The three Balearic islands of Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca are perennially popular for family holidays, each offering wonderful beaches, unspoiled interiors and a friendly welcome. Flights are frequent (especially to Mallorca), and prices are reasonable when it comes to food, drink and car hire. Read on for our top family tips for each isle, together with suggestions of delightful family-friendly places to stay across a range of budgets and styles.
You’ll probably fly in and out of Palma, and while most will head straight for the rugged interior or the coast, we think the capital offers more for families than you’d imagine: there’s a cool aquarium, a water park and beaches, for example. If staying at cool coastal boutique hotel Portixol (and you manage to tear yourselves away from the pool!), you can borrow bicycles and pedal along the seafront. There’s a wealth of historic buildings, including the circular Castell de Bellver, to discover too.
The north west of the island has its most dramatic scenery, dominated by the craggy Tramuntana Mountains, which plunge down to sea cliffs and secret coves. Hiking, horse riding, watersports and tennis are all popular pastimes hereabouts. The charming seaside town of Puerto Soller has a dive school, boat trips and bicycle hire, as well as a famous historic tramway. Base yourselves at stylish Esplendido Hotel, which has a spa, a heated swimming pool with a shallow section for children, a kids’ menu and heaps of baby and toddler gear.
For a great-value place to stay in one of the prettiest rural villages just inland, self-catering Ca’s Penelope has a lap pool, a great selection of games, a fragrant garden and long views. It sleeps up to 10 and is only a short drive from sandy beaches.
Europe’s premier party island is also surprisingly great for families. Discover its unspoiled and laid-back interior, and the simply delightful small bays and coves – the north is generally considered the most tranquil area and has abundant beaches. Snorkelling in crystal-clear waters, playing in tide pools, sailing and diving, tennis and horse riding – all are easily arranged, especially if staying at finca Agro Can Gall. It’s only 10km from the coast, and has wonderfully friendly owners and family suites. Here, your children can play hide and seek around the beautiful gardens and fruit groves (complete with a heated pool with shallow end), visit the farm next door to see the animals, and hire bikes to explore.
Alternatively, book one of the snazzy Boutique Villas Ibiza (the smallest sleeps 6, the largest up to 15). Set near secluded beach Cala Carbo on the south-western tip of the island, each has funky Bali-Med decor, a gorgeous garden and a private pool. You’re close to safe, sandy beaches, the salt pans at Ses Salinas and the old town of Eivissa; the airport is only 15km away, too.
Sleepier and smaller than its neighbours, this is the island which is no longer a secret. The entire outcrop is a biosphere reserve, so expect wildflowers, birdlife and easy walking trails (there is one ‘mountain’ to orient yourselves by); you’ll also find quiet villages, rolling grasslands and fabulous white-sand beaches, which are rarely blemished by sun-loungers or umbrellas. There is a circular coastal path around the whole island (great for walking or biking), as well as two harbour towns for strolling around. The south coast is renowned for stunning sunsets, so we suggest you hole up here in one of The Manor Houses – two gorgeous and surprisingly affordable villas which are perfect for an extended family holiday or a multi-generational gathering (one has 6 bedrooms, the other 10). Each has a large swimming pool and loungers, as well as direct beach access along picturesque paths; from the smaller villa, you can even explore caves by kayak.