Mallorca is such a wonderful destination for a holiday offering something for everyone – exploring, outdoors, superb beaches, winding roads and sweeping views. From the cliffs of the east coast to trendy, cosmopolitan Palma. Mallorca is top of our list as a recommendation.
We decided to stay in the old town of Palma. Depending on what you want out of your holiday – this should guide where you stay. If you want to be close to the night life, I would recommend staying within easy access of Palma or within Palma itself. If you want a complete beach holiday, look to one of the beach areas like Port de Soller or the east coast. Then there are the agrituourismo’s within the country side and the town of Soller, Deia and Valdemossa which ooze charm and beauty in their own ways. Because we only had 4 days and it was not quite yet beach weather (April), our base in Palma was perfect.
Hiring a car for Mallorca is a highly recommended to make the most out of your trip but it’s best to check with your accommodation whether parking is offered (plus aircon). Within easy reach from the airport, Palma is around 10-15 minutes by car.
What initiated our Mallorcan trip was Phil’s friend from Cape Town, Dean Cottle who worked on the yachts and was based in Palma out of season. It was wonderful to meet Dean (aka Dingo) and have our very own local tour guide – I know we wouldn’t have found our way to half the places we did if it weren’t for Dingo – so thank you!
After looking at various options, we settled on an AirBnb apartment on a quiet street in the old town of Palma within easy walking distance to city sights and restaurants. Unfortunately this apartment is no longer available but AirBnb has lots of options.
On our first night, we met Dean at a great bar in a bustling little square called Placa de la Llotja. He had already organised dinner at El Neo restaurant and what a way to start our trip, sharing tapas and sipping on cocktails – a visit to this restaurant is a must finished off with a gelato from Rivareno Heladaria. From here we took a slow stroll under the lime trees along the Passeig d’es Born boulevard until we got to the beautiful La Seu cathedral which is worth viewing at night when it is all lit up. For a night cap we stopped at the sky bar at hotel Cuba, a rooftop bar offering views over the port area where we sat soaking up the sea breeze and you could feel the hum of Palma’s nightlife only just coming to life.
The next day we met again for our grand tour of the west coast. We stopped for breakfast in Port Adriano, a rather exclusive port about 10 minutes out of Palma. Hugging the coast from here, we popped into one quaint bay after another to get our first glimpse of the island’s famous beaches. As you head towards the west coast, pine trees engulf you until you appear on a breathtaking coastal road high above the sparkling sea. A must stop is Es Grau with brilliant views – cyclists all seemed to have the same idea and we all felt rather lazy sitting amongst them. Another great spot is Restaurant dalt des Coll – I would recommend planning a lunch here.
From here we had decided to head inland to a lunch spot, Es Verger which I’d seen in a Rick Stein programme. After an hour’s rather gruelling drive to reach the restaurant, we finally made it. With simple seating inside or outside a white-painted building, we ordered a bottle of their homemade wine and the specialialty, slow cooked lamb served with roast potatoes – it was delicious and the reason so many tourists and locals visit this authentically rustic spot and tackle the narrow winding road. You can also walk from Alaro itself, about 90 minutes.
After lunch we slowly made our way back to Palma squeezing in a quick swim at Illetas beach.
That night we had dinner at Dukes restaurant in Santa Catalina. On our way we made a quick whirlwind stop at Zara (one of the best I’ve been to) and stumbled across Baluard contemporary art museum with a restaurant and bar – great find for sundowners, overlooking the port. Dukes restaurant was a great choice with a laid back but stylish atmosphere and delicious flavours – the highlights being the fish tacos and the crispy duck and raw vegetable salad. Santa Catalina is a lively area with lots of bars and a bohemian feel.
The next day Phil and I headed straight for Formentor lighthouse as it’s recommended you do this first thing in the morning to avoid the queues. The earlybirds had already beaten us to it and as we drove for over an hour on rather tricky narrow roads manouvering past cyclists, we caught a glimpse of the lighthouse. We decided not to wait in the queue so after a quick walk around, we left to explore more of the West coast.
We started in Soller which was one of my highlights. We strolled around the quaint, rustic stone village before hopping on the vintage tram which takes you down to Port du Soller – a great way to reach the port as you wind through lemon and olive groves. Soller has lovely cafes, art galleries and a popular Saturday market. Picturesque Port du Soller is another beautiful spot and probably a place I’d recommend staying if you have longer on the island. With trendy restaurants lining the promenade and a beautiful beach, Port du Soller is a real gem and Hotel Esplendido looks like a lovely place to stay.
Unfortunately we hadn’t quite got the hang of parking tickets yet and arrived back to our car to find a ticket but after a quick visit to the bank, we posted off our fine in the nearby postbox and that was the end of it. A rather tricky system to navigate at first but easy enough to get the hang of.
Soller can also be reached via rail on Tren de Soller along an attractive route through the Mallorcan countryside and takes about an hour. You can combine your train and tram tickets from Soller to Port du Soller and if we didn’t have a car I would definitely have made a day of this.
From Soller we visited Deia – a small coastal village characterised by its green shutters and cobbled streets. Probably the prettiest and most charming village on the island, it has apparently attracted artists for many years and has become quite the celebrity haunt. Pop into Belmond Hotel Residencia where Princess Diana once holidayed for tea or a sundowner. From Deia you can walk or drive down to Cala Deia (walk takes about 30 minutes) and dine at one of the two restaurants for lunch. Lunch at Cala Deia’s Ca’s Patro March was another highlight with an unforgettable setting and delicious fresh seafood.
As the afternoon was drawing to a close we made a quick visit to Valdemossa which is another must stop. Perfect for strolling around and discovering the village charms with a gelato in hand. It easy to feel worlds away from bustling Palma and recommended to visit on Sundays for the market.
For our final night we met Dean at San Juan Gastronomic market in Palma. This was another example of Palma’s thriving food scence and all it has to offer. The market combines different spaces and food on offer and is open every day. Santa Catalina market (closed Sundays) is another market with great bars for tapas and Mallorcan wine. Some other great restaurant finds were La Molienda, l’ambigu and La Bodeguilla tapas bar as well as Hotel Sant Francesc’s rooftop.
With time not on our side, we weren’t able to get to some of the spots that we had we planned to visit on the North and East coast and I think if we can visit again in the summer months, this is where the white sandy beaches lie. Mallorca is also a great place for hiking so do take a look at some of the trails available and equally more and more competitive cyclists are flocking to Mallorca’s shores to take on the winding ascents. For the more amateur or leisurely cyclist, there are plenty of bicycle rentals along the promenade.
What I remember most about Mallorca was the smells that lingered in the air – A mixture of the sea, lemons, orange blossoms and Wisteria. The beautiful light, blue ocean hues and vistas – Mallorca is absolutely beautiful and and I loved soaking it all in.
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Travelling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station’. – Lisa St. Aubin de Teran