Mallorca is the largest of Spain's Balearic Islands, with a history far more fascinating than its reputation as a sun, sea and sand holiday destination would suggest. Package tourism here began in the 1960s, and while it has monopolised parts of the island, much remains unspoilt, with untouched traditions and beautiful inland scenery.
The capital, Palma, is worth a long weekend break alone, with its layers of Roman, Byzantine, Moorish and Spanish history, perhaps summed up best in one of Europe's grandest cathedrals, that of Santa Maria, a Gothic Roman Catholic sensation on the site of an older mosque. Yet Palma's charms go beyond this. The old quarter and Jewish quarter are atmospheric to wander around, there are art galleries and museums - including Miro's old studios to visit - and so much to do that locals refer to the rest of the island as the ‘part outside', the ‘part forana'.
That part outside is as charming and varied as the Mallorcan capital. There are pockets of coastline that retain their charm, rocky little coves dotted along the southwest, and even on the north and east coasts, where the best beaches are, it's possible to find relatively undeveloped stretches from which to enjoy the warm and very blue Mediterranean Sea.
Inland lies more beauty - olive and orange groves, forests and dramatic mountain ranges. The Serra de Tramuntana stretches along the northwest coast, providing a spectacular backdrop to charming little towns and villages such as lofty Deià. So beautiful is the setting - the backdrop of the spectacular mountains, the sparkling blue sea ahead, that artists have flocked to Deià for decades, making it an unexpectedly chic artists' enclave.
Nearby is Valldemossa, which attracted and inspired both Frédéric Chopin and George Sand, and pretty Sollér, sharing the same fantastic mountain scenery. Tucked in at the foot of these mountains is the still traditional and incredibly attractive and very Mallorcan town of Pollença, a world away from the idea of the package holiday, making instead a perfect stop on a tailor-made tour of this Mediterranean island.
Top places to stay in Mallorca
Set atop a cliff on Mallorca's Sa Talaia headland, with commanding views across the town of Port Soller and the Mediterranean Sea, Jumeirah Port Soller, opened in April 2012, offers luxurious five-star accommodation in a scenic and peaceful corner of this beautiful Balearic island.
Just minutes from the golden sands of Mallorca's pretty northern shore, this traditional boutique hotel pairs all those must-have modern comforts with private balcony rooms and sweeping Mediterranean views. It's all complemented by fine wines, tempting Mallorcan menus and a stunning outdoor pool.
Experience Belmond's award-winning luxury at this collection of converted 15th-and-16th-century manor houses nestled in amid the sandstone peaks of Mallorca's Tramuntana Mountains. From the gourmet El Olivo restaurant to its spa, pools and unique excursions, this is one of Spain's finest hotels.
Where to go in Mallorca
Valldemossa is a tranquil Mallorcan village set amid olive, orange, lemons and cherry groves in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, around 10 miles inland from Palma. It was the birthplace of Catalina Thomas, ‘La Beata', the only Mallorcan saint.
Sollér is one of a trio of attractions in the northwest of Mallorca, along with Deia and Valldemossa. It's a peaceful place, set in a broad bowl of a valley dotted with orange trees and ancient olive groves, and a centre characterised by plane trees and little cafes, along with a mixture of old tow…
Pollença is a charming little town at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain chain in the north of Mallorca, close to Pollença Bay. It's reached via a scenic drive across the island from Palma airport, with family friendly beaches nearby and good walking to be had along the coast and in the s…
The port of Palma, set on a beautiful bay, can take visitors by surprise. It's long been considered a glamorous gathering spot for the wealthy and their yachts, but was initially overlooked as a cultural destination. That's all changed now, and Palma has become known as a great city for a cultural …
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