Balearic Islands - Attractions
Ibiza is the island of the all-night rave, and Ibiza City the epicenter of all things festive. Unlike many other glittering resort communities, however, it's actually a living, breathing town with an interesting old quarter and numerous attractions. But most people head for the throbbing disco complexes, vast temples to hedonism that you should really check out even if it isn't your scene.
Sa Penya is the heart of Ibiza's old port and a flâneur's delight. Crammed in its funky-boutiqued, cobbled-passageway, iron-balconied labyrinth is the greatest concentration of exhibionists and weirdos in Spain. Take a streetside seat in any bar and watch the ebb and flow odf the human tide.
D'Alt Vila is almost a parody of the European fantasy. All polished cobblestones and ancient walls that reek of history and romance, it's perched atop a summit and is Europe's most ancient fortress city. D'alt Vila has nailed its colours firmly to the cultural mast by encouraging the proliferation of upmarket restaurants, galleries and shops, and hosting both the Museu d'Art Contemporani and the ancient 16th-century walls built by Felipe II.
There's far more to Mallorca than the holy triumvirate of sun, sea and sand. Fight your way past the army of tan-seeking tourists, and you'll discover Gothic architecture, hilltop villages, olive groves and hidden beaches. If you're after something a bit crazier, there are 24-hour parties galore.
Menorca, the second largest island, is perhaps the least overrun of the Balearic chain. Now a Biosphere Reserve, it boasts several unique ecosystems, including the S'Albufera d'es Grau wetlands, and some fabulous archaeological sites. Impressive prehistoric stone formations dot the island, and more than 90 caves dug into the coastal cliffs may have served as mausoleums or family homes. Pick up the tourist office's excellent 'Archaeological Guide to Menorca', if you're interested in that sort of thing.
Menorca's main city, Ciutadella, (also known to Muslim's as Median Minurqa) is a 17th-century vision that arose from the ashes of the 1558 Turkish motto, invade-and-raze. Sometimes referred to as 'Vella i Bella' (the Old and the Beautiful)it's an attractive and distinctly Spanish city with a picturesque port and an historic old quarter.
Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca is the island's only true city. Traditionally the haunt of celebrities and royalty, it combines natural beauty with glamour and is a perfect jumping off point for exploring the rest of the island. It's a stylish city that buzzes by day and sizzles by night.
When in Palma, don't miss the imposing Gothic cathedral, La Seo, built between 1230 and 1600. Visitors can wonder at Gaudi's curious wrought-iron sculpture hanging from the ceiling and check out the adjacent museum of shiny religious artefacts.