Mallorca travel guide: Things to see and do beyond Magaluf

Calo Des Moro beach, Mallorca (Benjamin Bindewald on Unsplash)
Calo Des Moro beach, Mallorca (Benjamin Bindewald on Unsplash)

There’s a lot more to Mallorca than partying in a resort with other tourists.

The beating heart of the Balearic Archipelago, this Spanish island is bursting with culture, history, and an impressive variety of lyrical landscapes.

Things to see and do

Palma, the capital, has something for everyone, from landmarks and museums to shopping and a vibrant social scene: discover it in our standalone guide.

As for beaches, Palma offers you more than 200 to choose from. Mallorca is also popular amongst cyclists and hikers. If you’re up for a challenge, the Serra de Tramuntana will reward you with unforgettable views. Or you could head to the northern coast, full of small villages and hidden gems that are only accessible on foot. The Roman remains of Pollentia are definitely worth a stop, too.

I also recommend visiting one (or more) of Mallorca’s charming wineries, perhaps by way of a proper tour. Fancy discovering this island from a different perspective? Hop into a hot air balloon or try Scuba diving. And how about an underground adventure towards the hidden lake inside the Drach Caves, complete with live classical music?

Food and drink

Wine: Mallorca's bars have good, affordable wine (Unsplash)
Wine: Mallorca's bars have good, affordable wine (Unsplash)

Tasting Mallorca’s local produce will really allow you to appreciate Mediterranean fragrances and flavours, from its rich olive oil to fresh vegetables and citrus fruits.

Given the island’s geography, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its traditional cuisine is mostly about mar y montaña (sea and mountains). Seafood, in particular, is a big part of it, like the fresh red prawns from Port de Sóller and the caldereta de langosta (lobster stew). As for meat, you’ll find the typical sobrassada sausage (spicy and made with Mallorcan black pig) cooked in an incredible variety of ways.

The plant-based among you needn’t worry: another fine dish is the vegetarian tumbet, which is almost like a Mallorcan ratatouille.

Pair up your meals with some local wine, and don’t forget to try some Palo de Mallorca, a popular aromatic liqueur.

Where to stay

Of course, Palma is a popular destination, especially for families.

If you’re after a quieter vacation, you could escape into one of the hinterlands’ fincas (farmhouses and estates).

Fishing: The seafood is spectacular (Unsplash)
Fishing: The seafood is spectacular (Unsplash)

Alternatively, aim for one of the smaller towns and villages on the north-west coast and the northern part of the island, like Deià, Banyalbufar, or Fornalutx. Full of family-owned businesses, these are really your chance to slow down, talk to locals, and experience the less-touristy side of Mallorca.

You could also choose to stay in one of its many picturesque fishing villages. Among the best is Cala Figuera.

Hot tips

The best time to visit it is usually summer - you might even get to celebrate some of the festes (festivals) with locals. It does get extremely hot, though, so if you’re planning on hiking or biking, it’d be wiser to aim for spring or autumn.

Castellano and Catalan are Mallorca’s official languages, but locals speak mallorquí, a balearic dialect. Sure, most people in hospitality speak English, but why not impress them with a few Mallorquín words? Try  “gracis” (thank you) and, if you enjoyed your meal, “aixo es mel”, which translates as “this is honey”, but more simply means that something’s delicious.

Palma also has a metro and it’s fairly easy to get around Mallorca using trains and buses to other towns or popular destinations. You’ll definitely want to look into the vintage wooden train connecting Palma to Sóller.

Still, it’d make more sense to hire a car or bike if you’re planning on visiting several small villages, hidden gems, and the hinterlands.