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Things to Do in Balearic Islands

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Palma Cathedral (La Seu)
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49 Tours and Activities
"In 1229, the great hero of Spain's Reconquista from the Moors, King James I, sailed to the Balearics amidst a horrible storm. If he made it to the Muslim-held isles, he pledged, he would build a great cathedral in honor of the Christian god, La Seu Cathedral. James safely arrived on Mallorca's beautiful shores, and after successfully occupying all four islands, transformed La Palma's magnificent mosque into one of the finest Gothic churches in all Europe. It may seem enough to appreciate La Seu's fantastic facades, 43 meters (141 feet) of ornate stonework, redesigned over the years by gifted architects including Gaudi and reflected in the calm Mediterranean. But it is well worth entering to see the richly adorned and magnificently vaulted interior. There are many archaeological attractions to the quite large Cathedral. Three naves hold numerous gold and silver-lined shrines, two 18th century Baroque candelabras weighing in at over 250kg each.
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Bellver Castle
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15 Tours and Activities

Few castles in Europe – and none in Spain -- can lay claim to the distinctive circular shape of Mallorca’s Bellver Castle. Bordered by four towers, the fortress is enclosed by a moat and sits atop a forest-covered hill. From there, it overlooks the island’s capital city of Palma, which sits under two miles away.

The 14th-century Gothic-style castle was originally constructed over the course of about a decade under the orders of King Juame II of Mallorca. Since then, it has served as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca, a military prison, a mint and now as home to the city’s history museum. Within its round confines, find the equally circular courtyard (which sits atop a dungeon and cistern), learn more about the island’s distant past and take in spectacular views of the landscape and sea beyond.

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Palma Plaza Mayor
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The Plaza Mayor is Palma’s true epicenter. Others might claim the geographic center of the city to be located elsewhere, but it is from this large plaza that all the excitement of old-town Palma generates. There’s a saying in Palma that “all roads lead to Plaza Mayor” and if you’re taking a stroll through old town, you’ll sure find this to be true.

Enter the plaza and the first thing you’ll notice is its imposing size. The enormous square is surrounded by old Spanish buildings of the 14th century and once housed the offices of the Spanish inquisition. Today, this area is known as the artist’s quarter, so you’re bound to spot a few galleries highlighting some of the local talent. In addition, a weekly market is held in the square, and a variety of notable goods can be purchased from colorful vendors here.

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Royal Palace of La Almudaina (Palau de l’Almudaina)
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Also known as the Palau de l’Almudaina, this ancient palace was originally built as a citadel on the hill by the Romans sometime around 123 BC in Palma, the capital city of the island of Majorca, Spain. Later conquered by the Moors, and then again by the Catalans in 1229, the citadel began to fade as a mere fortress, but transformed into a palace and residence for Majorcan Kings. Today, it stands as a great example of rustic architecture that has survived the ages and overlooks beautiful Palma Bay.

International visitors and residents alike routinely flock to the Almudaina Palace in order to see how antiquity lived throughout the centuries and to catch a glimpse of this venerated architecture. Muslim kings living in Roman-built archways lead to a unique blend of culture which has infused the palace, as told by the magnificent tapestries on the wall telling stories long lost to time.

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More Things to Do in Balearic Islands

Palma Aquarium

Palma Aquarium

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The largest aquarium in Mallorca with over 55 tanks and more than 700 different marine species, Palma Aquarium is a sight to behold. Ocean habitats and ecosystems from around the world have been recreated from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans as well as the local Mediterranean Sea. Promoting eco-friendly practices and respect for marine life, the aquarium was built as a tribute to nature and remains unparalleled in many respects.

Visitors have the chance to see the largest shark tank in Europe (at 28 feet deep) as well as the largest live coral collection on the continent. The jellyfish and black-tip reef shark exhibits are remarkable. Some of the aquariums most magnificent marine species include octopuses, sea horses, grouper fish, wrasses, crabs, rays, and eels. Other exhibits include an interactive touch pool, an outside play area for children, a Mediterranean garden, and a tropical jungle, the largest of its kind in Spain.

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Es Vedranell and Western Inlets

Es Vedranell and Western Inlets

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Located on the south-west side of the island, es Vedranell and the western inlets are a cluster of protected areas featuring sandy beaches, azure waters, varied terrain (including the infamous and iconic Es Vedra mountain that has become synonymous with images of Ibiza) and wildlife.

The western inlets include: Cala d´Hort, Cap Llentrisca i Sa Talaia Natural Park and the Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and Els Illots de Ponent Nature Reserves. Spend time here exploring the 10 islets in the area, which are packed with birds – including the Audoin gull and Elearnor falcon, lizards and more. Or, grab a seat on the beach and keep a look out for dolphins frolicking off the coast. To get in touch with the past, the area also features the remnants of a Punic-Roman settlement and La Torres des Savinar, an old lighthouse.

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San Antonio Bay

San Antonio Bay

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A popular holiday destination for European vacationers, San Antonio Bay is one of Ibiza’s few areas that cater to families and non-partiers. Visitors should not confuse San Antonio Town and San Antonio Bay; the former is filled with festive superclubs and dubbed the “clubbing capital of the universe” while the latter is mostly enjoyed by epicurean travelers who would much rather visit historic Ibiza and enjoy the city’s fine dining than party all night; two radically distinctive zones! One of the main selling points of San Antonio Bay is its exceptional waterfront: indeed, with numerous little coves, turquoise waters, sandy beaches and plenty of panoramic patios, few other places in Ibiza offer such spectacular, unobstructed sunsets – which locals tend to enjoy with a chilled glass of sangria in one of Cala de Bou’s sunset bars. These coves can be enjoyed in a number of ways, from feeding fishes to snorkeling and various other watersports.

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Caves of Drach (Cuevas del Drach)

Caves of Drach (Cuevas del Drach)

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15 Tours and Activities

The classic tourist attraction Caves of Drach - or Coves del Drac - is a crowd pleaser for many reasons, not least of which is that these 4 fantastic caves form a truly remarkable hydrogeological formation. An enormous underground expanse of undulating sandstone and semiprecious agates creates an imaginarium of weird formations, against which delicate bouquets of stalactites and stalamites glisten. This exquisite ornamentation frames Europe's largest underground sea, 177m(581 feet)-long Lake Martel.

As if all this weren't enough to tempt the tour buses, expert illuminator Carlos Buigas mounted a multicolored light show spectacular that puts Ibiza's wildest clubs to shame, while boats filled with classical musicians perform Chopin, Martini, and more in an acoustic shell unlike any other in the world. One can only hope that they will not wake the Drac de Mallorca, the Dragon of Majorica, who disappeared sometime during the Dark Ages, though no one is quite sure to where.

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Formentor and Puerto Pollensa

Formentor and Puerto Pollensa

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With its beautiful white-sand beaches framed in picturesque rocky points, Puerto Pollensa (Pollença) has become a magnet for holiday-goers with a taste for the finer things in life. Art museums, galleries, and fine restaurants all offer their pleasures, or simply enjoy the scenery from the seaside pedestrian path, called the "Pine Walk" for the shady evergreens above. Of course the carved sapphire inlets, revealed with a trip in a glass-bottomed boat, and soft sands offer all sorts of maritime fun.

For instance, book a boat or bus to majestic Cap de Formentor, a long and narrow point topped with a truly spectacular rocky peak. Fringed in forest and fine white beaches, it is one of the most impressive sites in the Mediterranean. Adventurous types can climb to the top, or just enjoy the splendid views from the fine bay.

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Serra de Tramuntana

Serra de Tramuntana

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The unique cultural landscape of Serra de Tramontana landed it a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The craggy mountain range covers the northwest side of the island of Mallorca. Standing tall at 1,445 meters, the range’s principle peak Puig Major is the tallest in the Balearic Islands. The limestone mountains receive a higher amount of rainfall than the rest of the island, and often receive snowfall in the winter.

Due to the biodiversity of plant and animal species - and to protect against urbanization - the area has been protected as a natural reserve. Historic villages with structures such as water mills, farms, agricultural and irrigation systems remain in place. Some methods have been in use since the Middle Ages, and demonstrate both Christian and Muslim cultural influence in this area.

With ocean views of turquoise waters and pine-forested hillsides, it is a popular place to enjoy scenic hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.

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Cala Bassa

Cala Bassa

23 Tours and Activities
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Platja des Coll Baix

Platja des Coll Baix

7 Tours and Activities
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Cala Figuera

Cala Figuera

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Perched on the coastal cliffs of the island of Mallorca, Cala Figuera was once only a modest fishing village and small harbor. Today it is one of the most picturesque towns that has maintained its whitewashed homes and colorful boat houses, making it popular with visitors. There are no public beaches or easily accessible parts of the coast, so the village maintains its quiet feel.

Views of the clear waters are particularly worth seeking, from coastal paths winding along the cliffs and hillside. Rock and sand formations, beaches, coves, a lighthouse, and of course, the turquoise sea are all visible from relatively flat walking paths. The main cove is dramatically surrounded by steep mountains. Still operating as a fishing town, the seafood is the specialty of the restaurants here. As evening approaches, you may even be able to watch the fishing boats coming into port with their daily catch.

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Es Pontàs

Es Pontàs

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Along Mallorca’s southeastern coast you’ll find a collection of sweet coastal towns, idyllic beach coves, and one especially photo-beckoning sight, Es Pontàs. This natural rock arch loops high out of the clear, crystalline waters just off shore, where it lures everyone from sunrise seekers to picture takers and rock climbers.

And its location near other ideal island destinations makes it an even more deserving trek. While in the area, claim a plot of sand on the nearby, cove-protected Cala Santanyi beach; explore the sweet, old-world streets of the more inland town of Santanyi; and wander the coastal trails of Mondrago Natural Park.

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Cala Santanyí

Cala Santanyí

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Though now recognized as one of the most beautiful beach areas of Mallorca, Cala Santanyi was not part of the initial tourism boom on the island — in fact it hardly welcomed visitors until the 1960s. That quiet, relaxed atmosphere remains undisturbed, though a variety of outdoor activities both in and out of the beautiful water are offered. The long, white-sand beach here is scenically surrounded by rocky cliffs and forests filled with pine trees. Boat trips, as well as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving all take place in the calm waters just off of the beach. Hiking in the nearby cliffs, or exploring the adjacent nature reserve are options to explore the Mediterranean landscape. There are also three main restaurants along the beach area with shaded lounge areas and local food and drink if you’d rather take the relaxed approach.

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Cala Comte

Cala Comte

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Located on the west coast of Ibiza, Cala Compte is one of the must-visit beaches on this Spanish island. It’s perfect for both family beach-goers and those looking to be a little more exhibitionist. For those who prefer to keep their suits on, stick to the west side. Over on the east side, the beach tends to skew a little more nudist thanks to the coves and little enclaves.

During the summer months, visitors flock to this gorgeous beach with crystal clear water. It’s the perfect spot to chill out and get a little exercise – off shore are tiny bits of land jutting from the Mediterranean, a moderate swim for those looking to get their heart rate up. Be sure to stop at one of the few restaurants in town for glass of wine to enjoy as the sun sinks below the horizon, complete with a DJ creating a live soundtrack. Cala Compte is quite possibly the best spot on the island to catch the spectacular and colorful sunsets.

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