I can honestly say I was never too attracted to Mallorca, as it has quite a reputation over here in Germany for being a “party island” before anything else. Listening live German Schlager music while drinking pints of Bavarian brewed beer and spending my days on overly crowded beaches among sunburned alcohol smelling bodies? No thank you. However, there came a moment when I was able to take just a day off at the office and this covered 5 free days of holidays. It was a rather quick decision and Mallorca seemed to be our best choice. Lu, 6 yo at the time, and me flew from Hanover, Germany, while Charlie from France, my mom from Slovenia and we all met in Palma. So it was kind of a quick family reunion and in the end it turned out awesome! 5 days of discovering the island with a rented car was just enough to get a real taste of it, Mallorca impressed us with beautiful beaches and crystal clear sea, interesting hilly scenery, caves, enjoyable climate, beautiful architecture, idyllic villages and of course its culinary delicacies. A whole range of low-cost airlines can take you to Mallorca, where, in addition to larger hotels, you can find a lot of affordable accommodation in terms of Airbnb and private apartments, and car or scooter rental is also pretty inexpense. So what to see and do in Mallorca? Read more below.
When: May 2018
Places: Palma de Mallorca, Magaluf, Peguera, Andraxt, Valldemossa, Deia, Soller, Serra de Tramuntana, Pollenca, Formentor, Alcudia, Calla Millor, Cuevas del Drach, Cala d´Or, Parc natural de Mondrago, Cala Santanyi
How: with a rented car, motorbike and historical train
Stayed in: airbnb apartment in Palma
During our 5-day visit to Mallorca, we spent one day exploring the capital city Palma de Mallorca, one day doing a trip to Soller with the famous historic train, and the remaining 3 days exploring the island with a rented car. Our base was an Airbnb apartment in downtown Palma.
PALMA DE MALLORCA | interesting capital city of Mallorca
THE LARGEST and at the same time the CAPITAL of the island of Mallorca offers something for everyone and will certainly not disappoint you with its many historical and architectural attractions, nor with the rich culinary offer of local restaurants open late into the night, many bars, shops, promenades and as well as green areas. As it is located right by the sea, it has an additional charm, there is an international airport in the immediate vicinity, and all the main traffic routes across the island run from here – Palma de Mallorca is therefore a good choice when looking for accommodation or base for further exploration of the island. especially if it is not your priority to be located right next to the beach. For our spring trip, renting a comfortable downtown apartment here in Palma was a great choice.
And what else can you see in PALMA DE MALLORCA? Of course, you should not miss the biggest attraction, LA SEU CATHEDRAL, which strongly dominates the image of the city and is really beautiful. Then there is the extremely interesting round castle, CASTELL DE BELLVER, where various concerts and other events take place in the summer months, you can walk along the PROMENADE TO PORTIXOL (a small port with marina and restaurants), visit the ESBALUEARD art gallery and others. Culinary enthusiasts can join a so-called RUTA MARTIANA, which takes place every Tuesday in the old town, and it includes a cheaper tapas & drinks offer in many bars. In addition, visit the SAN JUAN MERCADO GASTRONOMICO market and, of course, the local restaurants in the old part of the city.
MAGALUF AND PEGUERA | lively turistic centres close to Palma de Mallorca
I admit, we didn’t pay too much attention to MAGALUF and PEGUERA, but let me mention them quickly anyway, as every taste is different and they might just fit yours. MAGALUF, otherwise the most popular among English tourists, is famous for its PARTY SCENE, where there is no lack of huge hotels and restaurants, and in addition, a huge sandy bay awaits you. For those who like to be in the center of the action and at the same time close to Palma de Mallorca, it may be a good choice. The same goes for nearby PEGUERA, except that there are mostly German tourists here.
PORT D`ANDRATX AND ANDRATX | one of the most luxurious places in Mallorca
The port part of the city of Andratx, called PORT D`ANDRATX, has in recent decades developed from a simple fishing village iinto one of the MOST ELEGANT and PRESTIGIOUS RESORTS IN MALLORCA. Idyllic hills today are dotted with beautiful villas owned by richer foreign and domestic residents as well as many celebrities. There is also accommodation for tourists of course and the town is still quite quiet, despite the large number of restaurants, shops and bars.
In the hinterland of the coast, there is also the other, upper part of the town called ANDRATX, where mostly local islanders live, so it has a special slightly less touristy atmosphere. Today, the town hall is located in the former castle, otherwise we can see the remains of the city’s defensive walls, visit many exhibition spaces and galleries.
SERRA DE TRAMUNTANA | masive mountain range with hiking and cycling trails
The SERRA DE TRAMUNTANA MOUNTAINS, which are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretch from the extreme SW to the extreme NW of the island of Mallorca and, in addition to beautiful views of the hilly landscape, panoramic roads and idyllic villages, offer many hiking and cycling trails. So if you like walking or cycling more than lying on the beaches, focus on visiting this part of the island. The highest peak is PUIG MAJOR, with its 445m, and the whole area has a slightly colder and more humid climate than the rest of the island.
In this area you can visit, among other things, the coastal parts west of Palma de Mallorca, the Andratx area, the villages of Valldemossa and Deia, Soller, drive the road past Puig Major and the lakes, the coastal town of Port de Pollenca and of course the famous Formentor peninsula in the north. More about the latter in the continuation of this article.
VALLDEMOSSA | picturesque village with a famous monastery
If you like smaller pleasant villages, then a visit to the attractive Valldemossa should not be missed. This one is best known for its Carthusian monastery built in the 14th century, but in addition to this famous building, there are a whole bunch of attractions in Valldemossa and its surroundings. For example, KING SANCH’S HOUSE, FREDERIC CHOPIN & GEORGE SAND MUSEUM, CHURCH OF ERMITA DE LA TRINITAT, JOAN CARLES GARDENS, numerous miradors (lookouts) and more.
Between Deia, Valldemossa and Soller there are many other villages, along numerous marked hiking trails – if you have enough time and are lucky with having nice weather, take a day and treat yourself to a hike.
DEIA | idyllic artistic village
Another BEAUTIFUL LAID BACK VILLAGE somewhere halfway between Soller and Valldemossa, in a lush valley on the edge of the SERRA DE TRAMUNTANA mountains, home to only around 700 inhabitants. Deia is known as the ART VILLAGE OF MALLORCA, where a good number of musicians, painters, writers and other artists have found their home nowadays and in the past decades as well. The ROBERT GRAVES HOUSE is well worth a visit, and there are many ateliers, shops and nice local restaurants too. Deia is an excellent STARTING POINT FOR MANY HIKES, including a marked trail to neighboring Valldemossa.
The next interesting place is SOLLER, which can be reached either by rented car, or with a cult historical train during a day trip form Palma de Mallorca. More about this amazing train ride below.
TREN DE SOLLER | historical train ride connecting Palma de Mallorca and Soller
A HISTORICAL TRAIN RIDE from Palma to Soller is one of the main attractions on the island and we also indulged in this very special ONE DAY TRIP there and back. The line has been in operation since 1912, when the first train successfully transported various goods, especially oranges and olive oil, from the fertile fields and plantations around Soller to the capital. The railway connection was built especially for the needs of easier and faster transport of the mentioned goods back then, but nowadays, the train is used primarily for tourists.
The one-way ride takes about an hour and also includes A STOP AT A VIEWPOINT where all passengers can get off the train and enjoy a view on the valley and the train tracks for a while. Through the window, beautiful views of the hilly and fertile landscape of Serre de Tramuntana accompany the entire route, which also takes you through as many as 13 TUNNELS, over the beautiful CINC-PONTS VIADUCT and several steep passes. The return ticket costs a little over 20 €, but you can also take an additional tram ride that takes you from SOLLER to the coastal village of PORT DE SOLLER (about 30 minutes drive), where a great beach and even more restaurants await you.
The photo in the collage on the left shows the Tren de Soller train station in Palma de Mallorca, which is really norhing special but there is a museum to visit next to it, the middle picture was taken during a picturesque ride, and the right one just after arriving in Soller.
SOLLER AND PORT DE SOLLER | the center of the so-called “Golden valley”
If you visit Soller as part of a day trip by historic train from Palma, take a couple of hours to explore the town, make a leisurely walk through the old narrow streets, treat yourself to a citrus ice cream (for example in the famous SA FABRICA) and visit many nice shops offering a variety of quality handicrafts. One of the main attractions is the CHURCH OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW at the PLAZA DE LA CONSTITUCION in the town center.
In addition, you can buy the famous oranges here (at the expense of orange plantations and olive oil production, the valley was nicknamed “the Golden Valley”), and other fruits and vegetables for the next few days, as well as a bottle of wine or olive oil for home. On Saturdays you can also visit the excellent fruit and vegetables open air MARKET.
As already mentioned, you can take a special HISTORICAL TRAM to the coast in the lower, port part of Soller called PORT DE SOLLER and enjoy the beautiful views or treat yourself to a refreshing jump into the sea. This is what it looks like from the top of the hills that surround this valley.
ROAD MA-10 PASS PUIG MAJOR TO POLLENCA | notorious panoramic road through Serra de Tramuntana mountains
Known as the WILDEST ROAD ON MALLORCA, the Ma-10 leads through the heart of the SERRA DE TRAMUNTANA mountains and is also very popular among CYCLISTS,with larger groups cycling around here especially in the spring when it is not yet too hot. Sometimes a herd of cattle crosses your path and there can also be many motorcyclists, so general caution on the road is not superfluous. In total, the road is about 110 km long and runs between Andratx and Pollenca, and in the area from Soller to Polenca you pass the highest passes and are constantly surrounded by really impressive peaks, including the highest among them, PUIG MAJOR. There are countless smaller parking lots, MIRADORS and lookout points along the way, so plan enough time for this drive, I recommend that you are not in too much of a hurry, since the stops are really nice. You can also stop at TWO PICTURESQUE LAKES, CUBER and GORG BLAU, where larger PICNIC areas are also to be found.
POLLENCA AND PORT DE POLLENCA |
The famous panoramic road Ma-10 ends here in POLLENCA town which is not a bad place to visit as well. Full of typical yellow-orange stone houses in its older central parts are complemented with a couple of viewpoints, JOAN MARCH GARDENS and TORRE DESBRULL towers, a ROMAN BRIDGE, a very nice PLACA MAJOR city square with the famous long STAIRCASE and more. There is also no shortage of typical restaurants and shops.
PORT DE POLLENCA is one of the largest resorts on the north side of Mallorca and during our short stop for lunch, a walk and a quick jump into the sea on one of the local beaches we found it very pleasant. In addition to many RESTAURANTS and beautiful SHOPS, a long waterfront PROMENADE is located here, ideal for evening walks by the sea. Port de Pollenca is also a good starting point for discovering other parts of the island, especially the Formentor Peninsula.
CAP FORMENTOR | mighty cliffs on the northernmost parts of Mallorca
Taking the 14 km long winding road from PORT DE POLLENCA in the direction of the NE is an absolute must, as one of the most beautiful views on the entire island awaits us here. THE FORMENTOR PENINSULA, with many MIRADORS or viewpoints, secret little sandy bays and a LIGHTHOUSE on the top of a steep cliff at the very northern tip, is oe of the most interesting parts of Mallorca.
On the way to the lighthouse, you can stop at many VIEWPOINTS, called MIRADOR, among which the most famous and popular is named ES COLOMER. The ruins of the ALBERCUTX TOWER are also nearby, and at least three more lookout points can be found on the way to the end of the peninsula.
The most famous BEACH on the peninsula, called PLATJA DE FORMENTOR, is located on the opposite side of the Mirador Es Colomer. This larger white sandy bay is surrounded by a pleasant pine grove and in May there were no crowds of people at all. Otherwise, you can choose one of the smaller bays, for example CALA FIGUERA or CALA MURTA. One of the more famous beaches and resorts is located on the opposite side of Port de Pollenca and it is called CALA ST. VICENC.
ALCUDIA | historical Roman town
You won’t be bored in the neighboring ALCUDIA either, as the old town is rich in ROMAN HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMNANTS and it is supposed to be the OLDEST TOWN ON THE BALEARIC ISLANDS. You can also check out the PLAZA DE TOROS bull fighting area. Individual or organized excursions to the neighboring island of MENORCA are also possible from Alcudia, with boat /ferry connections.
CALA MILLOR | one of the largest and most popular towns on Mallorca
ONE OF THE LARGER AND MORE POPULAR RESORTS IN MALLORCA with a huge tourist infrastructure network of RESTAURANTS, LARGER HOTELS, SHOPS and of course LONG SANDY BEACHES. The SAFARI ZOO and the SPLASH WORLD water park are also close by, for those who like to visit such parks. For us, it is a little too big and too touristy, but if you enjoy a more lively scene with diverse tourist offer, it can be a good choice.
CUEVAS DEL DRACH | 4 connected javes in Porto Cristo town
On the east coast of the island, more precisely in PORTO CRISTO, we find one of the most famous and visited caves in Mallorca. In fact, these are 4 INTERCONNECTED CAVES (named the Black Cave, White Cave, Luis Salvador Cave and French Cave) with a total length of about 4km and a depth of about 25m. The caves were created by the intrusion of sea water from the open sea, and today, in addition to impressive stalactites and other karst phenomena, you can also see a larger UNDERGROUND LAKE in one of the caves.
You can visit the caves as part of a GUIDED TOUR, which lasts about 1 hour. First, there is a video PRESENTATION, followed by a good kilometer of exploring the cave on foot and a boat ride on the underground MARTEL LAKE where you will also enjoy a classical music CONCERT to finish your tour.
CALA D` OR | wonderful “Golden bay”
For us, one of the better options when choosing accommodation, because it seems to be just the right size – not too big and not too small, it has everything you need including really nice BEACHES which are not overcrowded, lots of restaurants and bars and it is not far from many other attractions in this part of Mallorca.
There are many nice beaches especially in this eastern part of Mallorca, but it is just impossible to visit all of them in such a short time. Here, we decided to spend an entire afternoon, simply because we liked it and there was no point of rushing to tick off all the others. There was also time for a delicious lunch and a walk around the really nice center of the town.
PARC NATURAL DE MONDRAGO | green oasis and protected area with a peaceful bay
MONDRAGO NATURE PARK lies along the coast between CALA D`OR and CALA LLOMBARDS and it is a beautiful green wooded PROTECTION AREA consisting of wild olives, pine trees and orchids, among others. In addition to this interesting vegetation, there is also, of course, a beautiful bay with a SANDY BEACH, which unlike many others in the area, is pretty intact and still relatively wild, unspoiled.
CALA SANTANYI | interesting rock formation Mirador es pontas
There is another great beach in the neighboring bay of CALA SANTANYI, but all the attention is stolen by the nearby interesting ROCK FORMATION called MIRADOR ES PONTAS, which can also be reached on foot from the top of the cliff.
EL ARENAL | party zone area close to Palma de Mallorca airport
Let me also mention the infamous EL ARENAL AREA with an endless SANDY BEACH, countless HOTELS and even more BARS and RESTAURANTS. The area is especially popular among GERMAN GUESTS, who come here to enjoy live music, beers and mingling with other like-minded German tourists. On top of this you get a full dose of water sports and other activities. Basically, for party-goers, this is definitely the number one choice, and everyone else who prefer a more quiet and local atmosphere should just avoid El Arenal completely.
So much for our visit to beautiful Mallorca. We successfully avoided all the infamous “party zones”, and instead enjoyed all the other natural and architectural sights and culinary delights. Mallorca really surprised in a positive way and there is actually really something for everyone – for all young people looking for fun, for those who like to be lazy on the beaches, as well as for those who prefer to discover some quieter corners and smaller bays. Also, all hikers and cyclists enthusiasts, lovers of history and architecture, those who like to rent a car or scooter and those who prefer organized excursions will not be disappointed. In Mallorca, renting a finca, a larger typical stone house often with an outside pool somewhere more in the countryside is a popular thing to do as well. We´ll surely be back one day!