When you think of an idyllic Mediterranean island, you may as well be picturing Majorca. This perfect holiday island is blessed with translucent waters, hundreds of kilometres of sandy coastline with secluded rocky coves and sandy beaches, and an abundance of vibrant and sophisticated towns and cities.
No matter what kind of traveller you are – if you’re into hiking epic landscapes, visiting grand old buildings with long and fascinating stories, or if you simply want to kick back on perfect sandy beaches, Majorca is the place for you. Discover this perfect holiday destination with these Majorca holiday packages.
One of the island’s most beautiful inland towns, Valldemossa is best known as the home of the writer George Sand and her lover, Frédéric Chopin. The couple were lodged in the former Carthusian monastery, La Real Cartuja de Valldemossa, which was in use from 1399 until 1835, when the monks were expelled and their cells were sold as apartments – although the ‘cells’ were three-room suites with private gardens. Those rented by Sand and Chopin are now a museum, which displays manuscripts, Chopin’s death mask and his piano. You can also visit the massive church, the pharmacy, with a beautiful collection of 18th-century ceramic jars, the library and the Prior’s Cell, complete with a life-size model of a prior.
The magnificent Santuari de Lluc is home to the venerated La Moreneta, a dark-stone statue of the Madonna and Child, which has drawn pilgrims since the 13th-century. According to legend, it was discovered by an Arab boy called Lluc, whose family had converted to Christianity. He took the statue to the church of Sant Pere in the tiny village of Escorça nearby, but it kept returning to the place where he had found it, so it was finally allowed to stay and a chapel was built to house it.
The island’s beautiful beaches are the biggest attraction for many visitors. Majorca’s on the map as the location of ITV’s summer Love Island show. That youthful scene is alive and well on Palma beach, where chat-up lines are flexed as much as those well-oiled pecs. And as it’s close to the island’s international airport, you can be stripped off and lying on the sand within moments of touching down. But don’t just stay in Palma, there are 262 beaches to choose from. Port d’Alcúdia, one of the biggest resorts in the north, has an immaculately maintained 10km arc of pine-studded golden sand. Cala Deià, to the west, has a pretty pebbly beach in a hoop-shaped cove, is a great place for a swim – the water is clean and cool, and there are beach bar-restaurants to refuel at too. Some of the prettiest can be found also near the Cap de Formentor, where the idyllic sandy beaches, lapped by clear turquoise waters and backed by picturesque cliffs, make you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven. The pretty, pine-shaded Platja de Formentor is a favourite spot for a picnic and offers splendid views across the bay.
One of the most popular attractions on the island, the Coves del Drac are a beautifully presented cave system with one of the world’s largest underground lakes. Seven daily tours in summer (four in winter) run through 2km (1 mile) of brightly lit chambers and spectacular formations, culminating with classical music recitals and boat trips on the 177m (581ft)-long subterranean lake named after Edouard-Alfred Martel, the French speleologist who explored the caves in 1896.
Set on the slopes of the Teix massif, Deià is a delightful town of honey-coloured stone that has attracted artists, writers and assorted expatriates for years. However, it is Robert Graves, the poet and author of I, Claudius and the autobiographical Goodbye to All That, who came here with American writer Laura Riding in 1929, who is most closely associated with the place. Graves loved Deià and fiercely defended the northwest coast against commercial exploitation. It was largely due to his efforts that the area was designated a protected zone. His home, Ca N’Alluny, has been restored and opened as a museum. The house and garden are delightful, and retain much of their original character as well as exhibiting the writer’s effects.
Set in a broad valley, amidst groves of oranges, lemons, almonds and olives is the lovely little town of Sóller – a busy, prosperous place that claims, like several others, to have been the birthplace of Columbus. It is full of well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century mansions, and the main square, Plaça Sa Constitució, with numerous cafés, is a good place to sit and absorb the town’s character. Like the main street, the Gran Via, it has Moderniste (Catalan Art Nouveau) flourishes, including the church of Sant Bartomeu, and the former Banco Central Hispano (now Banco Santander) on the opposite corner, whose exteriors were designed by a pupil of Antoni Gaudí.
The highlight of any trip to Majorca is a walk or drive across the stunning Serra De Tramuntana, the mountain range that forms the northern backbone of the island. A picturesque road winds through the cliff tops, with the coast on one side and terraces planted with fruit trees and olives and some delightful little villages on the other. Along the road stands a succession of miradors, lookout points with commanding views of the entire coast, still crowned with ancient watchtowers from which lookouts once scanned the sea for pirate ships.
Standing proudly above Palma’s city walls, spectacular when illuminated at night, is the Cathedral. Also known as La Seu, this is one of the finest Gothic churches in the whole of Spain. Begun in 1230 by Jaume I, on the site of the Great Mosque after the Christians recaptured the island from the Moors, it took nearly four centuries to complete. It stands out for the beauty of its mediaeval architecture, flooded with kaleidoscopic shafts of light, and for the later additions made by no less a figure than Antoni Gaudí. Its imposing exterior, seemingly rising up from the water, is perpetually bathed in golden sunshine. Densely packed flying buttresses on the south front create an extraordinary effect, especially in the glow of the setting sun, when they are reflected in the lake of the Parc de la Mar below.
This island likes to party, as seen in its special penchant for festivals. Its annual multi-day music concert in May, Majorca Live (that’s the Catalan spelling of Majorca), has taken the Balearic Islands by storm in recent years. Previous headliners include The Prodigy, Primal Scream and Jamiroquai, the international acts mixed in with local talent and a range of music genres.
You’ll be spoilt for local vino here, as Majorca has around 60 vineyards. In recent years, lots of those wineries have started offering tours and tastings too. Binissalem’s Bodega José Luis Ferrer is widely regarded as Majorca’s best red. Book ahead for an hour’s tasting (€11), which comes with local crackers and Mahon cheese. Though when you’re planning what to do in Majorca's winelands, you could always let Majorca Wine Tours do the organising for you – they run everything from a VIP Finca Experience to a bike-riding vineyard and tasting tour.
It’s not all about beaches and boozing here: the mountains, crisscrossed with roads and footpaths, camouflage a string of beguiling villages where life goes at a gentle pace. Some say Estellencs is Majorca’s prettiest, where a huddle of old stone houses cling gingerly to steep, sea-facing slopes. Fornalutx is another jewel in Majorca’s crown: its location is knock-out, with honey-coloured stone houses set in a valley perfumed by orange and lemon groves.
One of the quirkier things to do in Majorca is to hop on the rattly vintage train that winds its way over the mountains from Palma to Sóller. The line was completed in 1912 on the profits of the orange and lemon trade: the railway was built to transport the fruit to Palma. These days, the 28km journey is a tourists’ delight. With narrow carriages that look like something from an Agatha Christie novel, the train threads upwards to spend five minutes tunnelling through the mountains, where the noisy engine and dimly lit carriages give the feel of a rollercoaster ride. Beyond, out in the bright mountain air, are the steep valleys and craggy thousand-metre peaks at the heart of the Serra de Tramuntana.
A day at the oasis-like gardens of the Jardines de Alfabia is one of the best things to do in Majorca. The watered trellises and terraces dating back to green-fingered Moors. Brightly coloured flowers cascade over narrow terraces to the sound of gurgling watercourses, and at the end of the path lies a verdant jungle of palm trees, where bulrushes crowd in on a tiny pool of water lilies. It’s an enchanting spot, especially on a hot summer’s day. Metres from the pool is the house, a modest hacienda with a wide veranda and high-ceilinged rooms. Inside is an eccentric mix of antiques and curios, including paintings of local bigwigs and exotic animals, most memorably a particularly odd-looking elephant.
Sign up to receive weekly offers and travel inspiration. You’ll also get the gift of a dedicated Balearic Islands travel guide, created in collaboration with Rough Guides.