Everything You Need to Know About Mallorca: Where to Stay, What to Do, When to Visit, and More

Mallorca is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe — and it’s easy to see why. The largest of the four main Balearic Islands, it offers a stunning coastline, an enviable climate, a rich and fascinating history, and a vibrant capital city. But before you book your flight, get the lowdown on when to go, what to see and, of course, where to stay on this unique, diverse, and spectacular Mediterranean island.

The Best Time to Visit Mallorca

Summer in Mallorca

It is no surprise that the vast majority of visitors to Mallorca arrive during the sweltering summer months. Of the 10 million-plus annual tourists, many are northern Europeans — namely, British and German. Most visitors are absorbed into the high-rise hotels of the main resorts such as Magaluf and El Arenal on the south coast, and spread across the huge sweeping bays of Alcúdia and Pollenca in the northeast. Inevitable crowding aside, the weather during these months (June through August) is ideal for lounging on one of the many outstanding beaches with clear, calm waters, guaranteed sunshine, and an occasional gentle breeze to help with overheating. In fact, from July onwards, it is usually too hot to do much else beyond reclining next to water, so choosing a hotel with a decent-sized pool or easy beach access is a good idea. Head to the beach early, though, as most fill up quickly.

Fall in Mallorca

Mountains in Mallorca, Spain

Mountains in Mallorca, Spain; Stefan Kunze/unsplash

For many, fall is the best time to visit the island, when most of the summer crowds have melted away, but the weather is still beach-friendly and the sea still warm. September is a particularly popular time for couples, as kids are back at school, leaving more space (and peace and quiet) for child-free visitors. The beginning of fall is also when most of the main harvests take place on Mallorca, with many of its rural villages and towns throwing festivals to celebrate. Local products include almonds, mushrooms, and pine nuts, each with their associated local fiestas.

As the temperatures start to drop, fall also sees the return of cyclists on the island. From novices to professional cycling teams, up to 250,000 people come every year to take advantage of some of the best cycling in Europe. From the flat central plains to the Serra de Tramuntana’s many winding mountain roads, there are conditions for all biking levels.

Winter in Mallorca

View of Palma, Mallorca

Palma, Mallorca; Mario Klassen/unsplash

Although it used to bring little more than a trickle of visitors, winter is becoming an increasingly popular season. It’s the capital, Palma, that sees most of the winter arrivals, thanks to its many attractions. Visitors can immerse themselves in the fascinating history and explore the cobbled lanes, quaint leafy plazas, and grand medieval structures, such as the iconic La Seu cathedral and hilltop Bellver Castle. The number of excellent boutique hotels in the capital has proliferated to accommodate the trend. Most of these take the form of centuries-old palacios, now converted into elegant, luxury hotels that offer world-class lodging with a glimpse into the once-hidden world of the island’s nobility.

Earlier in the winter season, hiking is a favorite activity, with countless footpaths cutting through the picturesque northern mountain range. The Dry Stone Route is the best maintained, comprising four trails through pine forests, scenic mounts, and along elevated coastal paths.

In addition to some spectacular Christmas celebrations, winter also sees one of the island’s most dramatic festivals — that of Sant Sebastià, Palma’s patron saint. This mid-January, week-long fiesta culminates in a night of spectacular street carnivals featuring terrifying demons wielding and breathing fire.

Spring in Mallorca

Soller, Mallorca View

Sóller, Mallorca; Dennis van den Worm/unsplash

Spring sees the island stirring from its winter slumber, with sunny days and warm weather returning. One of the first signs of spring is the famous almond blossom, when thousands of almond trees burst into bloom filling parts of the landscape with a beautiful show of white flowers.

With mild temperatures and clear roads, spring is also great time to jump in a car and explore the many charming villages and towns – Deià, Valldemossa, Sóller, Pollença, Fornalutx. Santanyí — on the island. This time of year is also ideal for a boat trip to one of Mallorca’s two islets — Sa Dragonera off the northwest coast and Cabrera to the south (both are inhabited nature reserves). Of course, the beaches are much quieter in comparison to summer, but the water has not had much time to warm up, so bathing is reserved for the brave. That being said, and spring is a great time to try one of the many water sports on offer, from kitesurfing to paddleboarding.

The Best Beaches in Mallorca

Cala Mondragó

Cala Mondragó beach from above in Mallorca

Cala Mondragó; Falco Ermert/Flickr

Part of the Mondragó Natural Park, this picture-perfect beach is one of a series of small coves on this stretch of coastline in the southeast part of the island. Perfect for families, the sand here is soft and white, and the water clear, calm, and clean.  There’s a small beachside restaurant as well as a large picnic area with tables in the shade, plus a good-sized car park a short stroll away.

Es Trenc

Undoubtedly one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, Es Trenc is often referred to as Mallorca’s Caribbean. The long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters are backed by sand dunes and wind-swept trees. With no intruding high-rise hotels and tourist shops, this beach has a wild feel to it, particularly in low season. In the high season, it gets very busy, so we recommend arriving early. The nearest resort town is Colonia de Sant Jordi.

Cap de Formentor

Cap de Formentor Lighthouse View in Mallorca

Cap de Formentor; Sergei Gussev/Flickr

This narrow, curved strip of sand backed by pine trees may be fairly small, but it has the most incredible views. Given its location on the Formentor peninsula, accessing this beach either involves a boat trip or a drive on a very windy road. If driving, make sure to stop at the Mirador Es Colomer to admire the breathtaking vistas. Behind this beautiful beach lies the Formentor Hotel, very much a place of old-school glamour (Charlie Chaplin vacationed at the hotel, and Grace Kelly spent her honeymoon here).

Portals Vells

Portals Vells is stunning small cove, reached either by boat or a drive through surrounding pine forest. There’s a restaurant on the beach and a few sunbeds, but that’s it. Popular with locals, and impossible to access using public transport, this beach gets particularly busy on Sundays. The sand is soft, the water clear, and you can admire the nearby cliffs, caves, and collection of yachts usually anchored in the bay. There’s a car park at the back of the beach and another farther up the hill. A short climb over the rocks will lead you to another similar beach, but it’s smaller and lacks a restaurant.

Cala Torta

Those seeking a remote beach will find what they’re looking for here. A half-hour drive down a windy, bumpy, and pot-hole-filled track gets you to Cala Torta, near the small town of Artá. But stunning water, great snorkeling, and soft white sand make the drive worthwhile. Make sure you pack a picnic and plenty of drinking water as there is nothing but nature here.

Playa de Muro

Located in the northeast part of the island, Playa de Muro is part of the vast stretch of sand in the Bay of Alcúdia. It is hugely popular with families, thanks to the array of nearby hotels, shallow waters, and easily accessible play parks, restaurants, and supermarkets. The central section of the beach is the quietest as it’s the farthest away from the resorts of Can Picafort and Port d’Alcúdia. This quieter part of the beach is backed by sand dunes and the S’Albufera Natural Park.

Cala Mesquida

One of the most spectacular beaches in the northeast part of the island, Cala Mesquida is a big swathe of sand, flanked by impressive sand dunes and dramatic rugged coastline. The water is clean and clear, but it can get very windy here, so the sea is not always great for kids. That being said, it is one of the few places on the island where you go surfing. Facilities include loungers and parasols for hire, plus a restaurant and snack bar.

Comtessa

Illetas’ smaller sister, Comtessa, is located just around the corner and is also easy to reach by bus from Palma, but with the added bonus of a car park. The beach itself is small, but the cove is pretty and the water is clear and great for kids. There is no beach club, but a small cafe on the rocks overlooks the beach and cooks up great burgers. As with most of the small beaches on this list, it’s best to arrive early during the high season, or later in the day when it’s much quieter.

Illetas

Within easy reach of Palma, Illetas has all the beauty of a small cove (picture soft sand and calm turquoise waters), but with an abundance of facilities, too. Balneario Illetas beach club is situated at the back, with its upscale yet relaxed restaurant, sunbeds, and umbrellas for hire, plus a smaller beach bar serving drinks, snacks, and ice cream. Another restaurant offers shaded seating up on the rocks overlooking the sea, and around the corner is the more luxurious (and expensive) Purobeach. For those who don’t want to pay for sunbeds, there is plenty of golden sand to lie on.

Cala Agulla

Backed by sand dunes and pine forests and protected on two sides by a picturesque rock-lined coast, Cala Agulla is located on the easternmost tip of the island. There’s a real wild feel to the powder white sand and clear waters here, but it’s still within easy reach of the popular resort town of Cala Ratjada. There are also a few facilities, including loungers for hire and some water sports, plus nearby rocky zones make for some great snorkeling.

The Best Things to Do in Mallorca

What to Do in Mallorca for Families

When it comes to family-friendly destinations, Mallorca is hard to beat. The most obvious place to keep the little ones entertained is at the beach, and the island has plenty of sandy stretches for small bathers. The long coves that dot the southwest coast are particularly calm and sheltered, with shallow entry points and fine golden sand. Most of the popular beaches will have pedal boats for hire — perfect family fun.

Water-centric fun also comes in the form of several excellent water parks located around the island, just outside the resorts of Magaluf, El Arenal, and Alcúdia. There’s also an inflatable sea-based water park that makes an appearance during the summer in Port de Pollença. Katmandu Park, Mallorca’s biggest theme park, is brimming with activities for all ages. For something a little more educational, try La Granja, situated just outside the town of Esporles. This country-estate-turned-museum offers fascinating insight into the island’s history plus farm animals.

What to Do in Mallorca for Couples

Mallorca is certainly a popular destination for weddings, honeymoons, and romantic breaks of all kinds. For starters, there are plenty of adults-only hotels that cater to couples, from remote fincas in the scenic countryside to luxurious spa hotels with stunning sea views. If hitting the water is your idea of romance, there are numerous charter companies around the island where you can hire a boat for a half-day, full day, or longer — and many don’t require a license. This is one way to find that secluded spot and spend some quality time with your sweetheart. Alternatively, doe-eyed lovers can hop in a hot-air balloon to enjoy stunning mountain and sea panoramas while gliding across the island at sunset — a perfect setting for popping the question.

What to Do in Mallorca for Solo Travelers

While so much of the vacation experience can be geared toward non-singles, Mallorca provides plenty of activities for those traveling alone. Yoga has always been popular on the island, and today, there are numerous retreats where you can find your inner peace. Most of these take place in grand villas nestled among verdant valleys and mountains. If you’re seeking even more solitude, it’s easy to find some alone time on the cycling or hiking trails of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.

What to Do in Mallorca for Thrill-Seekers

With so much mountainous terrain, Mallorca has established itself as one of the top rock-climbing destinations in Europe. For those wanting to pursue water-centric activities, the cliffs along the eastern coast are perfect for deep-water soloing. Another popular activity among adrenaline junkies is cliff jumping, which is usually combined with coasteering and abseiling, and should only be practiced with a professional guide.

What to Do in Mallorca for Partiers

While the island has been pushing to clean up its party-heavy image, there’s still no shortage of nightlife, especially once summer kicks off. Magaluf’s infamous Punta Ballena strip is the central party zone on Mallorca’s southwest coast. Young (mostly British) revelers spill out from its many neon-lit bars and high-energy clubs. There are, however, many more sophisticated places to party, including several beach clubs that have adopted the more chic Ibiza-style vibe. Examples include Purobeach (Palma and Illetas), Nikki Beach, and Anima Beach Club — all within easy reach of the capital. Palma itself has its fair share of party potential — the best place for a bar crawl is along the marina-front Paseo Marítimo. The capital’s hip Santa Catalina neighborhood also attracts a good amount of nighttime revelry.

Essential Things to Know Before Your First Mallorca Vacation

The First Language in Mallorca is Not Spanish

While Spanish (or Castilian) is spoken by all locals in Mallorca, most grow up speaking Mallorquín (a Catalan dialect) as their first language. Most official correspondence and signage will also be in the native tongue. English and German are widely spoken as well, especially in tourist areas, though a ‘gracias’ or ‘gràcis’ is always appreciated.

The Water in Mallorca Is Not Drinkable

Like most islands in the Mediterranean, dinking tap water in the Balearics is not recommended. While it’s perfectly safe to use for things like cooking and brushing teeth, its high mineral and chorine content means it tastes unpleasant and could cause an upset stomach if too much is consumed.

A Rental Car is the Best Way to Get Around Mallorca

While Mallorca does have a modern and fairly efficient transportation network that covers most of the island, timetables are frequently disrupted and buses can suffer from overcrowding during peak times. There are metro and train lines, but their reach is limited to the interior part of the island. For those hoping to explore the island, a hire car is recommended and can be relatively cheap in the low season from the airport.

Tipping in Mallorca Is Not Required

While servers in bars and restaurants certainly appreciate a little something extra, it is far from expected, and there are certainly no hard and fast rules about tipping in Mallorca. Rounding up or leaving change is common among locals, but a fixed service charge is rarely added to checks.

Local Festivals in Mallorca Are Worth Checking Out

During certain times of the year, it can feel like there’s a festival every weekend, and you should absolutely take advantage and attend. From huge mock battles between Christians and Moors to fire-fueled festivities that go on all night, be sure to check the calendar in advance for festivities happening near your hotel.

There’s More to Mallorca Beyond Its Beaches

Mallorca might be best known as a beach destination, but there is a lot more to the island. The UNESCO-protected Serra de Tramuntana is a 56-mile pine-clad mountain range that runs along the northern coast, offering a great choice of non-beach activities, from gentle to extreme options.

Almost Everyone in Mallorca Has to Pay an Eco-Tax

The eco-tax (or sustainable tourism tax) is a levy that almost anyone staying on the island must pay. It was introduced in 2016 to boost funds directed toward conserving the environment and especially to offset the impact of tourism. How much you pay depends on the quality of your accommodations — up to four euros per night for luxury hotels, which can rack up over a couple of weeks.

The Best Hotels in Mallorca

Our Pick for the Best Luxury Hotel in Mallorca: Son Brull Hotel & Spa

Set at the foothills of the Tramuntana mountain range and overlooking Mallorca’s picturesque countryside, the location alone of this top-end spa hotel is rather special. But the converted 18th-century monastery has plenty more up its sleeve, including a rustic-meets-Scandinavian-chic style, deluxe spa facilities, and outstanding dining options. The top-quality in-room tech, whirlpool tubs, and Egyptian linens also come standard, ensuring this property lives up to its reputation as one of the best luxury hotels on the island.

Our Pick for the Best Boutique Hotel in Mallorca: Sant Francesc Hotel Singular

This swish boutique property has topped many lists of best hotels on the island — and it’s easy to see why. Located deep in Palma’s old town, and overlooking the eponymous church, it combines historical character with impeccable service and immaculate interiors. Glamorous rooms feature luxury-level amenities, including gourmet minibars and Bluetooth music systems. The on-site restaurant is considered one of the city’s finest, and a rooftop pool completes the impressive package.

Our Pick for the Best Family Hotel in Mallorca: Zafiro Palace Alcudia 

Very few, if any, places on the island combine family-friendly and high-end facilities as well as Zafiro Palace Alcudia. This hotel caters almost exclusively to families with kids, but it features a sleek and contemporary vibe that is usually reserved for swanky, child-free properties. Three mini-clubs are tailored to various age groups, plus expect various pools, from pirate ship splash pools to serene adults-only options. Even entry-level Junior Suites are generous with space and amenities, while upgrades add direct pool access or whirlpool tubs.

Our Pick for a Beach Hotel in Mallorca: Hotel Nixe Palace

This landmark hotel exudes old-school glitz and glamour, and has a beachfront setting to boot. The Hotel Nixe Palace overlooks the broad sandy beach of Cala Major, only a five-minute drive from the capital. Cascading down toward the beach, numerous balustrade-lined terraces offer expansive views over the sea. Elegant guest rooms, heated indoor and outdoor pools, and top-notch dining round things out nicely.

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