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'.
La Seu Cathedral, Palma de Mallorca port
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, from olive and orange groves to 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 of the spectacular mountains and sparkling blue sea ahead, that artists have flocked to Deià for decades, making it an unexpectedly chic artists' enclave.
Deia in Mallorca
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 very Mallorcan town of Pollença, a perfect stop on a tailor-made tour of this Mediterranean island.
Port de Pollenca, Majorca, Balearic Islands