Mention Mallorca to anyone and it’s almost guaranteed that the image they conjure up will be of the notoriously trashy party scene thumping away in Magaluf— not too dissimilar from the neon and vomit themed Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan, just conveniently located in Europe. Just like you’ll find in Thailand, though, there is so much more to this popular island than drunk teenagers and alcohol poisoning. If you’re willing to spend a little time and petrol exploring beyond the city centre, you may just find that Mallorca steals your heart.
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, sitting off the east coast of Spain in the sunny Mediterranean and enjoying all the crystal blue water that comes with the territory. The whole island is hardly more than 100km, but it is surprisingly full of adorable hillside towns, dramatic cliffs that plunge into the sea below, spectacular sandy beaches, and even tiny mountain ranges. My friend Katy and I rented a car to explore the island better, and I would readily recommend this to anyone as a reasonably affordable, and certainly the best, way to get around and really see Mallorca. Unfortunately for us (although my Spanish isn’t the best anyway), the primary language is Catalan, but we found that everything is very well signed, and often even in English, so getting around was hardly a challenge.
During our week on the island, we spent our fair share of time just relaxing on the beach and splashing around at our AirBnB in the stunning Port d’Andratx, but we also explored quite a bit. Katy actually met someone from Mallorca while I was hiking the TMB, and he recommended heaps of spots for us to visit, so we left feeling like we saw some local gems in addition to the main sites.
This is the second post in my mini blog series on the best places to discover in Mallorca!
Cap de Formentor
The Formentor Peninsula, its adorable lighthouse, and a number of incredible viewpoints lay little more than an hour’s drive from Palma at the northern tip of the Mallorca and should be the one thing you visit if you don’t have time for anything else. Even the drive itself is quite fun, as it offers views onto the Serra de Tramuntana, the island’s western mountain range (which seems even tinier when you’ve just come from hiking in the alps), and peaks frequently out onto the lush coastline.
Like most places on Mallorca, Formentor is best explored in a rental car, so hopefully someone in your party is confident driving in a foreign country and dealing with the narrow, winding road up the coast. That’s definitely not me, so I was happy to have my friend Katy behind the wheel while I did a questionable job navigating from the passenger seat (I’d also recommend getting a SIM card so you can use Google Maps).
After passing through Pollença for a quick lunch at the Lidl, we were stopping every few minutes on the side of the road to admire the ocean and take a thousand photos from every angle. One of the best viewpoints is Mirador del Mal Pas, which has a network of short paths that take you over the rocks and offer expansive views of the nearing Formentor Peninsula. I couldn’t resist the (very overpriced) slushies being sold at the small café, because it was sweltering and I was on holiday.
When we finally reached Cap de Formentor, there were cars banked up in a long queue waiting to park and Katy had to do some swift manuevreing to get us up to the lighthouse (everyone should be very relieved that I was not behind the wheel), but the view was worth any amount of trouble. If you want to hang out for a while, there’s a café here selling food and drink, and absolutely no shortage of panoramic views to enjoy over your subpar meal.
On our drive back from Formentor, we decided to pass through nearby Alcúdia rather than going via Pollença again, and we were not disappointed! This medieval town is incredibly cute, full of wonderful shops that are not at all crowded and restaurants serving tapas and sangria at a real bargain. We ended up shopping and sitting down for dinner, and even hanging around for a live concert in the main square, spending far longer in Alcúdia than we had intended because it was so lovely. I would recommend it to anyone as a great spot to spend a day— or even stay a few nights.
Alcúdia is actually an incredibly old city, settled several thousand years BC. By comparison, the castle walls encircling Old Town only date back to the 14th century, so they are practically brand new. Like most ancient towns in Mallorca, Alcúdia is set a few kilometres off the coast, which our Mallorcan friend explained was to prevent pirates from pillaging the town and raping all the women. He reckons many of the women did get raped, though, and it explains the darker-than-normal features of Mallorcans compared to mainland Spaniards. Who knows if this is true, but let’s stop talking about rape and just focus on what a lovely township Alcúdia is and how everyone really ought to visit.
Read about more incredible places to visit on Mallorca in my other posts about discovering the island!