For the longest time, the island of Mallorca had long been associated with negative stereotypes relating to its tourism. From being touted as a mere ‘lads’ holiday’ destination, to the media broadcasting several video clips and documentaries of drunk Brits abroad, fighting and causing a nuisance, the island carried a reputation via the media of being a morally bankrupt cultural desert. I’ll be honest in saying that I did have this stereotype in the back of my mind when looking for a warmish, January city break!
However, this is completely untrue and bears no resemblance to what the island is really like, and I’m so happy to say that my mind has absolutely been changed, even though I was only there for a couple of days. Fantastic and welcoming, laid back vibe that encapsulates all the amazing things about Spain, there is so much to do, see and eat. The island is best explored via car by the way, as there are so many quaint, gorgeous villages that are tucked into the mountains that are miles away from Old Town. However, you can also use public transport by way of the local buses to take you to these villages.
Without further ado, let’s get into this city break guide. I decided to put together on some of the things to do and see here! Please bear in mind that as I was unable to drive and was only here for three nights, I was limited to mostly staying around Old Town. I would definitely suggest staying for a minimum of four nights, and to try and rent a car if you can in order to maximize your time there. Before I get into the recommendations, I thought i’d share my general thoughts. I also want to try and do more of these mega posts as I do rather enjoy them! Check out a previous one I did for Saint Lucia here.
Geography, Climate & Transport
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic islands, located off the coast of Spain and home to over 200 picturesque small inlets (small bays of water) and beaches. The island consists of a fertile plain sandwiched between two mountain ranges, and feature a wide range of long, sandy beaches with areas that are great for watersports and and safe swimming. There are also more rockier areas, perfect for abseiling, rock climbing and cliff jumping (but please approach with caution if you’re a thrillseeker!)
Temperatures here tend to average between 25-35 degrees in the Spring and Summer time, to between 14-20 degrees in winter, making Mallorca a great place if you’re looking for a little bit of warmth during the cold winters. If you’re planning on visiting, I would always personally recommend looking between September and October, as not only is it slightly cooler, but arriving during off-season means you can end up getting cheaper deals too, with more space to wonder as it’ll be less busy.
When flying in, you’ll be heading into the Palma De Mallorca airport, which is the capital of Mallorca and luckily, not too far away from the Old Town, which is the cultural centre of the city. From London, you will most likely be leaving from London City Airport.
As I mentioned earlier, ideally you’d want a car to get around the island as outside of Old Town, it isn’t the most walkable, but you can get public transport.
Taxis: There’s a huge amount of private taxis available in Mallorca to help get you to where you need to go – though as with many destinations, it’s worth booking in advance (if possible) and agreeing on a price with the driver before heading out.
Public transport: If you prefer public transport, your first stop will be Palma’s Intermodal Station, reached by the 1 and 21 buses from the airport. From there, local EMT buses and Metro services will get you around the city, TIB (Transport de les Illes Balears) buses will take you to destinations further afield, and trains will take you to the towns of Inca, Pobla and Manacor. The best thing about public transport? They LOVE a debit and credit card! Nearly every bus, train and tram take contactless, so you won’t really need to bother with taking out cash or buying tickets.
Another thing worth nothing is that Mallorca is a very sleepy island! From my experience, people don’t really get going until at least midday or so, so if you want to get your photos done with minimal interruptions, the morning will be your best bet, as the streets are QUIET.
Accessibility and Diversity
For the most part, I would say the island is somewhat accessible but it really depends on where you’re situated. Old Town is relatively flat, however there are narrow back streets that are sloped and quite steep. The city in general does seem to make accomodations for this however, with plenty of ramps, wheelchair accessible buses, elevators literally everywhere, and wheelchairs you can even rent! Service dogs are also allowed in all public spaces which is amazing. In fact, Mallorca is an incredibly dog-friendly place in general, with dogs being allowed in most hotels, cafes, coffee shops and restaurants.
Racially, it’s an interesting one. Did I feel singled out whilst here? Kinda? Sorta? But it wasn’t enough of a big deal for me to feel self-conscious about it. There is a small African immigrant community in Mallorca, and the only Black people I tended to see were guys working as street vendors, homeless, or selling fake designer merchandise. I received stares from a lot of people while walking around (some guy nearly crashed his car because he was staring so much) as if to say ‘how is she a tourist? Why is she dressed so nicely? She’s Black!’. Incredibly snobbish stuff, but on the whole, people were very nice upon approaching me. Like the UK, their stereotyping/prejudice is very subtly displayed.
Palma (Old Town)
Palma is the capital and largest City and seafront in Mallorca. With over 40,000 citizens, the City has great cultural offerings in architecture, culinary delights, arts, entertainment and shopping. There is plenty to do in this gorgeous place and what makes it amazing is that the whole City is completely walkable. I barely spent any money on transport here, as all of the main tourist attractions, cafes and restaurants were at the very most, 15 minutes away. Personally I would spend no more than two or three days here before perhaps visiting another town or village. If you are thinking about taking the train or tram to venture outward, I would advice finding a hotel near the Estacio Intermodal station (a terminal station). I would recommend MHouse Hotel if you’re not looking for anywhere fancy, but still want a decent night’s sleep, this is where I stayed. and it was cute!
Let’s get into my list below: I did all of these things and would highly recommend!
The true beauty of Mallorca in my opinion, lies in their many gorgeous and quaint villages scattered around the island. It’s well worth visiting a couple of these rural treats for the day! I decided to take a twenty minute bus ride to the hillside village of Valldemossa – which is also the highest hillside village on the whole island as well as being one of the oldest, being well over 1000 years old. Valldemossa is also home to Costa Nord – a contemporary cultural centre, established by Hollywood actor Michael Douglas which is cool. As it’s quite a small and mostly residential place, I spent about 90 minutes exploring and a further hour hiking the hills. The beauty in this place is the gorgeous landscape and architecture.
See below for some bits you can do while you’re here!
Fornalutx is another charming village buried deep in the mountains of the Soller valley, and it is known for being one of the prettiest villages in Spain, so it’s definitely worth a visit! It’s a gorgeously stunning, sleepy little village located north of the island, and is completely surrounded by orange and lemon groves. It’s absolutely picturesque and I would definitely book in a quick visit here – if only for an hour – for the photos alone. It’s a tiny village, so you won’t be there for long. The bakery that lies outside of the main square is an absolute must to visit.
Overall, I had such a lovely time and had plenty to do whilst I was there. January is a very quiet month, so it was ideal for me personally as I’m not the biggest fan of tourist crowds! Mallorca is a gorgeous island full of hidden gems and rich with a vibrant, ancient culture. I would definitely visit again!