Updated on November 22nd, 2020
If you are visiting this beautiful Spanish island, then look no further than my Insider’s Guide to Mallorca. Here, my good friend Andy shares his recommendations after being a regular visitor since 1986!”
Mallorca, particularly the North West of the Island
Andy has been a regular visitor to Mallorca after discovering the island in 1986 & been a close friend since my husband, Terry joined his band as the new drummer in 2010. Now, Andy is very important as the right-hand man at Sue Where? Why? What? – making it look good, editing hours of video & generally ensuring I deliver on everything I want to. Basically, this website wouldn’t be the same without his input & I am eternally grateful to him for that! Anyway, over to Andy….
An Insiders Guide to Mallorca
I have visited the island at least once every year since. It is my spiritual home and holds so many memories for me, not only of the place but the fantastically colourful array of people I have met there.
What is it you love most about the place?
First and foremost, it’s the ‘Mañana ethic’ that I find so relaxing (the idea that it’ll be ok if you do it tomorrow) & ‘Tranquillo’ (no rush, take it easy). I am not a person who unwinds easily but as soon as I see the Alcudia ‘mountain’ I feel a huge sense of calm and belonging.
Sights & Attractions
What are the key tourist attractions that no visitor should miss?
These are in alphabetical rather than priority order. Please bear in mind this selection includes places I have visited for over 30 years and may not be quite as up to date as the guidebooks… but then again it is my Insider’s Guide…! The following will give you varied ideas for a full week’s entertainment…
The North of Mallorca is most important to me. The North West is made up of two towns/resorts -Alcudia and Pollensa. Despite having been to the island over 30 times, I can’t say I ever remember visiting old town Pollensa, although I have heard it is beautiful, the main focus of this guide is Puerto Alcudia and most importantly Puerto Pollensa.
Alcudia Old Town
Has a medieval wall around it (once an inner and outer) and has houses dating back to the 13th century. Alcudia has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and has been ruled by both the Romans and the Moors in its history. There is still evidence of the Roman ruins on the outskirts of the town, not unlike my hometown of St. Albans in fact.
On two days a week, Alcudia old town has a market which is open on Tuesdays and Sundays & is set up just outside the old walls of the Centre. The winding streets are worth a visit in their own right but a combined trip to the market makes for a good mornings’ entertainment. Cost: FREE
Alberfuera Nature Reserve
(for bird watching & walks). It’s not just beaches in this area, a good place to visit for a bit of ‘off the main thoroughfare’ tranquillity is Alberfuera Nature Reserve on the road between Puerto Alcudia and C’an Picafort. My recommendation is to hire a bike for the day and cycle to it. Cost: FREE
Bike hire is massive in Mallorca. The terrain varies from mountains in the west for your experienced enthusiast, to flat wide cycle lanes around the bay of Pollensa and its environs. Approx. cost for a standard adult bike to a trekking mountain bike is €7-11 per day. If you are feeling fit, many weekly deals can be had from supermarkets down by the Fergus Hotel in Puerto Pollensa or most of the hotel receptions. Racing or specialist bikes require more dedicated bike shops.
(Definitely one for the families this!) The Hidro Park can be seen from the main road to Alcudia Old Town and is set back approx. 1 Km from the beach. It is not huge (unlike the massive Aqua Park in the South, near Magaluf) but it is well marshalled and has enough interest for a safe fun day out for all. My advice is to get there early if you want a lounger! Cost approx. €23 per head for over 12’s
If boats are your thing… Being an island there are numerous ports from the huge one in Palma to smaller ones in Pollensa and Alcudia, where you can hire all manner of craft to take you out to sea. This is also where the glass-bottomed boat that takes you to the exclusive beaches around Formentor will go from.
I have only discovered the joys of snorkelling in recent years and do this from the beach in Puerto Pollensa. There’s loads of fascinating fish, crabs and coral to be found literally yards from the sand. If you fancy something a little more professional, you can book Scuba Diving lessons or trips. The one that my family booked was for 2 Dives of around an hour – it took approximately half a day, €126 with 10% discount if you book online, then pay in cash. Scuba Mallorca is PADI registered and they cater for beginners and experienced divers. There are obviously other firms, but this is the one we tried.
6km of sand, calm sea, beautiful views and tranquil atmosphere. You can hire a glass-bottomed boat from the port which will take you to exclusive beaches at Formentor.
There are also…
(which is after the camping and nature reserve at Albufera) and Formentor (but I have not been for many years)
What are the defining experiences from your perspective?
If I only had 24 hours in Majorca these would be my top 3 things to do:
Soller Port trip (and Train to Palma)
You can book this excursion from most of the big hotels in Pollensa and Alcudia. The trip begins with a coach ride (approx. an hour) from your resort, which winds through the beautiful west coast mountains, before arriving in the famous lemon and orange groves of the beautiful port of Soller. Here you can have lunch on the relaxing seafront before catching the vintage train to the capital city Palma’s main station at the Plaza de Espana. The train travels via the 5 points Soller Viaduct, through the mountainous Tramuntana region (Sierra de Alfàbia) and takes in 13 tunnels and several bridges.
Plaza de Espana
Once you have enjoyed the many bars and shops in Palma centre, you can catch a coach back North from behind the station. If you are staying in Palma, you can do the reverse trip by buying tickets for the train/tram inside the ticket office at Plaza de Espana.
Small sandy cove in a beautiful setting with great views and tends to be only used by permanent residents of the island or people with local knowledge ;-). Sometimes has a beach bar. A 40-minute cycle from Puerto Pollensa, 20 from Puerto Alcudia.
Restaurante Bellaverde – Calle Monges 14, 07470 Port de Pollenca, Majorca, Spain +34 675 60 25 28
If you want a change from the beaches & are happy to hire a car/take the bus (timetables can be picked up from your hotel).
(Discovered in 1945 by a farmer so the story goes…) not as big as the Caves of Drach over in Sa Coma in the East of the Island, but a bit of a hidden gem, especially when visited early in the season. We last went in May 2018 and with only 8 of us on this particular tour, we were treated to an extended and in-depth Q&A with the guide. Cost: €20 per person over 12 years old
Porto Cristo, the bigger and more famous caves of Mallorca. Attractions include an underground amphitheatre and a lake! Cost is around €15 for over 13’s and €8 for under 13’s
Similar to Alcudia, halfway up the island, worth a visit if you have a hire car.
Palma (The capital) with a cathedral and shopping.
Manacor, Mallorca is famous for its Pearl factories. You can find leaflets advertising trips in most hotels. It’s not somewhere I have ever been, but it’s a good place to send your mum for a day out, while you catch up with the football ;)!
I stumbled upon this one year after a drive between Soller and Palma. It’s worth a visit in the hire car as a good family day out away from the sand and sea. Cost is around €12.50
Again not been for a while, but until 5 years ago Mallorca was in the top division of La Liga. They are now a top 6 team in the Seconda Division which also has teams like Deportivo La Coruna and Real Zaragoza in it, so you can see a decent standard of football. When I last went the stadium was completely uncovered and there was a man selling beer from a crate on the terraces, but you’d have to check this is still the case. Well worth a visit for any football fans though regardless!
All of the above should keep you fully entertained for a week or two in Mallorca, but for me, the highlights are the beaches. There are many to choose from but here are my favourites in the North of the Island.
More of a beauty spot than a beach – with lighthouse and calm sea, bordered by a golf course.
Flat rocks, great for laying on & snorkelling from in a peaceful location just around the corner from Mal Pas. A 45-minute cycle from Puerto Pollensa, 25 from Puerto Alcudia (uphill on the way back to the main road)
8km of sand, more for families but so wide you can still find your own bit of peace.
What are your recommendations to make this an even better experience?
I have been to Mallorca in all months except Nov, Dec and Jan and have had hot sunny days in any of the other months, although I did have hailstones too once! My favourite times to visit are May & June, or September as the area is a little quieter out of the school holidays, but that said the vibe is so relaxed in the Pollensa area, any month is worth a visit!
5 ways to get North: taxi, transfer coach, hire car, public (Tib) bus or cycle!
The quickest way is to get a taxi, but it’s also the most expensive by far. The cheapest (apart from on foot!), is by bus* which you have to catch via Palma bus garage. Bear in mind that this is a good option provided you are travelling light as it is the best way to acclimatise (not advisable if travelling with a family, hungry for the beach with armfuls of luggage!).
Bus (Tib)* – Yellow and red local buses, very cheap and very frequent. The cheapest way to get about.
Taxi – Most expensive option, but quickest if you need to get somewhere.
Transfer Coach – Approx. £20 per person for a return to the North. It can be a little frustrating waiting at the airport as they leave an hour each side of the flight. This is good if you are delayed, but not so if are keen to get your cossie on!
Hire Cars – Various prices, but very easy to hire from the airport, hotels or resorts. If you’re used to the M25 or London, it’ll be a joy to get onto the motorway north. Traffic jams are virtually non-existent.
Cycle – Not tried this option. If you are there for a short stay and packing a rucksack it’s definitely feasible from Palma or close by.
Are there any favourite memories or stories from travelling to Mallorca?
There are too many memories to pick out one favourite! The selection of places I have suggested definitely encompasses all of the best times. For me personally, I used to love the thriving live music scene of the late 80s. However, this sadly gave way to Karaoke bars, never to be seen again. I still visit the site of The Crazy Horse Saloon on Lago Menor in Puerto Alcudia. I try and recall the very hazy late nights spent there and at the now long-gone Calypso Disco.
Eating, drinking & nightlife
For anyone young and ‘stranded’ or older and desperate for a late drink and a dance!
If nightlife is your thing, head to the South (Magaluf, Arenal, Palma Nova). This is where the mega-clubs are. BCM’s in Magaluf is the one most people head for.
For traditional Mallorcan cuisine – fish, tumbet etc…
Mirador de la Victoria, Alcudia
Cellar Ca Rostra , Puerto Pollensa (I haven’t been for years but this was the go-to place in the late 80s)
Kashmir Restaurant – Home from home curry!
As bars go there’s not much to beat or compete with Mombassa
Places to Stay:
There are many exclusive and expensive places to stay along Pine Walk (just past the port). However, here are my tips for people who want somewhere well situated, but also good value.
Hotels: (Puerto Pollensa)
The Romantic Hotel – Adults Only
Hoposa Uyal – good for both, slightly more expensive
Self Catering: (Alcudia)
Siesta Apartments – Alcudia – Couples & families
Where to Stay
What are your pros and cons when travelling to Mallorca?
Many pros: Peaceful, not crowded, unspoilt, huge choice of beaches, places to stay and places to eat out.
Only cons: Cost due to the exchange rate. Also mosquitos in the early season & lack of late-night (after midnight) entertainment options. This tends to mean you need to go out early to enjoy full night.
Tip: Unlike other areas of Spain, don’t go out too late. If you do, make sure you know where you’re going in advance & know the closing times. Eat early and don’t rely on fast food being open late… with the exception of the kebab shop 🙂
Sue Where? Why? What? would like to say a HUGE Thank You to Andy for sharing his immense knowledge of this area with us all!
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