Valldemosa, Mallorca

Travel plans for enjoying the Balearic Islands in winter

Balearic Islands

Travel plans for enjoying the Balearic Islands in winter

A mild climate, plenty of hours of sunshine, nature reserves, coves of crystalline water… the Balearic Islands are a Mediterranean paradise you can enjoy at any time of year. We have some suggestions for winter on the islands, when you can explore Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera and the Cabrera archipelago in peace and quiet with fewer tourists.

See the first almond blossom

The millions of almond trees on the Balearic Islands begin to blossom in late December. The groves will be covered in white blooms from then until March.The island of Mallorca offers many options if you want to enjoy the scenery. You could visit anywhere along the Tramuntana mountain range, around Selva, Bunyola or Marratxí in the west of the island, or around Son Servera in the east. Also, Son Servera has an Almond Blossom fair in late January and early February. Around the same time, the island of Ibiza celebrates Llum d’Ametller: a night-time walk around the almond groves of Santa Agnès de Corona, ending with a dinner of traditional local dishes and a party with music.To complete your almond blossom experience, we recommend trying some classic Balearic Islands recipes based on almonds. Sweets include gató (a traditional cake from Mallorca) and Christmas treats like tambor d'ametlla, amargos, and almond coca. Savoury dishes include toasted almond soup and escaldums (a chicken casserole).

Detail of the flowering of the almond trees in Mallorca.

Enjoy traditional local specialities with culinary tours

Mallorca olive oil, Mahón cheese and sobrassada sausage are some of the traditional products of the Balearic Islands that are found in many local dishes. We recommend some key locations for enjoying them and learning more about them.For example, you can discover a landscape of centuries-old olive trees in Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana mountains. Between this area, Sóller and Orient there are four routes leading you through olive groves and traditional oil mills: the Muleta track, the gorge of Biniaraix, the Font Garrover track and the olive groves of Coma-Sema. Bread with olive oil (pa amb oli) and a snack of dressed split olives (olives trencades) are probably the simplest way to sample the products of Mallorca’s olive trees, but you’ll find local olive oil in practically every dish on the islands.

Olive grove in Mallorca

Mahón cheese is 100% natural and a good example of how the island of Menorca preserves its traditions and its environment. It is still made in the artisanal way, with milk from cows that graze the large pastures around traditional farmhouses (llocs) surrounded by traditional dry stone walls (an art designated as World Heritage by UNESCO). We recommend visiting Alaior and Es Mercadal, where you can tour the local cheesemakers or take part in cooking workshops or tastings. The Menorca Tourist Office website lists some of the best known. Although there are different varieties of Mahón cheese, the most traditional and strongly flavoured is the mature or cured cheese.

Mahón cheese. Majorca.

Sobrassada is the most characteristic sausage of the Balearic Islands, made with pork, paprika and black pepper. How should you try it? As it is soft, you can spread it on a slice of bread, and many people enjoy it with honey, sugar or jam. It’s also an ingredient in many local dishes, such as arrós brut, a flavourful rice soup with vegetables and meat. It’s most common in the south-east of Mallorca, in places like Porreres, Montuïri, Felanitx, Campos and Santanyí. You can also visit some of the places which make it. You can see the list on the website of the Food Quality Institute of the Balearic Islands.To complete your culinary tour of the islands, some of the most popular dishes include caldereta de marisco (seafood stew), coca de trampó (a tomato, onion and pepper salad on crisp bread), peix sec (dried fish, especially in Formentera), Mallorcan tombet (similar to ratatouille and made with seasonal vegetables), bullit de peix (a fish stew from Ibiza), and the famous ensaimada pastry.

Sobrassada from Mallorca.

Discover the landscape through sport

Increasing numbers of professional athletes are choosing to train on the Balearic Islands in winter. In this season there is a busy sporting calendar with cycling and motorcycle races, athletics, sailing and other competitions. So for sports fans, the islands are a great winter destination. Especially if you like to practice your sports outdoors and surrounded by nature. You can enjoy bicycle touring on any of the islands. In Formentera, for example, it’s practically a lifestyle, and it’s easy to get around the island by bike. The islands of Mallorca and Ibiza have hundreds of kilometres of well-marked cycle touring routes, suitable for every fitness level.

Bicycle touring in Menorca.

Nordic walking and hiking are also fantastic options. Mallorca is home to the first Nordic walking park, in Alcúdia, and the island has two interesting GR long-distance footpaths. They are GR-221, the Dry Stone route, and GR-222, both of which go through rural landscapes, paths and areas marked out by dry stone walls. Meanwhile, in Menorca the GR-223, or the Camí de Cavalls, follows the coast of the island, including many of its most famous beaches. In Ibiza, the area around Sant Antoni de Portmany is very popular for Nordic walking, and every winter there are guided walks organised by the Town Council. Formentera and La Cabrera also have beautiful hiking routes in natural surroundings. Formentera’s Green Routes are highly recommended for Nordic walking. Cabrera offers eight routes.


Explore local culture in traditional winter festivals

Did you know one of the most traditional rituals of the Balearic Islands is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage event? This is the Chant of the Sybil, a remnant of medieval religious folklore which takes place on the island of Mallorca on the night of 24 December. Another religious relic is the Devallament (or descent of Christ from the cross), a unique feature of Easter in the Balearic Islands, which is celebrated on Good Friday. In many cases it takes the form of a play, an emotive performance in the open air, in iconic settings. Some of the most popular are held in Palma, Pollença, Felanitx and Artà (on Mallorca), Es Mercadal (on Menorca) and Sant Antoni de Portmany (on Ibiza).

The festa de Sant Antoni is perhaps the most traditional winter fiesta in the Balearic Islands. It takes place on 16 and 17 January, and good places to see it on Mallorca include Sa Pobla, Manacor, Artà, Pollença, Muro and Palma. Traditional cuisine, the sound of the zambomba (a rustic percussion instrument) and fire are the common elements. On Ibiza, the town of Sant Antoni celebrates its main fiesta on these dates, where you can see the island’s traditional folk dances. The Day of the Balearic Islands is held on 1 March. You can find out about all the events at the Tourist Office. There are usually guided tours and open days. The city of Palma also organises an exhibition of traditional cuisine and a market on Passeig Sagrera. In Menorca, you’ll have the opportunity to experience equestrian culture in the form of Doma Menorquina (dressage) in Es Castell. And in Formentera, you can grab a portion of the giant paella they make every year.

Fiestas of Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià in Mallorca.

Let time stand still on tours of self-discovery

Peace and quiet in rural and coastal settings can transform your concept of time. We propose a route through the islands of Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera where you can see for yourself. In Mallorca, the idea is to visit small villages with cobbled streets, and shrines and monasteries with centuries of history. A route from Valldemossa, with the pretty Valldemossa Charterhouse and the chapel of Santísima Trinidad (now home to hermit monks), to Escorca and its chapel of Lluc (one of the symbols of the island), via Petra, Felanitx, Pollença, Porreres, Algaida and Inca.

Calle de Valldemossa in Mallorca.

In Ibiza, we suggest a tour of the white churches. Many are in lovely natural settings and are fine examples of the island’s traditional architecture. This is a way to see the rural side of Ibiza, with visits to the churches of Sant Antoni (one of the oldest), Santa Eulària and Es Cubells (both with views over the Mediterranean), Sant Miquel de Balansat, Sant Carles de Peralta, and others.Finally, in Formentera we recommend a tour of the island’s lighthouses, especially if you can visit a different one each day to see the sunset. The most famous is the lighthouse of La Mola, on a cliff over 120 metres high. The lighthouses of La Savina and Cap de Barbaria also offer spectacular views.

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