Why to visit Mallorca?
Mallorca has been consistently popular with holidaymakers for over half a century – so what is its secret? Geographically, Mallorca consists of a fertile plain sandwiched between two mountain ranges: the spectacular Serra de Tramuntana to the north and the Serres de Llevant to the south. Mallorca is also known from long sandy beaches and shallow, warm seas.
What to visit?
Palma de Mallorca
While beach holidays have traditionally been Mallorca’s stock-in-trade, its capital Palma has been carving out a niche as an up-and-coming city destination. Serious cultural attractions like the Pilar and Joan Miro Foundation, the stunning cathedral and the La Almundaina palace mix with pleasant public parks, a charming, pedestrianized old town and a buzzing harbor. You can easily spend a whole day in this city and you won’t be bored.
Sóller by vintage train
The wooden train from Palma to the pretty town of Sóller, 17 miles away to the north, follows a pretty route through the string of tunnels which cut through the Tramuntana mountains, passing a landscape of pine forests, olive groves and citrus orchards.The line was built a century ago so that farmers could bring their oranges and lemons to Palma to sell at the market. After a stroll around Sóller, looking at the grandiose Art Nouveau houses and maybe doing a bit of shopping in the many upmarket craft shops, have an ice cream or a snack in the Plaça Constitució, the main square. Then take the tram down to Port de Sóller for lunch in the harbour or by the beach.
The mysteries town-Pollença
At the eastern end of the Serra de Tramuntana and tucked between two hills, each topped by a sacred site, Pollenca is the perfect Mallorcan town. Large enough to avoid being twee but small enough to wander round in a morning, it has none of the feel of other towns which have succumbed under the sheer weight of tourism. Pollenca is a delightful place to wander around. The town is filled with characterful lanes that wind around little squares – you will notice how spotlessly clean the whole place is. The main square, Placa Major is home to the 18th century Nostra Senyora Del Angels church with it’s rather fabulous rose window.
Cap de Formentor
This wild peninsula on Mallorca’s northeast tip has stunning views, sandy beaches and the island’s original luxury hotel. The 20-km drive from Port de Pollenca to Mallorca’s most northerly point has scenery as dramatic as anyone could wish for. Cliffs 400 metres tall jut into the sea, their weird rock formations attracting nesting seabirds, while pine trees seem to grow out of the rocks.
The drive is also famously scary. A local legend has it that the parish priest and the local bus driver arrived at the Pearly Gates and only the driver was admitted to heaven. The reason? He had led far more people to pray.
The road continues through pine woods and past more view points (each one helpfully indicated with a picture of an old-fashioned camera) before tunnelling through En Fumat mountain, where you look down over Mallorca’s most inaccessible beach. Eventually you reach a lighthouse with the inevitable bar and shop and more stunning views, all the way to Menorca on a good day.
Caves d’ Arta
These caves, near Arta in the north east of Mallorca are a fascinating network of underground caverns, whose weird stalactites and stalagmites conjure up mysterious images of Heaven and Hell. An early visitor was Jules Verne; the caves are said to have inspired his Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Now that the caves are a sanitised tourist attraction, it is hard to imagine how French geologist Edouard Martel felt when he first stepped into them in 1876 – dark, mysterious and terrifying! In fact they had been known about for centuries; Jaume I found 2,000 Arabs hiding here with their cattle during the Christian conquest and they were later used by hermits, pirates and smugglers. But it was Martel who first studied and chronicled these grottoes at the instigation of Archduke Ludwig Salvator.
The guided tour comes with special effects and the various chambers are given Dantesque names – Hell, Purgatory, Paradise. The descent into Hell is swifty followed by a ‘son et lumiere’ display. Stalactites hang down from the high arched roof like daggers defying gravity.
Alcudia & Arta
The medieval town of Alcúdia is the island’s largest tourist hub in the north. Located on a peninsula that separates the bays of Pollença and Alcúdia, it boasts a beautiful medieval centre as well as an authentic local atmosphere.
Many of Mallorca’s oldest settlements were built several miles inland to provide protection against marauding pirates, while their port and coastal areas were only developed in more recent times as tourism became a major source of income for the island.
Alcúdia is a perfectly restored walled city on the site of a Roman settlement, with remains of Roman houses and an amphitheatre. This is a gem of a place, a maze of narrow streets enclosed by medieval ramparts that have been carefully restored as part of Mallorca’s new tourist image. A couple of new boutique hotels have sprung up, and modern gastronomic restaurants provide a really interesting dining experience.
Artà is a prosperous little town near the north-east coast of Mallorca that gets particularly lively each Tuesday, which is market day. Situated in a valley in the centre of the Llevant region, Artà is surrounded by mountains and beautiful countryside, as well as very close to the coast. This ancient town has a beautiful fortress and a small church. Having stayed relatively untouched by mass tourism, Artà is a great destination to discover the authentic rural Mallorca.
Don’t forget about the most important from what Mallorca is well known- beautiful beaches. I truly recommend you to drive around and find your favorite spot.