The majority of the islands of Spain are collectively known by two identifications, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.
There are also some lesser known islands that are in the Strait of Gibraltar, near to the British Island of Gibraltar (there continues to be a dispute with the Spanish authorities over the sovereignty of “Gib”).
Furthermore, there are a few scattered smaller islands near the coastline which are closest to local provinces; these mainly see Spanish visitors during the summer months, if they are inhabitable.
For the ultimate affordable beach holiday where there’s something for everyone and the flight time from ole’ blighty won’t tax your patience, then it’s hard to beat the Spanish islands.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
The Balearic Islands
The Balearics are made up of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera, and lesser known Cabrera (near the coast of Majorca), Tremac, plus a few smaller islands.
Majorca (or Mallorca in Spanish) is extremely popular with tourists. The capital of Palma was founded by the Romans after they took over the island and developed it.
The Moors took over later and there was a medieval stage in the progression of the island too. Subsequently, outside of the tourist hotspots you can discover a wealth of history in Majorca.
Lakes Cúber and Gorg Blau, Serra de Tramuntana, Majorca, Spain
The busiest resorts are situated in the south, but places like Alcudia are more sedate. It’s possible to hire a car at the airport and drive around Majorca as it is not a small island.
There is a great deal to see and do including resort hopping, attending a seasonal fiesta, visiting local markets and checking out places of historical interest.
Menorca (otherwise known as Minorca) is thought of a little like Majorca’s quieter little cousin. The natural beauty and tranquillity of the island is more obvious because of the less expansive development aimed at managing the yearly influx of tourists. The major resorts line the southern edge of the island.
For interesting sights, people who appreciate military history will enjoy La Mola Fortress, a 19th century Spanish fortress.
Ciutadella de Menorca, Spain
The Cales Fonts, a little bay in Es Castell within the Maó harbour is home to caves which today provide a unique location for a collection of restaurants. A romantic spot.
If you first visit Majorca, then it’s possible to fly to Menorca or take the ferry over the water.
Ibiza (pronounced “eye-bee-tha” almost needs no introduction. The party capital of the Balearics. Many of the top DJs from around the world pay pilgrimage here with regular turns on the decks.
Sunset across Sant Antoni Bay, Ibiza, Spain
There are some quieter spots here and there, but they are tough to find. The main tourist resorts are mostly in the thick of the action and it can be difficult to get some well needed rest (or sleep) if you’re staying near one of the busy clubs that pump tunes out until the wee hours.
If partying is your thing, this is a solid choice. However, if a slower pace and quality rest in between days of sightseeing or sunbathing is preferred, then one of the other islands might be a better for you.
Formentera is the lesser known, smallest island in the Balearics, which is situated in the southern most point near to Ibiza. It lacks an airport, but transfers are possible starting from Ibiza.
So if you like to enjoy a mix of parties and a slower pace, then it would be possible to spent a week in Ibiza, followed by a week of recovery in Formentera before a transfer back, and then flying home.
Formentera, Balearic Islands
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands (also just called “the Canaries”) includes the islands of Gran Canaria, La Palma, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and the lesser known La Gomera and El Hierro.
Canary Islands, Spain
Gran Canaria is a mix of contrasts because it has different weather cycles and an extremely varied landscape. These including lovely white sand beaches, lush green ravines and quaint villages.
The south of the island is the best spot for tourists because it captures more sun and receives less rainfall than up in the north.
If you wish to get out of the tourists spots then Cocodrilos Park, Cueva Pintada which is an archaeologically significant location, and Cenobio de Valerón with many caves to explore all make for interesting days out.
Dunes of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain
La Palma is picturesque, but lacking in tourist infrastructure. This may be of interest to people who wish to explore for themselves without a guide.
Caldera de Taburiente National Park, La Palma, Canary Islands
Tenerife needs little explanation. It is the top spot for millions of tourists with a steady mix of British, German, French and other visitors each year.
Two airports cover north and south locations, good beaches and busy bars with signs outside offering “best pot of English tea” to willing early birds. Most trips to Tenerife are action packed, but it’s tough to find “true” Spain here.
Giant cliffs, Tenerife, Canary islands
Lanzarote stays busy with tourism and agriculture as their two main industries on the island.
The Papagayo beach is worth a visit for it’s half moon shaped crest of sand with rocky outcrops. There is also quite an artistic tradition with a number of prominent Spanish artists choosing to reside here.
Papagayo beach, Lanzarote, Canary islands
Fuerteventura is the most focused on the sustainability of the island and the marine life surrounding it.
There are sandy beaches, but also hot winds that blow in from the Sahara. So picking your dates for a visit to Fuerteventura is a good idea.
Sandy beach in Fuerteventura, Canary islands.