About the Island of Mallorca
If you have never been to Mallorca, and someone said to you they were coming here on holiday, you may well conjure up an image of high rise apartment blocks, streets lined with bars with happy days rather than hours, the good old all-day English breakfast and plenty of drunken package holiday makers. The chances are, you think of "Majorca" - probably pronounced "Ma-jor-ka".
And to a certain extent, you would be right. The island is well-known for its purpose built resorts and package holidays. Very popular they are too, and if you want all night partying and lazy days on the beach, then this is the place to come. Majorca, with a hard 'j', is a place invented by foreigners - the British actually - where the sun always shines, the beer flows and the nearest you get to local culture is an argument with a taxi-driver.
"Mallorca", the local name for the island, is quite different and far more complex. This guide is about Mallorca.
The island has actually been welcoming the rich and famous for generations. Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Claudia Schiffer, Jeffrey Archer, Boris Becker, the King of Spain, Raphael Nadal - they all live here or have had homes here. Being so accessible for many wealthy Europeans means there is clearly a market for luxury accommodation in Mallorca as the choice gets better and better each year. Mallorca's hotels range from unique historic buildings that have been converted to provide every modern convennience, to beautifully charming fincas (converted farmhouses) in the countryside. If renting a villa in Mallorca is more your thing, then you won't be disappointed. There are literally thousands of villas in Mallorca to choose from.
It's true that some of Mallorca's coastline has been taken over by holiday resorts but these do tend to be very self contained and are easily avoided if parties & crowds are not your thing. There are vast stretches of beach, particularly in the south, where there has been no development and virgin beaches with Caribbean-esque seas await you. WIth over 200 beaches to choose from, you are sure to find a spot that suits you. Our favourites can be found on our page Best Beaches in Mallorca.
Sailing is of course a big thing in Mallorca. It hosts many an international regatta each year and there are many top class marinas and yacht charter companies all around the coast. For those less able sailors, there are day or half-day boat trips available at various locations around the island.
With it's historic past, Mallorca has many wonderful buildings and it's capital city Palma is the place to marvel at the impressive architecture, from medieval times through to Modernist creations. Palma is also home to the most varied nightlife, with top quality restaurants and a host of late night bars & clubs.
A rich cultural history has left many remarkable sights to explore, with castles & ruins, cathedrals & monasteries, grand manor houses & gardens, and a host of art galleries and museums. For those with families, you can expect some great waterparks, adventure parks & petting farms. The resorts are particularly well geared up for families, and remember to check for local festivals that the kids can get involved with.
The stunning scenery thoughout the island is ideal for enjoying outdoor pursuits. You can find protected Natural Parks in all four corners of Mallorca, as well as the rugged and beautiful Tramuntana mountains that run down the west coast. Walking & hiking are popular activities with a wide variety of well maintained paths & clear signage suitable for all abilities. Cycling is massive in Mallorca, it's a well-established destination for the professional road cycling teams during the off season and there are plenty of routes to choose from. The warm & dry climate is perfect for golfers and there are around 20 golf courses throughout the island.
Each region in Mallorca has its own particular appeal - the northeast for history, the east coast for beaches and caves, the north and west for spectacular mountains and picture-postcard villages. If you want to know about the real Mallorca you should drive across Es Pla, the fertile plain at the centre of the island, with its almond groves, windmills and old market towns. Choosing where to stay depends on what you want to see and do, from the bustle of Palma, to the coast, to deep inland with many luxury retreats being in places you can get away from it all.
Mallorca is only a couple of hours flight for most of Europe and this accessability combined with the natural beauty and the climate make Mallorca a perenially popular choice. You can see how easy it is to fly here from your home with our Flight Finder. Go on, you won't regret it!
Is it Mallorca or Majorca?
It's hard to find out where the name 'Majorca' originated from - believe us, we've searched the whole internet. Our far-reaching research has lead us to discover that it's only the British (and their historical colonies) & the Irish who use it. To everyone else, it is Mallorca.
Some people think Majorca is the Catalan version for Mallorca thanks to the historical invasions by the Catalan King Jaume of Aragon in the 13th century. Not true, the Catalan for Mallorca IS Mallorca.
Wikipedia will tell you that Mallorca comes from the Latin for 'larger island' - 'insula maior'. This is in reference to it's smaller neighbour, Menorca (or is it Minorca?), 'insula minor'. As you see, no 'j' is mentioned, and this is because the letter 'j' didn't exist in Latin until around the 13th century when it arrived to take the place of 'i' when used as a consonant (as in maior).
The English language is based on several languages, one of which is Latin. Now we're not Latin scholars, but it seems that English embraced the use of 'j' more than the Mediterranean countries. So, 'maior' became 'major' and hence Majorca. As Mallorca continued to belong to what became Spain in the years subsequent to the Catalan invasion, the Catalan version 'Mallorca' remained as the name used by the rest of the world.