Caribbean feeling in the middle of Europe. You think this is not possible? Here you will find authentic travel tips to fully enjoy this beautiful island Mallorca.
You might already know the Spanish island Mallorca, one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. But you might not know why this island is so special and definitely not worth its reputation of only being a party island. I was lucky to stay on this island during winter and could therefore experience the real Mallorca while learning a lot about the Majorcan culture and its customs.
What is it about the Majorcan language?
First, you need to know that besides Castellano, normal Spanish, the inhabitants have their own language called Majorcan. This language sounds like a combination of Spanish, French and Portuguese. You will also find many street signs written in Majorcan, kids learn this language in school, and it is throughout used in university, too.
Everyone understands Castellano but of course especially the older generation is flattered if you know some Majorcan words e.g. bon dia. After the end of the government under Franco, the Balearic Islands received the status of an autonomous region of Spain in 1983, which also led to the fact that Majorcan could be spoken again. From that time, they kept it and used it as their primary language.
How touristic is it really?
As the tourism during summer grew enormously the Majorcans try to seclude and to distance themselves from main tourist attractions at least in their private time. Of course, tourism is both a curse and a blessing. It has brought a lot of money to the island and thus strengthened the economy. However, mass tourism has also brought some challenges. If cruise ships arrive in Palma, it can get very uncomfortable to stroll through the city. Therefore my first travel tip is to experience the real Mallorca in the months October till April.
Why winter is perfect for visiting this island?
The winter months in Mallorca are very quiet in comparison to the busy life in summer. It is the time to calm down, to spend time with family and friends, to renovate houses, and to celebrate festivals. There are festivals to drive away the evil spirits, to celebrate the harvest, festivals with religious background or simply festivals to come together and enjoy the time together. In any case, it is worthwhile to look where which festival takes place and to visit it.
As it already gets colder in September in the European countries, in Mallorca the sun still pampers the skin with a mild warm. You mostly can still enjoy the late summer temperatures and have a swim with significant fewer people. The sea around Mallorca is often clear and the water has this magnificent turquoise color like in the Caribbean Sea. You just need to know where to go. Especially the south coast offers great spots, but also Muro beach in the north of the island is great.
The Mediterranean climate ensures that it’s not getting freezing and sun can be catched all year long. For people who like sports this is a paradise, you can go for a run, do some hiking, play golf the whole year. The winter also brings some rainy days and these get uncomfortable as of the high humidity. Therefore, make sure to have some kind of heater in your apartment.
During winter you can explore many things in Mallorca from beaches to nature adventures, from sightseeing to food tasting. Your trip will be accompanied by the scent of pine and sea breeze. While driving over the island you will always find perfect photo shots of olive trees, orange and lemon trees, Majorcan houses with its nicely colored window shutters and in between you will most likely find some windmills.
From End of January till approx. middle of March you can admire the almond blossom. These trees charm with its white pinkish flowers and can be found all over the island. There are trees in the area of Valldemossa or Santanyi, but also when you drive along the Tramuntana mountains. Spring is in the air and the sunshine, the green lawn and these beautiful trees will give you an excellent motivation kick. You definitely have to taste the nice almond cake you get here on Mallorca, it is really delicious.
The island has a lot of spots which need to be discovered. I will divide my travel tips into the four cardinal points of the island starting with the capital Palma:
The capital Palma
Palma is mostly just a day trip location for tourists but if you have the chance to visit Palma during winter it is definitely worth to stay longer and explore the real Mallorca. While sitting in a café, doing some shopping, admiring the beautiful architecture you will definitely feel the special atmosphere this city offers.
How to leave the airport?
When you arrive by plane you will love the close position of the airport. With the public bus it only takes 20 minutes, and you will arrive at Plaça d’Espanya. I would always recommend using the bus, of course it isn’t as cheap as it was many years ago but still a lot cheaper and an excellent way to get to the city center. An alternative is to rent a car before, which also works very well. I always had very good experiences with billiger-mietwagen.de.
Either you can pick up the car directly at the airport or there is a bus shuttle from the airport to the car pick-up station. Both works well and is trained over years. Driving by yourself is not a problem on the island, you have many roundabouts less traffic and the islanders are quite safe drivers.
Nice walking tour through Palma city center
From Plaça d’Espanya you follow the little streets in the direction of the cathedral, there you find the city center with all its shops. If you are interested in food markets, make sure you visit the Mercat d’Oliver. A nice small street with little shops is also Carrer del Sindicat which is located parallel to the main street. In the middle of the center of Palma you find the square Plaça Major. You will definitely once come here, while exploring the city as all streets somehow lead to this square.
Leaving the Plaça Major behind you, you will find a typical Majorcan bakery Forn Ca Na Teresa where you definitely should try the “Ensaimada” a sweet pastry with a little sugar on top. Following the street you will find many souvenir shops where you can buy typical Majorcan things like flores de sal, typical salt from the island, olive oil, olives, natural made beauty products and so on.
The end of the city tour is the fabulous Cathedral of Palma, from there you have a nice view over the Cathedral park to the sea. It is definitely worth staying there some time and watch the scenic.
If you now look for a nice place to have some drinks and some good tapas I would recommend going to the district La Lonja, which is quite close to the Cathedral. There you also find one of my favorite tapas bars called “La Lonja”. You can try different tapas, the classic choice of the tortilla isn’t bad at all. Also, a nice choice is the various “garritos”, some tiny baguette topped with different selections, yummy! Combining your tapas with a “café con leche”, a typical milk coffee in Mallorca, or a “vino blanco/rojo”, white/red wine brings this to a perfect match. You sit on a nice square with two other restaurants, palm trees and the beginning of the harbor in front of you.
Nightlife in Palma
If you also stay overnight in Palma, it is definitely great to go to the “ruta de tapas” or also called “Ruta Martiana”. People meet with friends in different bars in the area of Plaça d’En Coll district Sa Gerreria. You get wine and beer in small glasses with “pintxos”, a slide of baguette topped with something delicious. It is very cheap and the atmosphere is great as everyone is on the street, having a chat and just enjoying the after work drinks. Usually it takes place Tuesday and Thursday from 7 pm depending on the season.
Afterwards you can go to Paseo Maritimo, this is the street next to the harbor, either to grab an ice cream and stroll along the harbor or visit another bar e.g. Bar Cuba. If you want to go out dancing it is also the place to be, but keep in mind in Spain we start late. Before 12/1 am there won’t be anyone celebrating with you.
Surrounding of Palma
Around Palma you have nice beaches as well, where you don’t need to have a car. You can take the public bus and ride for example to Playa Illetes, which is a really nice bay with a restaurant. In summer it is getting really crowed, but off-season it is a great place to spend some time. If you don’t want to go this far, you can always go to the city beach of Palma.
A nice and very long walkway starts in Palma and follows till Arenal. It is the place for walkers, joggers, skateboarders as it is a perfect place to do some sports outside next to the beach. You will also find some beach bars right at the beginning where you can get some sun and have a nice cool drink with it.
My favorite section is “El Molinar”, which starts after Portixol, the little harbor, and ends before Can Pastilla. You find nice cafés and restaurants along the beach boardwalk, people taking their dog for a walk, enjoying the sun at the beach or just doing some sports. Really nice colorful houses are placed first-row at the beach, a perfect place to live don’t you think?!
A good way to explore the island is to have a look on the typical markets which take place all over the island. Every day there is a market in another town. You should go in the mornings as they mostly close around lunchtime. After visiting, you definitely got the chance to buy some nice fruits for the day, vegetables for cooking, or you just enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the marketplace while drinking a café con leche.
My travel tips: South coast of Mallorca
You definitely need to go to Playa Es Trenc, which is a long, white sandy beach in the middle of a nature reserve. The water has its turquoise color and invites for swimming. A lot of boats and yachts also visit this perfect spot. There is one restaurant where you can get something to eat and drink, but it is also very common to take some picnic with you. On the way to the beach you pass the salt factory Ses Salines flor de sal de Mallorca. You can explore how they get salt out of the seawater in a guided tour or go shopping some salt in their shopping store.
Another great stop in the southern region is the Playa Cala Pi. By walking down the stairs to this awesome place you already get a glimpse how nice it is. A small bay is situated within the cliff walls and give a mostly windless sunbath. Some former fisher boat garages fit in the idyllically surrounding of this place. Now it’s time to just enjoy and relax.
If you are a dog lover, or you are interested to get to know some very ambitious people, check out the Welpenstation of Mallorca. Claudia and Stefan own a voluntary station for rescued dogs, especially puppies. They are very open-minded and love to show their fantastic finca where they in peak times take care of around 30 puppies, which are brought from the island to their place. They take care of their health, bringing them to the veterinarian and trying to find a new home for them. I had the pleasure to do an interview about their lifestyle story, very inspiring! Check out the video here.
My travel tips: East coast of Mallorca
Here you will find many tourist attractions, on which I won’t focus as you will get this typical information out of every tourism guide. Many towns are extinct and look like ghost towns in winter as they were just built up for tourism. A beautiful town that is alive even in winter is Santanyi. The inner city does offer nice houses and little streets full of cafés, shops and restaurants.
In winter time the market on Saturday is worth going to as there are fewer people coming. In summer it can get packed. If you are looking for a nice spot to work from, there is also one of its Coworking spaces in Mallorca. Doris and Rainer will surely give you all information about conditions and working possibilities at Rayaworx.
Also the nature and its beaches are definitely worth to be highlighted. The little port Cala Figuera and close to it the Playa Es Llombard are just amazing. In the Mondragón national park, which is close to Santanyi, offers nice walking trails and also two very natural beaches: Playa de s’Amarador and Cala Mondragó. More up north there is the Playa Cala Agulla which also is a fantastic beach to relax.
My travel tips: North coast of Mallorca
The surrounding up north in Mallorca is very natural. You find natural reserves, little towns, and the surfers love the waves the coast offers. Therefore, it is also windier than in other locations of the island.
You’ll find Alcudia the oldest city of Mallorca. It is a nice town where you can also walk on top of the castle walls which surround the heart of Alcudia. From Alcudia it is worth driving to Victoria, a peninsula close to Alcudia. Nice beaches, summer houses and also a delicious Majorcan restaurant La Terraza can be found here. You can try the typical Paellas, have some nice fish or just enjoy a drink on their bistro terrace.
If you look for another very natural beach you can go to Formentor. It is a winding approach, but you won’t regret it. You can choose between Playa de Formentor, Playa Cala Murta and Playa Cala Figuera. Of course, the Cap de Formentor a light house at the end of the peninsula offers a fantastic view over the ocean.
I really like the markets in the towns Pollença and Sa Pobla. The little villages are getting alive and all Majorcans meet on the market place. But also without any market, here you can feel the real Majorcan air. In Pollença definitely walk up the stairs to the little chapel, usually there is a musician who perfectly accompanies the view.
One very famous photo shot is the pier at Playa Muro. A lot of hotels also liked this spot a lot and settled at this beach. In summer it can get quite crowded. But in winter you can enjoy a nice beach walk on the white sandy beach and not getting enough of the turquoise blue water.
While driving further east you’ll come to the village Son Serra de Marina. Majorcans and foreigners do have their summer houses here. It is not only worth visiting for watching houses, but also for enjoying the natural beach which reachs from Can Picafort to Colonia de Sant Pere. Don’t miss the coastal walk which offers a 11 km beach trail. People come to Son Serra to walk their dogs, have picnic, surfers wait for the right wave and cafés offer a perfect place to enjoy and to let the soul dangle.
Next to the beautiful beach area of the north there is the national park La Peninsula De Llevant. Many nice trails can be done here. On one way you mostly catch the breathtaking costal view. My two favorite walks are the hike to Torre d’Albarca and the hike to Punta d’es Caló. After a nice walk you can then get yourself some cold drinks or tapas in the town Artà, which is located close by. You find nice cafés and restaurants, little shops and a very recommended viewpoint the sanctuary of Sant Salvador, surrounded by the dominant fortress walls.
My travel tips: West coast of Mallorca
The west is known for its Tramuntana mountains. It is a very hilly region with nice mountain villages and beautiful views into the landscape and to the ocean. The main street MA-10 is a definitely must-visit on the island. The coast street follows the ocean and gives you spectacular views. There are many stops where you can enjoy nature and its beauty.
You will also pass the villages Deía and Valldemossa, both quite touristic places, but in off-season definitely worth to go for a walk. The little streets with its Majorcan houses and flower pots are very cute. No wonder that many artists have spent time here.
If you want to do some sports the hiking trail from Sollér to Deía is a really nice opportunity. It takes around 3 hours one way, and you can return with the public bus to Sollér. You will pass old fincas, see many orange and lemon trees, have an enormous view into the mountains and over the ocean.
I hope you get a glimpse of all the possibilities this island offers to you. My travel tips show that you can find such a variety of nature and explore the real Mallorca just while wandering around with open eyes. Each person, from young to old, can follow his passion, hobbies and interests which can be sports (e.g. kiting, wind surfing, sailing, hiking, running, golfing), sightseeing (e.g. museums, significant buildings, factories, old towns), nature observations (e.g. biological diversity, bird watching, diving) or just time to relax.