Mallorca is much more than sun and beach: nature, history, art… are just some of the attractions that the island has to offer its visitors. And yes, also some of the best beaches in the world.
The city’s more than two thousand years of existence, since its foundation by the Romans in 123 BC, have given rise to a city loaded with history. Or rather, to a succession of cities, built one over the other, with a great variety of architectural styles that reflect the culture of its successive occupants.
Cathedral and Diocesan Museum
Palma’s most characteristic monument is its Gothic cathedral consecrated to the Virgin Mary. Formerly, its imposing image was reflected in the sea, while now it does so in the lake of Parque del Mar. Like all cathedrals of its time, it has undergone improvements and reforms over the centuries. One of the most recent is the chapel of the Santísimo, with the mural created by the artist Miquel Barceló.
Next to the cathedral is the diocesan museum (currently the Museum of Sacred Art), with interesting exhibitions of archaeology, ceramics, painting, etc.
Royal Palace of La Almudaina
Opposite the cathedral is the palace of La Almudaina. The fortress that was the residence of the Muslim rulers was refurbished to be the residence of the kings of Mallorca and Aragon. It is currently officially the summer residence of the kings of Spain.
La Almudaina synthesizes the evolution of the city itself within its walls, with spaces from Gothic to Renaissance styles.
The other iconic monument of Palma is Bellver Castle, built in the 14th century on a hill to serve as the residence of the kings of Mallorca. However, its most common use throughout history has been that of a prison: from medieval times, to imprison the relatives and supporters of the deceased King Jaime III, to the civil war, passing through the War of Succession and the War of Independence.
It is the only castle of circular shape in Spain, and the oldest of the few in Europe. It houses the history museum of Palma, with collections ranging from prehistory to the Middle Ages.
Pilar i Joan Miró Foundation
The internationally renowned Catalan artist Joan Miró had a significant relationship with Palma. His wife, Pilar Juncosa, was from here, and he maintained his residence in this city for a long time until his death in 1983.
His private residence was transformed into the current Pilar i Joan Miró Foundation, which houses one of the most important collections of the artist’s works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, etc. In addition to this, the Foundation hosts workshops, concerts, temporary exhibitions, and a large library.
Juan March Foundation Museum
On San Miguel Street, very close to the Plaza Mayor, in a 17th-century manor house renovated in the modernist style, which was once the headquarters of Banca March, is the Juan March Foundation Museum. Its collection focuses on Spanish artists of the 20th century, from the avant-garde to the end of the century, and includes works by well-known authors such as Dalí, Chillida, or Barceló.
The museum also organizes temporary exhibitions, chamber concerts, and includes a library. Admission is free.
This space, designed by the important architect Fernando Chueca in 1965, is an authentic open-air museum conceived as a recreation of typical streets and squares of Spain, as well as its different architectural styles. It also includes scale replicas of some characteristic monuments.
It is the third-largest “Spanish village” in the world after those in Barcelona from 1929 and Brussels from 1958, and was conceived from the beginning as a tourist attraction. It has bars and restaurants, and its different spaces host all kinds of events.
The Tramuntana Mountains, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, is the dominant element of Mallorca’s landscape, visible from the entire island. Its location in the north of the island, shielding it from the cold Tramuntana wind, has helped shape the culture and landscape. It is believed that the first settlers of Mallorca arrived here from the Iberian Peninsula, as the Sierra was visible from their lands.
In addition to its breathtaking wild beauty, it houses some of the most typical charming villages in Mallorca.
At the southern end of the Tramuntana Mountains, off the coast of Sant Elm, lies the island of Dragonera, just over 3 km long and 500 m at its widest point. There are traces of prehistoric settlements. After a storm, the Christian fleet of James I arrived at its shores for the conquest of Mallorca.
On the small island, three lighthouses have been built (two of which are still in service) and two defense towers. There are paths to visit these constructions and other points of interest.
One of the essential routes to get to know the island includes the triangle formed by these three villages. Although each of them deserves a leisurely visit, if we don’t have much time, we can tour them in a single day.
The landscape of Valldemossa is dominated by its famous Carthusian monastery, which hosted the famous Chopin and George Sand. Deià, the village of painters, is one of the most international in Mallorca. Hanging from the mountain overlooking the sea, many say its light is unique in the world. Following the itinerary, we arrive at Sóller, a village nestled in a rugged valley covered with orange groves.
In the heart of the Tramuntana Mountains lies this sanctuary that houses the image of the Virgin of Lluc, the patron saint of Mallorca. It is believed that this place already had a magical and sacred significance since prehistoric times.
A place of pilgrimage for centuries, the sanctuary has a guesthouse and also some restaurants. Its most outstanding element is its Renaissance-style basilica, which houses a museum with archaeological and artistic pieces, and a botanical garden with more than 200 species.
Since the 16th century, it has housed a children’s choir, the popular Blauets, the oldest in Mallorca, and one of the oldest in Spain.
One of the most beautiful and spectacular natural spaces is Sa Calobra, the mouth of the Pareis torrent, which originates near Lluc. It is a cove nestled between high cliffs accessed through a tunnel.
Its only problem is the overcrowding in high season, as it is a must-visit place. Since 1964, every summer the traditional Concert del Torrent de Paris has been held, a choral music recital.
Formentor (coves and lighthouse)
At the northernmost tip of Mallorca stands the Formentor Peninsula, a place of singular beauty. At the highest point of the access route, we find the Es Colomer viewpoint, a privileged balcony over the Mediterranean. At the end of a narrow and winding road stands the Formentor Lighthouse, a marvel of engineering at the time of its construction in 1857 due to the difficult terrain.
On both sides of this peninsula, we can find sandy beaches and rocky coves, such as Formentor Beach, Cala Murta, or Cala Figuera.
The north of the island is dominated by two bays: Pollensa, somewhat smaller, and Alcudia, larger, where top-level tourist resorts such as Puerto de Alcudia, Playa de Muro, and Can Picafort have grown.
The Tramuntana and currents have shaped large sandy areas that, on windy days, are a small paradise for windsurfers, kitesurfers, and similar disciplines. On calm days (most often during summer), they are a privileged destination for all types of visitors, especially families.
This town in the north of Mallorca is a place to visit in itself. Built on the Roman Pollentia, the ruins of this ancient city are a must-visit. But the current historic center does not detract from its past. Adequately restored, a walk through Alcudia and its walls reveals the old medieval and Renaissance city.
Next to Alcudia is the Cap del Pinar Peninsula, with many coves and beaches of all sizes: Alcanada, Sant Joan Beach, Es Barcarés…
Son Real Public Estate
This public estate near Can Picafort is a showcase of Mallorca’s great archaeological and ethnographic heritage. It includes a small museum and interpretation center showcasing the findings on the estate and its functioning as an agricultural estate for centuries.
Next to the beach is the large necropolis called the Phoenicians’ Cemetery, although it actually dates back to the Talayotic period. By following the proposed routes, you can also discover typical Mallorcan ecosystems and enjoy its fauna and flora from different observation points.
s’Albufera de Mallorca Natural Park
Mallorca’s “albufera” is the island’s main wetland and was declared a Natural Park in 1988. In its more than 2000 hectares, you can find dozens of mammal species, hundreds of fungi, invertebrates, and birds. Here, both native and migratory species can be found, using the albufera either for wintering or as a passage between Africa and Europe.
The park has an information office and interpretation center, marked trails, and bird observation platforms.
Eastern Mallorca spans from the Sierra de Levante Peninsula to almost the southern tip of the island. Both the type of soil and the weather have shaped very different reliefs from the large sandy areas in the north and south. Here, there are plenty of small coves and beaches, sudden terrain elevations, and spectacular cave systems.
On one of these elevations, the Puig de Capdepera, 159 meters high, this so-called castle began construction in 1300. It’s more of a walled town with over a hundred houses. It contains a church that houses a Gothic carving of Christ made of orange wood.
Visiting Capdepera Castle can be complemented with a visit to the nearby Canyamel Tower, part of the coastal surveillance and defense system that was active until well into the 17th century.
Caves of Drach
This complex of partly submerged caves, with one of the world’s largest underground lakes, is a true gift of nature. Partially known since time immemorial, a fortunate coincidence in the late 19th century allowed the discovery of areas never before seen by a human.
After several years of work, the current entrance opened in 1929. Since 1931, concerts have been offered on the lake, complemented since 1935 by a spectacular light show simulating a sunrise.
The southern coast of Mallorca is mainly dominated by gently sloping sandy beaches, sometimes protected by rocky areas. Sheltered from the “tramuntana” winds, they provide excellent bathing conditions, making them a highly appreciated destination for family tourism. Large complexes have been built around them, but there are still some pristine beaches and coves worth visiting.
s’Amarador Beach and Cala Mondragó Natural Park
This is a 750-hectare natural space, declared a Natural Park in 1992. It features various ecosystems: from pine and holm oak forests to wetlands, passing through dune systems. It primarily hosts a large number of bird species and small mammals.
It has several beaches, with s’Amarador being the largest, practically preserved in its virgin state. The park also has a small hotel and a restaurant to serve its visitors.
Es Trenc Beach
This beach is the last large pristine sandy area in Mallorca. Its sand is white and fine, and the waters are crystal clear. It’s often compared to the beaches of the Caribbean. For many years, it has been one of the main destinations for nudist practices.
To preserve its natural state, the services offered on the beach have been restricted, making the visit somewhat inconvenient due to access difficulties and lack of facilities. Still, it’s a paradisiacal place worth visiting.
Playa de Palma
If Es Trenc is the epitome of a pristine beach, Playa de Palma represents the urbanized beach. Being the first area discovered by mass tourism in the 50s and 60s, hotels were built on the beachfront that even threatened its existence.
Better organization has allowed the beach to regenerate, and it currently offers a good combination of fairly clean sands and waters, alongside top-level tourism and leisure facilities, making it one of the preferred destinations for visitors worldwide.
Puig de Randa
Halfway between the south of the island and the heart of Mallorca lies this 543-meter-high hill. From here, you can see a large part of the island. On its peak lies the Sanctuary of Cura, an old monastery where, according to legend, Ramón Llull received enlightenment. In addition to the monastery, there is a guesthouse and a restaurant.