Mallorca Travel Guide

Mallorca Travel Guide

Mallorca embodies the best of the Balearics at every sun-kissed turn - a lyrical cornucopia of ravishing coastal scenery ranging from secluded crystalline coves to rocky peninsula belvederes overlooking the azures. Beyond her magnetic seaside appeal, get to know her and Mallorca will reveal a myriad of inland treasures presented by passionate locals keen to share their cultural history and appreciation for the island’s mostly organic regional delicacies. In between postcard-worthy beachfront adventures, enjoy a road trip (or cycle!) through the winding roads of the mighty Tramuntana Mountains to discover centuries-old hillside villages flecked with almond groves and pines, as well as subterranean lakes and Gothic castles. A relatively new find among the gay community, Mallorca is a fabulous choice, hosting numerous LGBT+ celebrations throughout the year as well as enviable pool and beach parties. Read on to discover our Mallorca gay scene guide covering all the best of what to see in Mallorca.

The best hotels in Mallorca

Inside a former military fort on a peaceful cliff-side pocket of Palma bay is the dramatically distinct Cap Rocat. More heritage site than hotel, cross a draw bridge on arrival and get lost in the building’s series of bunkers and trenches before reaching your pared-down boutique suite. Non guests can also make a day trip here, to explore the fort’s grounds, make use of the cliff-edge infinity pool and choose between two on-site restaurants offering organic locally sourced menus with home-grown veggies. Mother Nature takes centre stage at Pleta de Mar; a sublime five-star luxury hotel offering sumptuous villas nestled in the seaside resort of Canyamel. Surrounded by nature with sea views, all suites are elegant and  spacious, the superior Grand Suite, however, earns its moniker by offering a vast (90 metre-squared) opulent space complete with private outdoor pool and mini forest. The hotel’s restaurant Asador de Mar specialises in open-air grilled meat and seafood while overlooking a sparkling infinity pool with Balinese sunbeds designed for optimum relaxation.

Pleta de Mar

Pleta de Mar

In the thick of buzzy capital Palma, on store-lined Avenida Jaume III, is the subtly modern Nakar Hotel dating back to 1965. It’s minimalist rooms come accented with earthy strokes while its high-tech amenities add cutting-edge flair. For a relaxed vibe and awe-inspiring views, dine at the on-site Miquel Calent’s CUIT Bar & Restaurant, a chic spot for guests to indulge in local cuisine while taking in first-class views of Mallorca points of interest. Alternatively, get a massage at the subterranean Nakar spa or swim in the rooftop pool while jamming to a DJ-spun soundtrack. For a true respite from hectic city life near to some of Mallorca’s best vineyards, make a reservation at Sa Cabana Hotel Rural & Spa, a 16th century farmhouse turned plush boutique beauty situated in Alcudia’s hilly countryside. Flanked by the jaw-dropping Tramuntana mountain range, the picture-perfect grounds are home to centuries-old trees, a vineyard and an ancient water tank re-conceptualized into a unique, circular swimming pool with sleek wood-plank deck.

NAKAR Hotel

NAKAR Hotel

An historical gem at the heart of Alcúdia Old Town is the Hotel Can Mostatxins, standing on the site of a one-time, 15th century olive oil press. Embracing its past, the hotel makes a feature of its original mason-built walls and grotto-like courtyard with a Jacuzzi in place of the original oil press. Another classy yet offbeat option is the 1902 Townhouse, a tiny traditional getaway located down a side street near the centre of enchanting town Sóller, a wood-panelled train ride away from the hubbub of Palma city. Steeped in Mallorcan heritage while showing off modern Spanish design, the 1902 Townhouse allows guests to imagine life within a wealthy local family home, complete with high ceilings, tiled floors and tall shuttered windows. The handiwork of its design-savvy owners hailing from London, stay here to fall in love with the sleek artful décor, Mediterranean-style garden and signature three-course breakfasts.

1902 Townhouse

1902 Townhouse

NAKAR Hotel

NAKAR Hotel

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Recommended hotels in Mallorca
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The newly opened Marivent Palace Gardens indulges Miró fans further

Things to do in Mallorca

From ancient dwellings to jagged mountains sprinkled with pines to pristine azure waters, this oasis was meant for exploration. When in doubt, start with the beaches. A short distance from the sleepy village of Portals Vells, Playa del Mago – the first nudist beach on the island – is tucked away in a striking cover with unspoilt surrounds. Located inside a national park, Es Trenc is arguably the most famous natural beach in Mallorca, an insta-ready sensation untouched by commercialisation featuring a long stretch of white sandy shores and surreal turquoise waters. Playa de Muro is one of the newest kids on the block; a resort beach in the heart of Alcudia Bay, boasting translucent waters, fine sand and exceptional mountain views.

Wondering what to do in Mallorca once you’re done beach hopping? Luckily, the island has a wealth of options for the culturally inclined. For a glimpse at significant Balearic art and other national works from the start of the 20th-century to the present, spend the day at Es Baluard, the island’s ultra-mod contemporary art museum. The Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miró, the Palma-based museum and atelier that houses many important works of the surrealist master artist, Miró, celebrates 25 years on the island with special yearlong activities, exhibits, events and art-centric city tours. The newly opened Marivent Palace Gardens indulges Miró fans further; twelve of his sculptures have been donated to the tree-lined botanical wonderland that was once only accessible to Spain’s Royal Family.

Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

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Recommended experiences in Mallorca
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The Drach Caves here are regarded as the most remarkable caves on the island. Extending 1,200 metres into the darkness and dropping up to 25 metres below ground

Things to See in Mallorca

A veritable sight for sore eyes, there are endless things to see in Mallorca. Start with one of the most breath-taking lookout points on the island, known as Mirador Es Colomer. The site is located on the north-eastern peninsula, Cap de Formentor, which is accessible by a beautiful coastal road of hairy hair-pin bends. On arrival, visitors can gaze out onto the horizon from the high cliffs, finding Cala Figuera to the west, Alcudia to the South and Minorca to the east. Further east again in the town of Porto Cristo is another popular natural sight worth checking out. The Drach Caves here are regarded as the most remarkable caves on the island. Extending 1,200 metres into the darkness and dropping up to 25 metres below ground, the caves also contain a spectacular underground lake, considered one of the world’s largest.

Standing almost 700 years and impressively maintained is Bellver Castle, distinct in its perfect roundness, created by the architect of the Almudaina Palace. Formerly used as a prison – famously imprisoning King Jaume III’s widow and sons – the castle is now home to the Palma Museum of Municipal History tracing the history of the city’s development through Talaiotic, Roman, Arab and modern Spanish period artefacts. Take some time here to explore the castle’s towers, fortified keep and two-level courtyard featuring Gothic archways and vaults. With ‘Bellver’ meaning ‘lovely view’ in Catalan, make sure to climb up on to the roof to get a bird’s eye view of the castles’ contrasting styles as well as unbeatable views of the bay and the city.

Photo: Daniel Frank

Photo: Daniel Frank

Awkward and inaccessible, Cala Varques is a beach only for the most intrepid travellers. Regardless of the 10-kilometre east-coast stretch to the nearest town, a visit to Cala Varques is worth it for its super relaxed, low-key hippy vibes. This secluded white-sand cove may not have much infrastructure to speak of, but its deep blue water and tree-covered cliff surroundings are truly stunning. A favourite among locals and tourists alike the beach is also frequented by couples and naturists locals who know to stock up on food and drinks before coming just in case the few beachside vendors decide to take a day off. Further down in the arid South, take a unique retreat into nature with a visit to the Botanicactus Botanical Gardens where visitors can discover a vast variety of worldly cacti species, some centuries old and other several metres tall. As well as cacti housed in specially-designed, wind-proof terraces, there’s also a section dedicated to indigenous Mallorcan flora and an outer lake surrounded by tropical plants and bamboo fields.

Considered one of the most beautiful towns in Mallorca is Valldemossa, tucked away in the hills of the magnificent Tramuntana range and surrounded at all sides by forested inclines and luscious countryside. As well as being a popular destination for cyclists and hikers, Valldemossa also boasts charming lanes and quaint flower-covered houses as well as a famed 13th-century monastery where composer Chopin once spent a winter.

Photo: Marc Schadegg

Photo: Marc Schadegg

Photo: Susanne Pälmer

Photo: Susanne Pälmer

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Two hotel-based restaurants of note include the tantalising creative cuisine of Marc Fosh – the first British chef to achieve a Michelin star in Mallorca

What to eat in Mallorca

The fare in Mallorca is hearty and moreish. To get a sampling of it all before heading to the restaurants, a visit to San Juan Gastro Market is a must. This market is modelled on the ones found in bigger European cities yet retaining a certain local flair. Housed in a vast industrial structure, the market is open daily from noon to midnight but on weekend nights the market unexpectedly comes alive with live music and DJs until 4 am. When the time comes for a sit-down meal, there’s no better place to start than Sadrassana, a restaurant located in a well-preserved 19th-century manor house, serving traditional Balearic mains in atypical surroundings; an eclectic space dedicated to contemporary artworks. Another inviting option, with simple yet hearty fare, is Patron Lunares where the design pays an aesthetic tribute to its charismatic fisherman owner and the relief workers who once inhabited the building.

Two hotel-based restaurants of note include the tantalising creative cuisine of Marc Fosh – the first British chef to achieve a Michelin star in Mallorca for his namesake restaurant at the Covent de la Missió hotel. Cap Rocat’s enchanting The Sea Club is another, notable for its traditional open-fire oven fare. Special mention goes out to Fosh alum Andreu Genestra, a young chef offering cuisine inspired by the vast gardens of Hotel Predi Son Jaumell. In tiny Lloseta, Santi Taura serves tasty three-course dégustation sample menus exclusively in his signature eatery. For a more contempo vibe, head to Nuru for inventive international flavours paired with regional wines and walls adorned with urban art. Joan Marc, meanwhile, combines the best of all worlds; organic cuisine with mod flavourings served in a simple setting cleverly accentuated with bottle green plastic chairs, chic pottery and tree trunks.

Famed for its artisanal heritage, the craft coffee scene makes perfect sense in Mallorca. Bright and airy with a nostalgic nod to grandma’s country kitchen, the Rosevelvet Bakery serves aromatic coffee and cakes with a smile. Known for their homemade bagels filled with gourmet goodies, it would be a mistake to pass up a cup of quality java at vegan coffee shop Bagel. Retro in appearance and flavour, La Molienda focuses on Spain’s finest coffee beans prepared to perfection in a classic La Marzocco and served with ecological brekkie favourites. Ànima Café is a throwback to simpler times when coffee shops offered comfy spaces for losing oneself with a good book and a superior cup of joe. With its cheery kaleidoscope colouring, cushy sofas and open invite for your furry friends, it’s of little wonder that Café Saüc is a treasured treat in coastal Capdepera.

Sadrassana | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Sadrassana | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Sadrassana | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Sadrassana | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Shopping in Mallorca

With mild climes that last the whole year through, dapper gents seek body-conscious fashions that offer equal parts style and comfort. Shop Addict for smart casual wear with the self-confessed clotheshorse in mind. Top brands on offer include Filippa K, Miansai and Norse Projects. For impossibly on-trend Euro labels (think: Maison Kitsune) paired with cutting-edge accessories and scents, make a stop at La Principal, a nifty men’s boutique shop rumoured to be the best in Palma. If time is limited, the palatial concept store Rialto Living is your one-stop golden ticket. Shop here for an impressive collection of relaxed attire, home furnishings, fine gifts, full-service café and even an art gallery showcasing promising local and international artists. For artisan shoes made exclusively on the island from top quality leather and suede, look no further than Monge, a shoe shop for men convinced that legendary style is all about the details.

If retro-fab interiors are your cup of tea, then Frida Watson is the vintage furniture store of your dreams. With a seasonal selection of everything from furnishings to décor and lighting, you’ll have your pad looking period perfect in no time. Take the whimsical, sea-inspired island vibe back home via Estilo Sant Feliu, an artisan housewares store selling ceramics, textiles, tableware, home décor and a local wine cultivated to be sold exclusively on the premises.

Rialto Living

Rialto Living

Pleta de Mar | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Pleta de Mar | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

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When deciding where to go in Mallorca know this; the party often gets started before the sun even thinks of nodding off for the night at the holiday beach clubs

Mallorca nightlife

Though staid in comparison to rambunctious little sis Ibiza, this lady offers a vibrant nightlife scene and saucy beat all her own. In fact, when deciding where to go in Mallorca know this; the party often gets started before the sun even thinks of nodding off for the night at the holiday beach clubs. Palma’s Nassau Beach Club invites guests to take in the islands greatest pleasures–food, music and sunset views–all from the comfort of their oceanfront terrace. Puro Beach Palma offers a total relaxation package including spa treatments, cocktails and poolside lounging until nightfall. For those craving an all-day affair, cruise on over to Balneario Illetas for a light breakfast in a chic garden setting followed by afternoon cocktails, sunbathing and if you travel by boat, enjoy Mediterranean bites aboard. La Cabana Poolbar & Lounge is a fashionable chill-out option inside the Portals Hills boutique hotel, with an impressive “wine wall” of Spain’s finest vintages, plus endless bottles of high-end champagne – for when the mood strikes.

After dark, revellers hit the bar scene for creative cocktails and gourmet nibbles in character-infused convivial hangouts. The two-tiered Bimil is a popular spot for Korean tapas and drinks in modish, Asian-inspired surrounds with unexpected decorative flourishes (think: crystal chandeliers). For the best gin-based cocktails (or 350 other spirit combos) pull up a chair at Ginbo, open daily until dawn. For a nostalgic tile-lined twist on the urban deli, swing by La Rosa Vermuteria for artisan vermouth straight from the tap and served with traditional Catalan fixings. Brassclub is a hotspot with a setting more reminiscent of ritzy Manhattan bar circa1940 than an island resort bar. Dress to the nines and drop by for a swig prepared by local legend Rafa Martin. And for arguably the most sensational sightings of Mallorca’s famous lavender-hued sunset, order your favourite drink and take it all in at Hostal Cuba’s Sky Bar.

Sadrassana | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

Sadrassana | Photo: Bastiaan Ellen

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