Looking for a please-everyone mix of beaches and palm-lined resorts, all just a couple of hours’ hop from the UK? Book a holiday to Majorca – the trusty favourite of the holiday world.
A Mediterranean favourite
All Inclusive holidays to Majorca have always been a safe bet – it's one of those places you can book, knowing you're on to a winner. But in the last decade or so, it’s gone big league, with celebs proclaiming it perfect second-home territory. Thankfully, though, you don’t need their bank balance to appreciate this Med classic.
Laid-back beach retreats
In terms of resorts, places like Alcudia and Puerto Pollensa in the north, and Cala Bona in the east, offer a concentrated dose of sands, bars and restaurants. Talking of restaurants, Puerto Pollensa has some of the best seafood joints going. Another biggie on the east coast is Sa Coma, which teams a good beach with a safari park and a handful of first-rate golf courses.
Stylish cities and party towns
Switch to the southeast coast and you’ve got places like Cala d’Or, which has a seven cove line-up. It also counts galleries, boutiques and waterfront restaurants among its best features. Just as stylish – if not more so – is Majorca’s capital, Palma, which squeezes cocktail haunts and designer boutiques into its narrow streets. As for the west coast, that’s where Majorca really lets its hair down. Magaluf and Palma Nova promise neon nights and cafés that do a mean recovery fry-up.
Things to See and Do in Majorca
Majorca is the biggest of the Balearics and a magnet for sun-starved Brits. So when it comes to beaches, this island certainly doesn’t shy away. It ticks off everything from huge sandy sweeps at places like Puerto Pollensa, to teeny tiny coves, like the ones you’ll find in Cala d’Or.
The big beach
Alcudia Beach’s powder-soft white sands and child-friendly waters have earned it the title of Majorca’s most popular. It’s a Blue Flag spot and stretches along the island’s east coast for a massive 10 kilometres. Along the sand you’ve got a pick and mix of bars and restaurants to choose from, and if you’re into watersports you can sign up for things like sailing, windsurfing and scuba diving.
The secret beach
If you prefer your beaches a little more laidback, try Cala Tuent. This semi-circular spot is tucked away on Majorca’s northwest coast, surrounded by craggy, pine-clad cliffs. The road leading down is pretty steep and narrow, but the journey is worth it – this is one of the least crowded beaches on the island. Don’t come expecting white sands, though – it’s shingle all the way here. And it’s a good idea to take a packed lunch, as there are no facilities to speak of, which only adds to the hideaway appeal.
How much you pay at a Majorcan market depends on your haggling skills. Need some practice? Head for Inca Market on a Thursday. A half-hour drive from Ca’n Picafort, the island’s biggest and best market is a treasure trove of African masks, jewellery and hippy sundresses. You can also pick up cut-price threads at the Sunday market in Pollensa’s old town, a 15-minute drive from Puerto Pollensa.
Manacor, a 30-minute drive from Cala Bona, is the heart of Majorca’s pearl industry – you can pick up gorgeous necklaces at the Majorica Pearl Factory, where local women have been perfecting the art for years. If you’re in the capital, meanwhile, you’ll recognise high street names like H&M and Massimo Dutti from back home. Head to Porto Pi if you're short on time – the shops here are all under one roof.
Fans of SATC should head to Avinguda Tagomago in Cala d’Or, which has a load of chic shoe shops tucked in among the fashion boutiques and art galleries. In Alcudia, fashionistas totter over to the port, where Spanish designer, Adolfo Domingues, has opened a store. As for die-hard label-lovers, they flock to Avenida Jaume III – AKA Palma’s top-end shopping street.
Pollensa’s cobbled streets – 15 minutes’ drive from Puerto Pollensa – are pretty much a club-free zone. Wander over to the restaurants on Plaza Mayor for an al fresco plate of paella. After, try climbing the 365 Calavari steps for widescreen views of the city. In Ca’n Picafort, the laidback bars lining the beach were made for watching the waves over a glass of wine
Magaluf is party central 24 hours a day. Head to the main strip, which is full to the brim with karaoke bars and British-style pubs. Plus, the clubs here draw the crowds like nowhere else on the island – BCM is the biggie, squeezing in 5,000 ravers. Things are marginally less hectic in nearby Palma Nova, where you’ll find big-name clubs like Pacha churning out the tunes.
Pa’amb oli is Spanish for ‘bread with olive oil’, and it’s Majorca’s answer to bruschetta. It’s your typical slab of garlicky rustic bread, topped off with rammellet tomatoes, which have a sharper, more intense flavour than the Italian version.
Technically this is a soup, but it’s more like a hearty stew. A shallow clay pot is lined with thin slices of bread, and a rich mix of veg, lamb stock, garlic and paprika is poured over the top. It means that by the time you get to the bread, it’s absorbed all the flavours.
Arroz brut – ‘dirty rice’ – is the island’s take on paella. It gets its name from the tasty morsels of meat stirred into saffron-scented rice. Peer closely at restaurant menus and you might find the traditional version, which is made with hare. More often than not, though, it comes with chicken and pork.
Veggies should keep an eye out for this tasty dish. Fried slices of unpeeled potato and aubergine are layered up with peppers in a clay pot. A rich tomato, garlic and oregano sauce is then spooned over the top, and the whole lot is baked until it’s bubbling. Mop up the juices with some crusty bread.
Majorcans once used this sweet shot to ward off malaria, but nowadays they knock it back at the start of a meal to warm up their tastebuds. It’s made by mixing caramel with bitter cinchona tree bark, which gives it a really deep, rich flavour.
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Plump for Alcudia, and you’re in for a real pick and mix getaway. The main town’s split in two. Half of it’s set inland between a double act of crescent-shaped bays, and the other half has its feet dangling in the shallow waters of the Bay of Alcudia. Between them, they make easy work of sightseeing days, watersports, and enough bars and restaurants for a medley of different meals.
As resorts go, Ca’n Picafort is a bit of a late starter. Hidden away in the Bay of Alcudia, with a chunk of unspoilt north-eastern Majorca to call its own, it started life as a fishing village. But now it’s come of age as a small, laidback holiday town. The beach might have something to do with its rise in popularity – it spools the coast for 13 kilometres.
Cala Bona’s the kind of place that likes to keep things low-key. It was a sleepy fishing village back in the day, and still clings to some of its saltwater traditions – head to the little harbour at the north end of town and you’ll see fishermen unloading the day’s catch from their weathered boats. The narrow lanes that wind through the town also give Cala Bona a dose of old-school charm.
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