The Balearic island Mallorca – beach paradise for German and British tourists
The Balearic Islands have been a popular travel destination among Germans and British tourists for decades. It all started in the 1960s when a new, huge airport was built, paving the way for massive growth in the touristic sector. In the first year after the opening of the Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) on the largest Balearic Island, 360 000 travelers found their way on the then still innocent island. This number has grown massively since then to more than 10 million visitors per year.
Long before the emergence of today´s budget-airlines, Mallorca established its fame as a cheap and sunny summer destination which could be reached by charter flights and cheap all-inclusive holiday packages. Since the 1980s it has been kind of a symbol for British and German mass-tourism, famous for excessive beach-parties and crazy holidays in vibrant coast towns. Even movies have been made about the sometimes awkward relation between those two biggest tourist groups of Germans and British.
Since the appearance of low-cost airlines, Mallorca might have lost some of its fame. However, tourist numbers have continued to grow even more. The island also has established a local scene of dropouts and other immigrants who chose to move there permanently. Even the domestic economy has adapted to a large number of Germans and British with dedicated services and even cultural offerings for those guests or new “locals” who often don´t speak Spanish. There are local newspapers, supermarkets, clubs, radio stations and even retirement homes operated for and sometimes even by those foreigners.
Thanks to the large Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI), getting to the island is quite cheap and easy from many European cities. Ryanair (FR), Vueling (VY), easyJet (U2), Niki (HG), Eurowings (EW), TUIfly (x3) are just some of the many airlines that offer direct connections to Palma de Mallorca (PMI). Air Berlin (AB), Germany´s second-largest airline is even using the Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) as a hub for flight connections from and to the south.
✈ Mallorca – Capital: Palma; area: 3604 km²; population density: 243,1 / km²
✈ Ibiza – Capital: Ibiza City; area: 572 km²; population density: 235,2 / km²
✈ Menorca – Capital: Maó; area: 695 km²; population density: 136,6 / km²
✈ Formentera – Capital: Sant Francesc de Formentera; area: 82 km²; population density: 146,98 / km²
Ibiza – party-island reaching its limit
Ibiza might be much smaller than Mallorca, but the cute island is even more famous for excessive parties and clubs than its bigger sister island Mallorca. A local club scene with huge venues was established in the 1990s, attracting world-class DJs from all around the globe to serve the crazy summer party crowd. One of the many big clubs there – Privilege – has even become famous as the world´s biggest club, offering space for up to 14 000 people who can drink and dance there at the same time.
While this is what Ibiza is famous for, the island has much more to offer – such as natural parks, hippie-markets, beautiful forests, a rocky coast with amazing cliffs and mysterious caves. But the majority of tourists comes there for the famous party-life. That kind of mass-tourism has grown to such an extent in the recent years that Ibiza is suffering from inevitable side effects such as water shortages, excesses of waste, overcrowded towns and traffic congestion caused by the large amount of rental cars.
While tourist numbers have continued to grow, some say that Ibiza has seen its best days. Also for the party-hungry, new locations have emerged like the ZRCE beach in Croatia which is being marketed by some as the “Ibiza of Croatia”.
Menorca and Formentera – chillout and nature
Menorca is both the most northern and eastern Balearic Island. It is way smaller than Mallorca but a little bit bigger than Ibiza. Tourism also plays a major role there, but visitor numbers are lower and the kind of tourism you find on Menorca differs greatly from Mallorca and Ibiza.
Visitors can feel that instantly once they reach their destination. There are way fewer people and cars, and accommodations (on average) tend to be more beautiful and cozy. Menorca is also proud of its nature and bets more on sustainability and balanced tourism than the other two islands. In 1993 Menorca got included into the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) which covers internationally designated protected areas. This might have protected the island from what happened on Ibiza and Mallorca.
There are lots of things to discover on Menorca such as several dune-systems: Cala Pilar, Es Grau, Pregonda, Son Saura, Tirant, La Vall and Cavalleria can be found on the northern coast, Son Bou in the south. Beach lovers can relax in beautiful coves like Cala Galdana and Cala n´Bosch and less populated beaches. Menorca offers also great spots for surfing, wakeboarding, snorkeling and all other kinds of water-sports.
Formentera, the smallest Balearic Island, is even more relaxing than Menorca. Until the late 1960s, this island was unpopulated but this changed when hippies started settling there. As there is no airport on Formentera, visitors can only get there by boat, which holds back the more casual and budget sensitive tourists that go to Ibiza and Mallorca. But there is a lot to see on Formentera such as its amazing white beaches, pine forests, desert-like landscapes in some areas and up to 100m high cliffs that are perfects spots to enjoy amazing sunsets. There are not a lot of cars on the Balearic Island either as bikes and scooters are the favorite means of transport to get around.