Getting to the Balearic Islands
Except for Formentera, all the Balearic Islands are accessible by plane. Low cost airlines fly to the Islands from any place in Europe, often at absurdly low prices out of season or if you book at the last minute. There are also charters from mainland Spain, though bizarrely these can often cost as much as or even more than those from other countries. If you have more time to travel you can chose to travel over sea by ferry. All four Islands are accessible by boat from harbors in Barcelona, Valencia and Dénia. Catamarans, which run from the same mainland ports from mid-June to mid-September, might be a more exciting way to travel but slightly more expensive. If you sail from Valencia to Ibiza, for instance, it costs €65, while Valencia to Palma is €115.
Majorca, Ibiza and Menorca have their own airports. Each one of them is located near the capital of each island. Buses and taxis take passengers to the city center within half an hour for affordable rates. Majorca and Ibiza Airports operate flights from many Spanish and European destinations. Menorca Airport operates flights from and to Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Palma de Majorca and London.
If you want to travel with your own car or if for some reason you prefer to avoid flying, it is a great option to take a ferry. The Island Formentera is only accessible by boat from Ibiza. The other three islands are all connected to the Spanish mainland by several ferry lines. There are two main ferry companies that offer regular crosses to and between the islands. Ferries from the mainland leave from Barcelona, Valencia and Dénia.
Travel times from Barcelona to…
- …Majorca: 4 hours during the day, 7 hours overnight
- …Ibiza: 10 hours overnight
- …Menorca: 7 hours
Travel times from Valencia and Dénia to…
- ...Majorca: about 6 - 7 hours
- ...Ibiza: about 3 - 4 hours
- ...Menorca: about 8 – 9 hours (via Palma de Majorca)
Ferries between the Balearic Islands
Rates for inter-island ferries can be quite high, and for journeys such as Ibiza-Majorca or even Majorca-Menorca it can sometimes be better value to fly. The catch here is availability: in the high season tickets are snapped up fast, so it’s a good idea to book ahead – a few days beforehand is usually sufficient.
Moving around on the Islands
Vehicle Rental: The best way to discover all the beauty of these Islands is by car or scooter. The airports on the three bigger Islands all have car rental agencies, but smaller, local agencies often offer cheaper rates. If you plan to rent a car, note that these can also be in short supply in high season. Scooters can also be rented in every city or tourist area. All four islands have a relatively well road network. Traffic in the cities can be a bit chaotic sometimes and it’s not always easy to find parking space. Mopeds, scooters and bicycles are easier in these cases. Before you set off on a long trip across one of the islands, always make sure to have a full tank, because gas stations aren’t widely available. Always be sure to check your insurance policy when you rent a vechicle: it should definitely include theft as well as accident. To avoid the latter, store most of your baggage somewhere before setting out – riding with a pack is both exhausting and dangerous. Without your own transport, the bus network is reasonably comprehensive.
Buses and Taxis: The three bigger islands have bus services. On Ibiza there’s a service between Ibiza Town, Sant Antoni, Santa Eulària, Portinatx, the airport and a few of the larger beaches. On Menorca the bus service is fairly limited, and only services between the two main towns Maó and Ciutadella with occasional branches to some major tourist resorts. On Majorca the only bus service is located in Palma and its buses take you to all the nearby beaches, small villages and the airport. Majorca also has a railway that goes around the entire island. To travel within a city you could use a taxi service. Taxi rates for short distances are generally affordable. Avoid being ripped off and before you get in, agree with the driver that he charges you according to the meter. If you travel to places along the coasts it’s also possible to take a local boat service.
On Formentera: The best way to move around on Formentera is by scooter or motor. Cars are sometimes inconvenient if you want to explore the smaller paths that are abundant on Formentera. So if you’re on holiday with your own car or you rented a car in Ibiza, then it’s best to leave it in Ibiza and save some money on the ferry rate. You can rent a motorbike or scooter as soon as you arrive in Formentera. If you would like to explore the Island on a more sportive manner or when you have more than one day to stay on the Island, you could rent a bicycle to travel from one side to the other.