Are there any islands near Barcelona?
DISCOVER THE BARCELONA ISLANDS
But if you are more of an explorer that want to get off the beaten path, rent a car and drive no more than 3 hours away from Barcelona so you can be back to the city in the evening, there's also so small islands that are worth checking out for their scenic landscapes and unique nature. Are you ready to discover them?
Balearic Islands (Islas Baleares / Illes Balears)
The Island of Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, and it takes under 1.5 hours to cross it from end to end. Here is the capital of the archipelago, Palma de Mallorca, and it features 2 airports and 1 international port. This island offers the largest variety of tourist attractions and things to do, which makes it a suitable destination for everyone. Palma de Mallorca has a nice shopping district, a quaint medieval quarter with an impressive Cathedral, a Joan Miro Museum. Foodies will love to stroll around the Sant Joan market. Youngsters will have a blast with the nightlife. Kids will have fun taking the Soller train and visiting the Coves del Drac and other stalactite caves. Nature lovers need to visit the natural parks of S’Albufera and the Península de Llevant. And music lovers can’t miss Valldemossa, where Chopin spent a couple of months while in Spain.
Menorca is the second largest island in the Balearic archipelago. It takes around 45 minutes to go from Maho, the capital of the island, to Ciutadella, the second largest town, located in the opposite end. There is an airport and one cruise port. Menorca is a rather quiet island, best for families that will enjoy exploring its prehistorical rock constructions, visiting the local zoo, taking easy hikes along the Cami Reial trail, watching the sunset from the light towers... Because of its small size, it's easy to explore by car.
Ibiza is the third largest island of the Balears, and it also has an airport and a cruise port. It's easy to get there either flying or taking the ferry from Barcelona to ibiza. And once there, it's just over half an hour to get from Eivissa city to most villages and the best beaches on the island. Ibiza is famous to have the best nightlife in Spain, and because in the 1960's it attracted an important hippie community that still runs a colorful market. But Ibiza is much more than that. There's a couple of stalactite caves, it has picturesque villages such as Santa Eulalia, it has a salt lake natural park... You can pamper yourself in some exclusive spa, or you can sunbathe every day in a different beach club.
Formentera is the fourth largest island. Because of its crookedly elongated shape, it takes you 30 minutes to drive from one end of the island to the other, but in general the rides are much shorter. The only way to get to Formentera is by sea, as it has no airport: the only existing ferries depart from Ibiza. Formentera is perfect for people seeking a peaceful vacation on the beach. The must-see list is quite short if you don't count the beaches: a lighthouse, an old wind mill, a hippie market and not much more. But it's so pretty!
The smallest of the Balearic Islands actually belongs to the city of Palma de Mallorca, it has only some 20 inhabitants and is classed as a Natural Park of its own. It's best done as a day trip from Mallorca: the boats there depart from Colonia Sant Jordi. Once in the island you can visit a castle, a local museum with a botanical garden and a cave under a cliff that can only be reached by boat.
Other islands in Barcelona
The Illes Medes are probably the most famous islands of the Catalan Coast. It's a small archipelago consisting in two larger islands (the Meda Gran and the Meda petita - big and small Medas), 5 islets and a several boulders that emerge from the sea. They are located off the Emporda town of L'Estartit, and they haven't been inhabited since 1932, only a few years before the Civil War of Spain. They are a protected natural park due to their rich underwater environment, and the access is very restricted. The only way to visit them is on one of the boat and diving tours that depart from the nearby towns of L'Estartit, Roses and L'Escala (Costa Brava - around 2 hours drive from Barcelona, reachable by car or public bus). Do not try to get to the Medes Islands by your own means, as you could get in trouble with the local authorities.
Relatively near from the Illes Medes, the Illes Formigues are located off the coast of Palamos (Costa Brava - around 1.5 drive from Barcelona, reachable by car or public bus), In Catalan, "formiga" means "ant", which gives you an idea of how small these islands are, just largish islets but large enough to have a lighthouse in the largest of them - the Formiga Gran ("large ant"). However, on bad storms the islands often disappear under the waves. These islands are famous for a gory battle that took place there in 1298 against the French. The only way to access them is by boat, either a private one or an organized tour.
Illa de Buda
The Illa de Buda is the triangular island of the delta of the Ebro river. Around 5km (some 3 miles) long, Half of it is privately own (two elderly couples still live there), while the other half belongs to the Generalitat de Catalunya government. Inside the island there's two lagoons that constitute the habitat of many interesting birds including flamingos (which can only be seen in a handful of places in Spain!). The island can only be visit with a special authorization, or groups of up to 15 people can book a stay there (minimum 2 nights). Otherwise it is best seen from the boats that organize sailing trips around the Delta or from the viewpoints of Migjorn and Zigurat.
The only real island off Barcelona... is gone!
Illa de Maians
Did you know that before the 1400's there was a sand islet right off the city of Barcelona? It was called the Island of Maians and it was only about 100 yards away from the coastline. But in 1477 the construction of the first pier of the Barcelona port absorbed it. The sea currents continued to deposit sand and sediments, and eventually the creation of the Barceloneta district configured the final geography of the city coast. The island would have been located near the current location of the Estacio de França railways station.
Did you know there were so many islands around Barcelona?
Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.
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