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. Check out a few of our favourite destinations around 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.

Alcúdia

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 more about our travels through Spain:

DISCOVERING THE REAL MALLORCA PART I: PORT D’ANDRATX & ES TRENC

DISCOVERING THE REAL MALLORCA PART III: VALLDEMOSSA & DEIÀ

THE BEST OF BEAUTIFUL BARCELONA