Planning Your Time
Most European visitors to the Balearics pick one island and stick with it, but you could easily see all three. Start in Mallorca with Palma. Begin early at the cathedral and explore the Llotja, the Almudaina palace, and the Plaça Major. The churches of Santa Eulàlia and Sant Francesc and the Arab Baths are a must. Staying overnight in Palma means you can sample the nightlife and have time to visit the museums.
Take the old train to Sóller and rent a car for a trip over the Sierra de Tramuntana to Deią, Son Marroig, and Valldemossa. The roads are twisty, so give yourself a full day. Spend the night in Sóller, and you can drive from there in less than an hour via Lluc and Pollentia to the Roman and Moorish ruins at Alcúdia.
By fast ferry it's just over three hours from Port d'Alcúdia to Ciutadella, on Menorca; the port, the cathedral, and the narrow streets of the old city can be explored in half a day. Make your way across the island to Mahón, and devote an afternoon to the highlights there. From Mahón, you can take a 30-minute interisland flight to Eivissa. On Ibiza, plan a full day for the UNESCO World Heritage Site Dalt Vila and the shops of Sa Penya, and the better part of another for Santa Gertrudis and the north coast. If you've come to Ibiza to party, of course, time has no meaning.
In addition to the major public holidays, towns and villages on each of the islands celebrate a panoply of patron saints' days, fairs, and festivals all their own. Highlights include the following.
Eivissa Medieval. Held in Ibiza's capital on the second weekend in May (Thursday–Sunday evenings), this event celebrates the designation of the Dalt Villa as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with street stalls selling "medieval" fare, craft markets, performances, and processions in costume. Eivissa, Balearic Islands. medieval-festival-ibiza.ibiza4all.org.
Festa de Nostra Senyora de la Victoria. On the second Sunday and Monday in May in Sóller, mock battles are staged to commemorate an attack by Turkish pirates in 1561. Sóller, Balearic Islands. www.sollerweb.com/firo.html.
Festa de Sant Antoni d'Abat. Celebrated in towns and villages all over Ibiza and Mallorca, this festival, held January 16–17, includes bonfires, costume parades, and a ceremonial blessing of the animals. Eivissa, Balearic Islands.
Festa de Sant Bartolomé. Spectacular fireworks mark this festival, which takes place in Sant Antoni on August 24. Sant Antoni, Balearic Islands.
Festa del Mar. Honoring Our Lady of Carmen, patron saint of seafarers, this festival is celebrated on July 16 in the Ibizan towns of Eivissa, Santa Eulàlia, Sant Antoni, and Sant Josep, and also on Formentera. A statue of Our Lady is carried in solemn procession through the streets to the port, where it is put aboard a ship for a ceremonial outing on the ocean. Eivissa, Balearic Islands.
Festa des Vermar. The grape harvest festival, complete with processional floats and concerts, is held in Binissalem in the last two weeks in September. Binissalem, Balearic Islands.
Festa Major de Sant Joan. Held June 23–24, this festival is celebrated throughout the island of Ibiza. Eivissa, Balearic Islands.
Festes de Sant Joan. At this event June 23–24, riders in costume parade through the streets of Ciutadella on horseback, urging the horses up to dance on their hind legs while spectators pass dangerously under their hooves. Ciutadella, Balearic Islands.
Festes de Santa Eularia. Ibiza's boisterous winter carnival, held on February 12, includes folk dancing and music. Eivissa, Balearic Islands.
Fiestas de la Mare de Déu de Gràcia. Held September 6–9 in Mahón, this celebration is Menorca's final blowout of the season. Mahón, Balearic Islands.
Processo dels Tres Tocs. This festival, held in Ciutadella on January 17, celebrates the 1287 victory of King Alfonso III of Aragón over the Moors. Ciutadella, Balearic Islands.
Romería de Sant Marçal. On June 30 in Sa Cabaneta, a procession of costumed townspeople heads to the church of their patron saint, to draw water from a consecrated cistern thought to give health and strength of heart. Sa Cabaneta, Balearic Islands.
Sant Ciriac. Capped with a spectacular fireworks display over the walls of Eivissa's old city, this festival (on August 8) celebrates the Reconquest of Ibiza from the Moors. Eivissa, Balearic Islands.
Sant Josep. This festival on March 19, in honor of the patron saint of Sant Josep de sa Talaia on Ibiza, is known for folk dancing, which you can also see in Sant Joan every Thursday evening. Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Balearic Islands. www.santjosep.net/en.
Sant Lluís. Celebrations of this saint's day, which are held during the last weekend of August in the town of Sant Lluís, on Menorca, center on an equestrian cavalcade called La Qualcada. Sant Lluís, Balearic Islands.
Virgen del Carmen. The patron saint of sailors (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is honored July 15–16 in Formentera with a blessing of the boats in the harbor. The holiday is also celebrated on Ibiza. Sant Antoni, Balearic Islands.