By Melanie Franssens
When people think of tourism in Mallorca, most think of the sun, the sea and the beach. After all, the island is full of all-in resorts with all the comforts provided. Besides that, every year many young people go on holiday here to areas such as el Arenal, Magaluf and Playa del Palma to party until the early hours. Mallorca, however, has so much more to offer than this! In this article there are some less ‘touristy things’ that you can do in Mallorca. (Re)discover this beautiful island!
Please note that due to the Coronavirus, a number of activities mentioned here may not be possible at this time. Follow the local measures during your visit.
Did you know that Mallorca is also a very nice place for doing hikes? There are several official hiking trails scattered throughout the island. You don’t have to have any experience to do these walks, there are easy and more difficult hiking routes. One of my personal favorites is the hike called ‘La Trapa’. You’ll start by walking from the seaside town of Sant Elm to the monastic ruin la Trapa. Once on top of the mountain you have a beautiful view of Sa Dragonera, a small uninhabited island at the southwest coast of Mallorca. You can also volunteer at the monastery ruin of La Trapa. As a volunteer you contribute to maintaining the estate. You can sign up for volunteering at the Grup Balear d’Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa (GOB), a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the environment of Mallorca. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also choose to donate money through this page. For more information about La Trapa, click here.
Another breathtaking walking tour is a trek from Valldemossa to Deia. This one is a bit more challenging than La Trapa, but the view at the top of the mountain makes it totally worth it!
Mallorca is also home to the Serra de Tramuntana, a mountain range along the northwest coast of the island. This mountain range has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. Here too are several beautiful walking routes. For more information about the Serra de Tramuntana, click here.
To get more inspiration about hiking trails in Mallorca, click here. Hiking trails are best done in the months of September/October (the low season). In high season it is simply too hot. In addition, it is recommended to put on sturdy shoes (walking shoes are best, but not necessary for the easier routes) and do not walk during or after a heavy rainstorm. The paths are not asphalted and after a rainstorm it can get a bit slippery.
On Mallorca there are several places where one can experience a beautiful sunset. Most places are also easily accessible by public transport. One of the more popular places to watch the sunset is at ‘mirador de Sa Foradada’. Here you can slowly see the sun sink into the sea with a snack and a drink.
Another place where you can see a breathtaking sunset is at ‘Torre del Verger’. This is a small tower on the edge of the coast in the village of Banyalbufar. Especially in the low season there won’t be many other people to watch the sunset here!
Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca is the capital of Mallorca. Many people who go here usually visit the famous cathedral (Santa Maria de Palma) and the famous ‘plazas’ and then go shopping in the city. However, you can also do other fun activities here. Every Tuesday evening, for example, there is ‘La Ruta Martiana’ in the city centre. This is an event where several cafes offer good deals for drinks with pinchos (small snacks). Many local people always come here!
In Palma you can also eat delicious food at an affordable price. A good restaurant for typical Spanish paella is Calixto. This is a small restaurant on a small square in the center of Palma.
If you visit Palma you should definitely try tapas. One of my personal favorites is the tapas restaurant ‘Es petit bar’. As the name suggests, this is a very small restaurant to eat tapas. The restaurant is located on the famous Plaça de Cort. Despite the location, the food is still affordable! Yet another delicious tapas restaurant in the centre is Bar Espanya. These are just a few examples of good restaurants. If you want to visit a good and affordable restaurant, it is best to avoid the most touristy places.
Throughout the year there are also many events that take place in the city centre. One of the most important events is the celebration of Three Kings. Just as we celebrate Sint Nicolaas in the Netherlands, the Spanish do so with Three Kings. On January 5, the los Reyes Magos (Three Kings) arrive in the port of Palma and a large parade takes place in the centre. As with Sint Nicolaas, the Three Kings bring gifts for the children. The children can write down their wishes on a so-called ‘la carta a los Reyes Magos’ and on the night of 5 to 6 January they put their shoe ready for the Three Kings. In addition, some hay and sugar cubes are laid out for the camels. Ironically, the Three Kings come to Spain from the Netherlands and Sint Nicolaas comes to the Netherlands from Spain.
Places to visit
Below are several places that you should definitely not skip during your trip to Mallorca!
Portals Vells: three small secluded beaches in Calvia.
Parc Natural de Mondrago: the perfect combination between beaches and nature. In addition to the white beaches, you can also spot animals such as hedgehogs, hares, rabbits and turtles. Also birds such as the voluptuous and the kestamous can sometimes be seen here. Are you more interested in flora? In that case you can also come here for different types of almond trees, carob trees, olive trees and orchids. The park is in the south of Mallorca in the municipality of Santanyí. The nature park has also been declared an Area of Special Interest (ANEI) and is also part of the Natura 2000 network. For more information about Parc Natural de Mondrago, click here.
Valldemossa: A village in the mountains. Valldemossa is 43 square kilometres in size and is 420 meters above sea level. The village became more known in 1838 because the famous composer Chopin stayed here for three months. The village is full of steep and narrow streets decorated with plants and flowers.
Caló des moro: Secluded beach with beautiful blue water. After a short walk through a forest you arrive at a place with an exceptionally beautiful sea view. This place feels like you’re on the set of the movie Pirates of the Carribean!
Botanicactus: largest botanical garden in Europe. The garden is in the south of the island in the municipality of Ses Salines. The park covers an area of 150,000 square meters and has more than 400 different types of plants and up to 10,000 cacti! The garden is dedicated to preserve trees from Mallorca such as olive, pomegranate, almond, pine, cypress trees, carob trees, orange and eucalyptus.
If you travel by public transport, keep in mind that buses are often late and sometimes they don’t show up at all. The inhabitants of the Balearic Islands are not very punctual. However, travelling by public transport is advisable because it is a lot cheaper than taking a taxi or renting a car. The prices are also a lot lower than the prices asked in the Netherlands. At a kiosk near a bus station it is also possible to buy a ticket, which is even cheaper than single tickets. Of course, you also have less emissions if you choose public transport. The buses arrive almost everywhere on the island. Most buses come together on Plaça d’Espanya, the centre of Palma.
If possible, travel outside the high season which runs from May to August. This will help you avoid a lot of crowds and the prices are also lower. Outside of this period, the weather is also very pleasant, especially for some more physically intense activities. Moreover, Mallorca has the fewest rainy days in europe!