• Marion Mueller

Mallorca – Dream or Nightmare Island?


Intro

Well, like in my previous article about Venice, Mallorca is kind of sharing the same controversial fate of a touristic reputation.


On one side Mallorca is a trendy destination for the rich and famous. During summertime ports are full with luxurious yachts and villages like Portals Nous, Puerto de Pollensa or Arta come alive with the jet set. These and many other villages are a millionaire playground full of luxurious villas and apartments, fancy bars and exclusive shops.


Then the other reputation of Mallorca: drunken and badly behaving party-goers mainly from Germany and UK flocking to the beaches and night clubs. Staying in low budget hotels, disrespecting local customs and not spending much money except on alcohol. These visitors are since some time a thorn in the flesh of the local tourism authority. New concepts are underway for a transformation from a low-budget to a more sustainable and high-end tourism development plan. But of course, there are many obstacles along the way.


Almond Trees

In any way luxurious or low budget, Mallorca is very crowded over the summer month. So come either in late summer/early autumn or even better early spring when the almond trees are blooming. That´s one of Mallorca´s many natural spectacles. Depending on the actual yearly temperatures, trees should be in full bloom around end of January to end of February.

My Opinion

Honestly, I have hardly seen a small island that is so varied and so rich of real breath-taking sceneries. So yes, Mallorca is a dream island worth to visit as long as you are away from the crowds and out of the high season otherwise it´s more of a nightmare.


Where to stay?

My personal recommendation for a stay on the island would be in one of the many rural accommodation places called Fincas. Located in old farmhouses amidst fruit plantations, agricultural fields and olive trees these places will offer you to experience the real Mallorquin charm. Nowadays you can find all sorts of Finca accommodation from very basic to real luxurious.


Finca Ca´s Sant (www.cas-sant.com)

Is a beautiful rural Boutique Hotel housed in a 750-year-old orange tree farm. The owner family is running the hotel by themselves, so you will feel that homey and friendly atmosphere the minute you enter the estate.

In the historic Manor House, you can find the reception, reading hall and breakfast room. Every morning your hosts prepare a real nice local breakfast for you. Highlight is the freshly squeezed orange juice plus the not to be missed home-made orange jam.

They have a total of 13 rooms with different categories to choose from.

We had a double room with terrace housed in a picturesque stone building. The interior was rustic and very clean. My only little negative point is that due to the nightly outside cold temperature (mid Feb) the room with its stone floor and especially the bathroom were uncomfortably cold. They had heating, but it was not really warming up.

For warmer days the Finca has two very spacious pools, one with an ancient feel flanked by old roman columns and the other one under a centuries-old magnolia tree.

But the real unique experience are the more than 700 orange trees with their 60 million orange blossoms in springtime. The scent will literally take your breath away.

Other places to stay:

Another nice Finca that we have used for previous stays on the island is the Puig de Ros D´alt (www.puigderosdalt.com).


Further check out the Finca Hotel Rural Es Turo (www.esturo.com), Hotel S´ Olivaret (www.solivaret.com) or the Agroturismo Hotel Son Penyaflor (www.sonpenyaflor.com).


If you just want to do a city break in Palma then the Hotel Cappuccino (www.hotelcappuccino.com) might be a good choice for you.


Mallorca´s Must-Try

Before we come to a sightseeing tour around the island, comes my ultimate list of randomly picked not to be missed Mallorquin things/experiences:


1. Spike up your sugar level with a freshly baked Ensaimada followed by a Coca de Patata and if that is still not enough indulge in Mallorca´s most famous dessert the almond cake.

All these sweet treats you can get throughout the island’s bakeries, pastry shops and cafes. For a real traditional experience, I would recommend to pay one of the oldest cafes in Palma a visit – the Café Juan de Saigo (www.canjoandesaigo.com). Here you can also enjoy a heavenly thick hot chocolate.

Another of my favourite for a lunch followed by an almond cake with ice cream would be the Casseis Gran Café & Restaurant in Ses Salines (www.reservas.cassai.es).

2. If you are more from the salty side skip the sweets and try the famous Sobrasada – a raw, cured sausage made from pork, paprika, salt and other spices served as a finger food on bread slices.

3. For more meat delights visit Can Pedro in Genova (www.mesoncanpedro.es) – it is not exactly an insider tip, but it´s one of Mallorca´s most famous BBQ restaurants among tourists and locals alike.

4. Another special restaurant, however one which is more difficult to reach is the Es Verger (Cami des Castell) near to Alaro. It´s a very rustic mountain restaurant, also not exactly an insider tip anymore – but food is good and the atmosphere very authentic. Portions are generous, the farm wine basic and the interior simple to shabby – the must try is the lamb shoulder. It is said to be one of the best on the island (at our visit it was finished already).

You can either drive the 2.5 km serpentine road, however be aware that the road is very stony and in bad condition (off-road vehicle is recommended). Plus oncoming traffic can be a problem too. So better to walk and if you feel for more you can continue for another 2.5 km from the restaurant up to Alaro castle.


5. Staying on the culinary side also don´t miss to dine one evening in one of the also very rustic “Cellares”, especially in the area in and around Inca. These ancient wine cellars have been transformed in historic cellar restaurants serving local cuisine amidst huge, wooden wine barrels. Try the Cellar Can Ripoll (www.restaurantcanripoll.com) or Sa Travessa (Carrer de sa Murtra 16).

6. After all that foodie stuff let´s come to SHOPPING. So what are my specials here for you?


First of all Cowboy Boots. Yes, you heard it right cowboy boots – I know they are so out of time, but we are talking here about boots from Tony Mora (www.tonymora.com) – which is a real institution on the island. Their boots are famous, hand-made, expansive but also very special – so yes girls, go for it! If you don´t like the ones in the showroom the onsite factory can create your very own model if you cash out some extra money.

For a special scent I recommend a visit to Flor d´Ametler in the outskirts of Palma (www.flordametler.com). For over 70 years a local perfume is made from almond blossoms here. Nowadays you can also purchase further products as shower gels, body creams and so on, but the perfume and pure almond oil are still the bestsellers – nice for a gift as well.

Another very special island gift can be salt from the local brand Flor de Sal (www.flordesal.com). This high-quality salt can be either purchased in the pure version or mixed with various herbs and flavours. It is sold in shops around the island, but it´s more fun to visit their production site in Es Trenc. Here you can join a factory tour, have a break in the cute coffee shop and buy their products direct on site.

Afterwards don´t miss to visit the nearby Es Trenc natural reserve with one of the most picturesque beaches on the island.


Why not getting your very unique handbag designed only for you? This is also possible here on the island. Check out the Insta Account @ozwaldaccessoires of the german designer Angi Oswald.


Now let´s move over to a bit of sightseeing.....


Below my wrap up of the most scenic places and things to do.


# Wander through cobble stoned streets in the picturesque village of Fornalutx


This historic mountain village is nestled in between the massive Tramuntana mountain range. Surrounded by vast plantations of orange and lemon trees. On a walk through this authentic village you can get the real feel of the rural Mallorquin life plus you can enjoy some spectacular views onto Soller.

# Stroll along the beach road of Port Soller


The village of Soller is divided in an upper town with a scenic marketplace plus cathedral and a view kilometres away the lower town consisting of a port village and the beach area.

Enjoy the sun on a beach walk, watch fishermen during their daily routines or sit in one of the many restaurants like Restaurant Ses Oliveres (www.sesoliveresportdesoller.com) or Ca´n Ribes (www.restaurantecanribes.es).

...and Walk/drive up to the lighthouse in order to enjoy the sunset and some spectacular views on the village and the coastline around.

# Go on a costal drive down south


As we were based in Soller, we did two very exciting and varied drives along the spectacular west coast of the island. In the first one we went from Soller over the artist town of Deia to Valldemossa with some very scenic stops en route like the Mirador de Sa Fordada.

In Valldemossa we explored the village with its old stone houses on foot and had a coffee on the lively central square. As this town is quite popular also for bigger bus groups (it is actually the most visited village of the island) it is worth to walk a bit off the common tracks through narrow side streets and alleys.

We further drove on to the small village of Banyalbufer. On this drive I would highly recommend to leave from time to time the main road and venture out on the many side roads leading to small seaside hamlets and fishing villages like for example Port des Canongne. However, be aware that some of these roads are not for the faint hearted and do require some driving skills.

To complete this round tour, you can drive further down south to Andratx and from there back to Palma or Soller on the main highway.


# Go on a coastal drive up North


Taking again Soller as a starting point we went this time up North and drove up high into the Tramuntana mountains. You will pass steep mountain cliffs, drive through dense forest and have some scenic photo stop points.

First real spectacular site on this tour is a drive down the legendary winding road of Sa Calobra. It seems that this road will never end and after the first couple of curves you will feel already like on a roller-coaster ride. A drive of 15 km with a beeline of 4 km and a height difference of 800 meters. And you are never alone on this road, especially during the high season.

When you have made it down you need to park the car and complete the last meters on foot. First you reach a small but very nice beach, with some touristic restaurants (they can be skipped).

So better to make your way further through the narrow pedestrian tunnel until you reach the breath-taking Canyon of Torrent de Pareis, which is one of the most spectacular canyons in the whole Mediterranean.

Relax on the bizarre beach or explore the Canyon and its picturesque nature.

There is also the possibility of longer treks through the whole length of the Canyon, but for this you require proper trekking equipment and you need to get some local advice or even better a guide. This tour can be dangerous as weather changes are hardly noticed while inside the canyon and flooding can occur quickly.


After such a beautiful natural spectacle our next stop was a cultural one – the mountain monastery Lluc, which is situated in a remote mountain valley full of holm oaks. Unfortuntelay the secluded location doesn’t prevent the monastery from modern civilisation and its tourist busses. Nevertheless the areal is very big, so even in peak times this holy site doesn’t feel overcrowded. Enjoy the fresh mountain air, wander through the alleys of the monastery and its surrounding and don´t miss to visit the main church with the iconic “La Moreneta” – the Black Madonna and source of all the pilgrim streams.

As we were running out of time we then returned via Pollenca and Inca back to Soller. With some more time you can take this tour further until you reach the breath-taking viewing point at the Lighthouse of Cap Formentor, a barren but beautiful headland often with rough northern winds.


# Shop like a local on the weekly farmers market in Sineu


Sineu is located right in the middle of the island and used to be an important market place since ancient time. Every Wednesday this otherwise unspectacular village comes alive, when locals and tourists from all around the island flock to the many market stands. All kind of local food, fruits, vegetables, plants, sweets, cloth, jewellery and art work are sold even live stock can be found.


It is a perfect place to emerge into the local island life and to try some of the local specialities.

# No trip to Mallorca without a visit to the capital


Palma is for sure one of the most underestimated places of the island, left behind by most of the tourists who only use Palma airport as their entry gate to the island. However this city is a real jewel and deserves a longer visit.


For me Palma is actually one of the nicest cities in Spain. I love to wander through its Old Town, which is one of the biggest historic Old Towns in Europe. Narrow streets, small shops, traditional cafes and bakeries, lively Plazas and bars, old town houses and palaces – there is so much to see and do.

A good starting point for an exploration tour is the Mercat de L´Olivar – the old market halls. Here you can fuel up with some delicious tapas and other foodie delights. You will have many options over there, we tried the El Cocedero and enjoyed some fantastic food.

In case you want to bring some local Mallorquin produce back home with you, this is also a good place to go.

Afterwards you can make your way through the pedestrian area to the Plaza Mayor.


.....and further down to the massive La Seu Cathedral.


From the Plaza in front of the Cathedral you have fantastic views onto the Yacht harbour.

The Royal Palace (Palacio Real) opposite is also worth to visit for an insight into the life of the Spanish Royal family.

# Get your tan on one of the many beautiful beaches


Away from the ugly party beaches of El Arenal Mallorca has so many picturesque and secluded beaches. From sand to stone, from flat to steep Mallorca has it all when it comes to beaches.


My personal number one beach is the Platja des Trenc – with an almost Caribbean vibe. This beach is the longest natural beach on the island admits a diverse natural reserve. You need to bring your own beach equipment and you won´t find any gastronomy around – but for this you will get pure and unspoilt nature.

Much smaller and already a bit more touristic, but still very beautiful is the Platja S´Amarador surrounded by sand dunes. The nearby Platja Ses Fonts de n´Alis is equally nice. On cooler days you can take a walk through the nature reserve of Mondrago that is situated right behind.


So ……..


This is the real Mallorca! ❤️


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