I ended up in Palma de Mallorca almost by complete accident. In fact, I didn’t even choose to visit the island, an airport employee did. After a series of (not-so) unfortunate events, I was visiting Spain for the first time.
For those that don’t know much about Mallorca like I admittedly didn’t when I first arrived,
Here’s some more information. . .
Mallorca or “Majorca” is the largest island in the Balearic Sea and Palma is the capital city of Mallorca as well as all of the Balearic islands. As mentioned, the Balearic islands, including Mallorca, are all property of the country of Spain. It’s home to a little over 800,000 people.
The island boomed in the tourism industry in the 1950’s with the introduction of mass public transportation allowing tourists to fly to the island. People from Germany, namely, are the main visitors to come as well as the United Kingdom and Scandinavia areas. In addition, it has recently started attracting immigrants from Africa and South America too.
Mallorca is one of the sunniest in the world with over 310 days of sunshine per year. Of course, on the four days that I was on the island, it never stopped raining. Go figure. The sunshine is a big part of the reason why Mallorca attracts so many visitors every year.
The climate is typical Mediterranean climate. Summers are usually dry and hot and winters are very mild. Ideal conditions year-round.
After spending so much time and falling in love with the Mediterranean island of Malta last year, I couldn’t help but find the similarities in the two islands. The Mediterranean cultures and lifestyles, the appearance, the geography, the costs, almost everything about it felt identical aside from the spoken language.
Mediterranean lifestyle is very calm and laid-back. Don’t expect the people of Mallorca to be in a hurry anywhere. For example, one of the most annoying parts about the lifestyle, when you are first becoming accustomed to it, is the siesta time that they have in the middle of the day. During this time, all stores close, school days are paused, and everyone takes a midday break for up to a few hours. This can be frustrating, but if you stick around long enough you might actually come to love that kind of lifestyle.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone on the island who is helpful with English directions. If you don’t know enough Spanish to get by, expect a lot of pointing and things being repeated to you four times in Spanish as if by the fourth time you’ll miraculously be able to understand the Spanish language. As is always the case, you’d be better off asking a young person for directions if you’re trying to find someone who can speak English.
Hostels in Palma usually cost around $20 per night and that is pretty consistent throughout the entire city year-round.
Eating out is much more expensive than cooking your own food, but it still won’t break the bank. Expect to pay around $8-$11 for a nice, sit-down meal. However, street food such as kebabs, pizza, and tapas can be less than $5 in most places.
If you were to cook your own food, expect to pay anywhere from $20-$30 a week depending on what kind of diet you hold yourself to. Cheap wine can usually be calculated into this price as well. Bottles can be found for as low as $1.
Public Transport isn’t expensive compared to other European destinations. A city bus ticket costs $1.50 and can be used for transfers. However, depending on how long you’re here, the best deal is the 10 trip pass for $10. Taxis are a bit more – you can find a taxi to the airport for as little as $15. Otherwise, the public bus airport transfer will cost you a surge price of $5 each way.
You’ll find most everything you’re looking for from Mallorca in Palma. I was lucky enough to be in the city during one of their biggest festivals in Palma; Fiesta of Saint Sebastia. This night was filled with fun all over the city. I heard more celebrations were to take place later in the week after I had already left the island.
The main attraction in the city is the La Seu Cathedral. It was stunning from the outside but apparently even better inside. I never went, but if you’d like to get in for free, they hold Mass every Sunday at noon and 7 p.m. Then you also get the opportunity to sit in on a service in Spanish.
The Bellver Castle is also pretty cool, however, it’s quite expensive. It’s free admission on Sundays which is why I’d only recommend it if you’re in Palma on a Sunday.
Ca’n Joan De S’aigo: This is the best place in town for ensaimada, a traditional Mallorquin fluffy pastry, and thick hot chocolate. You’re supposed to dip the ensaimada in the chocolate, and I would definitely recommend it.
Es Rebost: A casual restaurant on Jaume III featuring mostly Mallorquin traditional food.
Carrer dels Apuntadors: This street and the adjacent ones have lots of good restaurants, such as Provenzal for tapas or Tucana for ravioli in asparagus sauce.
Es Trenc: This is one of the most beautiful, longest, and “untouched” beaches in Mallorca.
Porto Cristo: This beach is next to beautiful cliffs and near the Cuevas del Drach caves. The beach itself is small, but the area is really nice. Also, the caves are rather touristy but interesting too…
About ten miles to the northwest of Palma, the mountain town of Soller sits in the valley of the island’s mountain range. There is a train that will take visitors there in the summer time. The station is right next to the Intermodal main station in Palma. In the winter time, it is a bit more difficult as the train doesn’t run between late November and early February. You must wait for a private bus at the train station that will take you to Soller for $4 each way.
Once there, there are a plethora of activities to do including hiking trails, mountain biking, a Spanish countryside stroll, exploring the beautiful, narrow neighborhood stone roads, checking out the Torre Picada watch tower, or taking the tram to the Port of Soller. While I was there, I enjoyed the fresh fruit that I picked off of farmer’s trees on my countryside stroll.
Whatever you choose to do, you could definitely spend a full day in Soller. Make sure to take it easy and really enjoy this authentic Spanish town.
Although I wasn’t able to see Mallorca at its best because of all the rain I encountered, I saw enough to know that I want to come back.