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CANARY ISLANDS or BALEARICS? Which is the Best for you.

better balearics or canaries
Balearics or Canaries
Are you uncertain about which Spanish Island to choose for your vacation? It's only because you're spoiled for choices...
In this article we'll look at the differences between the Balearics and the Canary Islands in order to understand which will be the ideal destination for your next vacation.

The topics covered:

  • Balearics vs. the Canaries.
  • Best time to visit Canary islands or Balearics.
  • Majorca or Minorca?
  • Formentera or Ibiza?

Balearics vs. the Canaries

The Balearic islands consist of four islands named: Ibiza, Formentera, Majorca, and Minorca. There are 7 Canary islands but most tourists limit themselves to 4 of these: Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife (the three least touristic are: La Gomera, El Hierro, La Palma).

Related article: Where are the Canaries?

The Balearics are the islands closest to Italy. Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, they are quicker to get to via plane with convenient connections to the major cities of Italy. The Balaerics are generally frequented by younger tourists and those interested in the night-life, in contrast to the Canaries which are preferred by couples, families, and retirees.

Choose the Balaeric Islands for your vacation if:

  • You like the nightlife, a lively after-hours and the dance-club (Ibiza and Majorca are the top choices).
  • If you prefer short flights 
  • If you like small coves
  • If you're traveling with friends and want to meet new people.

Best time to visit Canary islands or Balearics

The best time to vacation in the Balaerics:

  • The end of June, beginning of July and September (in these months the islands are less packed).
  • The most chaotic and congested period: The end of July and August.
The Canaries are still Spanish islands but located beyond the pillars of Hercules in the Atlantic Ocean, and so you'll have to account for a flight of at least 4 hours.

Choose these islands if:

  • You want to vacation during the winter or in a period where temperatures in the Balaerics and Italy will be cold,
  • You're not seeking a happening nightlife,
  • You have an adventurous spirit (you are looking for sun, sea, and adventure.)
  • Wind doesn't bother you (aside from a few sheltered zones, the Canaries are windy).
  • You like walking on long beaches.

What is the best time to travel to Canary Islands

  • Whenever, due to the mild and stable climate without much thermal fluctuation. In winter it doesn't cool down too much (temperatures average around 20°C) and in summer you won't suffer from the heat due to the dry climate.
  • High season: from Christmas to Easter (more expensive accommodation prices).
  • During May and June traveling will be less congested and cheaper.
If you are thinking about organizing a trip to the Canary islands, you can examine the subject of which island to choose, and the best area to stay in, by clicking on the various links below:

Related article for your holidays in the Canary Islands:

If instead you are interested in visiting The Balearics for your holidays, here are some features to consider for making an appropriate choice for you.

Ibiza vs. Formentera

IBIZA: The queen of the nightlife.
Choose Ibiza (especially the area of San Antonio and Playa d'en Bossa) if:

  • Your goal is to live at night and sleep during the day (the island is transgressive, noisy and chaotic especially in full summer and in the city of Ibiza " Ivissa").
  • You enjoy clubs and visiting different restaurants every evening trying Tapas and snacks.
IBIZA away form the CHAOS: if you are looking for something more relaxing, it is better to stay in areas less frequented by slightly drunk night-owls, far from the centre and above all the clubs.

To stay away form the Chaos I advise you to stay in the Eastern area of the island in cities like TALAMANCA, SANTA EULARIA or in the Western area in CALA TARIDA

Selected Accommodations for your quiet holidays:

Playa d'en Bossa is the longest and most famous beach of the island but also the most crowded and is perfect if you want to socialise and meet people from all over Europe. A multicultural one like Rimini. The sea is not the highest in this area.

Best beaches Ibiza:

  • Cala Conta Beach
  • Cala Bassa Beach
  • Portinax, the "little beach"
  • Cala Tarida Beach
  • La Gracioneta
Personal view: If you like to live the "beach life" avoid the area of central San Antonio: the area in which I stayed. By the end of July it was essentially impossible to sleep at night and the town beach had become a pigsty thanks to the tourists, who, rarely sober, changed it into a public toilet.
On the other hand, San Antonio is famous for its "chill out" boulevard where hordes of tourists gather in order to watch the sunset at the day's end, sipping a drink in one of the area's many bars.

Here there are numerous affordable pubs and restaurants (Aperitifs: yes, spend the night: no.)

Ibiza is an island of many facets. It's not only for it's crowded, chaotic nightlife, but also for relaxing, hippy street markets, nature and surprising coves to discover.

A MUST-HAVE is to book a rental car at the airport (Sant Jordi) to make the most of all that the island has to offer.

cala tarida ibiza

FORMENTERA: the most exclusive island of the Balearics.
Formentera is recommended for nature lovers.

Choose it if:

  • You like natural landscapes
  • The clear sea
  • The sunsets
  • Forget the car and travel only by motorcycle or bicycle to visit the island.

Personal view: I went to Formentera at the end of May a few years ago. It rained 5 days out of the 7 and I wanted to slit my veins from boredom. In Formentera it is essential that the weather is settled otherwise there is nothing to do since the nature and the beautiful beaches are the main reason to go to this island.

My advice is to organise a holiday to Formentera in the summer months. In Spring the climate is too unsettled and you risk getting bored if you catch a week with bad weather.
I have stayed at Migjorn, but this side of the island is windier so I'd advise you stay at Es Pujols.

The only day in which there was sun, I had taken a bus towards the city and went in the Playa de Ses Illetes. A caribbean sea. The sun, when it's there, burns.

best accommodations Formentera
This photo of Playa de ses Illetes is offered by TripAdvisor

Formentera... most beautiful beaches to see:

  • Playa de Ses Illetes and the neighboring Playa de Llevant
  • Playa es Arenals
  • Ses Platgetes
  • Cala Saona

Minorca vs. Majorca?

MAJORCA: Palma, and in general the areas in the south of the island, there are very touristic and very frequently visited cities. The famous Magaluf is a favorite destination of young Brits. You also risk getting little sleep because of characters that like to go overboard with alcohol. Chose this location if you intent to have a night life or if you like a "dynamic" environment.

Where to stay in Majorca/ selected accommodations: 
If you intend to stay in the touristic area lodge in one of the several hotels in locality Can Pastilla (near the airport). If you love the wide beaches I advise you to stay near S'Arenal Beach, the biggest beach of Maiorca, an area mainly frequented by Germans.
Santa Ponsa is instead a calmer resort with a concave beach.

maiorca tips hotel
Pinterest Photo: S'Arenal, Maiorca
Best beaches in Majorca:

  • Beach of Es Trenc
  • Cala Egos
  • Cala Formentor
  • Calo des Moro
MINORCA: The most "tranquil" island of the Balearics. It is on average more expensive and "elite" in respect to Majorca.

Choose if:
  • You are looking for a romantic getaway.
  • You like nature
  • You love crystal blue sea
  • You like movements and travelling by car/moto in searching for coves to discover.
Where to stay in Minorca/ selected accommodations: Minorca is an island dedicated to lovers of the sea. The most touristic cities are Mahon and Ciutadella (I advise this last one to stay in).

They are quite dynamic places, but still not too chaotic. During the day it is necessary to rent a car or a moped to reach different coves: Cala Morell is at the 7 km distance from Ciutadella. Alternatively, if you prefer to only do life at the sea, you can stay also at Santo Tomàs o Cala de sant Vicent.

TIP: in search for a characteristic place? Go to Cala en Porter in the famous Cova d'en Xoroi: an cave craved in the rock in the sea has become a famous music pub.

Menorca best beaches:

  • Binigaus. It is necessary to walk several minuts to reach this beach.
  • Cala Pregonda
  • Playa de Santo Tomàs
  • Macarelleta and Cala Turqueta: beaches are attractive but very small. Better go early in the morning with the idea that at a certain point, for the overcrowding, you will have to run away in search for more "ample" beaches.
  • Playa de Cavalleria
  • Son Bou: is the long beach of the island. Crystal sea.
  • Cala Mitjana
  • Son Saura: this beach is situated at the south of the island. The sea is always wonderful and as being large enough it is more easy to find a place.

minorca where to stay
Minorca sea, Foto Flickr by FredMiller

With this list of Spanish Islands you won't need anything more in order to organize a nice holiday according to your own tastes and that of your travelling partners.

All you have to do is share this article with them in order to decide what destination you should choose for your next vacation... But let's face it... the Spanish Islands are so beautiful that you can visit them all... leisurely ;)

October 2017
Moira R.J.