Barcelona itself is known for its vibrant culture and stunning architecture, but the city also serves as a gateway to some of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean.
The Balearic Islands, with their sparkling beaches and diverse landscapes, are just a stone’s throw away. But wait until you hear about the lesser-known islands, each with its unique charm and hidden treasures.
Given that I live in Spain, I’ve been fortunate to have been able to have spent a ton of time exploring Barcelona and its surrounding islands, and I’m excited to share these discoveries with you. From the party havens to tranquil retreats, there’s an island near Barcelona for every type of traveler.
So pack your bags and get ready to explore these Mediterranean jewels – you’re in for a treat with hidden beaches, quaint villages, and breathtaking landscapes that await your discovery.
Best islands near Barcelona to visit
If you’re in Barcelona and looking for an island getaway, Mallorca should definitely be on your radar. It’s the largest of the Balearic Islands, located in the Mediterranean Sea.
I have to admit that, before going there, I was sort of wary of the stories I’d heard. You know the ones – hordes of Brits and Germans flooding the island, not a word of Spanish being spoken and so on.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, sure, there are towns on Mallorca that are like that, especially during the peak summer months, but you can easily stay away from them and have an experience that’s as quiet or active, super local or super foreign, full of beach clubs or secluded coves as you like.
By now, I’ve been there a couple of times, and each visit feels like discovering a new layer of its charm. Getting there is a breeze – you can hop on a flight from Barcelona which takes about an hour, or if you’re up for a more scenic journey, take a ferry, which will get you there in about 7 hours.
And once you get there, Mallorca is a mix of everything you could want from an island destination. Palma, the capital, is a hub of culture and history with its iconic cathedral, La Seu, standing tall in the cityscape.
The island’s beaches, like Playa de Muro and Cala Millor, are perfect for sunbathing and swimming. And if you prefer a more active vacation, check out the Serra de Tramuntana mountains – they offer incredible hiking trails with views that’ll make you want to stay forever.
Foodies will love the local cuisine here. Make sure to try ensaïmada, a sweet pastry that’s a Mallorcan specialty, not to mention the incredible seafood. And if you’re into exploring quaint little towns, Valldemossa and Deià are must-visits with their cobblestone streets and rustic charm.
Is it worth going to Mallorca?
Absolutely, Mallorca is worth a visit! It’s not just the largest of the Balearic Islands, but it’s also incredibly diverse. From stunning beaches to rugged mountains, charming villages, and a vibrant capital city, Mallorca has something for everyone.
The island’s versatility is what makes it so appealing. You can spend one day hiking in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains and the next lounging on a beach like Es Trenc or Cala Millor.
Palma, the capital, is a bustling city with a rich history, evident in its Gothic cathedral and medieval streets. Plus, the food here is a highlight – make sure to try local specialties like sobrassada and ensaïmada.
Whether you’re into outdoor adventures, exploring cultural sites, or just relaxing by the sea, Mallorca caters to all types of travelers. The island’s size means there’s plenty to explore, and each region has its own unique charm and character.
Why is Mallorca so popular?
Mallorca’s popularity stems from its incredible variety and beauty. The island offers a perfect blend of natural landscapes, cultural experiences, and leisure activities, making it appealing to a wide range of visitors. It’s also very easy to get to from Spain and elsewhere in Europe.
One of the main draws is its stunning coastline with a mix of long sandy beaches and secluded coves. Beaches like Cala Formentor and Playa de Muro are just spectacular.
Then there’s the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering breathtaking hiking and biking trails.
The cultural and historical aspects of Mallorca also add to its allure. Palma, with its impressive cathedral and vibrant markets, is a highlight, but so are the smaller towns like Valldemossa and Sóller, each with their own unique charm.
The island’s culinary scene, with its mix of traditional Spanish and Mediterranean influences, is another reason why people keep coming back.
Can I do a day trip to Mallorca from Barcelona?
Doing a day trip to Mallorca from Barcelona is possible, but it’s a bit of a whirlwind. The quickest way is to fly – it’s only about an hour’s flight. There are multiple flights daily, so you could technically fly out in the morning and return in the evening.
However, Mallorca is quite large, and there’s a lot to see and do. If you’re limited to a day, you’d only be able to focus on one area, like Palma city, where you can explore the historic center, visit the cathedral, and enjoy some local food.
Another option is to pick a beach or a scenic town near the airport to maximize your time.
Honestly, I probably wouldn’t bother going to Mallorca for just a day trip as sparing more than a day is definitely worth it. Mallorca is an island that deserves to be explored at a leisurely pace, to truly appreciate all its beauty and charm.
Sure, a day trip will give you a brief taste, but a longer stay will let you experience the best of what the island has to offer.
How do I get from Barcelona to Mallorca?
To get from Barcelona to Mallorca, you’ve got two main options: flying or taking a ferry. Flying is the quickest way, with the flight taking about an hour. If you prefer the scenic route, ferries run from the Port of Barcelona to various ports in Mallorca, including Palma, Alcudia, and sometimes to smaller ports.
Flying is straightforward – there are several flights each day from Barcelona’s El Prat Airport to Palma de Mallorca Airport. Airlines like Vueling, Iberia, and Ryanair offer regular services, and you can often find good deals if you book in advance. The airport in Mallorca is just a short taxi or bus ride from Palma city center.
The ferry is a more leisurely option. You’ll leave from the Port of Barcelona, which is easily accessible by public transport or taxi.
The ferry journey gives you a chance to relax and enjoy the sea views. Plus, if you’re traveling with a car or want a more budget-friendly option, the ferry might be the way to go.
How long is the boat ride from Barcelona to Mallorca?
The boat ride from Barcelona to Mallorca typically takes around 7 to 8 hours, depending on the ferry service and weather conditions. It’s a bit of a journey, but it can be a pleasant and relaxing experience.
There are overnight ferries available, which can be a great option if you want to save on a night’s accommodation and wake up ready to explore Mallorca. These ferries usually have a range of facilities like cabins, restaurants, and lounges.
If you take a day ferry, you can enjoy the Mediterranean scenery, and there’s usually outdoor seating, so you can catch some sun on the way.
Different ferry companies operate on this route, including Balearia and Trasmediterranea. They offer various types of tickets, from basic deck seats to private cabins.
It’s worth checking out the options and booking in advance, especially during peak travel times.
Is Mallorca as expensive as Ibiza?
In general, Mallorca tends to be a bit less expensive than Ibiza, especially when it comes to accommodation and dining out. Ibiza is known for its high-end clubs and exclusive parties, which can drive up prices, especially during peak season.
That said, the cost can vary greatly depending on where you stay and what you do in Mallorca.
Mallorca offers a wide range of options from luxury resorts to more budget-friendly accommodations. Dining out can also be more affordable, with plenty of local eateries offering delicious Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine at reasonable prices.
However, like in Ibiza, if you head to the more upscale restaurants or tourist hotspots, you can expect to pay premium prices.
It’s also worth noting that both islands have a variety of activities that can suit different budgets. In Mallorca, you can enjoy beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and historic sites without spending a lot.
While Ibiza’s nightlife is famous, there are also many free or low-cost experiences, like exploring its beautiful beaches or visiting the charming old town.
Is Mallorca too touristy?
Mallorca does attract a lot of tourists, especially during the summer months, but calling it “too touristy” might be a bit of an oversimplification. Sure, there are areas that are very popular with tourists, but there are plenty of quieter spots as well.
If you venture into the smaller villages and towns, you’ll find a more authentic side of Mallorca, away from the crowded beaches and busy streets of Palma, Alcudia, and the beach resorts along the coast. Places like Sóller, Deià, and Valldemossa in the Tramuntana mountains offer a more tranquil experience.
Also, the island’s interior, with its vineyards and traditional fincas, is often overlooked by tourists.
Timing your visit can also make a big difference. Outside of the peak summer season, the crowds thin out, and you can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere.
Even in the busier areas, you can still find hidden gems and quieter moments if you know where to look.
Known worldwide for its vibrant nightlife and stunning beaches, Ibiza is a place that never seems to sleep. Located just 150 km (93 miles) from Barcelona, it’s accessible via a quick 1-hour flight or a ferry ride that’ll take around 8 hours.
But there’s more to Ibiza than just parties. The island’s old town, Dalt Vila, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with rich history and stunning architecture.
The beaches, like Cala Comte and Playa d’en Bossa, offer crystal-clear waters and are perfect spots for relaxation or water sports. And don’t miss the sunset at Es Vedrà – it’s a view that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
For a different vibe, head to the northern part of the island. It’s quieter and gives you a glimpse into the traditional Ibizan way of life.
The markets in Ibiza, like the Las Dalias hippie market, are great for picking up unique souvenirs and local crafts.
Is it worth it to go to Ibiza?
Yes, it’s definitely worth going to Ibiza, but it depends on what you’re looking for in a holiday. Ibiza is famous for its vibrant nightlife and music scene, and if that’s what you’re into, you won’t be disappointed. However, there’s much more to the island than just parties and clubs.
Ibiza’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean, with clear turquoise waters and soft sandy shores. From popular spots like Playa d’en Bossa to more secluded coves like Cala Salada, there’s a beach for every taste.
The island’s interior is also worth exploring, with charming villages, olive groves, and a peaceful countryside.
Culturally, Ibiza’s old town, Dalt Vila, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering a fascinating glimpse into the island’s history. The hippy markets, like Las Dalias, are great for shopping and experiencing the island’s bohemian side.
In short, Ibiza can cater to party-goers and peace-seekers alike. It’s a versatile destination with a unique charm that makes it worth visiting.
Can you do a day trip from Barcelona to Ibiza?
Technically, yes, you can do a day trip from Barcelona to Ibiza, but it’s not really worth it when the nightlife is so famous here. Flights from Barcelona to Ibiza are only an hour though, so you could in theory fly out early in the morning and return late at night.
However, to truly experience what Ibiza has to offer, you’d ideally want more time than just a day. After all, Ibiza has a lot to see and do, from its famous beaches and nightclubs to its charming old town and quiet villages.
A day trip would only give you a small taste of the island. If you’re short on time, focus on a specific area, like spending the day at one of the beautiful beaches or exploring the historic Dalt Vila.
But remember, Ibiza’s vibrant nightlife, one of its main attractions, is best experienced with an overnight stay.
When planning, consider travel time and the frequency of flights. Booking in advance can also help you find better deals and make the most of your limited time on the island.
Can you take a boat from Barcelona to Ibiza?
Yes, you can take a boat from Barcelona to Ibiza, and it’s a popular option for those who prefer a more relaxed journey or are traveling with a vehicle. The ferry ride takes about 8 to 9 hours, so it’s much slower than flying.
Despite that, it can be a pleasant experience with beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Ferry services are provided by several companies, including Balearia and Trasmediterranea, offering various types of accommodation from seats to private cabins. Most ferries have amenities like restaurants and lounges, making the journey more comfortable.
Overnight ferries are also a good choice if you want to save on a night’s accommodation and wake up ready to explore Ibiza.
Booking your ferry ticket in advance is recommended, especially during peak season when ferries can get quite full. The ferry terminal in Barcelona is easily accessible, and once you arrive in Ibiza, you’re not far from the main towns and attractions.
Which is better: Mallorca or Ibiza?
Both islands are fantastic destinations, and your choice should depend on the kind of experience you want. Mallorca is great for a more diverse and culturally rich holiday, while Ibiza is ideal for those looking to combine beautiful beaches with a lively nightlife.
Choosing between Mallorca and Ibiza really depends on what you’re looking for in a holiday. Both islands have their unique charms and offer different experiences.
Mallorca is larger and more varied in terms of landscapes and activities. It’s great for those who love nature, with beautiful mountain ranges, stunning beaches, and picturesque villages.
On Mallorca, you’ll also find a rich cultural experience with its historic sites and vibrant capital, Palma. It’s a great destination if you’re looking for a mix of beach relaxation, outdoor activities, and cultural exploration.
Ibiza, on the other hand, is famous for its world-class nightlife and music scene. It’s the place to be if you’re looking for parties and a lively atmosphere.
But Ibiza isn’t just about nightclubs – it also has gorgeous beaches, a charming old town, and a more laid-back vibe in its quieter villages. Ibiza appeals more to those seeking both a vibrant party scene and beautiful natural scenery.
Menorca might be the smaller sibling among the Balearic Islands, but it’s a treasure trove of natural beauty and serenity. Just a 30-minute flight from Barcelona, or a 4 to 5-hour ferry ride, it’s the perfect destination for those seeking a quieter, more laid-back experience.
Menorca is known for its biosphere reserve status, which means you’ll find unspoiled landscapes and pristine beaches. Cala Macarella and Cala Mitjana are some of the most beautiful beaches, with turquoise waters and surrounded by greenery.
The island’s history is fascinating too, with Talayotic monuments dotting the landscape – you know, speaking of ancient civilizations, as you do.
One of the best things about Menorca is its walking paths. The Camí de Cavalls, a path that encircles the island, offers breathtaking views and takes you through some of the most scenic spots.
And when it comes to food, don’t miss trying the local cheese, Mahón, and the island’s own version of gin, which has a unique flavor profile.
Formentera is like the quieter, more laid-back cousin of Ibiza. It’s the smallest of the Balearic Islands, and trust me, it’s a slice of paradise.
You can’t fly directly there from Barcelona, but it’s an easy journey. First, you take a flight or ferry to Ibiza, and then it’s a quick 30-minute ferry ride to Formentera.
Once you’re there, it’s all about the beaches – and they’re some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. Think clear, turquoise waters and soft, white sands.
Playa de Ses Illetes and Playa de Llevant are top picks, and they’re perfect for a day of sunbathing or a quiet stroll. But Formentera is more than just its beaches.
Renting a bike or a scooter to explore the island is a must. You’ll find charming villages, lighthouses, and salt pans – all set against a backdrop of stunning landscapes.
One of my favorite things about Formentera is its commitment to the environment. The island has a strong focus on sustainability, which means fewer crowds and a more authentic experience.
Make sure to try the local seafood and visit the artisan markets for some unique souvenirs.
Next up, let’s talk about Cabrera. This tiny island is part of the Cabrera Archipelago National Park, located south of Mallorca.
Getting there is a bit of an adventure – it’s accessible by boat from Mallorca, and the trip takes about an hour.
Cabrera is all about unspoiled nature. It’s a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle.
The island has a rich history, too – make sure to check out the 14th-century castle and the Cabrera Museum to learn about its past. Hiking here is fantastic, with trails offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean.
Since it’s a national park, Cabrera has strict conservation rules, which means it’s not crowded and has a very peaceful atmosphere. If you’re a snorkeling or diving enthusiast, the waters around Cabrera are some of the clearest you’ll find, with an abundance of marine life.
6. Illes Medes
Illes Medes is a small group of islands is off the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona. You can get there by taking a train or bus to the town of Estartit, and from there, it’s a short boat trip to the islands.
Illes Medes is a marine reserve and a paradise for divers and snorkelers. The underwater ecosystem here is one of the best preserved in the Mediterranean, with a rich variety of marine species.
Even if you’re not into diving, boat trips around the islands offer a great way to experience their beauty.
On land, Illes Medes is pretty much uninhabited, but the surrounding areas on the mainland have plenty to offer. The town of Estartit is charming, with lovely beaches and a relaxed vibe.
The nearby Montgrí Massif is perfect for hiking, offering some incredible views of the coast and the islands.
7. Illa de Portlligat
Illa de Portlligat, a small, charming island located just off the coast of Cadaqués in Costa Brava, is a gem that’s often overlooked. To get there, you’ll first head to Cadaqués, which is about a 2.5-hour drive from Barcelona, and then it’s just a short hop over to the island.
This place is famous for its connection to Salvador Dalí – he lived and worked here for many years, and his house is now a fascinating museum.
Illa de Portlligat is small but it’s full of character – the rocky landscapes and crystal-clear waters make for stunning views. It’s perfect for a day trip where you can explore the museum, enjoy the tranquil beaches, and maybe even go for a little snorkeling.
The seafood here is fantastic, so make sure you try some local dishes. There’s nothing like enjoying fresh fish with a view of the Mediterranean.
This little island is a peaceful retreat that’s not too far from the hustle of Barcelona but feels worlds away.
8. Illes Formigues
Now, let’s sail over to Illes Formigues. These tiny islands are located off the coast of Palafrugell, about a 2-hour drive from Barcelona.
The main way to enjoy these islets is by boat – either on a guided tour or, if you’re feeling adventurous, by renting your own.
Illes Formigues isn’t just a scenic spot – it’s also a historical one. The islets are famous for the Battle of the Formigues Islands, a naval confrontation back in the 13th century.
Today, it’s a haven for divers and snorkelers due to the abundance of marine life and the shipwrecks that lie beneath the waves.
The area around Illes Formigues, particularly the Costa Brava coastline, is stunning. You can spend the day exploring the crystal-clear waters, then head to one of the nearby towns like Calella de Palafrugell or Llafranc for a bite to eat in a cozy seaside restaurant.
9. Isla Castela
For a small, lesser-known island that lies close to the Ebro Delta, south of Barcelona, check out Isla Castela. The journey here is part of the adventure – it’s about a 2-hour drive to the Delta, and then a short boat ride to the island.
Isla Castela is all about nature and tranquility. It’s part of the Ebro Delta Natural Park, which is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
The island itself is uninhabited, making it a perfect spot for those looking to disconnect and enjoy the natural beauty.
The surrounding area of the Ebro Delta is fascinating. It’s one of the largest wetland areas in the western Mediterranean, with rice fields, lagoons, and a rich variety of bird species.
Make sure to try some local rice dishes – the paella here is something else.
10. Illa de Buda
Heading towards the south from Barcelona, you’ll find Illa de Buda, an island that’s a bit off the beaten path but absolutely worth the visit. Part of the Ebro Delta Natural Park, this island is about a 2.5-hour drive from Barcelona, followed by a boat trip. It’s a haven for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful escape.
Illa de Buda is rich in biodiversity, especially known for its birdlife. It’s a fantastic spot for birdwatching, with species like flamingos and herons often spotted here.
The island also features beautiful landscapes of wetlands and rice fields, making it quite different from your typical beach island. There are some lovely walking trails, and the views at sunset are particularly memorable.
This island isn’t just about nature, though. The isolation and tranquility here offer a chance to unwind and disconnect.
While there aren’t many facilities on the island itself, the surrounding areas in the Ebro Delta provide plenty of options for dining and accommodation. Illa de Buda is a hidden gem that offers a unique experience compared to the more tourist-centric islands.
What is the easiest island to get to from Barcelona?
The easiest island to get to from Barcelona is undoubtedly Mallorca at just a 45-minute flight away with numerous flights daily. Plus, if you prefer to travel by sea, you can hop on a ferry for a more leisurely journey, although it takes considerably longer.
Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. Palma, the capital, offers a mix of historic sights and modern amenities, making it a perfect base for exploring the island.
Beyond the city, you’ll find charming villages, serene coves, and the stunning Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. The ferry option, taking around 7 hours, is ideal if you want to take a car or prefer a more scenic route, although hiring a car when you get there is easy and cost-effective too.
Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or a longer holiday, Mallorca’s ease of access from Barcelona makes it a top choice.
What islands are closest to Barcelona?
The closest islands to Barcelona are the Balearic Islands, with Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera being the most notable. These islands are situated in the Mediterranean Sea, not too far from the eastern coast of Spain. Of these, Mallorca is the largest and closest, being about an hour’s flight from Barcelona.
Mallorca is well-known for its diverse landscapes, from stunning beaches to the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. Menorca, smaller and quieter, offers unspoiled beaches and a more laid-back atmosphere.
Ibiza, the party hotspot, is also famous for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. Formentera, the smallest of the four, is a peaceful escape with pristine beaches and clear waters.
These islands are easily accessible from Barcelona by both air and sea, making them perfect destinations for short trips or longer holidays. Each island has its unique charm and offers a variety of experiences, from adventure and nightlife to relaxation and nature exploration.