The party isle with a reputation that precedes it, Majorca has long been the reserve of Brits abroad looking for little more than sun, sea, sand…and some highly questionable antics. But those in the know know there’s many a Mediterranean gem just outside the reaches of the densely packed playas of Magaluf and its like, so its time to say goodbye to cheap sangria and hello to the truly Spanish roots of this beautiful Balearic island.
If peace and quiet is what you truly seek, then the tranquil, traditional and tremendously pretty village of Valldemosa can deliver. Nestled in a nook of the Tramuntana mountain range, its entire ethos seems dedicated to maintaining harmony at all times – for both its inhabitants and the few independently minded holidaymakers who venture here. From its slim, smooth stone-lined alleyways to the aromas of the orange, almond and fig trees that sit around its borders, the town itself has a chocolate box charm that will keep the senses occupied for days at a time.
Despite its romantic reputation (aided somewhat by the likes of artistic lovers, Chopin and Dupin) do not consider it only as a sleepy sanctuary. Perfectly positioned to act as gateway to both the glorious Serra de Tramuntana peaks and the wilder western coast, it’s a real wonder its secretive status has not been exposed just yet. Fingers crossed, we can keep it that way for many years to come.
Leave Palma’s party scene in your rear view mirror and make your way into the woods, where wonderful Sóller awaits. Though its port was once a popular haunt for pirates, there’s very little in the way of bad behaviour that has stuck around (from old influences and new), leaving this place a marvellous Mediterranean treat well worth making a trip through a 3 kilometre mountain tunnel for.
From delicious delicacies ranging from the divine (sobradasa, masterfully spiced melt-in-the-mouth pork) to the daring (robust stew with snails), all of which should be enjoyed al fresco while overlooking the panoramic terraces, there’s plenty to keep you going up and down the elevated levels over which the community spills. Though we probably shouldn’t be singing the praises of any other modes of transport, the old tram that whisks one between the sea-facing inlet and the main town is a whimsical must.
Those wishing to immerse themselves in the more spiritual and subdued side of Spain will want to make a beeline for this traditional town situated near the heart of the island. Most people simply make a stop off here to pay tribute to Majorca’s most famous son, Fray Junipero Serra – popular 18th Century priest and missionary whose influence stretches all the way to San Francisco – but those who stay a while will see the town has appeal beyond being a blessed birthplace.
As is to be expected, religious buildings exist in abundance throughout the main square and streets, so take a saunter to admire the details before taking a seat at one of the locally run restaurants, ready to provide you with some truly tasty produce proudly grown in the agriculturally rich region. Once you’ve had your fill of olives and honey, head beyond the windmills to sample Petra’s best export straight from the source – on the gentle slopes of an organic vineyard.
Colonia de Sant Jordi
For the most part, the general masses have yet to discover the delights of this lagoon like little colony, located within spitting distance of the Ses Salines – Mallorca’s stunningly beautiful salt flats. Unabashedly geared towards beach-lovers, the waters here range from shades of terrific turquoise to 24 carat crystal clear, making it a popular choice for snorkelers wishing to see fresh fish in the ocean as opposed to on their plate. That said, the seafood here is frequently touted as ‘tremendous’.
A destination for nature-loving types of all kinds, the unique make-up of the salt marshes attracts a multitude of rare species and any walk taken along the coast will almost certainly require a few stop offs to study something interesting seen on the ground or in the sky. Be careful where you point those binoculars though, as the island’s largest nudist beach, Es Trenc, is only a short hike away.
Simple pleasures exist in abundance in the eastern hamlet of Santyani. Thanks to a curious melting pot of European ex-pats (largely made up of German, French and English settlers) merging seamlessly with the local Spanish flavour, the extensive entertainment choices on offer here are amongst the most diverse you’ll find anywhere on the island.
Art and eating are two of the towns more treasured past times, with independent galleries and restaurants aplenty appeasing even the largest of appetites. Soak up the ambience of the lively market every Saturday, often accompanied by music wafting around from a nearby tavern, before strolling on down to the harbour-side to dip a toe in the water and watch the old-school fishing boats come and go. Head a touch farther out of town to see some intriguing archaeological sites, carelessly left lying about by both the Moors and the Romans.