Floating peacefully in the sheltered waters of the Mediterranean Sea are the Balearic Islands, a small archipelago of four beautiful isles, each with its own personality. The Balearic Islands (Islas Baleares or Illes Balears) attract millions of visitors each year thanks to an unbeatable combination of sun, sea and sand. Read about Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera and book a hotel, apartment or traditional hostal.

Mallorca

Book a Mallorca hostal or hotelMallorca (or Majorca) is the largest of the group and attracts the most holidaymakers out of all the islands. The capital is Palma de Mallorca, set on a sheltered bay on the west of the island. Palma is an appealing, laid-back city with a historic Old Town. Stroll through narrow streets and wide plazas to the magnificent La Seu Cathedral, making time to enjoy a coffee and some traditional Mallorcan pastries at one of the many cafes. As the day comes to a close, head to the promenade to catch a stunning sunset.

The best beaches can be found on the north and east coasts, where the main tourist resorts can be found. It is still possible to find some more secluded spots, however, and the south coast also has its share of quality beaches. If you need a break from sunbathing and sand, head northwest to discover a surprising landscape of mountains, olive groves and pine forests.

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Menorca

 Book a villa or hotel in Menorca Menorca is the second largest of the Balearic Islands, but is far more peaceful than its big brother, and its golden shores far less developed. In 1993, the whole island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, thanks to its unique wetlands and ancient archaeological sites. A number of lively traditional festivals take place each summer, such as the Festes de Sant Joan in Ciutadella.

The capital, Mahon (Mao), is situated to the east of the island. Attractions include the Arch de San Roque, the last bricks still standing of the old city walls, and the Town Hall, which dates back to 1631. Sleepy by day, the restaurants and bars which line the busy port wake up at night and give the city a lively buzz.

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Ibiza

Book hotels and apartments in IbizaYou may think you know Ibiza, an island which has for decades been known as Europe's premier party spot, but there is far more to Ibiza than clubs and bars. The laid-back attitude and leisurely pace of life which make the island so popular with partygoers can also provide the perfect environment for a relaxed family holiday.

Despite a harsh and rocky landscape and a dry climate, much of the island is covered in thick pine forest and there are still large areas in which the inhabitants maintain a rural lifestyle. Add to this a rugged coastline of jagged cliffs and quiet coves and the result is some truly beautiful scenery. Of course, those who head straight to the nightlife in Ibiza Town and San Antonio will not be disappointed either!

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Formentera

FormenteraAt just 12 miles long, Formentera is the smallest of the Balearic Islands. Just a short ferry ride south of Ibiza, it is a popular destination for day trips. Easy to explore on foot or by bike, the island is largely flat, consisting largely of fields and salt beds, and is dotted with archaeological sites. The coastline is similar to that of the other islands, a mix of rocky cliffs and rolling sand dunes, with the bests beaches found at Platja de Llevant and Platja de ses Illetes. The capital is San Francesc Xavier, a small, attractive town with some points of historic interest.

Mallorca Hostals and Hotels

Hostal Orsi, Mallorca

Book Hostal Orsi in MallorcaHostal Orsi is a charming and homely guesthouse ideally positioned just a few minutes' walk from Playa de Palma beach and promenade, and 10 minutes from Palma Airport. All 10 rooms are tastefully decorated and feature en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning and south-facing balconies, where you can make the most of the fantastic Mediterranean sunshine. Breakfast can be enjoyed poolside on the sunny terrace, and the hostal also boasts a comfortable living room and private bar.

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Finca Sa Carrotja, Mallorca

Book Mallorca hostal Finca Sa CarrotjaLocated just outside the small town of Ses Salines on Mallorca's southern tip, Finca Sa Carrotja is a small, private hostal offering comfortable accommodation in a peaceful atmosphere. Set in a restored farmhouse, each of the 6 double bedrooms has been decorated in a rustic style with beautiful period furniture, and features an en-suite bathroom, air conditioning, satellite TV and minibar. Most rooms have their own private terrace, looking out on the rural surroundings. Downstairs is a sitting room, two terraces and a dining room, where the complimentary breakfast is served from organic produce grown in the hotel's own kitchen garden.

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Menorca Hotels and Hostals

Hi! Cala Blanca Hotel, Menorca

Book Hi! Cala Blanca Hotel in MenorcaLocated in Cala Blanca on the west coast of Menorca, close to Ciutadella, Hi! Cala Blanca Hotel offers a fun and friendly atmosphere for all the family. The light and airy rooms are well-appointed with satellite TV and air conditioning, while outside guests can make use of two swimming pools in an attractive garden setting. In the evening, enjoy a drink at the bar or settle down to watch the nightly live entertainment.

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Hotels and Apartments in Ibiza

Lux Mar Apartments, Ibiza

Book Lux Mar Apartments in IbizaLux Mar Apartments offer a range of recently refurbished units just 300m from Figueretas Beach. All studios and apartments are equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV, kitchenettes, bathrooms and balconies, some with great sea views. Facilities include a restaurant and swimming pool. Lux Mar is located in a quiet area, yet is just a short distance from all the best clubs and bars; Ibiza Town and the famous clubs of Pacha, Space, Amnesia and others are all within walking distance. The wonderful beaches of Las Salinas and Playa den Bossa are also nearby.

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Hotel Victoria, Ibiza

Book Hotel Victoria in IbizaThose looking to escape the club scene will find all the peace and quiet they need at Hotel Victoria, set in a tranquil hillside location in the southwest of Ibiza. Surrounded by attractive tropical gardens, all of the individually decorated rooms, suites and apartments boast spacious terraces where guests can enjoy stunning island views and beautiful sunsets. An à la carte restaurant serves fine local cuisine. Victoria Hotel is within easy reach of San Jose, San Antonio, Ses Fontanelles and Cala Tarida, while Ibiza Airport can be reached in just 15 minutes drive.

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For more information about Spain and the Balearic Islands, visit www.spain.info.

By: Eleanor Brown

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