Last updated on January 31, 2023 by Wandering our World
Spain has no shortage of amazing islands to explore, with Ibiza and Mallorca ranking as some of the most popular for tourists from around the globe. But trying to choose between these two vibrant destinations isn’t easy.
On the one hand, you’ve got Ibiza, a party-lover’s paradise. Renowned for its nightclubs, beach bars, and exciting atmosphere, Ibiza is one of the liveliest destinations in all of Europe. Beautiful beaches, watersports, and fancy boutiques round out the list of attractions on this Spanish island.
Then, there’s Mallorca. A diverse and vibrant island, bursting with life, Mallorca has been a popular vacation destination for travelers around Europe for many years. It caters nicely to families with its well-developed hotels and resorts, while also boasting a mixture of beaches, family attractions, hiking, and historical landmarks.
Clearly, these two Balearic Islands have a whole lot to offer. They’re only 45 minutes apart by plane – or a few hours by ferry – but you might not have time in your travel plan to visit both of them. So, which one should you pick?
Well, that’s where our knowledge of both destinations can help!
Below, we’ll take an honest look at Ibiza vs Mallorca in a range of key areas, looking at their nightlife scenes, beaches, family attractions, general activities, and much more. By the end, we’re sure you will know which island is right for you.
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Better For Beaches?
- Which Is Best For Activities?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Where You Should Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Best For Families?
- Which Is Best For Couples?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
A Quick Overview Of Ibiza vs Mallorca
Ibiza: A Quick Overview
Ibiza is one of the Balearic Islands, situated in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Spain. It’s the third-largest member of the Balearic group, measuring up at approximately 220 square miles (571 square km).
This island is best-known as one of Europe’s premier party destinations. The world’s most famous DJs and dance music stars can regularly be seen headlining the famous clubs of Ibiza, and the lively vibes of this island are simply legendary, drawing in millions of tourists from far and wide, each and every year.
But it’s not all beach bars and late night parties in Ibiza. This island also has some fascinating historical landmarks, especially in the capital city of Ibiza Town, as well as beautiful beaches and some surprisingly calm and quaint fishing villages dotted along its 210 km coastline.
Mallorca: A Quick Overview
Mallorca – also sometimes written Majorca – is the biggest of the Balearic Islands. Measuring up at 1,405 square miles (3,640 square km), it’s quite a lot larger than Ibiza, and it’s situated around 80 miles away from its neighbor.
An enormously popular destination, Mallorca is one of the most visited locations in Spain. Its airport – Palma de Mallorca Airport – is the third busiest in the country.
In fact, people have been coming here in large numbers since as far back as the 1950s, with travelers of all ages drawn to the island’s distinctive beauty, fantastic beaches, and sunny weather.
Travelers often regard Mallorca as the ultimate all-rounder of the Balearic Islands. It has a great mixture of natural attractions, family activities, terrific beaches, and a fun nightlife to appeal to the younger crowd, too. In other words, there’s something for everyone here.
Which Is Easier To Get To?
Let’s start off with a look at how you can get to either one of these two islands. Even though they’re very close by to one another, it might be simpler for you to get to one over the other, depending on where you’re flying from.
Most people going to Ibiza will fly directly into the island’s international airport. For European travelers, this airport is extremely easy to access. It has lots of direct connections with cities in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and mainland Spain.
If you’re coming from the US or other parts of the world, you’ll have to fly into Europe first and then get a connecting flight.
Mallorca, meanwhile, is home to Palma de Mallorca Airport, which is larger and busier than Ibiza Airport. Palma has even more direct connections with different parts of Europe, like Scandinavia, the UK, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe.
Not only that, but there are also direct flights to Palma from Morocco in Northern Africa and the US from Newark.
You can also take ferries to both of these islands from Spanish ports like Valencia and Denia, with the ride to Ibiza usually being a little faster than the route to Mallorca.
Overall, it all depends where you’re flying from. Most European travelers won’t have any problems flying directly into either Mallorca or Ibiza.
However, if you’re coming from the US or other parts of the world, Mallorca might be just slightly more accessible for you.
Which Is Better For Beaches?
Many of the Spanish islands are famous for their beautiful beaches and warm, sunny weather, perfect for seaside fun.
Mallorca and Ibiza are no exception to this. Both of these islands have some super stretches of sand and water for visitors to enjoy.
The weather is really similar on both of these islands, so we can’t say that one is going to be significantly better than the other for your favorite coastal activities like swimming and sunbathing. However, the beaches on Ibiza and Mallorca are a little different.
The main difference is diversity. There’s a good range of beaches on Ibiza, including some secret, secluded spots, but a lot of the island’s main beaches are very developed and touristic, with parties, bars, and easy access to local hotels and resorts.
Over on Mallorca, the range of beaches is much wider. Sure, you can find vibrant, party-style beaches in areas like Magaluf, as well as family resort beaches around Palma, but there are also romantic coves, rugged cliffs, rocky shores, and surfing hotspots, too.
Below we look at the beaches in both destinations in more detail. By doing so, you’ll be able to see which has the beaches that could suit your holiday plans more:
Ibiza: The Beaches
Ibiza has a long list of fabulous beaches, and many travelers will spend a lot of their time on the primary beaches of Ibiza Town, like Figueretes and Playa d’en Bossa.
Figueretes is a little slice of Mediterranean paradise, with super soft sand and shallow waters. Playa d’en Bossa, meanwhile, is one of the biggest beaches on the island and one of the most touristic, with music playing throughout the day and a long line of bars, restaurants, and hotels at the sand’s edge.
Talamanca is another long and attractive beach, within walking distance of Ibiza Town. It’s a little more laid-back than Playa d’en Bossa, but still has easy access to cafes, restaurants, and resorts.
One of the best things to do here is simply lie back on the sand and watch cruise ships coming in and out of the nearby port.
Many visitors to Ibiza also enjoy Ses Salines – this beach has a more rugged feel than some of the others, but still boasts a lively atmosphere, with electronic dance music ringing out all day long.
A lot of the main beaches on Ibiza are like this, but if music and crowds aren’t your thing, there are other interesting beaches to be found in Ibiza’s more remote coastal areas.
Pou des Lleo is a fabulous spot for snorkeling and a great place to watch local fishermen at work, while Cala Jondal is a pretty pebble beach.
Sol d’en Serra is surrounded by cliffs and greenery, and Cala Xarraca has its own little lagoon with stunning blue water.
Mallorca: The Beaches
Mallorca has a longer coastline and larger quantity of beaches than Ibiza. And no matter what kind of beach you like, from a small, secluded cove to a long stretch of sugary sand, you can find it all on this island.
Since a lot of travelers to Mallorca stay in Palma, let’s start there.
Palma has access to a great selection of beaches, including Palma Nova, which is one of the most family-friendly spots on the entire island, with a kids’ playground and safe swimming areas, complete with lifeguards.
C’an Pastilla is another great beach that is easily accessible from Palma. It has handy amenities, including cafes and sun loungers, and is nicely located near some major family attractions, like an aquarium and water park.
Or, for something a little different, head to Cala de ses Penyes Roges, a curving, winding beach beside a large marina that provides protection against strong winds. You can also try Cala Comtessa, a small spot of sand which backs onto rocks and a pine tree forest.
Looking beyond Palma, some of Mallorca’s other best beaches include Cala Mesquida, which is by far one of the best places to swim and splash around, and Calo del Moro. This south coast spot is one of Mallorca’s most pristine beaches, with rugged cliffs either side of a white sandy strip.
From natural getaways like S’Amarador to party havens like Magaluf, the options are almost endless here. And when it comes to choosing which island is best for beaches, Mallorca just about has the edge because of its wider selection.
Which Is Best For Activities?
The beaches of Mallorca and Ibiza are so beautiful and varied, you could spend almost your entire trip sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the atmosphere. But, if you’d like a little more variation in your itinerary, both of these islands offer a range of other activities to fill your days.
Mallorca is particularly diverse in regard to its attractions and things to do, from family-friendly days out at water parks to horse riding, cave exploration, canopy tours, and walks around historic buildings.
Ibiza is a little more focused on its famous party scene, with lots of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. However, it still has some other intriguing activities to suit all sorts of travelers, like yoga, hippy markets, and charming fishing villages.
Below we look at some of the best activities you can do in both destinations. By seeing what you can do in each, you’ll be able to see which may suit you more:
Ibiza: The Activities
The first thing that most people associate with Ibiza is its raucous nightlife scene. The truth is that Ibiza’s parties aren’t just limited to the nighttime; you can hear music and see people dancing or sipping cocktails all day long in the main resort areas of Ibiza Town and San Antonio.
You can spend some time partaking in the party vibes, or, if you’re looking to get away from the crowds and noise, leave the resorts behind and find some of Ibiza’s pretty little towns and villages.
The likes of Es Cubells and Sant Mateu d’Albarca have some beautiful churches, for instance. While Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera is a hippy haven – check out the Bar Costa here to see colorful paintings from the 60s and 70s.
Sant Carles de Peralta is another charming spot and home to one of Ibiza’s top hippy markets, where you might be able to pick up a few unique souvenirs for friends and family back home.
You can also do some shopping in the island’s main towns, and there’s a nice mixture of fancy, high-end boutiques and small indie stores selling locally-made crafts.
The Dalt Vila historical district of Ibiza Town is definitely worth a tour, too, and history buffs won’t want to miss out on a trip to the Sa Caleta Phoenician ruins, dating back to around 650 BC!
You might also like to island hop to neighboring locations like Formentera – only 25 minutes away by ferry – or enjoy some physical activity in the form of beach yoga, stand up paddling, or watersports.
Mallorca: The Activities
Mallorca has a wide range of activities and attractions to suit every kind of traveler. Many people will start their journey in the island’s capital city of Palma. There’s so much to do in this city that many visitors spend almost their entire vacation enjoying Palma’s bars, cafes, boutiques, museums, and more.
No visit to Palma can be complete without a tour of the famed La Seu Cathedral. When you’re done with that, you can tour the Old Town’s cobblestone streets and alleyways, stopping off at other local landmarks like the Bishop’s Garden or Ancient Arab Bath House.
Palma is also a super spot for shopping and eating. Head to the La Lonja neighborhood for some of the city’s best restaurants and bars, or take a stroll along the beautiful, tree-lined Paseo del Borne to see some of the city’s luxury boutiques.
Beyond Palma, you can find plenty more things to do. There are top quality family attractions around Mallorca, like the Jungle Parc zipline center or Aqualand water park, as well as the aforementioned scenic train rides to places like Soller and Inca.
Visitors may also like to explore some of the island’s smaller towns and charming villages, where you can find all kinds of beautiful buildings and intriguing landmarks.
The village of Valldemossa, for example, is a real gem, nestled among the mountains – famed composer Frédéric Chopin once stayed here and the village even has its own Chopin museum.
For those with a more adventurous spirit, Mallorca has some terrific places to hike, like Deia and Port de Pollenca, as well as some good watersports hotspots for activities like scuba diving, kayaking, and kitesurfing.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
If you want to make the most of every single minute of your vacation, including the nighttime, you might like to know how the nightclubs, bars, and evening entertainment venues compare across these two islands.
Well, as you might expect, there’s a clear winner here. Ibiza is one of the world’s most famous nightlife locations, and there are very few places on the planet that can even compare to this legendary party island.
The music never seems to slow down in Ibiza’s party hubs of Playa d’en Bossa and San Antonio, and Ibiza’s list of clubs goes on and on – Amnesia and Pacha are a couple of the most famous and historic locations. But the likes of Hi Ibiza and Ushuaia are certainly worth visiting, too, with huge dance floors and major EDM headliners.
You’ll never run out of bars and clubs to visit in Ibiza, but Mallorca has a nightlife scene to be proud of, too. Places like Playa de Palma and Magaluf are the main hubs of evening entertainment there, with some solid clubs drawing in a plethora of well-known DJs and appealing to the 18-30 crowd.
Mallorca also has quite a few quirky bars dotted around places like La Lonja in the Old Town and the Boho neighborhood of Santa Catalina, giving you plenty of options to choose from.
But it’s clear that in the nightlife battle, Ibiza wins hands-down.
Where You Should Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: With gorgeous sea views, stylish suites, and a pretty outdoor pool and terrace area, Sol Bahia Ibiza Suites probably has the best price/quality ratio on the island. It’s little surprise then that it’s often booked up. See photos and rates!
Luxury: You can expect classy rooms and celebrity treatment when staying at the five-star OKU Ibiza. The pool and terrace are photogenic and stylish, and the overall vibe is just special. See photos and rates!
Budget: For a budget option that still has sea views, beach access and swimming pools, you can’t beat Hipotels Bahia Cala Millor. It’s set directly in front of Cala Millor Beach in eastern Majorca and is also located next to the Natural Area Punta de n’Amer. See photos and rates!
Luxury: The adults-only Melbeach Hotel & Spa is a great luxury option (but without a huge price tag) which has one of the most beautiful swimming pool views in Spain! Sat right beside the beach, with gorgeous sea views, expect to be taking photos every day when staying here. See photos and rates!
Which Is Best For Families?
If you’re planning a family vacation and hesitating between Ibiza and Mallorca, which island is right for you? Well, most families will choose Mallorca over Ibiza, and it’s not hard to see why.
Mallorca is generally regarded as the most family-friendly destination in the Balearic Islands. In fact, it’s one of the top family holiday spots in all of Europe. There are lots of kid-friendly activities here, as well as super beaches where children can safely play on the sand or in the sea.
In addition, Mallorca has an impressive selection of family-focused accommodation, like all-inclusive resorts with great restaurants and kids clubs, so you shouldn’t find it too hard to find a fine place to stay, even if you’re traveling with very young children.
It might not be quite as kid-friendly, but families shouldn’t simply write off Ibiza, either.
In recent years, the island’s government has actually taken steps to make Ibiza more suitable for children and families, with the introduction of new rules to make the party side of the island a little less wild, on top of the opening of some more diverse kid-friendly resorts.
There are also plenty of ways to fill your days as a family on Ibiza, from days at the beach to boat tours or educational experiences at the eco-friendly Casita Verde.
However, of the two islands, Mallorca is definitely the better option. It has a long list of family attractions to suit kids of all ages too.
Which Is Best For Couples?
How about if you’re planning a trip for two? Well, couples can find a lot to love about both Mallorca and Ibiza. But the right island for you and your partner will primarily depend on what kinds of activities you enjoy the most.
Youthful, club-loving couples will naturally be drawn to Ibiza. As previously stated, the nightlife scene there is second-to-none, and the island is also a great spot for shopping, sunbathing, and other fun things that many couples enjoy.
Over on Mallorca, there are more options. You’ve still got nightlife in places like Magaluf, but you’ve also got historic sites, beautiful architecture, museums, galleries, hiking trails, and so on. If that kind of variety appeals to you, Mallorca is the place to go.
Neither of these two islands can truly be classified among Europe’s most romantic destinations, but they both have a lot to offer for couples of varying ages. Think about how you and your partner would like to spend your time to help you choose the place that suits you best.
Which Is Cheaper?
The cost of a Balearic Island getaway can be quite high, but is it more expensive to go to Mallorca over Ibiza, or vice versa?
Well, that will mostly depend on what you do, as the cost of any trip is dependent on which accommodation you choose and which activities you enjoy.
However, if we look at average prices across both islands, Mallorca tends to be just a little bit more affordable. The average cost of hotel rooms, for example, is slightly lower on Mallorca, with food and drink costs also on the cheaper side.
The difference isn’t huge, and it’s still possible to have a budget-friendly vacation to Ibiza. But the cost of entry to the island’s famous clubs can quickly add up, and hotels in the most desirable areas are quite pricey, too.
The larger size of Mallorca also means that it has more choice in terms of accommodation and eateries, which helps to keep the average prices down. So, if you want to get the very best value for money, Mallorca is the place to be.
Which Is Easier To Get Around?
Getting to both of these islands is relatively easy, but once you get there, you need to think about how you’re going to get around. Will you need to rent a car, for example? Or can you rely on public transport and taxis to make your way from place to place?
Well, as the smaller island, Ibiza takes less time to traverse. A lot of travelers will base themselves in one of the main resort areas like Ibiza Town or San Antonio, where it’s easy to access most of the big clubs, bars, and beaches by foot.
You can also rely on buses or taxis to take you to the other main resort spots of the island, but if you want to really get out there and explore the more rural and traditional side of Ibiza, you’ll need to rent a car.
Over on Mallorca, Palma is the place where most travelers tend to spend the majority of their time. There, it’s perfectly possible to walk around and see plenty of attractions on foot, or with the aid of buses and taxis.
But driving and parking in Palma can be tricky, so you might not want to rent a car if you intend to spend most of your time here. However, if you’re planning excursions across the island, a car could be necessary.
There are also some lovely scenic train rides to take across Mallorca – the route from Palma to Soller is particularly picturesque – and can take you to places like Inca and Manacor.
In addition, the main bus station in Palma has plenty of connections with other parts of the island, if you don’t mind long journeys.
Of the two islands, Mallorca probably has the best transport connections. Its bus network is quite expansive, and the trains are a nice bonus, but since it’s a bigger place, it will take longer for you to get from point A to point B.
Ibiza vs Mallorca: Which Is Better?
Both of these islands can be incredible vacation destinations, but they clearly have some big differences between them. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on what kind of experience you’re looking for.
With its dance clubs and raves, Ibiza is undoubtedly the king of the Balearics for people who love to party. It’s also a nice place to shop, sunbathe, and make memories, with a lot of appeal for young travelers and jet setters, in particular.
However, with so many more things to do, cheaper prices, and easier accessibility, Mallorca takes the win in this comparison. Whether you like beautiful beaches, good food, cute towns, historical buildings, adventurous activities, or relaxing resorts, you’ll find it all and more right here.