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Deia, Mallorca

Pretty coastal village on the west coast of Majorca

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Deia, Mallorca

An idyllic village of green-shuttered, ochre-coloured houses that has become a millionaires' hideaway in the shadow of the Teix mountain on the west coast of Mallorca. Deia could have been just another pretty Mallorcan village had Robert Graves not decided to make it his home.

The English poet and novelist first moved here in 1932 with his mistress Laura Riding and returned in 1946 with his second wife. Muses followed, friends came to stay, and before long Deia had established a reputation as a foreign artists' colony. Now it is on every tourist itinerary as the prime example of 'the other Mallorca' and this small village contains two luxury hotels.

Rich foreign residents are apt to bemoan the arrival of tour buses; the few locals who remain are philosophical about outsiders. Graves was hardly the first to discover Deia. An 1878 guidebook noted its "collection of strange and eccentric foreigners" and it has stayed that way ever since.

History & Culture in Deia

The name of Deia (or Deya) comes from the time of the Moorish conquest of Mallorca, back in the 10th-13th centuries. The Muslims called the area 'Ad-Daya' which means 'village'. They were the ones who created the terraced irrigation systems that allowed the steep hillsides to be cultivated. Olive trees flourished up to an altitude of 600 metres, and today cover much of the hillsides above the town.

Deia has famously attracted artists, musicians and those in search of a bohemian lifetsyle since the 19th century. The Archduke Luis Salvador of Austria was so captivated by the area that he purchased several estates - MiramarSon Marroig - which host annual festivals & concerts and are open to the public. Robert Graves was a famous resident, and his house Ca N'Alluny has been turned into a museum for the public to visit.

Climb the Carrer es Puig, Deia's only real street, passing ceramic Stations of the Cross, to reach the parish church (c. 1497) and the small cemetery where Graves is buried. His tombstone, like many others, is inscribed in simple handwriting set into the drying concrete - Robert Graves, Poeta, 1895-1985. If you want to know more, read "Wild Olives - Life In Majorca" with Robert Graves by his son William Graves.  

There is an Archaeological Museum (Es Clot, +34 971 639 001) which was founded by Dr William H Waldren which is set in an old mill - some of the old caves have been converted into exhibition areas.

Today, Deia is still very much an artists town and there are a number of art galleries and gift shops scattered throughout the village.

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Also see: History of Mallorca, Majorca

Things to Do in Deia

Most people come to Deia for relaxation. Sitting on terraces and enjoying the views is pretty much what it is about. Of course, if you do want to be a touch more active, then you can have a game of tennis - there are tennis courts both council run and in some of the hotels - try La Residencia.

From Deia you can scramble down to Cala Deia, a small shingle beach set in an attractive cove, where local artists still continue the Graves tradition of naked swimming and long parties at weekends. There are two restaurants here, with fresh fish as their speciality - they are only open during the summer season.

For a sterner challenge, there are plenty of hiking trails in the hills above Deia - check at the tourist office for maps and trail information. The coastal road is popular with cyclists - the twisting ups & downs provide thigh-busting workouts!

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Also see: Sports & Activities in Mallorca, Majorca

Dining in Deia

Deia is home to some top-notch restaurants, catering for the wealthy patrons that the village tends to attract. Michelin starred Es Raco D'es Teix has a marvellous setting above the village and offers modern yet classic Mediterranean cuisine. El Olivio in Hotel La Residencia is a swanky affair and serves up a superb gastronomic experience. For exquisite local Mallorcan cuisine, try Sebastian for elegant dining in characterful surroundings.

For more relaxed tapas dining, head to El Barrigon Xelini - they have jazz playing on Saturday nights during the winter; they also have four bedrooms should you wish to stay overnight. Sa Vinya (+34 971 639 500) lies just below Es Raco des Teix and offers rustic local cuisine - Jaume's (+34 971 639 029) is also traditionally Mallorcan - look out for the roast suckling pig.

Not exactly a restaurant, but Sa Fonda is the place to head to for an pre/post dinner drink or two. Entirely un-airbrushed, it is the locals drinking hole - don't be surprised to find visiting musicians start up a jamming session. It's located opposite the village shop.

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Also see: Where to Eat in Mallorca, Majorca

Hotels in Deia

The most famous hotel in Deia is the five star La Residencia. Formerly owned by Richard Branson, it is now part of the Orient Express collection and provides luxurious accommodation and facilities on the outskirts of town. The other big hotel on the other side of town is Es Moli provides 87 bedrooms decorated in a traditionally Mallorcan style.

For something more boutique in style, you might want to try Sa Pedrissa which sits on a headland overlooking Deia and has amazing views out to sea.

In the centre of the village are a couple of small hotels. Try Hotel des Puig with its simple rooms and lovely swimming pool. Hostal Villa Verde has pretty rooms and terraces at reasonable prices. Pension Miramar provides basic accommodation in a 19th century farmhouse.

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