Latest update: 14 July 2023
There are plenty of flights to Mallorca and Ibiza, but you can also get there by car. You drive to Barcelona and take the ferry. I went to Mallorca on the Balearia boat with my car AND my dog. Here’s what to expect.
Take plenty of time for the drive to Mallorca or Ibiza
Traveling by car and boat to Mallorca or Ibiza is pretty time-consuming. The shortest route to Barcelona (including toll roads) is about 15.5 hours from Amsterdam. But that is the most optimistic situation. After all, you also have to refuel and stretch your legs now and then. Then, the crossing to Mallorca takes about 5.5 to 7 hours (depending on which boat you have) and to Ibiza about 8 hours. AND! You must be at the port 1.5 hours before departure. So, added up, you are already looking at at least 26 hours. That’s why I made a stopover in the south of France for one night (here, with a lovely veranda, swimming pool, and a view of the Mont Ventoux).
You can also reach the Balearic Islands from Valencia or Denia: the crossing is a lot shorter, but you will be in the car longer.
So, this option is not suitable for a week in Ibiza or Mallorca (or Formentera or Menorca). It’s only interesting to travel by car and ferry to Ibiza and Mallorca if you plan to spend a lot of time on the islands.
Prefer to fly to Mallorca or Ibiza?
With your dog, you can go to Mallorca and Ibiza by car and by plane. It is entirely up to you to decide the most relaxed means of travel for your dog. You’ll probably prefer to take your furry friend to an animal hotel or friends for a short holiday, but if you’re going to the islands for a more extended stay, you’ll probably want to take your dog with you. I’m going to Mallorca for almost two months and really can’t miss my dog for that long, and I think a flight is too stressful for my dog.
What should you think about if you want to go to Mallorca or Ibiza by car?
Take into account:
Environmental zones: in Barcelona, you need an environmental badge. Unfortunately, you can’t get it if your car is registered elsewhere than Spain. But! A Danish, German, French, or Austrian environmental sticker is also valid in Barcelona.
Are you driving through Paris? Then you need a French vignette. If you avoid Paris, a German vignette is also fine. However, the French environmental sticker application process can take a while; the German one is faster. And, frankly, I found the French form too complicated. Therefore, we have chosen not to drive past Paris and arrange a German environmental sticker through the ANWB (Dutch). For sale here. Please check your options online well in advance! Like:
Toll roads: there are toll roads in both France and Spain. It depends a bit on your exact route, but we paid just under 85 euros in toll for a one-way trip from the Netherlands to Barcelona with a regular passenger car.
Ferry costs: how much does the boat to Mallorca or Ibiza cost? That’s hard to say. It depends on the day of departure, departure time, car, and services you buy… So check the Balearia and Trasmediterranea sites for the costs. In any case: the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. You can easily compare prices at Direct Ferries.
Burglary risk: it’s super tempting to arrive in Barcelona a few hours early and do some shopping, sightseeing, or grab a drink – tapas, sangria anyone? But I’ve read quite a few warnings about car break-ins. And, of course, cars with a foreign number plate are extra interesting for burglars: there is a good chance that they are fully loaded with valuable items such as laptops and cameras.
Getting on the boat in Barcelona
You must report by car one and a half hours before departure of the Balearia boat in the port of Barcelona. Please note that traffic in Barcelona can be heavy – make sure to be on time. There is clear signage at the port, and the staff makes sure you park your car in the right place. They check your papers, and then you have to wait until you can drive on the ferry. That’s quite challenging because the parking spots are small, but the staff will show you how to maneuver and park. Remember that you have to park quite tightly to the next one: we couldn’t get any luggage out the back door anymore. So make sure you have the things you need on the boat at hand.
Only the driver is allowed to stay in the car. The other passengers use the pedestrian entrance. This is where security checks your identification and ticket, and your luggage goes through the scanner. Pretty weird because that doesn’t happen with the stuff you have in your car. Anyway, you will meet your fellow travelers again on the ferry.
Take your dog to Spain, by car and on the ferry
If you would like to take your dog to the Balearic Islands – anywhere in Spain for that matter – you must have arranged the proper vaccinations, microchip, and passport for your dog. Honestly, no one has checked this over two months time, but you never know. You can find up-to-date information about the requirements on the EU website and ask your vet for advice too. For example, my dog received an extra worm cure after returning because heartworms occur in Spain.
Your dog is allowed on the Balearia ferries. He is just not allowed to go everywhere on the ship, and he is certainly not allowed to stay behind in the car. There are pens where you can leave your dog during the crossing. You can check now and then to see if everything is going well. But you can also opt for a pet-friendly cabin which allows you to take your dog in a cabin with you. It’s more expensive, but I think it’s worth it. Be careful, not all ferries have those facilities. On this page, you will find the names of the boats that have animal-friendly cabins.
The Trasmediterranea ferries also have a policy for dogs and other pets.
Curious how it went on the boat with my anxious dog? Not very good, to be honest. Read how my boat trip to Mallorca with my dog went.
If you drive alone, your dog can go on the boat with you. However, only the driver may drive on the ship if you travel with several people. The others have to go through the pedestrian entrance and take the dog onto the boat on foot. Once on the boat, you pick up your cabin number at the reception. The pet-friendly cabins are located near an exit to the deck. There is a part cordoned off where the dog kennels are, and your dog can pee. However, it’s not a very attractive part of the ferry.
What is there to do on the boat?
It is great to stay on the ferry: a lobby, restaurant, bar, shop, and of course, it is always nice to go out on the deck and breathe in the fresh sea breeze. You can even use a swimming pool on sunny days on some boats in the summer months! Outside bar, just like the Love Boat.. 😉
Depending on your ticket type, you can retire to your cabin for a few hours. Take a nap or shower, whichever you prefer. Compare the ticket options for the ferry here.
Arrival by ferry in Ibiza or Mallorca
About half an hour before arrival, someone from the staff comes knocking on the cabins’ doors – time to get ready. Grab your stuff and find your car, if you remember where it is! It’s easy to get lost on the parking decks. You can now all enter the car together: driver, passengers, and pets. The staff helps you abort the boat, and your Mallorca or Ibiza adventure can begin!
More Ibiza inspiration?
Useful links for your upcoming Ibiza trip
- Guidebooks. Although I love the practical guidebooks from Lonely Planet, for my Ibiza holiday I choose inspirational books. Bol.com has many on offer. But be sure to check out Amazon too.
- Flights. Be sure to check out Transavia and Vueling, but do compare all your options! Be sure to check your options at Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Boat. Get to Ibiza by boat from Barcelona or other places from the Spanish mainland. Book your boat trip at Balearia. Balearia also sails between the Balearic islands: Formentera, Menorca, Mallorca. Please check if there are other options at Direct Ferries.
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers. Discover Cars has a good comparison tool.
- Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com and Natuurhuisje. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld.
- Money. Your bank cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. And Freetour.com and GuruWalk offer ‘free’ walking tours. Try Baja Bikes for bike tours.
- Clubbing. Buy your club tickets here and check out the next bullet: free entrance to clubs!
- Discount! If you’re looking for discounts on bars, restaurants, and activities, and free entrance to clubs, check out the Locopass by LocoLife. Via the link you’ll get an additional 15% off – you’ll see it in your shopping cart. If not, use the code: KIM15
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? The Dutchies among us can try ANWB vakanties or Tui, but also check out Vakantie Discounter, D-reizen, Sunweb and Corendon.
Or, treat yourself to a lovely yoga retreat in Ibiza.
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First published: January 2022. Updated since.