Glammed-up celebs and wannabes aren’t the island’s only visitors, though — avid birdwatchers descend upon Parc Natural de Ses Salines in the southeast, peering at 210 species of birds flouncing through shimmering salt plains. History lovers will be enchanted by Dalt Vila, Ibiza’s fortified old town and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enter the ancient maze of cobblestone pedestrian streets through the Portal de Ses Taules, then walk the perimeter of the town’s walls high above the sea, imagining you are a 16th-century Spanish sentry defending the island from Turkish invaders and marauding North African pirates. The island was once so attractive to plunderers, it was deemed the “pearl of the Mediterranean.”
But Ibiza’s popularity has resulted in soaring prices and environmental degradation. If you’re craving more tranquility, an alternative — known as the Island of Calm — is only a ferry ride away.
Location: Ibiza is off the eastern coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean Sea. From Valencia and Barcelona, ferries can take up to nine hours; flights are one hour.
Majorca has varied terrain and several Michelin-starred restaurants
Majorca, known for its velvety beaches and citrus groves, is six times the size of Ibiza. Although it receives its fair share of tourists, they spread across the island; Majorca’s diverse terrain boasts mountains, ocean and limestone caves. It is also a gastronomic sanctuary, with more than its share of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Among the highlights: historic seaside Palma with its towering, craggy cathedral and a timeworn fortress now boasting a buzzy modern-art museum, Es Baluard. The circular Castell Bellver, perched high above the ancient city, offers a stunning, 360-degree view of the city and its port, where sails flutter atop an aquamarine ocean. At night, weave through Palma’s serpentine cobblestone alleys, dotted with cocktail bars, chandelier-clad boutique hotels and secret gardens hidden behind giant cast-iron doors.
Port d’Andratx is a luxurious town in southwest Majorca, where gleaming Spanish and British yachts wave to each other across crisp, blue water. The heavenly — or treacherous, depending on your outlook — coastal drive northeast takes you to terraced Banyalbufar, where you can endeavor on a legendary hike followed by a cliffside lunch of bacalao (salted cod), and beyond that, Port de Soller. Ride the vintage tram from the maritime fishing village to its sister town, Soller, picking oranges from the blossoming groves along the way.
For those enamored of our nature’s subterranean wonders, venture to the Drach Caves, where tumbling grottoes of limestone boast millions of crisp white stalactites. As a booming narrator takes you through each cave, turquoise and purple lights dance on the icy formations, creating a surreal, Disneyesque experience.
Charming Deia, a village nestled at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, served as a muse for poet and novelist Robert Graves; you can visit his house and understand why he thought “perfect tranquility” reigned there.
Location: Majorca is off the eastern coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean Sea. From Valencia and Barcelona, ferries can take up to nine hours; flights are one hour.