Wednesday, 19 October 2016

10 Must-See Places in MALLORCA

Sun-kissed beaches, manic nightclubs and mass tourism: just three words which may spring to mind when Mallorca is mentioned.  Whilst I’m not denying that Magalúf parties are the best in the world, I’d like to use this article to cast the island in a different light.  I’ve put together a list of my top 10 favourite places to visit in Mallorca.

Valldemossa




I’ll start off with my absolute favourite place on the island – Valldemossa.  This picture-perfect town sprawls down a hillside in the Tramuntana mountains.  Valldemossa is bigger than it looks, you can get lost for a couple of hours exploring the tangle of cute cobbled alleys.  Try ‘coca de patata’ from any Valldemossa bakery; a sweet potato bread traditional to the town, but beware at mealtimes as restaurants in this part of the island are frequently overpriced.


Sa Calobra



The natural setting of Sa Calobra is spectacular.  This is one of the best places to visit to get a feel of the rugged and remote Tramuntana coastline.  The journey to Sa Calobra is part of the fun of coming here – it’s both terrifying and magnificent at the same time as the narrow ribbon of tarmac snakes down a near-vertical mountainside from 682 meters to sea level.  From Sa Calobra, it is well-worth taking the ten minute walk around to Torrent de Pareis; this deep and dramatic gorge really showcases Mallorca’s stunning natural beauty.  


Mondragó



It’s a difficult task to narrow down my favourite Mallorcan beach as there are so many to choose from.  However I instantly fell in love with the white sand and turquoise waters of Mondragó.  The coastline here backed by pine woodlands and protected as a nature reserve, which prevents overdevelopment and retains the rural charm.  This is a lovely place to swim as the waters are crystal-clear.  I much preferred the beach at Mondragó to the well-sought-after, but overhyped beaches of Es Trenc.


Santanyí



Whilst Mallorca is scattered with attractive medieval towns, the one which stood out for me was Santanyí, nestled in the far south-eastern corner of the island.  Santanyí felt authentically Mallorcan – I encountered few tourists whilst exploring the town.  The honey-coloured buildings have withstood all that history has thrown at them; Santanyí has been influenced by both Moorish and Catalan occupations.  It is best to visit on either Wednesday or Saturday which is when a bustling market pops up and the town springs into life. 

A visit to Santanyí is easily incorporated into a trip to Mondragó or Cala Figuera.


Palma (Old Town)



It’s hard to fully understand Mallorca without visiting its exciting capital, Palma.  After all, this is where almost half of the Mallorcan population lives!  Whilst I found the newer parts of the city to be rather hectic and over-congested, the historic centre is fabulous.  It would be easy to fill a few days exploring Palma, but an afternoon or so should give a good snapshot of the main sights.  The city’s history is long and varied and this is reflected in the architecture.  If you see nothing else, be sure not to miss the magnificent Palma Cathedral, the colourful and elegant Plaça Major square and the Moorish Almudaina Palace each of which showcase a different era in the city’s development.  If you decide to drive into the city, I’d recommend coming early in the day as parking close to the old town can be a nightmare.


Lluc Monastery



Founded in the 13th century, Lluc monastery is a haven for peace and tranquillity high in the Tramuntana Mountains.  It is one of Mallorca’s best cultural sites and a great place to learn about the island’s catholic heritage.  Owing to its spectacular location, Lluc is also a magnet for walkers.


Fornalutx



It is the combination of the magnificent mountain setting and the beautiful historical streets which make the little village of Fornalutx one of the prettiest on the island.  The village sits on a hill overlooking Sóller, tucked beneath some of the highest peaks in Mallorca.  There are no ‘must-see’ sights in Fornalutx, but it’s an absolutely beautiful place to wander around – the place is a photography dream.  Ideal when combined with a trip to Sóller or the mountains.


Banyalbufar



The rugged natural beauty of Mallorca’s west coast took my breath away.  High mountains drop steeply into the waves of the Mediterranean.  A great place to see this coastline is from Banyalbufar, an old village of Moorish origin roughly half way between Andratx and Sóller.  The village is surrounded by a series of ancient agricultural terraces, some of which have been farmed for well over 1000 years.  Terracing allows shear-sloping mountainsides to flourish with crops; these farming practises have been passed down from generation to generation and have earnt Mallorca’s entire western coastline a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Perhaps the best view of the west coast can be seen from Torre del Verger, a former watch tower just outside Banyalbufar (towards Estellencs on the Ma-10).

The main draw of this coastline is the dramatic scenery; beaches tend to be rocky and difficult to access.  Those seeking sandy beaches will have more choice in the south and east of the island.

Cala Figuera



Mallorca is crammed full of pretty fishing villages.  However, my favourite has to be Cala Figuera, a small working fishing port on the east coast.  A deep fjord-like natural harbour is lined with whitewashed buildings.  Cala Figuera is quiet; the village is still untouched by mass-tourism.  It’s not a large place, but it’s extremely photogenic.  It’s also worth mentioning that there’s no beach in the village itself, but it’s just a short drive to the fine sandy beaches of the Mondragó reserve (follow signs to s’Amarador).  Ideal when combined with a visit to Santanyí.


Sóller





Whilst not as uniformly pretty as some other places on this 
list, and by no means untouched by tourism, the twin citrus-producing towns of Sóller and Port de Sóller have managed to retain a quintessentially Mallorcan feel.  The area is perhaps best known for its iconic wooden trams, dating back to 1913.  The route runs for just over 3 miles and links the historic centre of Sóller with the historic centre of Port de Sóller for a return price of a rather pricey 8 EUR.  Come here for the picturesque sandy beach, the numerous bars and restaurants and relaxed way-of-life.



Mallorca earns a backpackability score of 4, meaning it is mostly favourable for backpackers.  For an explanation of the backpackability index, see this post.

Several budget airlines operate very cheap flights to Palma (particularly from the UK and Germany).  With stunning natural beauty, a wealth of history, friendly and welcoming people and an abundance of sunny weather, it is difficult to find any negatives with Mallorca.  Have you been to Mallorca? Thinking of going?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.  Thank you for reading, I hope you'll find this useful!


Elis Griffiths. x