Mallorca | Travel Guide
Be holiday ready...
Update May 24: Spain (including the Balearics and Canary Islands) has been added to England's amber list. Mallorca is currently open to UK visitors.
UK visitors are not required to take a test to enter the Balearic Islands (including Mallorca) or mainland Spain. Visitors to the Canaries may need a test, please see our Canaries guide for more details
When you're there:
Mallorca currently has a curfew between midnight and 6am. Bars and restaurants are open but only outdoor seating is allowed. Shops are open with a capacity of up to 50%. Access to beaches is allowed during the day, but they will be closed at night.
Traffic light status:
Spain and her islands are on England's amber list.
Mallorca Travel Guide
Hola! This is our Mallorca travel guide, the best place to find out everything you need to know before you travel.
Many of us might picture Mallorca the same way – Magaluf and package holidays. And although Mallorca does cater for those just looking to relax by the pool with a jug of sangria, it barely scratches the surface of what's on offer.
Here's what to expect from our Mallorca travel guide:
- Some facts about Mallorca
- A better start with Holiday Extras
- Travelling to Mallorca
- Travelling around Mallorca
- What's the food like in Mallorca?
- Things to do in Mallorca
Some facts about Mallorca
Mallorca is the largest of Spain's Balearic Islands. Its location in the Mediterranean means the sun shines all year round, so it's hugely popular with tourists from all over the world. The island has a population of just over 900,000 people, but a staggering 28 million pass through the Palma de Mallorca airport every year.
Many come to Mallorca for the glow of its white sandy beaches, like those at Magaluf and Palmanova. But theres something here for everyone. A short hop from the coast, Mallorca's landscape is dominated by two mountain ranges: the Serra de Tramuntana in the west and the Serra de Llevant in the east. Both ranges are criss-crossed with roads, allowing you to go on some pretty scenic drives – or you could take another route. Mallorca attracts around 150,000 cycling tourists every year, and there are dozens of hiking routes mapped across the island too.
But if hiking and cycling isn't your pace, you'll feel at home in the intimate and picturesque villages that are scattered throughout the green mountain ranges. Isolated towns like Valldemossa and Sóller offer room to breathe from the busy beaches. You can enjoy delicious Mallorcan cuisine, sample historic culture and the arts, or just watch the sun pass the surrounding hilltops as you enjoy a glass of spanish wine.
So grab your passport and sunnies and let us show you the best Mallorca has to offer.
A better start with Holiday Extras
Any start to a trip with Holiday Extras is going to be a good one, which was exactly the case when we went to Mallorca.
Our team travelled to Mallorca via Stansted. Arriving in good time, we dropped off our checked luggage and made our way to the Escape Lounge, ready to fuel up for the journey ahead.
Mallorca is a 2-hour, 1,000-mile flight from London and you'll land Palma de Mallorcsa, which is where our guide starts.
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Keep up to date with everywhere you can travel this summer.
Travelling to Mallorca
Mallorca's only commercial airport is Palma de Mallorca,located only 5 miles away from the island's capital city. This means you're not short of ways to get to Palma and beyond. Here are some of your best options:
- The Palma Metro runs directly from the airport and serves 9 different stops throughout the city. Just bear in mind that the metro only operates between 6.15am and 11pm. For more information, routes and maps take a look at their website.
- The bus departs from within the airport, with Route 1 leading to Palma city. This is the cheapest option for getting to Palma, setting you back €1.85 per adult, but not the most convenient if you have lots of luggage.
- A taxi will take you directly from the airport to your accommodation, with ranks outside of arrivals. Generally, taxi charges are charged per kilometre with a minimum charge. The prices also change depending on the time of day or whether it's a public holiday.
- We decided to get an airport transfer. A short walk from arrivals, we were greeted by our driver with what was effectively a private minibus for the 3 of us. The extra space for our luggage and the cool air conditioning was very welcome. And with airport transfer prices starting from €9.88 through Holiday Extras, it was a no-brainer.
Travelling around Mallorca
Although you can get around the island on public transport, we went for the freedom that only a hire car gives you. We rented an electric car and it became clear pretty quickly that it's the best way to experience Mallorca. Here are a few reasons why…
Electric car hire in Mallorca
We opted for a BMW i3. Most electric cars are automatic, as was the case here, so it took us a little while to get used to. The first we noticed though, was how quiet it was, even at higher speeds. This was one of the unexpected benefits we discovered on location, as it meant we could enjoy the picturesque views and serenity without the roar of the engine.
Another great incentive for renting an electric car in Mallorca is the extensive free parking options. To encourage more people to ditch their petrol-powered car in favour for a greener option, the Mallorcan authorities allow permit parking in any bay marked by blue lines. This includes plenty of on-street spaces in Palma and beyond, so you're less likely to need paid car parks.
It's also worth remembering the environmental benefit of choosing an electric car over its traditional counterpart. In an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the island, the Mallorcan government is hoping to be all electric by 2050, and your choice of vehicle can help them achieve this goal.
To learn more about our experiences hiring an electric car in Mallorca, take a listen to our sustainable travel podcast - Green On The Go. We discuss everything you need to know before hitting the road on your next holiday.
What's the food like in Mallorca?
If you're looking for a culinary adventure beyond the all-inclusive buffet, Mallorca has a wealth of options to enjoy. Here's some picks from our time there…
If you're craving something traditional (and sweet) for brunch, you have to try an ensaïmada, a Mallorcan pastry that dates from the 17th century. With a choice of chocolate or fruit fillings, the pastries are so good they've been awarded protected status by the EU.
Whatever your tastes might be, you won't find a better evening meal than among the trendy little restaurants, cafes and stores of one of Palma's most stylish neighborhoods - Santa Catalina.
Santa Catalina is one of the city's most popular districts. A cultural revival of this already culturally rich area has made it popular with those looking for fancy cuisine, diversity and exciting nightlife.
If you're a foodie, you'll want for nothing in Santa Catalina. It's the perfect place to sample Spanish and Mallorcan dishes, but it's also the best place to grab food from all over the world - Indian, French, Italian, Thai, Mexican - you can find it all here in some of the highest-rated restaurants in Palma.
But if you're not quite ready for a sit down meal, try the Mercat de Santa Catalina, Palma's oldest food market. It's a great mix of old and new - the grocers sell locally sourced produce like they have for generations, but the building is also outlined by cool market bars - and even a sushi restaurant!
As we all know, holiday calories don't count, meaning there's never a better time to indulge in some sweet treats.
Aside from ensaïmadas, no trip to Mallorca would be complete without one of their orange-based desserts. First brought to the island from the Middle East during the middle ages, oranges have become a staple of not only the Mallorcan palette, but also the landscape, with Sóller's Valle de los Naranjos (Vale of the Orange Trees) being a sight (and scent) to behold.
You really can't go wrong when it comes to your choice of dessert, but an Orange Sóller takes some beating. It's cocktail of fresh orange juice, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
Things to do in Mallorca
We've covered how to get around and what to eat. Next is the fun stuff – where should you go and what should you do?
If you flew to Mallorca, Palma would be your first experience of the island, and although many quickly zip through on route to the beach, the capital has plenty to offer in its own right.
Port de Palma
The Port of Palma is the biggest port in the Balearic Islands. The port serves all kinds – commercial cargo, recreational sailing, fishing, and private boat hire. The wealth of facilities and attractions here have lead it to become one of the most important cruise ports in the Mediterranean - you can expect to see a few enormous and luxurious cruise ships docked here. Many travellers even fly to Palma to start their cruises there.
If you decide to take a stroll along the promenade, keep an eye for out cats on the beach. The local population is well looked after by volunteers and charity groups, who make sure they're all well fed and have access to clean drinking water. For the best chance of seeing them, take a look at the area that surrounds the Anima Beach restaurant – we saw more than we could count.
A little west from Palma you'll find ancient towers peeking out above the greenery that blankets the mountainside – Castel de Bellver, or Bellver Castle.
This royal fortress has been standing for almost 700 years. What makes Bellver Castle totally unique among spanish castles though, is that it is completely round. Three round towers are connected by arches to a circular outer wall, which can be reached by paying a small charge to enter the museum. It's worth it though, as the view of Palma from the castle is absolutely stunning.
In June 2011, the Serra de Tramuntana, or Tramuntana mountains, was awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO, as an area of great physical and cultural significance. Lying among these mountains and just a 20-minute drive from Palma is the beautifully picturesque town of Valldemossa. When you arrive, you're surrounded by lush greenery, wildflowers and the fresh smell of citrus.
With a population of around 2,000 people, this place is a little sanctuary of pale stone buildings in a sea of green. Small, locally owned businesses serve amazing coffee and local cuisine along the old cobbled streets.
Sitting atop a hill in the mountains, Valldemossa is the highest town in Mallorca. It's famously where Polish composer Fredric Chopin and his lover, French writer George Sand, spent a winter together in 1838. George Sand went on to write a book about their experience, 'A Winter in Majorca', which is for sale in many stores around Valldemossa.
The Carthusian monastery where Chopin and Sand spent their winter is the main reason tourists vist Valldemossa, but the art galleries, restaurants and museums are why they stay. If you're more captivated by the landscape than the history, the Tramuntana mountains surrounding Valldemossa are home to a network of well signposted hiking trails leading to surrounding villages.
Pack plenty of water and sturdy walking shoes as some of the hike trails take up to five hours and encompass areas of loose rock and steep inclines..
Each of Mallorca's small, scattered towns has an authenticity that's hard to find nearer the coast - and Sóller is no different. Inhabited by humans for around 7000 years, the high mountains surrounding the town meant that it was pretty isolated from the rest of Mallorca, and missed out on much of the Roman occupation of the island.
During the 19th century, Sóller grew rich as a major exporter of olives and citrus fruit. This money helped the town invest into fantastic modernist architecture and railway connections – something the town is just as famous for today as it is for delicious oranges.
An old railway connects Palma to Sóller – and it's an incredibly popular route, so expect queues. The railway and the tram are an iconic part of Sóller - the bold, orange wooden trams pass through the streets, and pedestrians stop to watch them go by.
We came to Soller in our hire car – but we just couldn't miss out on that famous train either. We left the car parked safely in Sóller, and caught the wooden tram down to our next destination.
Port de Sóller
The 20-minute tram journey takes you out of the valley that protects Sóller to the sea, and along the cost of a quiet seaside resort town called Port de Sóller.
Port de Sóller was originally a small fishing village designed to service the main town of Sóller, which was located further inland to protect it from pirates. The tramline that was made to connect the sister towns is still used today for transporting supplies back and forth - like olives, fish and, of course, oranges.
This town was described until recently as one of Mallorca's best kept secrets. Unlike popular resort towns like Magaluf and Palmanova to the south, Port de Sóller came through the tourism overdevelopment stage in the 70s and 80s relatively unscathed. And it's very lucky – the rapid expansion of these towns consumed some of Mallorca's most beautiful coastal areas.
Visiting smaller towns like Soller and the local businesses directly supports the Mallorcan people. Plus buying local produce means your food hasn't had to be shipped in, making it better for the environment. All these little things add up and can work with your luxury resort holiday too!
And if you're looking to spend an evening away from your relaxing resort, then the tranquil Port de Sóller may be just the place. Down by the sea away from the mountains that cradle the main town, Port de Sóller faces out from the West coast of the island, meaning there are beautiful sunsets to enjoy.
To wrap up…
That's it for our time in Mallorca. We hope it's helped demonstrate that just two days out of your resort can go a long way in enriching your holiday. We know time away, whether it be with friends, family or even by yourself is precious, and by taking the path less travelled you're bound to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.
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