The medieval town of Alcúdia is the island's largest tourist hub in the north. Located on a peninsula that separates the bays of Pollença and Alcúdia, it boasts a beautiful medieval centre as well as an authentic local atmosphere which draws in tourists all year round.
Alcúdia is a perfectly restored walled city on the site of a Roman settlement with remains of ancient houses and a theatre. The maze of narrow streets enclosed by medieval battlements has been carefully restored as part of Mallorca's new tourist image.
Located about 5 minutes by car from the coast, Alcúdia should not be confused with the beach resort of Port d'Alcúdia. Many of Mallorca's oldest settlements were built several miles inland to provide protection against prowling pirates, while their port and coastal areas were only developed in more recent times as tourism became a major source of income for the island.
Alcudia actually provides a real contrast to the more touristy beach resort of Port d'Alcúdia. With a wealth of history and charm, this town offers visitors an authentic Mallorcan experience. From its big weekly market through to traditional fiestas and fairs and classical music festivals, the town puts on a whole host of cultural events. The boutique style hotels and first class gastronomic restaurants that have opened in the area mean the town is becoming more attractive for those keen to immerse themselves in a wholesome Mallorcan experience whilst visiting the island. It is also surrounded by beautiful countryside, explorable by car or by bicycle.
History & Culture in Alcudia
The first human settlement in Alcúdia dates back to 2000-1300 BC, Pretalayotic settlers whose burial sites (or tombs) have survived to this day in La Cova de S'Hort del Rectoria and under the Roman theatre site. They were followed by Phoenician and Greek settlements but the town reached its heyday in the 2nd century BC when the Roman invaders made it their capital, Pollentia, meaning 'power'.
Romans brought an end to piracy and built an ordered town with well-maintained streets, sewers and drinking water. They also erected an impressive theatre on the outskirts in the year 1 BC, which was capable of holding 2000 spectators. It was built into the bedrock and was likely used for plays and for acrobatics. The semi-circular seating areas are well preserved and the site is open to the public throughout the year.
After the Roman empire declined in the 5th century, Alcúdia was destroyed by Vandals in the 6th century. The town returned to greatness under the Moors, who built Al Qudya ('the town on the hill'). The narrow streets of the old town, especially Carrer d'en Serra, are resonant of its Arab past.
The walls you see today were added after the Spanish conquest in the early 14th century, under the rule of King Jaume II, as a way of protecting the town's inhabitants from further attacks. The most famous is the Portal de Moll or Xara Gate with two square towers and two massive palm trees standing guard, which is the symbol of Alcúdia. Look for the classic 14th-century architecture of Ca'n Torro library, on Carrer d'en Serra. It opened in 1990 in a former mansion and hosts exhibitions and concerts.
Alcúdia was developed for tourism in the 20th century, with the first hotel built in the 1930s and an influx of more hotels and tourist attractions opening after the death of Franco in the 1970s. However, even now, the authenticity of the old town remains intact due to construction regulations in the municipality.
Sights & Attractions in Alcudia
Alcúdia's ancient history has left a rich heritage around the town. The Roman remains of Pollentia are amongst some of the most famous sites. The smallest Roman theatre in Spain also resides here, within which you can see remains of tombs amongst the stands. Those keen to delve deeper into the history of the area will find the archaeological excavation sites really interesting. Maps are available at the tourist information office within the town.
Free guided tours around the historic town of Alcudia take place on Wednesdays between 10:00 and midday. Just head down to the church for 09:50 in the morning to meet the tour guide. Alternatively, you can stroll through the town centre within the medieval and renaissance walls independently, take a peek inside the courtyards of the 16th-century urban palaces ('casals'), and be sure to visit the 19th-century Neogothic parish church of Sant Jaume.
Contemporary art fans should visit the Sa Bassa Blanca Museum, where 16th to 19th-century paintings are exhibited alongside 20th-century sculptures and some lovely gardens. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10.00 to 18.00.
Lovers of the great outdoors or those keen to get away from the tourist hot spots should visit the natural parks of S'Albufera and S'Albufereta which are located near Alcúdia. These wetland areas are world renowned sites for birdwatching. Here it’s possible to catch a glimpse of rare migrants like Montagu's harriers and Eleonora's falcons; other species breeding in this area include stonechats, moustached warblers and the long-eared owl.
Beaches in Alcudia
Being so close to the coast, the beaches of northern Mallorca are only a couple of miles away from Alcudia. The TIB 352 bus service regularly travels from Alcúdia to Port d'Alcúdia along Playa de Muro and down to the smaller tourist resort of Can Picafort. The beaches in this area are made up of fine golden sand and the sea is light blue and shallow enough for families with young children to safely enjoy it. Parasols and sun loungers dominate the northern part of the coastline but, the further south you go, the quieter and prettier it becomes. All sorts of watersports are available, from pedaloes through to sailing, windsurfing and parasailing.
Events in Alcudia
The town of Alcúdia has a thriving market on Tuesdays and Sundays from 08:30 to 13:30, which can be found inside the historic city walls. All sorts of local produce as well as leather goods, linens and souvenirs are available. There are plenty of cafes where you can sit on the terrace and enjoy a drink or even breakfast whilst soaking up the atmosphere from the hustle and bustle of the market.
Alcúdia also hosts many traditional festivals and fairs throughout the year. Some of the most famous are the spring agricultural fairs and a harvest celebration at the beginning of October. Here you will find, food, agriculture, music, children’s entertainment and more.
One of the most popular local festivals in Alcúdia is the annual nautical fair in April, which features the cuttlefish. The town's restaurants put on a gastronomic extravaganza, and you will also find an exhibition of boats, a craft market, children’s parties and more.
Things to Do in Alcudia
Within the town of Alcudia itself, it’s all about visiting the ancient sites and soaking up the historic architecture from across the ages. There is a slow pace of life here and, in true Spanish style, café culture is big. The town is also often used as a base for sporting enthusiasts, especially those keen to practice cycling and hiking. During the summer months, many head down the road to the beach resort of Port d’Alcudia to indulge in watersports, mini golf and other action-packed activities.
The best time to go shopping in Alcudia is on market days, either on Tuesdays or Sundays. Otherwise, you will find a few clothing boutiques often selling swimwear and kaftans, delicatessens, jewellery and souvenir shops within the streets of the old town.
The north of the island is favoured by cycle enthusiasts, many of which travel from across Europe to take on the various mountain climbs the Serra de Tramuntana has to offer. The area surrounding Alcudia has flat inland plains and coastal routes surrounding the town, making the area appealing to almost every level of cyclist. There are plenty of places to rent different types of bikes from down the road in Port d’Alcudia, including Wheels Sport.
Alcudia is hugely popular with walkers thanks to its marvellous location in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains. To the north of Alcudia lies a peninsula which has a variety of walks and hikes through beautiful countryside, with amazing views of the sea and the coast.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to golf courses in Mallorca but one of the best is located just down the road from Alcudia. Alcanada Golf Course is an 18-hole golf course, designed by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones, it is recognised by a number of well-known golf magazines and golf guides as one of the finest courses in Spain and Europe.
S'Albufera Natural Park stretches across 1708 hectares and is renowned for its wetlands and bird watching. It’s also a popular spot for cyclists and walkers keen to explore some of Mallorca’s natural beauty. Entrance to the park is free.
Dining in Alcudia
Alcudia specialises in restaurants serving traditional Mallorcan food, think hearty stews, stuffed vegetables, rice and fish dishes which you can find in places like Ca'n Costa. Claiming to be the oldest restaurant in town, there’s a rustic feel to the restaurant inside and a lovely courtyard setting for al fresco dining. There are also plenty of establishments serving typical Spanish tapas. Try Sa Portassa’s for the local favourite "pa amb oli" and other treats. Some restaurants offer modern twists on the regional fare and creative Mediterranean cuisine made with seasonal produce like S'Arc Restaurant.
If Italian fine dining is more your thing, then Osteria el Patio is a wonderful little spot serving authentic Italian fare with first class service time and time again. And the crème de la crème of restaurants is Michelin-starred Restaurant Jardin in Port d’Alcudia, which serves up Mediterranean and Mallorcan cuisine using fresh seasonal ingredients with innovative flair.
Hotels in Alcudia
Most people choose to stay in one of the characterful boutique hotels in the old town when basing themselves in Alcudia. There are a few finca-style hotels and villas available in the countryside surrounding the town. If you are looking for all-inclusive luxury resorts, budget-friendly aparthotels or self-catering options, then Port d’Alcudia is the best place to stay.
The ancient town of Alcúdia boasts some of the island's most charming boutique hotels, installed inside beautifully restored historical palaces in the old centre. Cas Ferrer Nou has been a firm favourite for years. Its creators have tastefully restored a century-old building - a former blacksmiths house - to develop a charming yet comfortable hotel. The contemporary fixtures and fittings used to highlight the original bare-stone walls and traditional style tiles are just really beautiful. It also features a rooftop terrace with epic views out to the sea and is the perfect retreat to soak up the sunshine.
Another treasured hotel in the area is Can Tem, a traditional Mallorcan style hotel within a 17th-century mansion. It is full of antique furniture and oozes history but has all the modern features to create a relaxing stay. Hotel Can Mostatxins is a stylish boutique hotel, set within 2 buildings dating back to the 15th and 19th centuries. Its indoor spa facilities are one of its biggest attractions. Each room has a 21st-century luxury finish whilst managing to encapsulate the building's history.
How to get to Alcudia
Although Alcudia is located in the north of the island, it can be reached within 40 minutes from Palma airport. Just hop on the Ma-13 motorway running through the middle of the island and follow this road as it travels all the way into the town.
There are no direct buses to Alcudia from the airport. However, you can catch bus number 1 to the bus station at Plaça Espanya and then the direct 351 TIB bus between Palma and Alcudia which leaves once per hour and takes around an hour. It also connects Alcudia to Puerto Alcudia, Inca, Sa Pobla and Playa de Muro.