Mallorca may be a favourite amongst sun-seeking travellers, but the isle offers so much more than just sun, sand, and sea for those willing to explore a little further.
The largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca is a Mediterranean paradise that blends Moorish architecture and distinctive Catalan idiosyncrasies. Catalan is the local language (or Mallorquí) and while Mallorca boasts plenty of Spanish qualities, its culture is undoubtedly distinctive.
For international flights, there is only one airport you can fly into and that is the Palma de Mallorca Airport, conveniently located in the middle of the island’s beating cultural heart, Palma. There’s plenty to explore in the city’s beautiful old town, which offers all the island’s key historical sites and an endless array of cool shops, gastropubs, and restaurants (not to mention the nightlife).
The best (and only) way to discover Mallorca is with a car – a convertible ideally – given that so many of the natural sites are spread across all corners of the island. From Palma, drive 33km north to see the magnificent Serra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage site stretching from the Andratx in the Southwest to the Cap de Formentor in the North-eastern part of the island.
There are plenty of Mallorca’s famous beautiful beaches to explore too. In the north, visit Cala Deia, a favourite beach amongst the international jet-set. In the South, there is Es Caragol, a secluded white-sand beach and a frequent haunt for locals in-the-know. A true hidden gem, Es Caragol is only accessible after a 20-minute walk through the coastal terrain of Ses Salines and is the perfect spot for watching the stars. It is the kind of place that you would never find on a tourist map and only discoverable if you venture far, far away from the hotel pool.
The Packing Edit
Nestled in the bucolic landscapes of the Serra de Tramuntana, on the island’s North-west coast, La Residencia, A Belmond Hotel boasts the same impeccable luxury standards you’d expect of any Belmond property, albeit with a Mallorcan twist. The hotel is surrounded by olive and citrus groves and is just a quick drive away from the village of Deià. Your senses will have plenty to feast on here with all the hotel’s gastronomic delights, art galleries, and cultural experiences on offer. Dinner at the El Olivo, elegantly housed in a medieval olive mill, is highly recommended and one of the best spots to watch a quintessential Mallorcan sunset. A meal at the Café Miro, surrounded by 33 different Joan Miró paintings, is a highlight for fans of the acclaimed Catalan painter. The hotel’s award-winning spa is a tranquil oasis and the ideal setting for a siesta, away from the searing heat of the Mediterranean sun.
Villa Sant Jordi, The Luxury Travel Book
To experience Mallorca like a local, find a villa that you can call your home away from home. The Luxury Travel Book offers an impressive portfolio of villas all over the Balearics, and the Villa Sant Jordi will certainly exceed your self-catering expectations. Ideally located amidst the beautiful countryside of Pollença, Villa Sant Jordi is a wonderfully private, fully serviced four-bedroom luxury villa, complete with its own pool. Villa Sant Jordi offers the best of both worlds and comes with a dedicated villa manager, maid services, in-house reception, and private chef – so you can enjoy the services of a hotel with the privacy of your own villa.
With an incredible cliffside location on Palma Bay, Cap Rocat is a hotel that celebrates the glory of Mallorca’s Moorish past. This former military fortress is the epitome of secluded luxury, offering wowing views of the coastline. Meticulously restored by Antonio Obrador, Cap Rocat comprises of twenty four luxury rooms, including two suites, seamlessly built into the building’s stone fortifications. It also has two incredible restaurants, La Fortaleza and Sea Club, which each offer excellent dining experiences in truly rarefied surroundings.
EAT + DRINK
This cool Mallorcan hotspot is the brainchild of Spanish restauranteur Tomás Tarruella, and part of the En Compañia de Lobos group, which has nine truly distinctive restaurants in Spain. With a wonderful curation of art and sculpture dotted around the space, it’s easy to mistake this buzzy, gastronomic gem for an art gallery. From menu to décor, Spot exudes the same eccentric spirit of Tomás, offering diners a culinary adventure unlike any other on the island.
Can Lluc abounds with rustic coastal charm and is much more accessible than its counterpart Ca’s Patro March in Cala Deia. With a simple menu dominated by fresh seafood, Can Lluc is your best bet for a last-minute meal in Cala Deia – even without a reservation. Be prepared to wait for a table, though with its idyllic beachside location, there are worse places in the world to stand in line.
Eclectic, buzzy, and in the heart of the bustling Santa Catalina district, Patrón Lunares is the perfect spot to go from dinner to pre-drinks to out-out. Back in the day, Patrón Lunares used to be the meeting place for sailors and fisherman in the local area and has since become a melting pot for Mallorca’s cool kids. The result of a collaboration between Mallorcan chef Javier Bonet and interior designer Perico Cortés, Patrón Lunares is a maelstrom of offbeat design details paying homage to the venue’s nautical past. Have a gander at the grand portraits of fishermen who used to frequent this spot, while sampling the contemporary Mallorcan menu. Patrón Lunares offers simple yet delicious dishes, sourced from the best local producers on the island. They also have a pretty ingenious cocktail menu.
If you are looking to experience the very best of authentic Mallorcan cuisine, then venture up the hills of Génova and check out Casa Jacinto. With a breathtaking cliffside location, Casa Jacinto is an institution of traditional Mallorcan cooking and is well-loved by locals and tourists alike. Here, you can indulge in dishes like Mallorcan caracoles (snails), frit mallorqui (fried vegetables with liver), and arroz brut (a stew with all sorts of meats and vegetables). Oh, and did we mention that Casa Jacinto has an extensive 200-wine cellar too?
Sail around the Mallorcan coast
When visiting Mallorca, sailing is an absolute must-do. Set sail for a sunset cruise armed with a few bottles of Spanish wine and all the raw ingredients for a Trampo (a traditional Mallorcan salad). Set off from Palma de Mallorca with a view of the gothic La Seu cathedral in the distance, and sail all the way to the Playa del Mago, before anchoring your boat and jumping in for a swim.
Visit the Fundació Miró Mallorca
Get your culture fix at the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca, a cultural institution that celebrates the life and art of one of Spain’s most prolific painters. The museum is in Miró’s former Mallorcan art studio, where he lived and worked for 30 years. The building, offering just as much to see inside as it does outside, is an architectural marvel. The Sert Studio and Son Boter were designed by Miro’s friends, architect Josep Lluís Sert and Rafael Moneo respectively – and have been declared as ‘Items of Cultural Heritage’. Inside, there is a vast collection of Miró’s work and also plenty of interactive exhibitions that shine light on the creative processes behind Miró’s vast repertoire.
Es Caragol is one of Mallorca’s lesser-known beaches, which means that it is largely free from crowds. The beach is also free of any man-made interventions, so you better come prepared with plenty of water and snacks. We recommend bringing some berberechos, a Mallorcan version of cockles and crisps, for an easy picnic and plenty of cerveza (beer) to keep you cool. Es Caragol can only be accessed after a twenty-minute walk from the lighthouse of Ses Salines but is so worth the trek.
Watch the sunset at Sa Foradada
Sa Foradada is the name of a very peculiar keyhole shaped rock formation in Mallorca’s North-west coast. Easily accessible between Valldemossa and Deià, Sa Foradada is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to watch the sunset. It is also the home of a well-loved paella restaurant, Restaurant Foradada, which overlooks the rock formations and offers unforgettable views of the Mediterranean Sea.