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Overview Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza
Each of the four main Balearic islands offers a variety of landscapes, from lively beaches and rocky coastlines to lush subtropical interiors. Some of its beaches are well known for package tourism, but more isolated and luxurious facilities are also appearing in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains and the towns of the verdant interior with an amazing local gastronomy, wines and liquors.
The largest of the Balearics, Mallorca, also has the greatest diversity of landscape and culture. The cosmopolitan capital city, Palma, boasts an array of memorable sights. Its cathedral, La Seu, begun under Jaume I, is one of the most monumental in Europe, while its castle, the Castell de Bellver, built for Jaume II in the 14th century, is a fine Gothic building. The Banys Àrabs, a 10th-century hammam, is among the best-preserved bath houses in Spain.
The second-largest island of the Balearic archipelago, Menorca did not have an international airport until 1969, when Maó (Mahón) airport opened. If not quite stemming the tide of mass tourism, this relative inaccessibility kept – and continues to keep – Menorca a quieter place than its neighbours.
Menorca’s coastline is dotted with tiny coves, bays and perfect beaches, while the island’s interior has an impressive concentration of prehistoric Talayotic structures
Long a favourite of hippies, Ibiza was the headquarters of the late 1980s “rave” culture. The hardcore elements have moved on, but the party continues at stylish clubs such as Space and DC10.
As Ibiza settles down, its older attractions are re- emerging, not least the walled Dalt Vila (Upper Town) of its capital, Eivissa, with its cathedral and some archaeological treasures dating as far back as the 7th century BC.
Ibiza is the least verdant of the Balearics, but its rocky coastline conceals some extraordinarily beautiful beaches and coves.