Travelling is like dining on a delicious meal; sometimes it’s the first time and sometimes we keep coming back for more.
We visit certain places that give us something new to look at, or travel back to countries that bring back good memories. This month, we’re craving for something new, so we’re taking a journey off the coast of Spain and diving deep into the Mediterranean flavors of Mallorca.
Exploring Mallorca can feel like a full-course meal, so while you’re up in the air, try to whet your appetite by reading up on some facts about the island.
Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, the island is an autonomous region of Spain whose name comes from the Classical Latin term “insula maior” which translates to “larger island,” as it is the largest among the Balearic Islands.
Signs of first inhabitants were found by historians, with Bronze Age stone megaliths and settlements found on the island, the former of which can still be seen to this day like Capocorb Vell and Ses Païsses. Years later, the Phoenicians had arrived but were soon overthrown by the Roman Empire led by General Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus.
The island flourished under Roman rule and it was then that their two major towns were established Pollentia (now known as Alcúdia), and Palmaria (now known as Palma). Remnants of the Roman conquest can be seen around the island, the Roman town just outside of Alcúdia can still be visited today as it stands across the Church of St. Jaume, a Roman theatre, and forum. A 19th century bull ring, although greatly associated with Spain, can also be seen near the area.
The Moors then conquered the island and instilled Arabic remnants like the bath house Banys Arab located in Palma. They further developed the island and ushered it into the modern age by developing local industries and improving agriculture through irrigation. Eventually the Spaniards conquered the island but was constantly under attack by the Barbary pirates. Mallorca was finally declared a province of Spain, a title it holds to this very day.
Adventures Up North
Once you set foot, it’s a feast for the senses. Dig in and embrace your adventurous side as you encounter the stunning landscapes of the north. Head on out to Playa de Formentor Beach and the adjacent plains of Cap de Formentor, or go spelunking and fishing at Drach Caves and Cala Figuera.
Playa de Formentor Beach is a must-visit for families with little kids. The beach is long and shallow with fine white sand and pristine blue waters. Get to swim all day and try all the different recreational activities offered in the area like stand up paddling, windsurfing, jet skiing, snorkeling, canoeing, and guided tours on glass-bottomed boats. If you’re itching to go deeper and further, paddleboats, catamarans, and diving gear are also available for rent.
Those looking to relax can find lounge chairs and reed canopies along the beach with showers, toilets, and parking spaces available on-site. When you’ve had enough of water, you can always walk and bike through the lush Pine tree forest or take part in a once in a lifetime hiking experience to view the Mediterranean Sea from the Cap de Formentor lighthouse, considered the farthest tip of Mallorca.
Down the road from Playa de Formentor is the small fishing village of Cala Figuera, known for housing many seafood restaurants that serve fresh seafood and authentic local delicacies. The place is perfect for tourists who want to relax and opt for a less thrilling vacation. The village offers various activities across its blue-green waters like fishing, diving, yachting, snorkeling, and other rentals.
Have the time of your life spelunking at Cuevas del Drach, a series of interconnected caves, namely: the Black Cave, the White Cave, the Cave of Luis Salvador, and the Cave of the French. Located in Manacor City in Porto Cristo, the area offers one-hour tours on foot and boat through the four caves. The entire experience is topped off with an enchanting serenade from a violin on Lake Martel, a large underground lake named after its French discoverer Édouard-Alfred Martel, towards the end of the tour.
Down the South Coast
While the north was a nice introduction to Mallorca, down south is where the main dish is served. Palma, the country’s capital, is the most visited area on the island. Opt for a sightseeing tour so you can view the capital’s famous landmarks; hassle-free. Palma City Sightseeing Tour Bus offers unlimited bus rides complete with eighteen stops, ticket entrances to each city landmark, and a one-hour boat tour along the Mediterranean Sea. While set tours are up for grabs, tourists can also set their own itinerary and roam the city at their own pace.
Priced only at €12.00, tours begin at the Avenida de Antoni Maura. The tour then zips through the Gothic Roman Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, the oldest Catholic church in the country often called Le Seu, Bellver Castle, a round-shaped castle that offers a spectacular view of the entire city, Old Town, which was greatly influenced by the Moorish conquest, Can Pere Antoni, a small stretch of beach in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma perfect for taking a stroll, and lastly, the Royal Palace of Almudaina, the former residence of the royal family.
Local Life in Soller
End the trip with a sweet treat and find yourself relaxing in Sóller, a small municipality in the north western side of Mallorca. The town only has 14,000 residents and offers you a striking countryside view along with twentieth century houses and old-age infrastructures.
One of their many attractions is the Church of Saint Bartholomew. A Roman, Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau church whose façade features intricately designed towers that flank the church’s side, a statue of two angels sculpted by Joan Alcover, a large round window with the image of the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs, and a statue of Saint Bartholomew himself at the entrance. The structure itself houses a gilded altar, small separate chapels dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Bartholomew, as well as delicately-designed columns.
Right across the church is the town hall and belltower, both famously designed by Joan Rubió, a Catalan architect. Dominating these structures is the Placa Constitució, a public plaza filled with a number of cafés and restaurants as well as a horde of benches shaded by trees and fountains.
Pack your bags and ride aboard the Tranvía de Sóller, a Spanish heritage tram that brings people from the inland valley to the port area of Sóller. Constructed by engineer Pedro Garau, the tramway system has been in operation since 1913 and has over seventeen stations in the municipality.
Once you arrive at Port de Sóller, spend the day visiting the marina’s opposite lighthouses and indulge in unique Mallorcan cuisine at the restaurants that fill the area. Drink the night away with a myriad of bars to choose from, or go bird watching at the port’s observation site.
The Mediterranean Haven
Travelling, much like dining, is always better when you do everything with gusto. Enjoy every minute and savor the experience like it’s your last. And like every meal or journey, it has to come to an end, so make the most out of Mallorca but know that you can always come back for more.