Mallorca is the largest and most densely populated of the four Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) which form the Spanish Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, east of mainland Spain.
A popular tourist destination for many years, the Island is currently voted a top holiday favourite for travellers. It has much to offer but sometimes you will need to get out and about from its main city and capital Palma.
Dominated by its iconic Gothic cathedral, the Majorcan capital and cruise port Palma has been transformed in recent years into one of the most sophisticated hotspots of the Mediterranean. Fine shops rub shoulders with authentic Balearic restaurants and tapas bars in this easy to navigate city.
From the harbour filled with expensive yachts, wander up to the magnificent cathedral and stand in awe when you realise it took 500 years to complete. Spreading out around this ancient structure with its impressive views is a collection of side streets and alleys which give a sense of the city’s cultural past and Moorish influences.
Well a visit to Mallorca cannot pass without a visit to Palma.
The ship berths a fair way from the city, so a shuttle is required to get into the main area. Most coaches drop off, opposite the Cathedral, think it is called Escullera – It is near the entrance to the Marina just south and across a very busy dual carriageway from the Cathedral. It is very easy to cross road – just remember to look left first.
You can take a taxi to the cathedral which cost €11 (2015) one way the maximum number of passengers is four.
The Red Route Hop On Hop Off bus has a pick up outside the port.
You can walk from the cruise terminal into town via the promenade that skirts the marina in about 30 – 40 minutes however that feels a lot longer in the heat.
If you do not have a map then, once you are dropped off and you have crossed the busy main road, go half left towards the steps leading up to the Cathedral and just before those steps there is a tourist office.
The cathedral is a spectacular sight which dominates the city’s skyline. Palma is a gorgeous city filled with tree lined avenues and numerous squares with pavement cafés. It’s like a less crowded Barcelona with some great shopping opportunities. The cafe at the top of the main shopping street has a lovely courtyard garden with a fountain at the rear and you can enjoy a glass or two of red in the warm sunshine.
Arab Baths; Some people still refer to these as the Roman Baths. Follow the signs in the old town, not far from the cathedral. There is a TV with a brief description running in English, German and Spanish and a small sunny quiet garden with seats and a lemon tree dripping with lemons. Only €2.50pp and worth a visit.
It is worth knowing that the streets behind the Cathedral are a rabbit warren and it is easy to lose track of time and direction. Take care and have your street map handy, if in doubt there is always a sign somewhere pointing to the Cathedral.
Start with a visit to the Royal Palace, entrance just opposite the Cathedral, next must be the Cathedral, then onto the Museum that displays a superb collection of prehistoric artefacts. You can purchase a joint ticket for the Palace and the museum.
After the culture, a walk around town and a little shopping. If you are looking for exclusive shops try Passeig Des Bonn and Avinguida Jaume III. For those who want to know, Palma has two Corte de Ingles. In the streets there are plenty of shops, restaurants and tapas bars.
There is HOHO bus stop just to the west of the Cathedral, on Avinguda D’Antoni Maura and it completes a fairly extensive tour of Palma, including Bellver Castle, worth a visit with an excellent photo opportunity of Palma and the bay. The hop-on/off bus cost €18 for adults for 24 hours. It’s half-price for over-65s, but you need to show your passport. (2017)
For beaches you have a choice. West of Palma are the beaches of Cala Major, 3Km by taxi about €10 or a good 30 mins walk and Palma Nova, 12 KM by taxi about €20 . East of Palma is the beach of Playa de Palma, 20 Km by taxi about €15. Both Playa de Palma and Palma Nova are very crowded with tourists, restaurants and bars. It is suggested that you stick to the Palma Nova beaches either side of Santa Lucia Hotel.
If you want to see the real Mallorca you either need to book trips or hire a car. For those contemplating hiring a car, the roads are excellent. There have been a lot of new ones built and also many of the roads have been resurfaced.
The scenic coast road between Palma, Port D’Andratrix, Valdemossa, Deia then onto Soller is fantastic for its views. Along the way there are many stopping places to admire the many views over the coast and then onto Valdemossa and Deia. Valdemossa is one of the favourite destinations of tourists who are more into tranquillity and quiet relaxation and because of this it is very touristy, from their past you have Chopin, the French romantic novelist George Sands and of course up to date Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones have a home here as well. Deia is the burial place of Robert Graves, a famous writer and poet.
When in Soller have a relaxing lunch in the main square. If you have the time the trolley train to Port Soller is a must.
Between Palma and Soller is Jardin de Alfabia. These gardens are well worth the visit and are situated just before the southern end of the Palma – Soller tunnel.
The Soller train ride, either Palma to Soller or the reverse is great. Wooden coaches with fantastic views. Not to be confused with the Soller – Porta Soller train.
Another place to visit depending on time is Port De Pollenca, again stopping on the way to admire the views. A quick stop at the viewing point north of Port De Pollenca then onto the Lighthouse at Cap De Formentor, with views across the water towards Menorca, worth the drive, but it is not for the faint hearted. Be warned, a small bottle of water in the café costs €2.50.
Felantix is a small town towards the north but more famous for a visit to Sant Salvador Monastery, a very twisty drive up but the views across Mallorca and towards the coast, especially Porto Colom is breath taking.
Everyone goes on about the Coves of Drac. Very large lots to see, a guided tour and a chance at the end to take a boat across the lake towards the exit, but no photography allowed. However, in my opinion the Caves of Arta are something different and do not disappoint. Beautiful caves, excellent lighting, very good English speaking guide, along with German, Dutch and Spanish, and you could take photographs. The exit out was towards the sea. These caves may be out of the way but are worth the visit.
It is suggested that you give the Festival Village a miss. This is Majorca’s equivalent to our Outlet Villages, Without too much detail what a waste of time, in some shops prices more expensive than in Palma and the whole area was very quiet.
If you decided to remain close to the ship there is a shopping centre fairly close to the port. Out onto the busy dual carriageway, cross over and turn left. Follow the road keeping the dual carriageway on your left.
By Peter Dagnall
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