Ibiza vs Mallorca isn’t an easy one to decide by any stretch. These two sun-kissed dots in the midst of Spain‘s Balearic islands have oodles going for them. We’re talking bleached pebble coves, golden beaches, tempting Moorish-Catalan cuisine, blazing sunsets – the list goes on. But where should you spend your holiday this year?
Should it be the classic holidaying mecca of Mallorca? It’s an island of tried-and-tested resorts where families have been going for decades. But there’s also a less-trodden side, up with the UNESCO-tagged Serra de Tramuntana and the wild olive towns of the mountains. Or, should you be packing the party gear for Ibiza? That’s the fabled White Isle, where summer shindigs rage until the early hours and beautiful people strut between the chic bars on the promenades.
Still can’t decide? This guide is here to help. It’s got the lowdown on every little bit of the Ibiza vs Mallorca debate, from accommodation styles on the islands to finding the best beaches and culinary hotspots.
Ibiza vs Mallorca: Accommodation
You should think about what it is you’re after from your holiday in Ibiza before you go. Different regions have different styles of accommodation. In the lesser-known, more relaxed west and middle of the isle, yoga retreats and luxury spas tend to take center stage. For the White Isle’s iconic party scene, you should focus your accommodation search on Playa D’en Bossa (loads of mega clubs) and Ibiza Town (great bars with a little history thrown in for good measure). The east coast resort of Santa Eularia des Riu is tailor-made for families on the hunt for a more traditional Spanish holiday, close to the sea and the international eateries on the promenade.
Mallorca has a similar array of accommodation options. However, there’s a far bigger focus on family vacations. That comes with the wealth of all-inclusive resorts that string along the south-coast beaches, starting in Palma Bay and running all the way to Ses Covetes. To the west of that is the rambunctious 18-30s party town of Magaluf, where cheap apartment accommodation abounds for the weekenders. Keep going and you’ll find places with a bit more upmarket charm: Port d’Andratx, Port Adriano. They’re dotted with modern condos and lovely Balearic villas with pools, along with yacht moorings. Being the largest of the islands also helps Mallorca offer rustic getaways in the mountains. Check out arty Valldemossa and the Tramuntana for those.
Top hotels in Ibiza
- FAMILIES: Aparthotel Reco des Sol ($$)– Close to the buzz of San Antonio but with the added bonus of its own outdoor pool, this hotel has apartment-style suites that’ll give you a home away from home on the White Isle.
- PARTIES: Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel – Adults Only ($$$) – A full-on club inside a luxury hotel? Yes please!
- ROMANCE: Catalonia Royal Ses Savines -Adults Only ($$$) – Live the life of a jet-setter at this gorgeous resort hotel that has infinity pools gazing out across the sky-blue Mediterranean Sea.
Top hotels in Mallorca
- FAMILIES: Inturotel Esmeralda Park ($$) – Two pools, huge sunning terraces, family-sized suites and walking access to Cala d’Or beach make this one a doozy for families.
- LUXURY: Hotel Hospes Maricel y Spa ($$$) – There’s the full five stars at this glorious hotel that’s perched over the Mediterranean just west of Palma de Mallorca.
- ROMANCE: Cas Comte Suites & Spa – Adults Only ($$$) – and adult’s only spa hotel in a rustic Mallorcan mansion in the quiet north of the island.
Accommodation winner: Draw
Ibiza vs Mallorca: Prices
It’s no secret that the Balearic Islands aren’t the cheapest spots on the Spanish map – they’re one of the country’s biggest tourist draws, after all! Still, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to come here with the riches of a Catalan prince to enjoy yourself. Of course, if there’s cash to splash, then great, these islands will oblige with some serious class and luxury.
We’d say that Ibiza is generally a little pricier than its compadre, Mallorca. Take eating out. You can expect to pay up to 15 EUR ($18) per person in a low-end restaurant. That can soars to around 30 EUR ($36) a head in a midrange joint. Thankfully, beer is relatively cheap, coming it at about 2.50 EUR ($3) for 500ml. There are also some decent happy-hour deals that you can make the most of to ensure you pay less for those evening drinks (they’re often buy one get on free). Finally, there’s clubbing…Youch! This is going to be your biggest expense. If you’re keen to hit mega venues like Amnesia, you’re looking at 60 EUR+ ($70) for entry alone. Then there are the drinks inside, which are priced in line with London and New York.
Mallorca manages to be a bit easier on the wallet. A meal in a low-cost restaurant is likely to cost around 10 EUR ($12) per person, rising to around 25 EUR ($30) in a mid- to high-end restaurant. That actually reflects the cost of living overall, which is, on average, 20% cheaper than in Ibiza.
Affordability winner: Mallorca
Ibiza vs Mallorca: Food
Let’s taste Ibiza first. Arroz de Matanzas is perhaps the most traditional dish on the island. Made up of rice (arroz) and any type of game meat that is available, all boiled up in a salty broth, it’s a classic winter warmer. Every restaurant makes it slightly differently, using age-old recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Ibiza is also big on fish. The Paella de Marisco (seafood paella) and Parrillada de Pescado (seafood mixed grill) are standard fare. The best ones are usually served in the local tavernas located near the ports – the fish comes straight off the boat. You can wash down all of the above with some Frigola (a thyme-based herb digestif that’s made locally).
Mallorcan food is – naturally – similar, but comes with a twist of spice courtesy of North Africa and some influence from the Catalan kitchen. A great all-round pleaser in Mallorca is the Coca de Trampo. Similar to Chicago’s deep dish pizza, it’s made with a base of pastry and topped with juicy roasted veggies. The carnivores among us are sure to enjoy the stuffed pies known as Panades. You should also sample Tumbet – a sort of Spanish take on ratatouille. Mallorca bolsters that with plenty in the way of international eats. They’re present in the main resorts, offering pizza, British fare, and American steaks alike.
Food Winner: Draw
Ibiza vs Mallorca: Beaches
We’re not gonna’ lie, deciding where had the best beaches was probably the single hardest part of this Ibiza vs Mallorca showdown. The truth is that both isles are simply fantastic on the coastal front. They’re both blessed with all manner of hidden coves and dashes of gold-tinged powder. You really can’t go wrong.
Playa d’en Bossa beach is the main attraction on the Ibiza south coast. It’s a long stretch with calm and shallow waters backed by beach bars. Yes, it can seem like an endless Club Med party at times, but there’s no denying the quality of the sand. To get away from it all, you could head to the wild beauty of Es Cavallet beach, which also has a nudist section. Families might prefer the rocky inlets of Cala Bassa – home to some fantastic snorkelling – or Cala Pada, which is known for its clear waters. The north coast is generally way less developed and ripe for adventures. Oh, and the isle of Formentera is a mere 40 mins by ferry from Ibiza. Some say that has the finest beaches in all of Spain!
Let’s start by saying Mallorca’s selection of beaches is simply endless! It’s the largest Balearic of the lot, with 555km of coastline to get through. The most popular sands are on the south-west and the south-east coasts. The first area starts with Palma Bay and ends with the rocky coves and marinas Port d’Andratx. The second finishes with the stunning cove of Caló del Moro and the rugged cliff scapes of Cala Figuera. Families tend to love the facilities of built-up Es Trenc. Adventure seekers prefer the north coast around Port de Pollensa (a windsurfing hub). Still, we think the best beaches are on the far north-eastern tip of Mallorca, where pine-scented Cala Agulla slopes softly into a turquoise Med.
Beaches winner: Mallorca edges this one sheer variety
Ibiza vs Mallorca: Attractions & things to do
Ibiza is never short of events and fun things to do. The Ibiza Spirit Festival is hosted in both April and October. It’s a celebration of wellness and spirituality, showcasing creative dance, meditation and even tantra! Balancing that out are outfitters like White Island Paddle, which can whisk you around the coast for SUP tours and watersports. You also get the immersive UNESCO area of the Dalt Vila old district in Ibiza Town – one for the history buffs. Families have the odd draw, like the Aguamar Water Park, but it’s mainly about chilling in the hotel and hopping beaches. When Ibiza really excels is as the sun goes down. There are more sunset bars and pumping nightlife venues here than you can hope to get through in a week! But more on those later…
Mallorca is brimming with activities and attractions for all sorts of travelers. It really lives up to its rep as the all-rounder of the Balearic chain, offering the immersive UNESCO city of Palma de Mallorca. That’s actually the jewel in the crown, giving holidaymakers the chance to explore stunning medieval cathedrals and a living, working European city. There are also oodles of family attractions, like the adrenaline-pumping Jungle Parc and the acclaimed Aqualand El Arenal. Relaxation, meanwhile, can be had on the scenic narrow-gauge Tren de Sóller ride, which will whisk you up to the Serra de Tramuntana, where there’s also world-class hiking and artsy towns where Chopin and famous poets once resided.
Entertainment winner: Mallorca. It just has SO much to do!
Ibiza vs Mallorca: Nightlife
As every raver who ever donned neon paint knows, Ibiza has a first-rate nightlife. Some of the best DJs in the world come here over the summer months to play arguably the best nightclubs in the world. From Amnesia and Pacha to the beach clubs of Ushuaia and Bora Bora, they’re hallowed names in the world of all-night partying. Things tend to start pretty early; the Sunset Strip of uber-cool bars in San Antonio is always rocking by 6pm. That’s backed up by venues like Eden and the Ocean Beach Club, which has one of the best pool parties in Spain. Basically, you will NEVER be short of a bar or a club to go to. However, don’t come here thinking it’s a casual scene. The parties in Ibiza are serious stuff, with iconic DJ names and price tags to match.
Over to Mallorca: Playa de Palma is a popular tourist destination, and certainly one to check out for nightlife. What is by day a fantastic beach resort becomes a hotbed of bars and clubs as the sun sets. It has everything, from high end gourmet to local eateries. From the small quirky bars of La Llonja to the larger international bars in Santa Catalina, there’s a broader range of sorts of places elsewhere, too. And of course, then there is party-mad Magaluf. That’s one of Europe’s top 18-30s destinations. Clubs like BCM Planet Dance and Oceans Beach Club host bevvy of well known DJs there, and bars like Zeppelin and Piano host live music every night. The season runs from May to August.
Nightlife winner: Ibiza – obviously!
Ibiza or Mallorca: Where is better?
So, that concludes our island punch up of Ibiza vs Mallorca. But what’s the conclusion?
Overall, we’d say plump for Mallorca.
Ibiza has the luxury yoga retreats, spa resorts and more clubs and DJs than you can shake your cocktail glass at. Mallorca, on the other hand, is the jack of all trades. From the chic marinas of Palma to the dance clubs and live music of Magaluf, it’s bursting with life. However, its long coastline of nearly 600km boasts a fantastic array of beaches to boot, while the mountains and the north coast represent a whole wonderland of hidden coves and quant Balearic towns where you can escape from the crowds.
Ibiza still reigns supreme for the EDM lovers, the New Agers, and the ravers, but Mallorca ticks more boxes on the whole. Oh, and it’s likely to be a little cheaper!