UK residents took almost 60 million holiday trips abroad in 2019. Imagine then the pent up energy waiting to be released once international travel restrictions due to COVID-19 are relaxed.
The pandemic has given many people the chance to reassess what’s important to them. That includes the type of holiday they’re looking for. As well as racing off to the nearest beach, they may well want to spend part of their well deserved break doing something a little bit different.
Mallorca is around the size of Kent and, because of the diversity of its terrain, feels like a small country, complete with its very own capital city, railway infrastructure and mountain ranges.
Read on to find what hidden treats this beautiful Mediterranean island has to offer.
Join the Growing Band of Cycle-Tourists
What skiing is to the Alps, cycling has become to Mallorca. The island attracts around 150,000 cycle-tourists every year. Many of Europe’s national cycling teams use the island all year round for training because the terrain is so varied and the weather is great.
The circumference of the island is 312 kilometres. This is the number that Mallorca’s huge, and important yearly cycle event has taken on. The competition’s named the Mallorca 312. It starts and ends in Playa de Muro, a lovely beach resort on the north west side of the island.
But, you don’t have to do things like climb the world famous Sa Calobra to be part of Mallorca’s cycling scene. There are plenty of quiet, picturesque country lanes which criss-cross the island. These take in scores of small, beautiful market towns scattered across the green and lush countryside.
The Balearic islands boast about 300 days of sunshine each year, meaning there lots
sunny days during the winter. There are two major cycling seasons in Mallorca. The first is from the end of March until May and then for a few weeks over September and October.
What’s great about cycling on the island when the crowds have gone home is that you get the sense that you have Mallorca all to yourself. That’s a privilege well worth experiencing.
Hidden Away Beaches and Caves
The British make up around 26 percent of Mallorca’s tourist traffic each year with Germans comprising about 40 percent. Many are attracted by the pleasing climate and long, white sandy beaches.
Everyone from the Romans to modern day asylum seekers have sought refuge here, attracted by the island’s peaceful reputation and natural resources. Mallorca has two and hundred and sixty two idyllic beaches. Many boast warm, turquoise waters and long white sands lined with palm trees.
Playa Coll Baix and Cala Molins
Some of the best beaches are in the north of the island. You’ll find Playa Coll Baix on the peninsula north of Alcúdia. The easiest way to get here is to drive to the car park that’s a few hundred metres from the sea. You’ll then need to walk down the steep walkway to the rocks below and make your way across these to the secret sandy cove.
Cala Molins is a cove in the small seaside resort of Cala San Vincente a few kilometres from Pollensa and Puerto Pollensa. This is where the mountains meet the sea. The crystal clear waters are the turquoise colour you’d expect to see in a coffee table book.
You’re going to see plenty of sea life here from octopuses to starfish. A small rocky outlet juts out between Cala Molins and Cala Clara from which you can dive safely into the sea. One of the best times to come here is in the early evening when the crowds have gone. It’s cooler and you can swim whilst watching the moon rise over the mountains.
The Caves of Drach (Dragon Caves)
These are probably the best known and also some of the most remarkable caves on the island. They’re located outside the seaside town of Porto Cristo in the east of the island.
When you walk downwards under the ground, you’re met with impressive stalactite formations that seem to drip from the ceilings. You’ll descend 25 metres through four huge chambers.
The whole experience reaches a climax with an atmospheric concert. A group of classical musicians performs on a wooden boat that floats past on a beautifully lit subterranean lake. It’s quite surreal and quite lovely.
Three Mallorcan Street Foods You Must Try
You’ll find these delicious, savoury pies in almost every traditional bakery on the island. These rustic delights are packed with a filling of steaming minced lamb and peas.
The mixture is wrapped in a round buttery pastry casing. Bite into one of these tasty treats, close your eyes and savour the flavours.
These are Mallorcan sweet pastries that date back to the 17th century. They contain a kind of reduced pork lard called saïm that gives them a distinctive flavour. They have a rather flaky, moist texture when you break into them, a little bit like croissants.
You’ll see plenty of people carrying huge cardboard boxes tied up with strings filled with ensaimadas from their favourite shop. Most have a dusting of sugar and some bakeries stuff them with apricots, custardy cream or chocolate.
Pa’ amb Oli
This is basically bread with oil and tomato. You just need the right ingredients to make it really authentic. Take a generous slice of moreno bread from the bakery, rub it with garlic and add a layer of crushed ramallet tomatoes from the market.
Ramallet tomatoes are native to Mallorca and other varieties of tomato just won’t work in the same way. Finish it all off with a good drizzle of olive oil and a very large pinch of flaked Mallorcan sea salt.
Unleash Your Daredevil Spirit
Lying on beaches and lapping up the sunshine is wonderful but it’s often best mixed with other activities. We all need a bit of adventure at times and the island has a wealth of opportunities to challenge the most fearless.
The Torrent de Pareis Hike
This hike is not for those of a nervous disposition. It’s also best undertaken with a guide. It takes in a gorge which is famed for flash-floods. After a rainstorm, big pools of water form and you may need to swim through them to complete the hike. Even on dry days, you’ll have to be prepared to clamber over rocks.
If all this appeals to you, then be prepared for a real thrill. Many people believe this is the most awesome hike on the island. You’ll head off from Escorca, and when you reach the gorge, you’ll need to navigate past massive rocks along the route.
The hike ends when you get to a short tunnel. This takes you out on to the small, pebbly beach of Sa Calobra. There’s just time for an exhilarating dip in the crystal clear sea before embarking on a yacht that’ll take you round to Port de Soller
Zipline in La Reserva Nature Park
The stunning La Reserva Nature Park is located in Serra de Tramuntana mountains not far from Puigpunyent. It’s full of water features from falls to ponds which are spread out through the trees. The pools are superb places for a refreshing swim. This is also a great place to see vultures, eagles and other birds of prey.
The park is famed for the diversity of its flora. That’s the result of an abundance of water and the big changes in elevation inside the park. You may also be able to spot wild sheep, brown bears and even some emus.
The high point of a visit is the thrill you’ll get from the incredible ziplines. These are set up through the forest and you’ll have to be geared up with a harness to travel down them. There are steep drops along the route which, together with the surroundings, make for an exciting trip. You’ll also be able to enjoy the suspension bridges and climbing walls.
Vineyards, Almond Farms and the Salt Flats
Can Vidalet is a small vineyard close to Pollensa and a 10-15 minute drive away from Alcúdia. You can try the wines and tapas here by prior appointment and also learn a bit about the history of Mallorca’s vineyards.
Drive on to Vinyes Mortitx. You’ll find this vineyard on a plateau in the hills on the road that links Lluc and Pollensa. You can try the wines here too and there are some lovely, quiet walks that begin at this vineyard.
The phylloxera was a microscopic pest that ravaged Europe’s vineyards, including Mallorca’s, in the late 19th century.
Farmers decided to replace the vines with almond trees. New businesses took off and almond growing is still popular on the island today.
Many flock here to see the almond blossom that covers the island early in the year. Producers sell the sweet almonds whole, roasted and flavoured or as an oil or in creams.
There are around 10,000 tons of salt harvested in the south-east of Mallorca every year. You’ll find the best of it, the Flor de Sal d’es Trenc, in dishes seasoned with this luxury, ‘white gold.’
It’s the perfect accompaniment to the island’s ‘liquid gold’ or olive oil.
Most of the salt harvesting happens in Ses Salines d’es Trenc close to the upbeat town of Colonia de Sant Jordi, a favourite seaside resort. So, after a long, hard day on the beach, finish things off with a quick 45 minute tour of the salt factory.
An Island Endless Possibilities
Mallorca is an island steeped in history. One of its best kept secrets is that there is so much going away from the beaches which can be its star attraction.
It’s become popular for yoga and mindfulness retreats, has dozens of local markets, boasts vineyards producing the finest wines and has a capital city that’s more than a match for Barcelona. What are you waiting for?