King of the Balearics
The biggest of the Balearics, Majorca has long been a favourite with the world’s travel pack. It’s got extremely good looks on its side, after all. We’re talking tiny inlets, sweeping bays and sandy coves, all lapped by turquoise waters. And away from the coast, it’s a case of sweet-smelling pine forests, hidden hamlets and jagged mountain peaks.
Resort-wise, families flock to the safe shores of Alcudia, Puerto Pollensa and Cala Bona, which are brimming with restaurants, shops and cafés. Ca’n Picafort is another favourite. This former fishing village has got a 13-kilometre ribbon of sand to its name. Sa Coma, meanwhile, is great for couples thanks to its tree-lined prom and romantic eateries.
Things get lively over on the island’s west coast, with the peppy trio of Palma, Palma Nova and Magaluf leading the way with their neon-lit bars and bass-pumping clubs. Majorca’s boutique-brimming, tapas-loving capital city draws a cosmopolitan cocktail crowd, too.
Things to See and Do in Majorca
The best of the Balearics
Majorca serves up some of the best beaches in the Balearics. There are hundreds of them, running the full spectrum from long, golden and sandy to hidden, tiny and pebbly. At last count, 41 of them had been awarded a coveted Blue Flag award.
The big beach
Alcudia Beach is a huge hit with families, thanks to its easy-access facilities. Seafood restaurants, ice-cream shops and milkshake parlours hug its 10-kilometre-long arc of sand. If you want a more secluded patch, wander down the beach in the direction of neighbouring Playa de Muro – the crowds die down the further along you get.
The secret beach
To slip away from the crowds, catch a boat from the port of Alcudia to Cala Truent. It’s a half moon-shaped stretch of shingle on the northwest of the island, and is framed by steep cliffs fringed with pine forests. There aren’t any beach bars or restaurants here, so it’s worth bringing a picnic basket if you’re planning to stay a while.
Palma’s Avenida Jaume III is the city’s premier shopping street. It’s a wide avenue bordered by chic boutiques selling jewellery, clothes and designer handbags. Big names to look out for include Gucci, Cartier and Jimmy Choo. A clutch of Spanish designer boutiques line Alcudia’s harbour area, too. Look out for Agata, a jewellery store famous for incorporating beautiful birthstones into its designs.
Majorca’s capital, Palma, is home to high street favourites like Mango and Zara. Prices tend to be cheaper than at home, too. A good place to start is the jumbo shopping mall, Porto Pi, down by the seafront. Alternatively, head for El Corte Ingles – Spain’s answer to Selfridges. Elsewhere, Cala D’or is a good place for perfume and make-up.
Every Thursday, Majorca’s biggest market hits the streets of Inca – a town about 25 minutes’ drive from Alcudia. Stalls line up along the road, selling everything from quality leather to bespoke jewellery. Another option is the Andratx market on a Wednesday – it’s the best place on the island to pick up local produce like fish and cheese. The seafront promenades in Cala Bona and Sa Coma, meanwhile, do a roaring trade in souvenir T-shirts and jelly sandals.
Places like Alcudia, Cala Bona and Ca’n Picafort are great for leisurely dinners and late-night strolls. Lots of the restaurants in these resorts put on live music, and jewellery and henna stalls line up along the seafront promenades, so you can get some late-night retail therapy in, too. Elsewhere, the tree-lined boulevard of Sa Coma strikes a romantic note for couples. Try one of the open-air restaurants, where you can share plates of tapas over an incredible sunset backdrop.
For a full-on night out, look no further than the island’s nightlife capital, Magaluf. The main strip is bursting with pubs, karaoke bars and mega-clubs like BCM. Over in Palma, meanwhile, the waterfront is the place for swanky clubs like Tito’s, while the tangled streets of the old town play host to jazz joints and cocktail bars. One of the better-known bars here is Abaco, which is set in a Medieval palace courtyard. Drinks are pricey, but the interiors are worth it. Come here on a Friday night and you’ll get to witness rose petals falling from the ceiling.
Steaming plates of this warm vegetable stew are often served at Majorcan get-togethers. It’s a layered dish of fried potatoes, sweet peppers, and soft aubergine. The vegetables are baked, and then smothered in a thick, garlic-infused tomato sauce. You’ll usually get some chunks of crusty bread and a crisp green salad on the side.
Paella is Spain’s signature dish. Sizzling plates of rice are tossed with the likes of mussels, prawns and clams, and the whole dish is scented with saffron, which gives it its yellow colour. For something a bit different, try the Majorcan version, fideua, which is made with chunky noodles instead of rice.
Serviola a la mallorquina
Net-fresh fish is a staple on most menus in Majorca, and this is one of the most popular ways of cooking it. The fish of choice is baked, and then smothered in a rich tomato sauce, before being sprinkled with pine nuts and raisins.
In its simplest form, pa’amb oli is Majorcan bread drizzled with olive oil and covered in a tomato sauce. That said, it’s often served with cured ham, cheese and the Majorcan sausage meat, sobrassada, as well. A few fat dollops of garlic mayonnaise finish things off nicely.
Make like the locals and take a shot of hierbas once you’ve polished off your dessert – this after-dinner liquor is perfect for washing a meal down. It’s infused with herbs and has an aniseed-like taste, and you can choose from dry, medium, or sweet varieties.
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Set on Majorca’s north-east coast, Alcudia comes as a 2-parter. Inland there’s a historic old town, where shops and cafés fill the streets behind the city walls. And then there’s the coast. Here, the long stretch comes with hotels, bars and a marina backed by restaurants – plus 7 kilometres of sand.
Set on Majorca’s east coast, Cala Bona is a relaxed fishing town that comes with plenty of rustic charm. Fishermen bring in the day’s catch at the harbour ready for lunch at the waterfront restaurants, while the original winding streets are ripe for exploring. There’s also a pedestrianised modern centre with shops and bars, and a choice of little sandy beaches.
Palma Nova, on Majorca’s southwest coast, is Magaluf’s quieter, family-friendly neighbour. The place is purpose-built around a trio of white sand beaches. And with friendly bars and restaurants packing the promenade, and the island’s capital, Palma, just 15 kilometres away, there’s plenty to keep you busy away from the sands, too.
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