A guide to Mallorca
Imagine an island with turquoise-blue seas, secret coves, soft golden sands, lush green foliage, rugged mountains, picturesque villages and a vibrant capital city. Well, this island’s name is Mallorca and, thanks to its many charms, more and more people are visiting all year round.
Mallorca is overflowing with character, satisfying even the most devout culture vultures. An island steeped in history, it boasts historic buildings, a rich artisan and cultural scene, not to mention popular traditional events taking place throughout the year. It also features local gastronomic excellence with first class international restaurants and Michelin starred establishments all on offer. And you will not get bored as here you will find theme parks for the whole family to enjoy, outdoor pursuits like watersports, hiking and cycling as well as all the shopping you could care to do whilst on holiday
Choosing where to stay depends on the type of holiday you are after and what you want to see and do, from the hustle and bustle of Palma to the dreamy coastlines, or the get away from it all luxury escapes inland. 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 magnificent mountains and picture-postcard villages. To know about the real Mallorca, drive across Es Pla, the fertile plain at the centre of the island with its almond groves, windmills and old market towns.
The island has also been well-known for its purpose built resorts and package holidays. Very popular they were too but Mallorca has changed since their hey-day in the later part of the 20th century. Local town halls on the island have invested time and energy into smartening up their resorts and making them a lot more family-friendly. Mallorca is now a destination where everyone can find their own spot.
Is it Mallorca or Majorca?
It's only the British, their historical colonies, and the Irish who use the word 'Majorca'. To everyone else, it is Mallorca. 'Mallorca' comes from the Latin for 'larger island' ('insula maior'). This is in reference to its smaller neighbour, Menorca, '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 was introduced 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 Catalán version 'Mallorca' remained as the name used by the rest of the world.
Where is Mallorca?
Mallorca is one of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean, off the east coast of Spain. Its location means it is no more than a three-hour flight from northern Europe, making it easily accessible for those in search of a little piece of paradise. The easiest and quickest way to get to Mallorca is to fly. Palma de Mallorca Airport is located in the south of the island and airlines fly from all over Europe throughout the year. You can also take a ferry (passenger or car ferry) from the Spanish mainland (Barcelona, Valencia and Denia) which will take around 7-8 hours.
Also see: How to Get to Mallorca
History & Culture in Mallorca
The island has been inhabited by humans since 7000 BC. The Phoenicians, seafaring people from the Levant, were the first to colonise the island in around the 8th century BC. The island was occupied by Romans in 123 BC and flourished with the cultivation of olives, grapes (winemaking) and salt mining. From the 700s, the island's culture and architecture have been influenced by Muslim, Corsair, and Spanish, friends and foes; with more and more visitors coming from England, Germany, Sweden and Italy in more recent years.
Also see: History of Mallorca
Events in Mallorca
Being a Spanish island, Mallorca hosts many fiestas and festivals throughout the year. From agricultural fairs in the spring and autumn, to live music and DJ concerts in the summer, religious festivals and international sporting events, there is always plenty going on.
Sights & Attractions in Mallorca
A rich cultural history has left many remarkable sights to explore in Mallorca. Castles and ruins, cathedrals and monasteries, grand manor houses and gardens, along with a host of art galleries and museums are here for you to visit.
The island's capital city, Palma, is the place to marvel at 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 and clubs.
Where to Stay in Mallorca
Mallorca is not only one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Mediterranean, it's also one of the most diverse. Whether it’s a relaxing beach holiday with your family, a city break with your partner in crime or an outdoor adventure with your friends, there's something for each and every one of you. The choice of holiday accommodation is equally varied from boutique hotels and fincas to modern villas and apartments. Whichever you choose, there are quality options for a wide range of budgets.
Also see: Where to Stay in Mallorca
Villas in Mallorca
If renting a villa is on your wishlist, then you won't be disappointed. There are literally thousands of villas in Mallorca to choose from. The main area for villa rentals is in the north-west, around Pollença and Port de Pollença. This is a great area for family holidays featuring lovely long beaches, family activities and gentle nightlife.
Hotels in Mallorca
Mallorca's hotels range from unique historic buildings that have been renovated to provide every modern convenience, to beautifully charming fincas (converted farmhouses) in the countryside. Being so accessible for many wealthy Europeans means there is a big market for luxury accommodation in Mallorca, and the choice gets better and better each year. The capital city, Palma, has a wonderful range of small boutique hotels set in the old town, full of character and charm.
Things to Do in Mallorca
Yachts are a big thing in Mallorca. The island boasts many international sailing regattas each year and embodies numerous world class marinas and yacht charter companies all around the coast. Whether you are interested in a half-day boat trip or a week’s yacht charter, you will find the island more than equipped for your individual needs.
The stunning scenery throughout Mallorca 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 and hiking are popular activities with a wide variety of well-maintained paths and clear signage suitable for all abilities. Cycling is massive in Mallorca, the island is 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 and dry climate is also perfect for golfers and there are around 20 golf courses to be enjoyed around the island.
For those with families, you can expect some great waterparks, adventure parks and petting farms. The resorts are particularly well equipped for the little ones. Remember to check for local festivals that the kids can get involved with.
Beaches in Mallorca
With over 500km of coastline, there are more than 200 beaches to choose from on Mallorca. Some of the larger ones are backed by holiday resorts and have great facilities from shops and cafes to sunloungers and watersports. Equally, there are vast stretches of beach, particularly in the south, where virgin calas with Caribbean-esque seas await you. The east coast is filled with little sandy coves, ideal for sailing and snorkelling, while the west coast has a mixture of beaches and dramatic cliffs with stunning scenery.
Also see: Beaches in Mallorca
Restaurants in Mallorca
Mallorca has experienced a food revolution in the past 10 years. Many young Mallorcan chefs have come home after working in high-end international restaurants and have opened up their own places where they create fabulous modern Mediterranean dishes. There are nearly a dozen or so Michelin-starred restaurants featuring inventive cuisine in beautiful yet relaxed settings. Tapas are also a very popular option, and Palma is the place to head to experience a fresh, modern take on these small plates. And don't forget to try the local Mallorcan wine, there are some really excellent vineyards on the island.
Nightlife in Mallorca
In the summer months, Mallorca comes to life with bars and clubs open until the early hours of the morning. You will find there are late-night bars with DJs in most towns and resorts while, for a quiet drink, the exclusive cocktail bars and wine bars in the ports should be explored. To start the evening off early from the comfort of a sunbed and a cocktail in hand, then Mallorca’s luxury beach clubs are the place to be. For the night owls out there who like to end their evening (or morning) at 05:00, the Paseo de Maritimo in Palma offers up the major nightclubs.
In the winter months, whilst the resorts and large clubs tend to shut down, the city of Palma continues to burst with life. This cosmopolitan city offers something for everyone with plenty of bars to visit, from a quiet night with a cocktail or gin and tonic to a crazy night out on the town with friends. You see there is much more to Mallorca’s nightlife scene than the mischievous town of Magaluf!
Location: Mallorca Island