Majorca holidaysThe sample prices are per person based on two people travelling!
Spanish and Catalan are the official languages of Majorca, although most people also speak Mallorquin, a Catalan regional dialect. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, and less so in rural districts, with French and German also used in popular resort areas.
The Balearics Islands, of which Majorca is the main destination, are part of Spain, meaning the euro is the official currency. Banks, currency exchange outlets and ATMs are easily found in the main tourism hubs, and less frequently across the rest of the island. All major credit cards are accepted at large venues, although small, local eateries and traders in markets prefer cash or travellers’ cheques. A combination of card and cash is best here.
Citizens of EU/EFTA/Schengen countries, including British citizens, can enter visa-free for an indefinite stay. Citizens of the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada may enter visa-free for a stay of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Citizens of other countries are advised to check with their closest Spanish embassy or consulate for exact visa requirements.
The climate of Majorca is classified as Mediterranean, with hot, sunny summers and stormy winters ranging from mild to cold. July and August are the hottest months, with highs of 29 to 30°C and very little rain, while December through February is the coldest period, with average daytime temperatures of around 12°C falling by around 4°C at night. In the late autumn, winter and early spring, the sea is too chilly for swimming.
Palma de Mallorca Airport, set eight kilometres from the island’s main town, Palma, is the aviation gateway of the island and the third largest air hub in Spain. It sees eight million arrivals through the terminal’s four modules during the tourist season, with routes varying from London and UK secondary cities to European capitals.
The major carriers operating at Palma de Mallorca Airport are Air Berlin and Ryanair, both serving a raft of mainland European cities and towns. For UK travellers, British Airways flies from London-City, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and EasyJet serves London-Gatwick, London-Luton and London-Stansted, as well as Glasgow, Belfast and secondary cities. Flybe offers scheduled flights from Exeter and Southampton, Jet2 and Monarch fly from East Midlands and Leeds/Bradford, and Thomas Cook and Thomson fly from many UK regional airports. Typical flight time from London averages 2 hours.
Given the number of low-cost airlines serving the destination, there’s a good chance of bagging a bargain flight if you’re willing to travel outside the high summer season. Another option might be to take a last-minute, discounted package deal from a charter company looking to fill a flight at a less popular time of year. Majorca accommodation is at its most expensive in the high summer, with discounts available in the shoulder seasons. Car, bus, train and taxi are the main means of transportation here.
If air travel isn’t a favourite, ferries run from Barcelona and Valencia on the Spanish mainland to Majorca. The train journey from London is via the Eurostar to Paris, connecting with an overnight sleeper to one of the Spanish port cities. Long-distance bus travel from London to the ports is an economic, reasonably comfortable option and gives an overview of Europe’s spectacular countryside. Majorca is a hub for cruise liners, with several well-known companies using Palma as a stopover.
Getting around Majorca is by train, bus, hire car, water taxi or taxi, with hire car the best option. Transportation between the major beach resorts is straightforward, although long-distance bus travel is sparse. Trains traverse the inland region but miss out the coastal resorts. Roads are generally good, with several motorways in place, although in remote rural districts, they can be narrow and single-track.
Getting around the main town of Palma de Mallorca by bus is straightforward, comfortable and cheap. The town has its own bus service, EMT, and tourist buses run everywhere during the high season. The island’s large towns are connected to Palma’s Placa d’Espanya bus station by an efficient bus network which joins with local buses that serve rural areas, although services in the low season can be infrequent.
Majorca’s rail service is limited to inland routes, with its hub at Palma’s Placa d’Espanya rail station. There are two main routes, to Manacor in the northeast with SFM and to Sa Pobla and Soller in the north with FS. The trains stop en route at a number of picturesque villages and towns, such as Inca and Santa Maria del Cami. Both towns have interesting street markets. Trains are comfortable and reasonably inexpensive, and the northern route runs though the dramatic Serra de Tramuntana mountains.
Car hire is easily available, especially at the airport, with a raft of trusted international players offering a selection of vehicles. If you’re travelling en famille or in a group, self-drive is the best option, as rental charges here are reasonable. If you’re planning a trip during the high season, it’s essential to book your chosen vehicle online well in advance. Experienced drivers will have no problems here, although the mountain roads require careful driving.
Although the vast majority of visitors arrive in Majorca for a beachside holiday, the island has much to offer in the culture and history stakes, as well as more modern delights such as water parks. Palma itself has many archaeological wonders including the magnificent Castell de Bellver, overlooking the town’s Old Quarter with its Almudiana Palace. Palma is also a centre for sailing and yacht charters around the island’s beautiful coastline.
Touring by car is the best way to see most of the sights, with a favourite route beginning in Palma, passing the historically important fishing town of Santa Ponca and winding through the mountains to the coastal town of Andraxt, one of the most picturesque of the island’s towns. The Serra de Tramuntana range itself, now a UNECSO World Heritage site, is a paradise for climbing, trekking and other outdoor sports, and its unique environment will delight birders and eco-tourists.
All varieties of water sports are found along Majorca’s white sand beaches, from fishing and boating to windsurfing, kite-surfing, parasailing, waterskiing, diving and snorkelling. Diving is best in Alcudia, due to its deep offshore waters, and Ciudad Jardin is great for windsurfing for its constant winds. Can Pastilla is Majorca’s hub for kite-surfing, and surfing also possible, with the best waves found on northern beaches where strong winds blow in from the mountains.
The Majorcan town of Soller, backed by the towering mountains along the northeastern coastline, is one of the most interesting small towns on the island for its heritage buildings, narrow winding streets and lovely main square. It’s also a hub for challenging road and mountain biking, with the old road up to the Soller Pass a favourite for road bike riders for its 50 hairpin bends. Walking is also popular here, with local guides giving access to hidden trails.
Majorca’s long history and rich heritage has resulted in many attractions and landmarks giving an overview of the civilisations which have occupied the island since its first settlers arrived in prehistoric times. Romans, Vandals, Byzantines and various Moorish forces all left their marks here in Palma and other towns, and its 500-year history as part of Spain saw the building of magnificent palaces, castles and cathedrals.
Palma’s Old Quarter holds the spectacular Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria de Palma, begun in the 13th century and finally completed in the 19th. Known as the Pearl of Majorca, it’s a vast timeline of church-building skills. The most famous landmark in the Old Quarter is the early 14th century Castell de Bellver, a dramatic fortress first built as a royal residence.
The beautiful Sierra de Tramuntana hillside village of Valdemossa and its pretty nearby fishing port were home for a while to Frederic Chopin and his authoress lady friend George Sand, who stayed in the Valldemossa Monastery. On Majorca, dramatic natural scenery comes as standard, with northerly Cap de Formentor boasting 400m cliffs, weird rock formations and a historic lighthouse.
Another natural wonder is the Cuevas del Drach cave system, located on a bay close to the fishing village of Porto Cristo. Almost 800m of smaller caves complete with stalactites, stalagmites and fantastic rock formations lead to a huge cavern containing Europe’s largest underground lake. Ses Paisses is an important Bronze Age complex of massive megaliths some 4,000 years old, built of huge stone blocks and believed to be of religious significance.
Palma’s Museum of Art is set in an 18th century mansion and contains works by famous Majorcan artist Joan Miro as well as works by Picasso and Dali. For a total contrast on a family visit, Magaluf’s Aqualand Waterpark has a choice of extreme or more sedate rides, and its Marineland is a combination of dolphin ad sea lion shows and aquaria with all manner of sea creatures.
As a major Mediterranean tourist destination since the 1950s, Majorca offers a wide range of options when it comes to entertainment and nightlife. The island’s northern coastline has the best of the leisure and nightlife venues, with Palma as its hub, while the southern coast is more focused on cultural and quiet evening activities. Palma’s clubs, discos, bars and pubs are centered on Passeo Maritime, a stretch of night-time haunts open until sunrise and catering for all tastes and pockets.
Venues around Plaza Gomila cater exclusively for the young set with late-night dance clubs and trendy bars, and the Consulado del Mar and La Lioja districts are lively with music bars and street performances. Palma’s Pacha Mallorca is famous, opening at 20:00 and closing at 06:00. S’Arenal is another popular district for night-time entertainment. Magaluf is infamous for its holiday romances, football shirts and next-morning hangovers, with BCM Planet Dance its best-known club.
Nightlife along the less-developed southern coastline is slightly more sedate and considerably less crowded than in the north, and the villages and small resorts along the mountainous west coast offer bars and eateries better suited to meals with conversation than to riotous dancing until dawn. Cala San Vicente has quaint bars set along its sandy coves, and Soller in the northwest offers cafés with traditional music.
Theatre and dinner shows are another of Majorca’s night-time attractions, with the panto-style Pirates show a favourite with families and groups alike. Come Fly With Me offers Cirque du Soliel acrobatics and Frank Sinatra hits, and the island’s many traditional festivals go on until late at night with street parties, fireworks and street entertainers. Cinemas showing the latest English-language movies are found in the malls.
Dining out choices on Majorca depend on location, with world cuisines and English breakfasts easily found in the main beach resorts, as well as local cuisine of varying standards. Palma is the hub of dining, featuring the highest concentration of restaurants on the island, but Algaida is fast garnering a reputation as an eating hot spot. Prices are reasonable and kids are welcome.
In the island’s smaller, quieter resorts, local Majorcan eateries are authentic and good value for money, giving visitors a chance to try the delicious local cuisine. Based on pork, lamb and seafood, Majorcan dishes are embellished with fresh local vegetables and garlic, and often come with rich, tomato-based sauces. Majorcan bread is served with every meal and is sweet in flavour.
Bread and vegetable soups are a traditional meal, accompanied by trempo, a salad based on tomato, red pepper and onion, and served with an olive oil and vinegar dressing. Tumbet, served cold, is finely-sliced potatoes, peppers and aubergines, fried and covered with a rich tomato sauce. Pork and lamb roasts are all-time favourites, and paella, known as arros sec, is cooked here using meat, seafood and vegetables. Caragols are snails cooked with aromatic herbs, and fresh seafood is mostly grilled.
Majorcan sausages are delicious hot or cold, and mostly made from ground pork, paprika and pork fat, as in sobrassada, one of the tastiest. Botifarron is black pudding, and camalot is its larger version. Pastries come in sweet and savoury varieties, stuffed with vegetables and meat or almonds, honey, jam and curds.
Local liqueurs are based on aniseed and other herbs, oranges and almonds, with the traditional Majorcan aperitif, palo, flavoured with the bitter chinchona bark and sweet caramel. Both Spanish and imported foreign beers are easily found.
Majorca is all about its 170 white-sand beaches, from crowded strands in the resorts to tiny, isolated bays in the south. In 2008, stunning S’Amarador Beach was voted Europe’s best for its unspoilt beauty, and the tiny Platja del Mago was nominated the island’s first designated naturist beach. Magaluf Beach in the heart of the tourist zone is 900m of fine sand and transparent waters fronting a stylish promenade, and lovely Es Trench Beach is now a protected reserve. For family visits, Alcudia Beach is perfect, with its shallow waters, fine sands and kids’ playground.
Majorca’s small northwestern and southern resorts are the best places to get away from the package-tour crowds for a romantic break. Small hotels set in heritage buildings, quaint fishing harbours and secluded bays, walks along cliff tops and in the countryside, and quiet suppers at a beachside restaurant with great sunset views are perfect for a romantic holiday on Majorca. Sa Coma is a small, modern resort with great facilities, but is set in lush countryside and has a pretty pedestrian-only promenade lined with romantic eateries.
Family-friendly holidays on Majorca don’t have to mean faceless package-deal hotels and packed beaches. The island has a surprising number of stylish places to stay which welcome children and provide facilities such as kids’ menus, activities, pools and clubs. Many small coastal resort villages such as Cala Millor and Cala d’Or have low-density boutique hotels which are happy to help parents make the most of their holidays, and self-catering suites in the large hotels at Alcudia and Playa de Muro can be had. Mallorcans love kids and welcome them to most eateries on the island.
With its varied topography from coastline to high mountains, Majorca offers activity holidays in all shapes and sizes. For the truly adventurous, canyoning in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains is a new thrill in the region, with narrow gorges and massive waterfalls giving routes from easy to difficult. Climbing, caving, cliff jumping and guided adventure treks are easily arranged and, for the ultimate adrenaline rush, the wet and wild experience of coasteering won’t disappoint. Its action-packed combination of adventure swimming, rock climbing, caving and rock scrambling will leave you breathless.