7 Mallorcan must-dos

BY Josh Ferry Woodard

5th Dec 2017 Travel

7 Mallorcan must-dos

Find Balearic bliss on the island of Mallorca with superior hospitality, Mediterranean delicacies, secluded cliff-side coves and picturesque mountain roads.

1) Explore Palma de Mallorca

Image via Wikipedia

The island’s capital, Palma de Mallorca, is a lively city peppered with historical landmarks and buzzing eateries.

The imposing 13th-century Gothic Cathedral La Seu stands facing the harbour, its beige colour giving it the look of a magnificent sandcastle. From here sightseers can stroll past the mazy cobbled streets of the old town, browsing a range of boutique art galleries and stopping at any number of excellent pintxos bars for a tasty snack “pinched” to a piece of bread with a cocktail stick.

At the perimeter of the old city walls, a crumbling 16th-century fort has been transformed into the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Es Baluard’s clean concrete lines and glass facades provide a striking contrast to the weathered ancient stonework. Be sure to check out the collection, the privileged views of the city and the bold upside-down church sculpture located at the nearby Plaza de la Puerta.

Further out from the city centre, Bellver Castle—the first circular castle in Europe—also affords outstanding views of Palma bay. While the 11,000-seater open-air Balearic Coliseum, originally built as a bullring, is famous for hosting summer festivals and concerts.

When tired of pintxos, it’s time for tapas. And there’s nowhere better to enjoy a selection of delicious small plates than recent TaPalma winner OMBU, where traditional Spanish and Catalan classics are combined with flavours from around the world. While the menu could be accused of pretentiousness, the cheery staff certainly couldn’t. Highlights include sweet and sharp sea bass ceviche with avocado and passion fruit, mini cornets of tuna, wasabi and sour apple and the perfectly piquant and subtly citrusy lime and ginger crème caramel.


2) Drive the Serra de Tramuntana

Image via Josh Ferry Woodard

The stunning Serra de Tramuntana mountain range forms the northern backbone of the island. Stretching from the rural market town of Andratx in the south west to the picturesque Cap de Formentor lighthouse in the north east, the spectacular landscape has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is perfect for road trips.

The vertiginous circuit of harsh chicanes, sheer drops and hairpin bends overlooks endless vistas of stone-capped mountains pickled with green trees. The 90km scenic drive—best split into smaller daytrips—passes some of the island’s most pleasant villages.

Ancient blonde stone buildings, such as the Charterhouse where Polish composer Frédéric Chopin often stayed, give Valldemossa an old-world charm. Fornalutx claims, with some justification, to be the prettiest village in the whole of Spain. Deià enjoys an artistic legacy best exemplified by the writer Robert Graves, who lived within the patchwork of orange houses for many years with the American poet Laura Riding.

The café-lined Placa Constitucid in Sóller is a great spot to soak up the sun with an ensaïmada (a sort of Mallorcan doughnut) an espresso and some freshly squeezed juice from the surrounding orange groves. A vintage tram connects the relaxed town to the coastal village of Port de Sóller.

Further north lies the tiny fishing inlet of Port de Sa Calobra, a delightful cove with shimmering turquoise water and impressive huge white cliffs. Pack a picnic to avoid the overpriced buffet restaurants.


3) Relax at Pure Salt Port Adriano

Image via Josh Ferry Woodard

Pure Salt Port Adriano is a luxury five-star hotel set within a decadent villa overlooking the stylish Port Adriano marina.

It’s a place where people come to relax. Where cocktails and Cava are served on sun loungers beside a glassy infinity pool. Where pinky orange sunsets linger above the palms. Where each room enjoys lavish furnishings, romantic decoration and a private terrace with ocean views.

While the rooms are plush, the suites really drive for the height of luxury. Televisions are hidden beneath the surface of silver mirrored cabinets, private jacuzzis are found on balconies and terraces lead directly to swim up palm-fringed pools. The Gustav Klimt-styled O Suite even features its very own indoor garden and private sauna.

A perfect day at Pure Salt Port Adriano begins with a varied buffet of local cheeses, fresh juices and cooked breakfast items. Follow this with an invigorating dip in Port Adriano beach’s calm crystal waters and an afternoon sipping cocktails and tasting tapas by the pool.

After a wellness treatment in the hotel’s stylish O Spa, it’s time to savour a famous Mallorcan sunset and sit down for a refined meal at Adriana Restaurant—paired with a choice of local or international wines, of course.

Look out for the deliciously creamy prawn croquettes, served alongside thin slices of prawn sashimi on a playful rock pool bed of hot stones and mint leaf seaweed, the green herb-encrusted sea bass with a selection of deep fried vegetables and carrot puree and the ambitious roasted turbot with garlicky spinach, confit potatoes, crispy parsnips and rich meat gravy.


4) Visit the Caves of Drach

Image via Cuevas Deldrach

Beneath the friendly resort town of Porto Cristo lies the strange subterranean world of the Cuevas del Drach–not to be confused with the imposter Cuevas dels Hams, which is a smaller cave system also located in Porto Cristo.

Stretching for around a mile, the rainbow-lit Caves of Drach feature thousands of spiky stalactites, which reflect spookily off the surface of Lake Martel, Europe’s largest underground lake. Bright blue, orange, green and yellow lighting helps create a magical atmosphere and highlight strange formations such as a flag, a mountain and a cactus.

The experience is rounded off by a floating live classical concert and a boat trip across the lake.


5) Agrotourism at Cases de Son Barbassa

Image via Josh Ferry Woodard

Cases de Son Barbassa is a 13th-century Mallorcan fort, which has been transformed into a boutique hotel and working finca.

Located in the middle of Llevant National Park, a few miles from the medieval town of Capdepera, the agrotourism hotel is surrounded by almond, olive and carob trees. A sweet nutty scent pervades the air; from the elegant poolside four-poster beds to the olive plantation, from which the estate produces its own exquisite extra virgin olive oil. It has a fruity, almost spicy, flavour and is proudly placed at each dining table.

Throughout the day, the restaurant serves a delightful selection of Mediterranean dishes made, where possible, with fresh ingredients from the kitchen garden. The dining area is set within a glass conservatory overlooking vast farmland. Green vines hang from all angles and large-leafed potted plants create the illusion of feasting in the jungle.

On certain nights the kitchen serves a special Mallorcan menu. Plates to look out for include gooey deep fried mozzarella swimming in sweet tomato jam, smoky-but-soft grilled squid seasoned with garlic sauce and marbled sirloin of Galician steak served with cream of sobrassada (Mallorcan paprika sausage) and a foil-baked potato oozing with melted garlic butter.

At night the sky is lit up by a thousand stars and the air is filled with a chorus of crickets, occasionally punctuated by the jingling of goats with wind chimes around their necks. Needless to say, it’s a lovely place to fall asleep—or take a late-night jacuzzi foam bath.


6) Eat fish on the beach at Cala Torta

Image via Josh Ferry Woodard

Those who persevere down the road to Cala Torta—another of the island’s seemingly infinite winding roads with panoramic mountain views—are rewarded with a little slice of Mediterranean heaven.

From the shaded parking area, a dusty pine path leads to the hushed white sands of Cala Torta. Flanked by gentle cliffs on either side, the secluded cove has none of the sun loungers or parasols that can be found on many of Mallorca’s more built-up beaches. There’s nothing but clear blue water, soft sand and a rudimentary wooden beach shack serving ice-cold beer and freshly caught fish.

Dos cervezas y dos pescados del dia, por favor.”


7) Fall asleep to the sound of the ocean at Pure Salt Garonda

Image via Josh Ferry Woodard

The luxurious Pure Salt Garonda is an adults-only hotel where the sound of crashing waves provides a soothing lullaby each night.

Located on the blue coast of Playa de Palma, just a short taxi ride from the urban thrills of Palma’s old town, the five-star establishment offers a perfect mix of luxury and leisure.

Professional body therapists assess guests’ needs and recommend spa treatments from an extensive catalogue. A sauna, Turkish bath and jacuzzi lie in wait for afters.

Direct beach access, cycle hire and a full gym offer plenty of opportunity to work up an appetite for the in-house Italian, Spanish and tapas restaurants. Down at sea level, the modern Mikel and Pintxo tapas bar serves classics such as patatas bravas, Spanish tortilla and various paellas. With upbeat muzak and stylish glass cubed fire pieces, it’s the perfect spot for a nightcap after a day of relaxation or exploration.

Soon it will be time to open the terrace shutters and let the sound of the ocean breakers seep into the room, and into your dreams.

Josh enjoyed complimentary stays at Cases de Son Barbassa, Pure Salt Garonda and Pure Salt Port Adriano.

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