For my summer holiday this year, I knew exactly what I wanted: sun and lots of it, swimming and lots of it, excellent company in droves, and finally, an infinite amount of utterly delectable food. In light of this specification, my friends and I decided to head to Mallorca.
Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, is a firm favourite with British holidaymakers, and for good reasons. Despite its relatively small size and booming tourist industry, it has managed to successfully stave off rampant commercialism, meaning this mountainous little island has retained bucket-loads of charm. With the exception of Magaluf (affectionately known as ‘Magamuff’ and ‘Shagaluf’) and the odd port town that becomes decidedly too neon in the evenings, much of Mallorca looks and feels very traditional.
The laid-back way of life on this gigantic, mountainous rock is infectious – one can’t fail to relax in this place while also having a banquet of beautiful sights to enjoy. The northern regions in particular are littered with typically Mediterranean villages that are rich in culture and originality. Not to mention rolling green hills dotted with olive groves, almond trees, and terracotta villas.
All this just a two hour flight from home seems a little too good to be true – perhaps this is the reason behind the fact that everyone I have spoken to this year seems to be taking to the Mallorquin hills for their summertime adventures.
For my week on this beautiful island, I rented a villa along with six friends near the town of Pollensa (said Poy-en-sa), and at around £135 each for the week’s accommodation we got considerably more than we bargained for. I’ve always been an advocate for villa holidays; what could possibly be better than having your own pool, privacy, space, and the option to self-cater? And for large groups of friends, splitting the cost is incredibly economical, as was the case with the seven of us in Mallorca (we also hired cars). Truth be told, I’m not sure if I will ever willingly stay in a hotel again. We spent days lounging by the pool or playing Tennis Volleypool (we’re working on getting it into the Olympics) wandering around the streets of the nearby Pollensa, and visiting the nearest beach. Some nights we ate in, and when we did, we did it in style, barbecuing treats such as a whole seabass one night, and butterflied chicken another.
Pollensa itself is typically European in its appearance. The streets are narrow and cobbled, the windows shuttered, and the buildings a glorious sandy colour. There is a wonderful food market every sunday that we used to stock up on cheese, olives, vegetables, cheese, spices, and cheese. The town’s side streets are punctuated with beautifully presented shops – their owners’ wares laid out with pride. There isn’t a ‘chain store’ in sight.
The centre of the town is marked, as is typical, with a grand and ornate cathedral, and just to the north a marvellous staircase of 365 steps leads to a chapel that offers stunning views of the town and surrounding green hills. The restaurants are equally appealing though – true to touristy areas – could not be considered cheap (nor could they be considered extravagant). Paella is a firm favourite, as is fish such as seabass, hake, and prawns. There is tapas too, and if you don’t eat several portions of alioli a day, you truly haven’t lived.
Port de Pollensa, just a few km down the road offers excellent beaches with gentle tides and warm waters, although the town itself is a little tacky and over-commercialised. Other places worth visiting include Soller in the rocky north, and its pretty surrounding areas of Fornalutx, Deia, and Valdemossa.
It’s fair to say that for me, Mallorca was always going to be a relaxing holiday – but what’s so great about that island is that it offers a whole lot more. When I return (and I definitely will) I’ll be sure to take the scenic train ride from Palma to Soller, and will certainly look to explore the capital, taking in the sights on offer. Others visit for the hiking and cycling opportunities, and with so much sea, there are sure to be ample water sport opportunities.
Before anyone asks, no, I don’t work for the Mallorquin tourist board. But I do adore this charming island.