Ibiza Punta de Xarraca turquoise beach paradise in the Balearic Islands

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This Spanish island group in the Mediterranean is known for its abundance of superb beaches and clear blue water. Comprising Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, the Balearics are great for families, couples or groups, who can choose between quiet or full-on party resorts.

Why go?

If you are looking for value for money and a reliable holiday destination, then take a flight to the Balearic Islands and you won't go wrong...

Long a staple among favourite Brit holiday destinations, these Spanish islands have been delivering great holidays for nearly 50 years. They're a safe bet in the summer months for excellent weather, good food and plenty to occupy you during your stay. Even in winter you can find a good holiday on Majorca, the only island that operates year round.

Majorca is the largest and busiest island in the group. Hosting more than 20 million visitors a year, it's hard to imagine how it fits them all in. However, with a varied range of beaches on all four sides of the island, it's easy to find a resort that suits your needs. And while the beaches offer every kind of water sport, there is plenty more to pep up your holiday exploring the rest of the island. The capital, Palma, has one of Europe's best Gothic cathedrals, set in an old town lined with antique villas and with excellent shopping and eating out, too.

The island of Menorca is very much a family destination, with safe sandy beaches with warm water and plenty to keep the kids occupied from dawn until dusk. While the resorts are generally far quieter than on Majorca, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy and  days out visiting Mahon, the capital, or Ciudadella, with its historic port.

Ibiza is well known as a party island but there are two sides to this popular destination. Endless all-night clubs and bars cater to visitors seeking a wild time, but you can also get away from it all one on one of the island's east coast resorts - they're ideal for families and couples wanting a quiet, relaxed break. Ibiza's laid back and cosmopolitan feel plays out on many levels and it's your choice whether to return home fully rested or in need of a holiday after one too many all-night sessions.  

Formentera is a “get away from it all” island where you can rent a moped or bicycle and travel from beach to beach. There are several lagoons to explore, as well as mud baths and walking trails. However don't expect vibrant nightlife and busy resorts. It's quiet and restful at all times.

How to get there?

There is no shortage of flights to the Balearic Islands, with hundreds a week in the busy summer months from all over the UK...

Majorca, the main island and commercial centre of the Balearics, is less than two hours' flying time from the UK. There's a regular bus from the island's airport (PMI) to the popular resort town of Palma, five miles away, and on to the sea port. Alternatively, visitors can use one of the many airport transfer services or hire a car to get from the airport to their accommodation. All the big holiday airlines, such as Thomas Cook, Thomson and Jet2, offer flights from around the UK. You will also find non-stop flights from easyJet, Ryanair, Monarch, Norwegian, flybe and British Airways.

Menorca is a family-driven and more laid-back island. Frequent flights from the UK and mainland Spain arrive at Mahon Airport (MAH), which is linked to the main town of Mao by a bus that stops at popular tourist accommodation sites en route. Taxis are another fairly inexpensive way to get around the island, but for complete freedom of choice and to make the most of your time, hiring a car is an excellent way to get around. In addition to Monarch, easyJet and Ryanair, holiday companies such as Thomson, Thomas Cook and Jet2 fly to Menorca. However, direct flights run only from early April through to the end of October. Connecting flights in winter can be found via Barcelona and Palma.

The islands of Ibiza and Formentera are serviced by Ibiza (IBZ) Airport - Formentera is a further ferry trip away. On Ibiza, there's a good provision of licensed taxis and buses to transport visitors between the airport and the three main cities. Ibiza is known for its summer party season but is equally suitable for families in the quieter, east-coast resorts. Once again, the big airlines and holiday companies operate flights from the UK to Ibiza in the warmer seasons. In winter, you can fly via Barcelona or Majorca.

The Balearic islands themselves are linked by a ferry service. Again, hiring a car, which you can take on the ferry, is an ideal way to explore each island and its sights.

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Getting to and from the airport

There's a huge range of options for onward travel on arrival at airports in the Balearic Islands...

Palma Airport has the biggest choice, with a range of bus services taking you into the capital within 20 minutes or on to resorts along the southern coast. There is a huge taxi rank for transport to any part of the island and one of the largest depots for car rental in Europe; you'll save money and have more choice if you pre-book before travelling. You'll also find plenty of companies offering transfer in small coaches to any of the resorts. Again booking in the UK before you travel will get you the best price.

Ibiza airport has a bus service into Ibiza Town, plus a taxi rank whose drivers are used to arrivals in the early hours. Car rental desks offer a good choice of vehicles, and you can pre-book transfers with a number of companies from here at home. The same applies in Menorca, with buses into Mahon plus the usual taxi ranks, access to hire cars and transfers from private companies.

For Formentera, take the bus or a taxi into Ibiza Town and pick up one of the many ferries over to the island. They take between 30 minutes and one hour. On arrival grab a cab to your final destination or pick up a car on arrival.

Where to stay?

Each island has a slightly different character, but all are warm and welcoming to visitors. Accommodation ranges from basic and traditional to luxury high-end apartments and villas. The mix of self-catering, hotel and all-inclusive options should suit any group and budget...

In Majorca, you'll find something for everyone, however busy or quiet a break you want. Families head to resorts such as Alcudia in the north, with its long, gently shelving sandy beach; party crowds congregate in the interlinked resorts south-east of the capital, such as Magaluf and Palma Nova. Couples may head for the quieter, cove-style resorts on the east coast, such as Cala Bona or Puerto Pollensa in the north-west. If you fancy a city break, then the capital, Palma, is ideal for a short holiday with plenty of accommodation in the centre of town.

On Ibiza, the busiest resorts are Playa d'en Bossa and the area of San Antonio Bay. They cater for both party goers and families, although pick your hotel or apartment block carefully to ensure you get the right balance of fun and peace and quiet.

Menorca is far sleepier, with resorts strung along both the north and south coasts. Popular places to stay are Cala'n Forcat and Cala'n Bosch as well as Santo Tomas and Son Bou with its huge stretch of golden sands.

On Formentera you'll find the accommodation spread out. The small resorts of Es Pujols or Playa de Migjorn are really the only concentrated area of holiday accommodation and places to eat and drink.