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Things to do in Mallorca for first time visitors

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Majorca Spain for First Time Visitors

There are so many things to do in Mallorca for first time visitors it can be a bit overwhelming.  What to see in Mallorca, what to do in Majorca and where to stay? Below I’ve broken down practical information on things to see in Palma, the best beach areas on Majorca and some tours and sites you should see around Mallorca island as first time visitors.

My first visit to the Spanish island of Mallorca Spain or Majorca, as it’s also referred, was in 2005, with a friend from London. She found a 3-night stay in Mallorca for $250 with flights and hotel in a brand-new golf resort. The catch was we had to sit through one of their timeshare spiels. They wanted to sell us a room in this new luxury resort on Mallorca’s south coast. It is truly a lovely resort, and we even fictitiously entertained the idea of each buying a room.

In reality, we simply wanted a base to visit Majorca. Since then, I’ve visited a half dozen more times and I’ve come up with a list of the best places to visit in Mallorca, Spain for first-time visitors. If you’re considering Spain, Mallorca is a great island. Here are some ideas of what to do in Majorca if you’v never been.

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Cathedral in Palma, Mallorca

 

Where is Majorca Spain? Practical Information

Majorca or Mallorca, as it is spelled in Catalan and Spanish, is the biggest of the Balearic Islands. A frequent question that people ask is, ‘Is Mallorca in Spain?’ Yes, Mallorca is part of Spain and is located off the coast of Barcelona in the Mediterranean. Mallorca island is the largest island in the Balearics, which also includes Minorca Island, the Island of Ibiza and Formentera Island. There are three other smaller islands nearby: Cabrera, Dragonera and S’Espalmador.

Majorca Island is quite a popular tourist destination for German tourists, attracting more than 3 million a year.  It’s a 55-minute flight to Barcelona, and it’s a stunning island.

Is Mallorca the Same as Majorca?

Let’s clarify this as the name is confusing. Is Mallorca the same as Majorca? Yes it is. Majorca is the Catalan language version of the name, and Mallorca is Spanish language version. You also find folks in the US use Majorca more often, and Mallorca is more common in Europe. Although people may spell it as Malorca, Mayorca, Mellorka, Millorca, Myorka or Mallora, the proper spelling is either Mallorca or Majorca, but it’s definitely the same island.

Mallorca Spain Map – Where is Mallorca Spain

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Mallorca, Spain

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Mallorca, Spain 39.569600, 2.650070

The island of Mallorca, part of Spain, is about 150 miles off the coast of Barcelona and 225 miles from Valencia Spain. The island measures 62 miles from north to south and 43 miles east and west. It covers around 1400 Sq miles. Mallorca is quite a small island, but the terrain is very mountainous with it’s highest mountain around 4700 ft high. It can take awhile to cross Mallorca because of this terrain you are going by car, train or bus.

How to get to Majorca, Spain – Flights into Mallorca

There are a couple of ways to get to Mallorca. The first one is to fly.

If you fly through Madrid or Barcelona, there are numerous daily flights to Majorca on Iberia Airlines. There are also many European low-cost carriers like Ryanair, Vueling, Easyjet, and Tuifly, with direct flights from most major European cities.

When you fly into Mallorca, the arrival city is Palma (PMI Airport Code). From the airport you can arrange bus transport into Palma center, or to other areas of the island. There are a variety of bus transfer kiosks at the airport itself.


views flying from Palma Mallorca

Even if you are short on time, there are so many things to see in Mallorca in 2 days, just by visiting Palma. See information below about where to go in Palma.

How to get to Mallorca from Mainland Spain – Ferry Service

The other way to visit Mallorca is to take a ferry boat. You can catch a ferry boat in Barcelona to Mallorca that leaves late in the evening and arrives in Mallorca island early in the morning. The voyage is 6.5 hours. You can also take a ferry from Valencia to Mallorca that leaves late in the evening and arrives on Mallorca island early in the morning, at that voyage takes 7 3/4 hours. Check current prices with the Balearia Ferry links here.

The Best Time to Visit Mallorca

The best time to visit Majorca are during the hotter, summer months. You’ll find the best weather on Mallorca from late April through November. While you can certainly visit Mallorca in the winter time, the island will be quieter, cooler, wetter and hotels in Mallorca will be far cheaper during this time.  If you are looking for a cheap trip to Mallorca, this is the time to go.

The Weather in Mallorca

Majorca’s weather is moderate. It benefits from a Mediterranean climate and other than the colder, wetter months of November through March, you will enjoy pleasant temperatures and sunshine. You will get the best deals if you go in spring and fall while still having plenty of sun to lounge on the beach or at your hotel.

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Island of Mallorca, Spain

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Island of Mallorca, Spain 39.569600, 2.650070

Traveling around Majorca – Majorca Airport Transfers

Most larger hotels will offer Palma airport transfers for free or for a fee, but if not, I use a private transfer service to take me where I need to go. Hoppa is one and ShuttleDirect is another. Once you arrive in Palma, their ‘Reps’ are just outside the arrival’s area. It’s great if you are not in a hurry because they will often lump you in with other hotel drop-offs in the same region as your hotel. If you are in a rush, take a taxi. You can easily navigate in English. I’ve used both private transport companies.

Car Rentals on Majorca

Majorca is easy to drive with modern, well-sign-posted, spacious highways, so book a car from the airport. For those who love the word, ‘upgrade,’ this is one upgrade you DO NOT want! If you want to visit Mallorca by car to explore the smaller villages, the roads are quite narrow. There were numerous times I cussed out that upgrade as I hacked off a bush or two, and nearly clipped the passenger-side mirror on a stone wall to avoid on-coming traffic. Take the smallest car possible. You will thank me later!


Worldwide Car Rentals

What to see in Palma, Mallorca. Stroll the Historic Streets

As a first-time visitor to Majorca, Spain, spend a few days visiting Palma to get your bearings and appreciate the antiquity. The island is steeped in history with Roman, Moorish, Byzantine, Arabic, Muslim, Jewish and Christian influences.  Pirates, power struggles, conquests and reconquests are synonymous with Majorca’s history.

Mallorca was a football passed among warriors throughout history, which is not surprising considering its geographic location to Spain, Italy and north Africa. But this is also the reason for the island’s unique architecture, culture, cuisine and charm.

Palma Mallorca architecture

Today, Majorca, like most of the Balearic Islands, survives on tourism. Eighty percent of the population is involved in the sector. Palma has around 400,000 people and about 1/2 of the island’s total population live there.

It’s very easy to explore the narrow streets and alleys in Old Town on foot. The best place to stay in Palma is near the tree-lined street of Passeig del Born. This is my personal favorite and it’s the most central area of Palma to stay. You’ll find some of the top hotels in Palma along this stretch. There are some great Palma 4* and 5*hotels here. You can also linger at the many outdoor cafes and historic landmarks.

Pedestrian Passeig Born in Palma Majorca
Pedestrian Passeig Born
Outdoor cafes on Passeig del Born in Majorca
Lovely outdoor cafes on Passeig del Born

What to do in Palma

If you are wondering what to visit in Palma, there are so many choices as first time visitors. Even if you only have 2-3 days in Mallorca, you can base yourself in Palma and walk around to visit the many historical sites. Palma is very easy to walk around and there’s plenty to keep you busy for a weekend or a few days in Mallorca’s capital.

First up, visit the main Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma or Le Seu as it’s known. It’s a stunning Gothic masterpiece started in 1229 and not finished until 1601! It’s nave is one of the highest of all Gothic cathedrals in Europe – even taller than Notre Dame in Paris!

The famous Catalonian architect, Antoni Gaudi (of the famed Sagrada Familia and other unique structures in Barcelona and beyond), was invited to participate in the renovations of the cathedral in the early 1900’s, but abandoned the project after an argument with the contractor. This is definitely a Mallorca must see.

First time visitors to Majorca should visit the impressive cathedral
Majorca Cathedral
Unique architecture of the Mallorca Cathedral
Unique architecture of the Mallorca Cathedral

Another thing to see in Palma next door to the Cathedral is La Almudiana, where the King of Spain still hosts summer ceremonies. This royal palace is the result of modifications to a Muslim fortress that started in 1281. You find the King’s Palace, Queen’s Palace, a hall known as Tinell, the Royal Chapel and courtyards. It’s loaded with historical pieces gathered over time and a great place to spend a few hours.

La Almundiana in Palma Majorca another great stop for first time visitors to Mallorca
La Almundiana in Mallorca

The Hop-on/Hop-off bus Tour shows you what to see in Mallorca and Palma

The Hop-on/Hop-Off bus tour in Palma gives you a great tour of what to see in Mallorca. It’s a great way to see what you should see in Palma and nearby. There are 18 stops along the route, so get off where you want, explore, and get back on to again. It’s also a great way to save money on transport. Get your ticket in advance and save time –  Hop-on/Hop-off tickets in advance.

For $18 for 24 hrs, or $25 for 48 hrs, you can explore further afield locations such as Poble Espanyol, which is a lovely little, ancient, walled village containing small-scale replicas of famous historic buildings along with artists’ studios, workshops and various shops.

Poble Espanyol on the island of Majorca
Poble Espanyol

Another stop on the Hop-on/Hop-off is the uniquely round, Castell de Bellver, which is a curious Gothic structure, now a museum, built in 1309. It was built as the royal residence of King Jaume II, and during its history, it was even a military prison! Really unique history. You can have a guided or audio-guided tour of this museum, and stop at their cafe.

If museum-hopping isn’t your thing, simply get off here and enjoy the vast courtyard, and the amazing views over Palma toward the Cathedral, marina and Serra de Tramuntana.

The Hop-on, Hop-off is a great substitute for a car. If you are visiting Mallorca for 2 days, get a 2-day pass and explore Palma and the surrounding area at your leisure.

Castell de Bellver from the hop on-hop off tour Majorca
Castell de Bellver
Views from Castell Bellver Mallorca
Views from Castell Bellver Mallorca

Book Excursions and Attractions for Majorca ahead of time

There are so many things to do in Mallorca Island and the easiest way to see as much as you can is by booking an excursion. You can visit the many wineries on Mallorca, visit a few grottos and caves in Majorca, tour the small villages on Majorca. There are many boat tours around Mallorca and you can even go out to see the dolphins.

The best way to get a head start is to research the attractions and excursions you’d like to see and book in advance. This will save you time and money, so book your Excursions and Attractions before you go! Otherwise, your hotel can help organize trips once you decide on what to see in Mallorca.

The best beaches of Majorca

Mallorca Beaches
© Mallorca-beaches.com

When you think of Majorca, you think of beaches, and Majorca has no shortage! There are more than 200 beaches on Majorca to keep you interested. And you’ll definitely want to book a beach holiday for at least part of your stay. The waters are crystal clear and the sand is like powder. Some of the best beaches for families can be found on Mallorca. The waters are gradual, so great for children, and they are clear, so great for swimming and snorkeling. Make sure you have the right snorkel with you to enjoy your swim. Along the island you’ll find many sandy coves and harbors dotted with yachts you could only dream of taking a spin on.

The quietest beaches can be found on Majorca’s east side. These are the best beaches on Majorca in my opinion. You will find many quaint villages with lovely clean, safe beaches for families. There are numerous hotels and self catering apartments that are perfect for everyone’s budget. If you visit in the low season, you can find some cheap hotels in Mallorca right on the beach. Check the map for the best places to stay in Mallorca if you are looking for a beach holiday.

Beaches of Mallorca
Beach near Sa Coma on the northeast side of Majorca

Beaches of Mallorca, Spain

What to see in Mallorca Island – Explore beyond Palma

While Palma is the capital of Mallorca, there are so much things to do in Mallorca outside of Palma. There are lovely little mountain villages, seaside beach resorts, grottos, caves, spectacular look out points and lots of excursions to see Mallorca from the water. It’s well worth exploring what Majorca Island has to offer.

Tour the island by boat

One great way to see Majorca on your first-time visit is to take a boat tour of the island. You’ll have a different perspective of the island’s ruggedly, charming shores from the water. One boat tour I took was on the Sea Paradise. Admittedly, the day I toured, we all joked it was the, ‘Boat tour from Hell’ as the seas were rough! It’s not always like that. There are many boat excursions to choose from and if you want, you can even snorkel or just sit back and enjoy the coastline views.

Boat tours on Mallorca, Spain
Sea Paradise Glass Bottom Catamaran

Visit the smaller, authentic villages of Majorca

If you did rent a car, head out to see the Mallorca countryside. Majorca is very easy to drive and the views of the soaring mountains and cliff sides are breathtaking. You will come across ancient citadels, olive groves, luxury villas and multi-terraced terrain. But as I mentioned, some of the mountain roads can be narrow and one-lane.

I made a stop for a tour, lunch and shopping for traditional Mallorcan goods at the quaint town of Soller. Soller has a lovely Cathedral and an old-time, electric tram that goes down to the Port of Soller. This tram has been operating since 1913 and is a beautiful ride down to the sea where you can have lunch.

I also stopped in the ancient, quiet village of Petra, the birthplace of Father Junipero Serra, who set up a number of missions in California. Ironically, my niece attended a ‘Serra’ school in California and I wanted to send her photos.

Tram of Soller, Majorca
Tram of Soller, Majorca
Small village of Petra, the birthplace of Junipero Serra
Small village of Petra, the birthplace of Junipero Serra
Petra, Mallorca, Spain
The quiet, ancient streets of Petra, the home of Father Junipero Serra

Visit the small village of Son Servera and the “Unfinished Church”

Another lovely village to see is Son Servera and their unique structure called, the ‘unfinished church’ or Esglesia Nova. It was designed by Joan Rubió, who worked with Gaudi, but they ran out of money and couldn’t finish it.

Today it’s used for religious and cultural events. I’ve been lucky enough to attend some Smooth Jazz events here. Son Servera also hosts a weekly market on Fridays with 200 stands. It’s a great place to shop some locally-produced items on Mallorca.

The Mallorca Smooth Jazz All Stars Evening at the Unfinished Church in Son Servera
The Mallorca Smooth Jazz All Stars Evening at the Unfinished Church in Son Servera

Take a bus tour of Cap de Formentor and the Lighthouse

This is something you must visit on Mallorca. Cap de Formentor is a stunning peninsula in the northernmost part of the island.

To get there, you take a wickedly, windy road for 8 miles that stretches from from Port de Pollença to Cap de Formentor.  Eight miles doesn’t seem like much, but you are better off going by bus with a driver who knows how to drive that stretch of road!

The landscape is extremely rugged and the views are breathtaking. Some of the cliffs are 1000 ft high and the winds can be ferocious. There’s a lovely, soft sandy beach (Playa de Formentor on the east side) and a jaw-dropping look out at the far end near the lighthouse.

This is one of the most scenic drives in the world, and while you can drive yourself, save yourself the headache and take an organised bus there. It’s much more tranquil and you can really enjoy the views along the way.

Cap de Formentor, Mallorca
Cap de Formentor

Visit a winery on Majorca, Spain – Jose L. Ferrer Cellar and Bodega

There are nearly 20 different wineries on Mallorca and you cannot visit Majorca without visiting a winery!

One top winery on Mallorca is the Jose L. Ferrer Cellar and Bodega.

The Jose L. Ferrer winery is located in Benissalem, and is one of the longest running wineries on Majorca! They’ve been in operation since 1931, and operate tours and tastings most days all year long. Check their website for opening hours. If you are looking for some things to visit in Mallorca, check out some of the wineries.

Mallorca Wineries Map

Mallorca Wineries Map
Mallorca Wineries Map

You can choose from Traditional tastings with local accompaniments of cheeses and biscuits, to more elaborate, Premium tastings paired with breads with olive oil, tapas, finger food, savoury, fried, hot and sweet items. The tour guides give a thorough explanation of the winery’s history and the wine-making process. These are some great things to do in Majorca for first time visitors!

Vineyard tour in Majorca

Jose L Ferrer Winery, Mallorca

Visit the amazing Caves of Drach

You must visit the Caves of Drach while on Majorca. These are some super-cool caves with a horizontal descent of nearly 4000 feet! The Caves of Drach or Cuevas del Drach are in Porto Cristo on the east side of Majorca, and are quite a popular spot. Once you reach the base inside there is a subterranean lake considered one of the largest lakes in the world. It’s hard to describe, but really awe-inspiring. Make sure to take a jacket as it gets cool and book tickets to the Caves of Drach in advance to save time.

Things to do in Mallorca for first time visitors is see the subterranean lake at the Caves of Drach
Subterranean lake at the Caves of Drach

 

This is a good sample of things to do in Mallorca for first time visitors. It’s a stunning island where you can easily entertain yourself for quite sometime.

Where to Stay in Mallorca – Which Side of Mallorca is the Best

Where to stay in Mallorca will depend on which side of Mallorca is best for you, and what type of tourist you are. First off, you will want to stay near one of Mallorca’s 200 beaches. Mallorca has numerous beach front hotels and apartments that are reasonably priced year round.

The beach resorts on Mallorca’s west side, near Palma, cater to a more party-loving crowd – think Megaluf. This is a big British party destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties. There are lots of resorts and beaches in that area. It’s nearer to the airport and will be lively through out the year.

The beach resorts on the northeast side cater to a more German crowd. It’s a bit more relaxed. The beaches and resorts are more spread out. There is more greenery, with great biking and hiking trails. Look for accommodation in the Porto Cristo, Cala Millor and Sa Coma areas. Those are lovely areas, with nice seaside restaurants and villages.

What to wear in Mallorca, Spain

First off, you are going to want to dress the part, and what better brand to wear than Desigual. If you are not familiar, they are a Barcelona-based clothing brand. I personally love Desigual dresses and Desigual women’s tops. They are light-weight, easy to pack and take up no space. Dress them up or down with a pair of Espadrilles and you are ready for day touring or a night on the town. Drop them in the wash and they dry quickly.

Wear the most comfortable sandals while traveling

Whether you are walking, driving or taking public transport, you are going to want to wear the most comfortable sandals. And the best, most comfortable sandals for walking around Mallorca are Espadrilles Made in Spain. Again, Espadrilles have a long, Spanish history and they can be casual or dressy depending on what you put with them.  I personally love those with a little heel as they provide good support and look great at the same time. You absolutely must give these sandals a try?

If you happen to be going to Venice, Italy for the first time, you might find Travelletters’, Venice Itinerary 3 Days – Things to do for a First-Timer, a good read. 

Any questions, give me a shout. And if you are the area visiting Madrid, read my recommendations of what to do with a weekend in Madrid. Enjoy!

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Life On The Mediterranean

US expat living the life on the Mediterranean in the South of France. I regularly travel to Spain, Italy, Greece and other intriguing locations around the Mediterranean. Former Hyatt Corp Marketing Manager, student accommodation director and hotel photoshoot art director.

2 Comments

  1. Clare
    May 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Wow, loads of ideas for things to do next time we’re in Mallorca! A super useful article. Thanks!

    • Anonymous
      July 29, 2018 at 7:32 am

      Thanks Clare. Glad it is of help. There’s a lot to do and see in Mallorca. One of my favorite islands.

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