Mallorca’s laid-back groove and plentiful sea views have long made this a popular travel spot for the summer holidays. It is a refuge for those seeking the warmth of the sun, thanks to its sultry summers tempered by the sea breeze.
As one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, you may already know about its gorgeous coastlines and sandy beaches, but how about the trekking opportunities in the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, or its historic landmarks etched by artists like Antoni Gaudí?
Here’s what not to miss when spending a couple of days on this beautiful island.
Discover the old town of Palma
Cathedral de Santa María de Palma de Mallorca
Some visitors will head straight to Cala Mondragó or Formentor for the beach, but Palma makes for a perfect beginning and a place where you can understand the historical and cultural evolution of the island. A famed resort city and capital to the Balearic Islands, this bustling metropolitan in the western Mediterranean offer insight into communities of Moors and Romans, as well as the Catholics who lived here since 123 BC.
Check out the Santa María; Castell de Bellver, Royal Palace of La Almudaina; and find the Mercat de l’Olivar where you can taste wine and tapas in a light-filled historic hall.
Explore the Passeig des Born Boulevard
Visitors making a pit stop at the Passeig des Born Boulevard
The tree-lined high street is where you can lose yourself in its labyrinth of lanes and encounter boutique shops and restaurants. Within Passeig des Born’s gridlike layout, you can spot numerous art galleries like Berlin’s Kewenig space which is home to countless emerging artists.
Admire the colourful Mallorcan ceramics at the Terra Cuita. Take in the architecture of modernist buildings and make a pit-stop for contemporary tapas at Ombú. Splurge on a hearty dinner at the De Tokio a Lima accompanied by White Sangria before detouring to explore Santa Catalina’s buzzing neighbourhood.
Cocktail bars for before and after dinner
A bartender prepping Aigua de València at a bar near Carrer de Sant Feliu
End your day like the Spanish do and head to Clandestino Cocktail Club for a gin and tonic nightcap. This place combines unwinding atmospherics with lounge vibes and advertises itself as smoochy jazz playing establishment with a secret speakeasy menu.
The sophisticated big-city feel extends to the bar, which is a treasure trove of top-notch spirits. Besides the G&T’s, the classic Negronis (€15) are a must-try, made with gin, Campari, and vermouth and served with crushed ice and an orange peel. Authentic Spanish? Maybe not, but a well-recommended spot for relaxing after a busy day of travel.
Fill up on churros at El Rocío Santa Ponsa
A platter of churros and hot chocolates served with caramel
Remember to fill up on a hearty Spanish breakfast before heading towards Magaluf beach for an exhausting day of basking in the sunshine. Take a seat at El Rocío Santa Ponsa on a quiet corner in the Santa Ponça neighbourhood.
The order here is churro with lovely thick hot chocolate drink, a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and delicious patatas bravas – a native spicy potato dish deep-fried and covered in spicy sauce (€7.50). Or pursue the other route, at Le Cafe Flora, a speciality breakfast restaurant and bakery just around the corner from Magaluf.
Dive off bone-white beaches in Magaluf
Visitors arriving at Magaluf beach for an afternoon swim
Late morning is the best time to hit Magaluf Beach before it gets too hot and the forefront of the coastline – running around a thousand meters – fills up with local swimmers.
If serenity is what you’re after, walk north to Palmanova Beach. There’s mile after mile of relatively low-crowd sand beneath the same relaxing, baby-blue sky. The white grain sand is perfect for sunbathing, while you can swim far into the water for a cooling dip. If the adjoining Spanish culinary scene intrigues you, the Bondi Beach Magaluf serves delicious and beautifully presented Paella with an impressive cocktail menu.
Take on Serra de Tramuntana’s Dry Route trail
An offbeat path leading to Valldemossa from Serra de Tramuntana
On your second day in Mallorca, head north out of Palma towards the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Serra de Tramuntana that spans over the entire northwestern coast.
The rugged mountain range, located near Valldemossa, serves as a perfect panoramic viewpoint. Take a trail map that will lead you to picturesque and historic towns and villages lined with olive groves, vineyards and almond orchards.
You can also book a guided tour of the long-distance Dry Stone Route which takes you from Port d’Antratx to Pollença.
Routes last between three and eight hours, and some routes are recommended only for experienced hikers. You will need a good pair of hiking boots and plenty of water.
Head to La Lonja for the last dance
A jazz band performing after sundown near La Lonja
Some of the best things to do on this island happen after dark. After sundown, make your way to the La Lonja area. You will find intimate bars like the Jazz Voyeur Club where you can imbibe generous Spanish servings of Brandy alongside a classic a la carte menu. Or reserve a seat at the Blue Jazz club perched near the bay of Palma. Be sure to book.
There’s plenty of late-night taverns, splashy spirit dens and tourist taprooms that will keep partying well after the sunset. Rest assured that some of the finest Mediterranean cafes will be waiting for you in the morning to nurse your hangover.
Where to stay
The palatial 5-star Cap Vermell Grand Hotel, located in the valley of Canyamel, is lavishly furnished and contains a Michelin star restaurant. The hotel is also close to the popular Cala Agulla beach and the seaside Caves of Artà.
Getting to Mallorca
There are daily flights connecting major European cities to Palma de Mallorca airport including London and Manchester. From the airport, local buses will take you directly to central Palma. You can also arrive by ferry from the ports of Barcelona and Valencia.