To be honest, I was a bit sceptical about Mallorca. I associated this Balearic island mainly with drunk English tourists, German beer bellies, espadrilles (and, of course, Bassie & Adriaan, the famous Dutch clown and acrobat). Ok, I know these prejudices are rather obvious…sorry! ;-). However, I was eager to discover this island, especially because I think its little sister, Ibiza, is too well known and I thought it would be interesting to show you the other side of Mallorca instead.
And there is another side to it indeed, one that was beyond my wildest dreams….this island is surprisingly diverse! And my quest for potential Local Hideaways substantiated this: I discovered one beautiful spot after another – it soon became clear that I had some decisions to make. For a while I toyed with the idea of visiting the neighbouring island Menorca, but I soon abandoned this plan for lack of time. Next time!
So, Mallorca it was, the largest of the Balearic islands, and with the most sunshine hours, making it a lovely destination almost all year round. Its capital, Palma de Mallorca, or Palma for short, is located on the south-west coast. Let’s start here! For I have a soft spot for large cities that are located by the beach: the perfect mix of beach and urban entertainment…. It is the reason why so many Spaniards go here for a city trip….which is saying something, considering all the great cities on the Spanish mainland.
And I can certainly confirm this: Palma is a fantastic city. You can shop till you drop, the cathedral is breathtakingly beautiful, there is a wealth of culinary delights, it is lovely to be strolling through the various neighbourhoods and no shortage of terraces on which to settle down. A definite must-go-to for foodies is the mercat de l’Olivar. And of course there is the sea…..Tip: try to plan your visits to the highlights early in the morning, before the large cruise ships arrive and release their passengers. A bit off the beaten track is the Santa Catalina neighbourhood. This is where you will find a wonderful covered market: Mercat de Santa Catalina, but also a large variety of quaint little shops, bars and restaurants….and, what’s more, considerably fewer tourists! In order to offer you the best of both worlds when it comes to Local Hideaways in Palma, I decided to find you two. Hotel Cort is a wonderful ‘urban retreat’ right in the centre of Palma, with its own trendy restaurant/bar/terrace. And if you prefer a beach hotel just outside the city, Portixol Hotel will be perfect for you.
High time to leave the city life behind and discover the island. Driving north, I thoroughly enjoy the beautiful landscape while passing the foothills of the imposing Serra de Tramuntana. The surroundings here are almost magical. No wonder it was declared a UNESCO world Heritage site! I end up in Campanet at Monnàber Vell: a lovely luxurious agroturismo, that will make you lose all sense of time and where you can relax completely. The surroundings are perfect for taking long walks (for every kind of hiker) and when darkness falls, you will be spell-bound by the many stars – a magical spot! But it is also the perfect base to discover the northern part of Mallorca. Pollença, for instance, is certainly worth a visit, there are many beaches nearby and the Alcudia peninsula, with L’Ermita de Victoria, is not only a wonderful viewing point but also great for hiking.
I finish my trip to Mallorca with a visit to the relatively unspoilt east coast of the island. There are many so-called ‘Calas’ here: beautiful small sandy beach coves, hidden between the cliffs. Even in the high season, you will always be able to find one that is nice and quiet. But this side of the island also boasts some lovely old fortified towns, for instance Capdepera with its 14th Century castle, offering a stunning view so that, when the weather is clear, you can see as far as the neighbouring island Menorca. The city of Artá, also close-by, is another must-see.
Mrs. Local Hideaways wouldn’t be Mrs. Local Hideaways if she didn’t make a d-tour to get to a genuine Hideaway. Cases Son Barbassa distinguishes itself by its original view of agroturismo, and on this 100,000m2 estate, bordering the Llevant National Park, you will find a contemporary rural retreat where you will be pampered to your heart’s content.
Mallorca is an absolute must, of course there are some places you would do better to avoid, especially in the high season, but it’s a large island, so you’ll be ok! I would definitely recommend renting a car and to go exploring.
Overwhelming nature, a bustling city life, perfect beaches, challenging outdoor activities, a true paradise for foodies and fiesta: this Spanish island has it all!
Esther van Onna – Founder Local Hideaways. February 2016
Local Hideaways Mallorca: www.localhideaways.com