Mallorca has become synonymous with beaches, tapas, clubs, and Palma, with much of the rest of the island often overlooked. Mallorca has a lot more to offer than its reputation of drunken tourist shenanigans and crowded beaches. You can avoid both if you visit at the right time or take time to explore places off the beaten path, which was my experience there.
Above all, the scenery on the island is really breathtaking with rocky cliffs, farmland and vineyards, mountainous regions, and even caves with openings to the sea. Fishing villages, beach resorts, and rural towns each have their own unique feel, and if you do your research, you will find Roman ruins, evidence of the Moors, and prehistoric settlements that will allow you further engage with the history of the region.
Palma is wonderful and charming, and don’t get me wrong, I enjoy partying in Magaluf from time to time as much as any other spring breaker. However, what struck me most about the island were the sites that are not often mentioned. To have a truly unique Mallorcan experience, I recommend venturing out and creating a different kind of trip for yourself. I’ve assembled a few suggestions below.
Off the Beaten Path
Rent a car
There is so much to see on the island that renting a car, even just to see different landscapes, is totally worth it. I’ve included my experiences with roadtripping in Mallorca in the posts linked below, but there are many additional road trip possibilities, so grab a map and drive in any direction to see something new and uniquely Mallorcan.
- Santa Ponça: Light on Debauchery and Everything Else
- Serra de Tramuntana: A Mallorca Must
- Valldemossa: Chopin’s Winter Retreat
- Port de Sóller: Idyllic Fishing Village
- Cap de Formentor: Mallorca’s Northernmost Point
There are so many great spots to get out and hike on the island, and there are numerous agencies that will take you on guided hikes, which can be a good idea due to poorly marked trails in some places. There are hikes that take you through National Parks to the highest peaks in Mallorca for experienced hikers, walking hikes through villages that are less strenuous, and leisurely wine and walking tours. There are a few campsites on the island and hostels along popular trails if you are interested in more than just a day hike.
Mallorca also offers several caves on different parts of the island that you can visit. Caves where you can take tours include Cueves dels Hams, also known as the Fishhook Caves (Porto Cristo, East), Cuevas d’Artà (East, near Artà), Cuevas del Drach (Dragon Caves, East), and Cuevas de Campanet (West, near my favorite area, Serra de Tramuntana). Near Formentor, you can also visit Racó de Xot, a prehistoric cave with ties to the Talaiotic Period on the island.
There are wineries all over the island, and a few are garnering awards at international festivals. A great overview of wineries with website links divided up by region can be found on this site. The next time I make it to Mallorca, I fully intend on researching wineries throughout the island to determine my itinerary. Wine trip to Mallorca, anyone?
Mallorca’s history spans prehistoric settlements from the Neolothic Period to Spanish rule, and there are places around the island that you can visit to explore the long history of the island. Ses Païsses near Artà is the most well-known of Mallorca’s prehistoric sites, but there are others scattered around the island as well. The Romans also left their mark on Mallorca, and the ancient Roman city of Pollentia, dating to 123 BC, can also be visited with an entrance fee of only 2 Euros. Following the Romans, the Moors conquered Mallorca in 902 AD and remained for over 300 years leaving behind the Arab baths in Palma (Banys Arabs).
In more recent history (although not that recent), when King James conquered Mallorca for the Spanish, an Arabian fort was restored to become the Royal Palace of La Almudaina in Palma, and Bellver Castle was built as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca (just outside of Palma) but has since also been used as a prison (currently, it is a museum).
Of course, I can understand coming to Mallorca only to lay on the beach, but there are so many possibilities, even just for sunbathing, it’s worth getting to know more of the island.