Increasingly, our clients are asking us about the differences between Ibiza and Mallorca when it comes to renting a home for a holiday or buying and living all year round. Fortunately, Michelle Bastiansen of Charles Marlow Mallorca grew up in Mallorca and is half-Spanish, she also knows Ibiza very well.
I recently asked Michelle to share her insight into the differences and similarities between Ibiza and Mallorca, those magical islands our clients, and us, love so much.
Michelle, what qualifies you to be able to talk knowledgeably about the differences between Ibiza and Mallorca?
I grew up in Mallorca and am half-Spanish. I speak the Mallorcan dialect of Catalan as well as Spanish. My relationship with Ibiza came later, when I had a spa business with spas in Portinatx, Playa d’en Bossa and Ibiza Town and travelled to the island twice a month for six years. I still visit Ibiza regularly.
What are the very obvious differences between Ibiza and Mallorca?
Ibiza is under half the size of Mallorca. The tourist season lasts only for the summer. Mallorca’s is now, one way or another, year round. Because of its size, Ibiza is more about beaches than spending time in the flatlands. There aren’t mountains like those in Mallorca. In terms of architecture, Ibiza style is more Arabic influenced – the traditional style is white, square buildings with flat roofs which is very different from the architecture on the West Coast of Mallorca.
Energetically, if I can say that, I find Ibiza to be a bit more tranquil, more Zen if you like, even though there’s the whole music and partying scene which is very strong.
What are the differences that are only really apparent if you know the islands very well?
You really need to know where you’re going in Ibiza so it’s hard to find the island’s hidden gems unless someone tells you where they are. It’s not so easy to explore using public transport. In Mallorca, there are highways and the roads are generally good. It isn’t the same in Ibiza. When you’re driving to somewhere off the beaten track, the road will often be in less than great condition.
Ibiza feels to me more paradisiac, if that’s a word, like you’re far away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Everything’s closer in Mallorca. Palma is a sophisticated modern city when you can get whatever you want and it’s packed with great shops, restaurants and bars and there are always a fair amount of people, which can give the city a nice buzz.
What about the people?
I have heard that Ibicencans are not as friendly as Mallorcans because they’re more likely to stay in their closed circles but I’ve never experienced that. They’ve always been very friendly to me.
Is the Ibicencan dialect the same as Mallorcan?
I can definitely tell which island someone is from by the way they speak. Ibicencans speak a dialect of Catalan called Eivissenc. It has a different tone and, to a Mallorcan, sounds more rural. A few words in Eivissenc are different from Mallorcan. They have different names for some vegetables – none of which I can remember right now. I’ll have to ask my Mallorcan grandmother!
What do you like most about Mallorca?
I lived in Denmark for 20 years so I’m very well aware of the cultural differences between Mallorca and Northern Europe. Here, we go out far more to eat and drink with friends. Food’s not as expensive and there are plenty of great menu del dia – lunch menus. I love the nature here, all the beaches and mountains. And I love the feel of the sun on my face in January.
What do you like most about Ibiza?
It always amuses me to see travellers on their way to Ibiza. Whether they’re going for work or to party, there’s always a buzz on the airplane. But, on the way back, you see the same people exhausted in the airport, sometimes lying on the floor.
I love the tranquility of Ibiza. You can really feel it in Ibiza Old Town. It’s so filled with history, romantic and intimate. My favourite restaurant is La Brasa. It’s on a tiny street, has a patio and palm trees and is really, really cute. The food is excellent too.
Could you broadly suggest which island would be better for buying or renting for: a) a couple with young children b) a family with older children c) an older retired couple d) a single person, perhaps a digital nomad?
I have a small, rapidly growing, child so I can answer part of this question with authority. For couples with young or older children, definitly Mallorca. The island has everything children of all ages love. (There are good schools on Ibiza and Mallorca.) Apart from the outdoor life and playing sports, there are more things to do in Mallorca, from cinemas to shopping malls. There are also more flights from the island to anywhere else in Europe you need to get to. If you live on any island all year round, it’s important to know you can get off whenever you want to.
I’d also say Mallorca has more to offer older people.
Ibiza, for me, is better for single people, especially if they work for themselves and can find their own work/life balance. It’s great for all kinds of spiritual pursuits, from yoga to retreats. The nature is beautiful if you want to get lost in it. But there are plenty of opportunities to meet people at funky places like the iconic Hostal la Torre, famous for being the most perfect spot on the island to watch a magical sunset.
In general, Ibiza is better for people who want to live in a more secluded home in nature. Although, of course, we do offer those kinds of homes in Mallorca too.
Last question: you’re a musician and DJ. Is there a particular song that always makes you think of each island?
Not a song so much. When I was living in Denmark and came back to Mallorca twice a year, I always made a playlist of whatever was popular on the island, from the latest Spanish pop hits to Latin music, to listen to in Denmark and remind me of Mallorca.
For Ibiza, I like anything connected to the Defected Records label. I love their Glitterbox. Pasha’s Flower Power parties are fantastic. The music at Pikes is awesome, as is the place. I want to go now!