist better known by her pseudonym, George Sand. The two spent three difficult months here in the cold, damp winter of 1838–39.

In the church, note the frescoes above the nave—the monk who painted them was Goya's brother-in-law. The pharmacy, made by the monks in 1723, is almost completely preserved. A long corridor leads to the apartments, furnished in period style, occupied by Chopin and Sand (the piano is original). Nearby, another set of apartments houses the local museum, with mementos of Archduke Luis Salvador and a collection of old printing blocks. From here you return to the ornately furnished King Sancho's palace, a group of rooms originally built by King Jaume II for his son. The tourist office, in Valldemossa's main plaza, sells a ticket good for all of the monastery's attractions.

Castell de Bellver

Fodor's choice

Overlooking the city and the bay from a hillside, the castle was built at the beginning of the 14th century in Gothic style but with a circular design—the only one of its kind in Spain. It houses an archaeological museum of the history of Mallorca and a small collection of classical sculpture. The Bus Turistic 50 and the EMT municipal buses Nos. 4, 20, and 46 all stop a 20-minute walk from the entrance. In summer, there are classical music concerts in the courtyard, performed by the Ciutat de Palma Symphony Orchestra.

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Catedral de Mallorca

Centro Fodor's choice

Palma's cathedral is an architectural wonder that took almost 400 years to build. Begun in 1230, the wide expanse of the nave is supported by 14 70-foot-tall columns that fan out at the top like palm trees. The nave is dominated by an immense rose window, 40 feet in diameter, dating to 1370. Over the main altar (consecrated in 1346) is the surrealistic baldoquí (baldachin) by Antoni Gaudí, completed in 1912. This enormous canopy, with lamps suspended from it like elements of a mobile, rises to a Crucifixion scene at the top. To the right, in the Chapel of the Santísimo, is an equally remarkable 2007 work by the sculptor Miquel Barceló: a painted ceramic tableau covering the walls like a skin. Based on the New Testament account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, it's a bizarre composition of rolling waves, gaping cracks, protruding fish heads, and human skulls. The bell tower above the cathedral's Plaça Almoina door holds nine bells, the largest of which is called N'Eloi, meaning "Praise." The 5-ton N'Eloi, cast in 1389, requires six men to ring it and has shattered stained-glass windows with its sound.

From April through October you can take a guided tour of the bell tower and the cathedral's terraces overlooking panoramic views of the city. Reservations must be made in advance on the website.

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Hauser & Wirth

Fodor's choice

A 15-minute boat ride from Mahón harbor is the tiny islet of Illa del Rei, once home to a naval hospital, which is now home to the first Spanish outpost of internationally lauded art gallery Hauser & Wirth. Exhibits come and go with the seasons, but the entire setting is hypnotic: the sensitive restoration of the outbuildings scooped a social responsibility award; the apothecary gardens are perfumed and purple-hued; while the siesta-relaxed outdoor terrace of Cantina restaurant wiggles in seats wherever gaps between tree trunks allow. A sculpture trail reveals big-hitters by Joan Miró, as well as one of Louise Bourgeois's famous spiders, while the naval museum offers fascinating historical context. Sustainability-focused craft workshops (for example, repurposing discarded fishnets into tapestries) and a kitsch-free gift shop complete an offering that will delight anyone seeking creative stimulation or disconnection.   

Illa del Rei, Maó, 07700, Spain
871-010020
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free. Boat €7 return (departs Mahón on the hour), Closed Nov.–Mar. Hours vary seasonally: June–mid-Sept 11am–10pm. Apr.–May and Mid-Sept.–Oct. 10am–4pm.

Museu d'Es Baluard

Fodor's choice

West of the city center, this museum rises on a long-neglected archaeological site, parts of which date back to the 12th century. The building itself is an outstanding convergence of old and new: the exhibition space uses the surviving 16th-century perimeter walls of the fortified city, including a stone courtyard facing the sea and a promenade along the ramparts. There are three floors of galleries, and the collection includes work by Miró, Picasso, and Antoni Tàpies, among other major artists. To get here, take the narrow Carrer de Sant Pere through the old fishermen's quarter, from Plaça de la Drassana.

Playa de Ses Illetes

Fodor's choice

The closest beach to the port at La Savina is an exquisitely beautiful string of dunes stretching to the tip of the Trucador Peninsula at Es Pau. Collectively called Ses Illetes, they form part of a national park and are consistently voted as among the five best beaches in the world. Ibiza clubbers like to take the fast ferry over from Eivissa after a long night and chill out here, tapping the sun for the energy to party again. The water is fairly shallow and the meadows of seagrass in it shelter colorful varieties of small fish; the fairly constant breezes are good for windsurfing. Nude and topless sunbathing raises no eyebrows anywhere along the dunes. Be warned: there's no shade here at all, and rented umbrellas fetch premium prices. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: nudists; snorkeling; swimming; windsurfing.

Ajuntament

Centro

Along Carrer Colom is the 17th-century ajuntament (town hall). Stop in to see the collection of gigantes, the huge painted and costumed mannequins paraded through the streets during festivals, which are on display in the lobby. The olive tree on the right side of the square is one of Mallorca's so-called olivos milenarios—purported to be more than 1,000 years old. The adjacent building is the Palau del Consell, the headquarters of the island's government, a late-19th-century building on the site of a medieval prison. The palau (palace) has its own collection of gigantes and an impressive stained-glass window over the ornate stone staircase; visits inside can be arranged by appointment ( [email protected]).

Banys Arabs

Centro

One of Palma's oldest monuments, the 10th-century public bathhouse has a wonderful walled garden of palms and lemon trees. In its day, it was not merely a place to bathe but a social institution where you could soak, relax, and gossip with your neighbors.

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Carrer Can Serra 7, Palma, 07001, Spain
9717-721549
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €3

Basílica de Sant Francesc

Centro

The 13th-century monastery church of Sant Francesc was established by Jaume II when his eldest son took monastic orders and gave up rights to the throne. Fra Junípero Serra, the missionary who founded San Francisco, California, was later educated here; his statue stands to the left of the main entrance. The basilica houses the tomb of eminent 13th-century scholar Ramón Llull. The cloisters (enter via the side door, on the right) are especially beautiful and peaceful. The €5 entrance fee includes entrance to five other churches.

Bastion Promenade

The Baluard (bastion) de San Bernat is one of the oldest bastions in the Balearic Islands, harkening back to when inhabitants feared attacks from pirates. From here, a promenade with stunning sea views runs west to the bastions of Sant Jordi and Sant Jaume, past the Castell—a fortress formerly used as an army barracks. In 2007, work began to transform the fortress into a luxury parador, but archaeological discoveries under the worksite delayed the reconstruction indefinitely. There are many points from which to pick up the promenade, but a thorough route begins from the main drawbridge in Portal de ses Taules: head towards the Baluard de Santa Llúcia, then Sant Joan, Sant Pere, and so on. 

Bodega Antonio Nadal Ros

Binissalem, about a half-hour drive (25 km [15 miles]) from Palma, is the center of one of the island's two D.O.-registered wine regions and has a riotous harvest festival in mid-September, when surplus grapes are dumped by the truckload for participants to fling at each other. Some of Mallorca's best wineries are here, many of them open for tastings and tours. This winery is hard to find, but it's worth a detour, especially for its award-winning red Tres Uvas, a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and a Mallorcan grape called Manto Negro, that's easy on the palate. It's open for tours and tastings, but call ahead on weekends.

Bodegas José L. Ferrer

One of the largest of Mallorca's wineries, Bodegas José L. Ferrer can be visited for tastings. Ferrer wines consistently do well at international competitions in France and Germany; Pedra de Binissalem, its ecological red, is a subtle blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and the local varietal Manto Negro—well worth a try.

Carrer del Conquistador 103, Binissalem, 07350, Spain
971-100100
Sight Details
Rate Includes: From €18

Ca N'Alluny (La Casa de Robert Graves)

The Fundació Robert Graves opened this museum dedicated to Deià's most famous resident in the house he built in 1932. The seaside house is something of a shrine: Graves's furniture and books, personal effects, and the press he used to print many of his works are all preserved.

Caixa Forum

Centro

Built between 1901 and 1903 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, originator of Barcelona's Palau de la Música Catalana, this former hotel has an alabaster facade sculpted like a wedding cake, with floral motifs, angelic heads, and coats of arms. The original interiors are gone, however. The building is owned and used by the Fundació La Caixa, a cultural and social organization funded by the region's largest bank. Don't miss the permanent exhibit of paintings by the Catalan impressionist Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa.

Cala Deià

Encircled by high pine-topped cliffs, this rocky cove connects to various coastal walking paths as well as a narrow road that twists its way down from the village. Year-round, clear turquoise water makes it great for snorkeling and swimming. The Instagram-popular Ca’s Patró March seafood restaurant, hewn into the rocks, overhangs the sea and stirring views. Book a table at the water's edge well in advance ( 971/639137); it's often booked out weeks in advance. There is also a simple beach bar. Amenities: food and drink; parking. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

Cala Deià, Deià, 07179, Spain

Cala Galdana

A small horseshoe curve of fine white sand, framed by almost vertical pine-covered cliffs, is where Menorca's only ever-flowing river, the Algendar, reaches the sea through a long limestone gorge. The surrounding area is under environmental protection—the handful of resort hotels and chalets above the beach (usually booked solid June–September by package-tour operators) were grandfathered in. Cala Galdana is family-friendly in the extreme, with calm, shallow waters, and a nearby water park–playground for the kids. A favorite with Menorcans and visitors alike, it gets really crowded in high season, but a 20-minute walk through the pine forest leads to the otherwise inaccessible little coves of Macarella and Macarelleta, remote beaches popular with naturists and boating parties. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; water sports. Best for: swimming; walking.

35 km (21 miles) from Mahón, Ferreries, Spain

Can Corbella

Centro

This gem of Palma's early Moderniste architecture, designed in the 1890s by Nicolau Lliteras, is on the corner of Carrer de Jaume II.

Can Forteza Rei

Centro

Designed by Lluís Forteza Rei in 1909, this Art Nouveau delight has twisted wrought-iron railings and surfaces inlaid with bits of polychrome tile, which are signature touches of Antoni Gaudí and his contemporaries. A wonderful carved stone face in a painful grimace, flanked by dragons, ironically frames the stained-glass windows of a third-floor dental clinic. There's a chocolate shop on the ground floor.

Can Prunera

A minute's walk or so from the Plaça de la Constitució, along Sóller's main shopping arcade, brings you to this charming museum, where Moderniste style comes to life. In the lovingly restored family rooms on the first floor of this imposing town house you can see how Sóller's well-to-do embraced the Art Deco style: the ornate furniture and furnishings, the stained glass and ceramic tile, and the carved and painted ceilings all helped announce their status in turn-of-the-century Mallorcan society. Upstairs, Can Prunera also houses a small collection of paintings by early modern masters, among them Man Ray, Santiago Rusiñol, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró. The garden is an open-air museum in its own right, with sculptures by José Siguiri, Josep Sirvent, and other Mallorcan artists.

Carrer de la Lluna 86–90, Sóller, 07100, Spain
971-638973
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €6, Closed Mon. Nov.–Feb.; Closed Sun. and Mon. Mar.–Oct.

Cap de Formentor

The winding road north from Port de Pollença to the tip of the island is spectacular. Stop at the Mirador de la Cruete (or Colomer), where the rocks form deep, narrow inlets of multi-shaded blue. A stone tower called the Talaia d'Albercutx marks the highest point on the peninsula. Continue on, around hairpin bends—and past superb coastal views—to reach Cala Formentor beach. The drive is certainly not for the fainthearted, but the beach at the end is one of Mallorca's best, with fine white sand and calm turquoise water, backed by a forest of pine trees that offer shade.

Carrer d'Isabel II

This street is lined with many Georgian homes. To get here, walk up Carrer d'Alfons III and turn right at the ajuntament.

Carrer d'Isabel II, Maó, 07701, Spain

Cathedral

Carrer Major leads to this Gothic edifice, which has some beautifully carved choir stalls. The side chapel has round Moorish arches, remnants of the mosque that once stood on this site; the bell tower is a converted minaret.

Cathedral

Dalt Vila

Built on a site used for temples and other religious buildings since the time of the Phoenicians, Ibiza's Catedral de Santa María has a Gothic tower, a baroque nave, and a small museum of religious art and artifacts. It was built in the 13th and 14th centuries, and renovated in the 18th century.

Centre d'Interpretació Madina Yabisa

Dalt Vila

A few steps from the cathedral, this small center has a fascinating collection of audiovisual materials and exhibits on the period when the Moors ruled the island.

Carrer Major 2, Eivissa, 07800, Spain
971-392390
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €2, Closed Mon.

Ciutat Romana de Pol·lèntia

Archaeological remains of the ancient city of Pollentia, which dates to about 100 BC, include La Portella residential area, the Forum, and the 1st-century-AD Roman theater. The Museu Monogràfic de Pollentia has a small collection of statues and artifacts from the nearby excavations of the Roman capital of the island.

Av. dels Prínceps d'Espanya s/n, Alcúdia, 07400, Spain
971-547004
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €4, includes museum and archaeological site, Closed Sun. Oct.–Apr.; Closed Mon. May–Sept.

Convento de Sant Agustí (Iglesia del Socors)

Carrer del Seminari is lined on the west side with some of the city's most impressive historic buildings. Among them is the 17th-century convent of Sant Agustí, which regularly hosts Ciutadella's summer classical music festival (contact  [email protected] for details) in its lovely cloister, and the Diocesan Museum collection of paintings, archaeological finds, and liturgical objects. The room housing the historical library and archives is especially impressive.

Carrer del Seminari 9, Ciutadella, 07760, Spain
971-481297
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €6 (includes cathedral)

Cova des Coloms

This massive cave is the most spectacular on Menorca, with eerie rock formations rising up to a 77-foot-high ceiling. When planning your visit, bear in mind that it's a 30-minute walk each way from the nearest parking place.

Es Cavallet Beach

This wild stretch of white sand hugged by turquoise waves is popular with nudist sunbathers and can be reached on foot from Ses Salines beach (20-minute walk). By car it's a 10-km (6-mile) drive from Eivissa, through the salt flats. Parts are backed by sand dunes, and on a clear day it serves up views of Eivissa and Formentera. El Chiringuito bar and restaurant, one of Ibiza's favorite waterfront beach bars, is known for its relaxed vibe, good food and cocktails, and its lively season-opening and season-closing parties. Amenities: food and drink; parking (fee); showers. Best for: nudists; swimming.

Sant Josep de sa Talaia, 07818, Spain

Es Trenc

Even though it's nearly an hour's drive from Palma, this pristine 2-km (1-mile) stretch of fine white sand on Mallorca's southern coast, much longer than it is wide, is one of the most popular beaches on the island—arrive late in summer, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a space to stretch out. At times the water can be a bit choppy, and there are occasional patches of seaweed—but otherwise the clear, clean water slopes off gently from the shore for some 30 feet, making it ideal for families with younger kids. Es Trenc is in a protected natural area free of hotels and other developments, which makes for good bird-watching. Naturists lay their claim to part of the beach's eastern end. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); toilets. Best for: nudists; partiers; swimming; walking.

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Fornalutx

This scenic little mountain village nestled amid lemon and orange groves, 4 km (2½ miles) north of Sóller, is a worthy scenic detour. Much of its appeal emanates from the narrow pedestrianized streets, blond-stone houses speckled with bougainvillea and topped with red-tiled roofs, and the views over the Sóller valley.