From metropolitan Barcelona spreads a land of such diversity that, although its furthest-flung corner is no more than 200km away, you could spend weeks dissecting it and still feel you’d barely begun. The Costa Brava, blighted by dreary pockets of mass tourism, still boasts much of the wild beauty that first drew visitors here.
Mallorca, Menorca & Ibiza
Each of these four islands (Islas Baleares, Illes Balears in Catalan), floating serenely in the glittering Mediterranean, could be said to have a theme. Mallorca is the senior island, combining a little of everything, from spectacular mountain scenery and hiking through to the standard sea ‘n’ sun seaside tourism.
Tenerife, the biggest and best-known Canary Island, receives over 10 million visitors a year, most of whom head straight to the tourist resorts of the south. But step beyond the lobster-red sunloungers, lap dancers and best bitter on tap and what you’ll find is a cultured and civilised island of extraordinary diversity.
Palma & the Badia de Palma
Nestled in the crook of the Badia de Palma, Mallorca's capital is the most agreeable of all Mediterranean towns. Shaped and defined by the sea and backed by not-so-distant mountains, it is a city of open horizons and oft-blue skies, with good looks and a festive nature. Surveying it all from a gentle rise is the old quarter, crowned by its colossal Gothic cathedral.