Discover the non touristy Mallorca

20160409_185750

I have only booked tickets to Mallorca because they were very cheap and because I was in desperate need for some warmth, sick of the grey skies and rain of the English winter. All I knew about the tiny island in the Mediterranean was that is a party destination for stags and hen-dos, from where a lot of embarrassing photos emerge on the web. I am not a person who likes to spend the night in a club, I don’t like the loud techno music and I am not a heavy drinker. Of course, that’s what I thought when I was stereotyping the island from the lack of other information.

 

Where to stay in Mallorca?

The North of the island is said to be quiet while the South is the area where the party cities are (think of Magaluf). At the advise of a work colleague I booked an apart-hotel (as 3 other friends joined me) in the North of the island, in Port Pollenca. I chose Apart-hotel Flora because of the really good price deal (£275 for 5 nights) and the location, very close to the sea. I couldn’t have chosen better: the apartment was big enough for the 4 of us, it had a nice balcony with a view towards the pool and the daily housekeeping was included in the price.

20160408_210658

I booked the airport transfer from Mallorca airport to Port Pollenca online through Shuttle Direct for £18 return. Taking in consideration that it was door to door and that the distance between the airport and Port Pollenca is approximately 60km, this was a great deal. What I liked about the transfer is that they took care of everything and they confirmed the return directly with the reception of the hotel, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about it. The reception informed me what time the shuttle would pick me up, one day before my departure.

 

What to do in Mallorca if you don’t want to party?

I visited Mallorca in April and going to Magaluf or any place similar was out of the question. April can be a tricky month if you are planning to go to Mallorca because there are high chances of rain. I couldn’t believe when I landed on the airport of Palma and realised how heavy the rain was. That was what I was trying to run away from and, the irony, when I left my home town in England the sky was clear. Needless to say that I got drenched from the door of the airport until jumping inside the bus. My hopes and dreams of nice weather were slowly dissipating. It rained heavily until I reached the hotel, then it stopped and lucky for me, I didn’t see a cloud in the sky afterwards for the rest of my vacation.

 

Hike to Cala San Vicente

After I met with my friends at the hotel, as we arrived with different flights, at the suggestion of the receptionist, we decided to do a small hike to the nearby town of Cala San Vicente which is the smallest resort on the entire island. We walked to the end of the town and at the roundabout, we continued on a back road leading towards the mountains. At some point there is a tiny road to the right that seems to go towards a private property closed with a gate. That is the correct way, the gate is opened enough for people to pass and the road is actually public, despite the big padlock and the chain. The road continues towards the mountain and soon transforms into a path. However, it is still well marked on Google Maps so there is no way you can get lost.

20160408_194226

Because it was raining we found the path to be very muddy and slippery. The first part of the path is more difficult because you have to go through uneven landscape covered with big rocks. At this point in time, a small river was actually making its way down the hill due to the heavy morning rain. We kept going, even if we saw a couple in front of us giving up. The hike was fairy easy and we kept climbing for about 20 minutes, turning around from time to time to see the panorama of Port Pollenca behind us. Once we got to the top we continued to walk on a flat path and when we reached a crossroads, we turned right. From here the path started to descent steeply and soon enough we were able to see on the other side of the mountain.

20160408_195529

20160408_194847

The rain had stopped by now and the clouds made space for the sun. It was the perfect timing, about two hours before sunset, and we could explore Cala San Vicente in the beautiful light of the golden hour.

20160408_185020

The first moment I saw the blue of the sea I couldn’t believe it was real. Even if the sea was a bit rough and the waves were smashing into the shore, the shade of azure blue was unspoiled and made the scene look magical.

20160408_182355

We walked around Cala San Vicente for a bit, enjoying the quietness of nobody being around, listening to the sea and enjoying the scenery.

 

Cycle your way up the mountain to Lluc

I have to admit that I did not cycle to Lluc but there were a lot of people on bikes on this route. I don’t think I would ever be able to cycle all the way up, as it’s a continuous climb of 525 meters on a sinuous road with very few straight lines. If you don’t feel brave you can always take the bus from Port Pollenca. In out of season, when I visited, there were two buses a day towards Lluc, one of them continuing towards Sa Calobra (but waiting for 30 minutes at the monastery, giving you time to get a glimpse of it). The Monastery from Lluc is a pilgrimage site and it is the first Sanctuary on the island of Mallorca.

20160409_113441

According to , in the first weekend of August there is a night pilgrimage walk from Palma de Mallorca to the Lluc monastery, a distance of about 44km.

 

Discover Sa Calobra

20160409_150157

As I mentioned above, we only had 20 minutes to look around and admire Lluc monastery, as we continued towards Sa Calobra, a very small bay at the bottom of Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range. You should know that there is only one bus that goes to Sa Calobra from Port Pollenca (bus number 355) and it only runs from Monday to Saturday, at 10:30AM,  returning at 3:00PM. This bus only runs from April to October and the price of the return journey is 13.10 euros (as of 2017).

After we departed from Lluc we have noticed that the bus before full was now almost empty. Besides us there were 4 other people sitting in the front of the bus, taking to the driver. The atmosphere in the bus was very jolly until the driver mentioned in Spanish that the road to Lluc was just the appetiser.

20160409_121935

Soon enough I got to learn what that meant… all of a sudden, when we reached the top of the mountain, the road curved into a loop without any safety barriers around it. This is actually one of the most famous curves in the world, turning 270 degrees and going under itself, creating an angle of 360 degrees. When I looked on the window all I could see was the bendy road down, full of curves cutting through the breathtaking scenery (and drop). My heart stood still. A sign outside was reading “Sa Calobra – 13 km, 7″ gradient”. There are more than 50 curves down, most of them hairpins. How the hell are we going to go down by bus?

20160409_122448

The driver was still taking with the passengers in the front seat while I was imagining how the bus is going to fall of one of the cliffs. Some curves were so narrow that the bus had to go back and fort in order to fit. Imagine not seeing the tarmac underneath… no guard rails, no anything to protect us. “Trust the driver, trust the driver”, I kept telling to myself.

It took about an hour and a half to reach Sa Calobra and I don’t think I have ever been happier to be off a vehicle. The driver saluted us and told us to be back in the same place at 3PM so that he can pick us up and take us back to Port Pollenca.

20160409_131048

Sa Calobra is a tiny village with an exceptional beauty. Everywhere you look towards the sea you can admire the azure blue color of the water and the waves breaking into the cliffs. A tunnel through the mountain leads to a peaceful lagoon where a mountain lake and the sea blend in together. It’s a wonderful place to have a picnic or simply sunbathe.

20160409_130833

20160409_141740

20160409_133626

20160409_143100

20160409_142927

Was it worth the scary bus trip? Definitely!

 

Watch the sunset in Port Pollenca while enjoying the local cuisine

Do you agree that one can never get bored of watching sunsets? And the ones in Port Pollenca did not disappoint, coloring the sky in shades of red, orange and pink. The long promenade of the resort is perfect if you like strolling around undisturbed.

20160409_201145

20160410_201350

20160410_201326

For dinner we consulted TripAdvisor and decided to go to La Cabana tapas restaurant and sample the local cuisine of the island. Although it’s a Spanish island, a lot of the restaurants here will offer British or German menus. We avoided these places and went for local restaurants. La Cabana is a small but cosy restaurant on the promenade of Port Pollenca, with a pretty garden in the back. We started our meal with warm bread and aioli accompanied by a bowl of olives. If there is one thing I can’t get enough of when I visit Spain that is aioli, a garlic and mayo based dip. And when it’s made by hand and not squeezed from a bottle is so much more delicious.

20160409_204345

For the main course I chose pimentos con pescado (sweet red peppers filled with white fish and cooked in tomato sauce) with patatas bravas. For drinks we kept it local and ordered a bottle of Rioja wine.

20160409_211617

At the end of the dinner, the bill was very reasonable, less than 20 euros each.

 

Visit Pollenca and enjoy the Sunday Market

Pollenca is a small beautiful stone town situated 6 km away from its port, Port Pollenca, and it’s best visited on a Sunday morning because of its local market. There are a few daily buses from Port Pollenca (you can see the schedule here). The number of the bus is 340 and the ticket price is 1.5 euro for each way.

20160410_120803

We arrived quite early in Pollenca, when the town was just waking up. After wondering around for a bit, waiting for the local shops to open, we sat down at a cafe in Placa Seglars for a coffee and the local mallorcan breakfast: the ensaimada, a spiral yeast bun dusted with icing sugar.

20160410_100107

With our tummies full we proceeded into climbing the 356 stairs to El Calvari, a tiny church on top of a hill. The stairs are wide and flanked by tall cypress trees. These steps are famous for the Easter ceremonies, where a carving of Jesus Christ is removed from the cross and carried down to the main church of Pollenca, in total silence.

Today though the area was covered by the musical notes of “Qui sas” sang by an old Cuban man, on top of the stairs.

20160410_114056

20160410_113210

Back in the main square, Placa Major, we couldn’t wait exploring the market. We were planning of buying different local products and enjoy a picnic in the park. The selection of food was impressive: olives stuffed with garlic, peppers, anchovies or haloumi, manchego cheese, freshly carved jamon, warm bread just taken out of the oven…

20160410_121153

20160410_121340

20160410_114159

20160410_124235

 

Search for hidden calas

Mallorca has plenty of hidden calas (bays), some of them accessible only by boat or hike. One of these places is Cala Boquer, another recommendation we received from the receptionist of our hotel. The trail starts behind the resort and it is very well signed, you can’t miss the start of it.

The path to Cala Boquer is around 7 km long, mostly flat (ascents of 150 meters only), going through some rocks so you will need a pair of good grip shoes if you plan to hike it. Not many people walk this trail so most of the times it was just us and the goats. The path goes through the mountains so the views are pretty stunning.

20160410_184903

There are no trees or any shade on the trail so bring plenty of water and sunscreen with you. Even if it was April, it was still very hot and we hiked it in shorts and tshirts (quite a change from the first day of our trip, when I wouldn’t have imagined taking off my winter coat).

20160410_183154

As soon as the sea starts to get visible, the path becomes uneven and rocky, covered with vegetation. It also splits into more trails and it’s a bit tricky to get down to the beach. It’s good to remember well which path you took so you don’t get lost on your way back (as we did).

20160410_180709

Cala Boquer is one of the most stunning bays I have ever seen. The sea is turquoise blue and so clear that you can see the pebbles at the bottom and the fish swimming in it. It was amazing to be there alone and enjoy the beauty of this place like it was hours only. I could have spent the entire day on the tiny beach or on the rock close to the shore, suntanning and pretending I’m a mermaid. 🙂

20160410_172436

 

Visit Palma de Mallorca and take a boat tour of the harbor

In the morning of our last day in Mallorca we decided to visit the capital of the island, Palma. Comparing with the North of the island where we barely saw any tourists, Palma was bustling with people. We walked into the town from the bus station and accidentally ended up at a windmill exhibition.

If you didn’t know, windmills were a big part of Mallorca’s life in the past and they are not part of the island’s heritage. Today there are about 2500 still standing, most of them concentrated in the South of the island.

20160411_105903

Even if a big city, Palma’s centre maintains the architecture of the island’s smaller towns, with narrow streets and tall buildings. As you walk towards the sea, the alleys open up into a large square, the home of the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, a Gothic roman catholic establishment which dominates the sight.

20160411_121245

20160411_122024

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Palma because we didn’t want to miss the last bus towards Alcudia, but when we passed near the harbor and seen and advert for a boat ride, we didn’t think twice. we were very lucky to be the only ones who bought tickets for the 2PM boat so when Marco Polo arrived we jumped in and found comfortable seats on the bow deck.

20160411_124336

20160411_142230

Palma looks beautiful from the sea, especially on a sunny day. The boat tour lasts about an hour and it includes an audio guide, which for us was the skipper telling us the stories directly. Even if the boat is small, it doesn’t lack a bar from where you can buy refreshments or ask the bartender to make you a cocktail.

 

Have a sangria in the old town of Alcudia

Alcudia, same as Pollenca, is a historical old town with a port nearby, surrounded by medieval walls circling narrow streets and stone buildings. The houses in Alcudia are very old, some dating from the 13th century. There is not much to do in Alcudia other than walking on its streets, admiring the architecture, and stopping for dinner at one of the small restaurants which offer good home cooked traditional dishes.

20160411_165730

20160411_170658

20160411_170829

We visited the town in the afternoon so instead of dinner we chose to have a jug of Sangria. It was a great way to relax after a day full of sightseeing.

20160411_171726

We walked to the Port of Alcudia also, the beach area. Back in the medieval times the towns used to be built mainland so that they are protected by pirates. With the expansion of tourism in Mallorca their ports have been developed and transformed into summer resort areas.

20160411_191012

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

52 Comments

  1. Hi Joanna … what a great article. I certainly wouldn’t have put Mallorca on my “visit” list before, but now that I’ve seen there’s more to it than party town and tourist areas, it’s definitely a consideration. That water looks gorgeous and well worth the scary bus ride. Loved that shot you took near sunset – very tranquil, and really pleased to see there’s so many options for off-the-beaten path excursions. Well done! @rovingjay

  2. Oh, thank you for this lovely article! I’ve visited Mallorca 7 times as a child and never dared to go back because I was too afraid to spoil these beautiful memories. But this convinced me I need to visit it again.

  3. Wow – your post shows Mallorca in such a different light than what most people think of it and how it is portrayed in mainstream media. Looks really amazing and your tips are super helpful. Wish I could explore the island myself right now. The last time I was in Mallorca was many many moons ago when I was 7 years old… ? Keep up the good work ❤ The Sweetness of Traveling

  4. My friends are headed there on their honeymoon this week actually. Super jealous of them and of this. I love reading about the not so touristy parts of the world because the over crowded parts can be too much. Mallorca has been on my list for quite some time. I must go!!

  5. The colour of the water looks exquisite, absolutely stunning views. You always seem to have the most amazing trips! Mallorca looks wonderful, the food, the scenery, the colours, everything is gorgeous. I’m glad to hear the rain stopped, it must have been quite disappointing to arrive in such wet conditions.

  6. I have always thought of Mallorca as a party place, just like you. But clearly it has something to offer for people not interested in the night club scene as well. The food looked amazing and I love your pictures. Mallorca has never been on my bucket-list, but maybe I should reconsider that 🙂

  7. I don’t know if you have ever been to Madeira, but Mallorca reminds me of Madeira, from the azure blue waters to the beautiful weather it is like a perfect imitation. I like that your version steers away from ‘the party label’ because there is more to do there than most people think x

  8. I did not have a clue of this other side of Mallorca. It looks like a great place to visit (those sunsets!), and the food does not looks too shabby either. I need to go to Spain and Mallorca is definitely a place to consider visiting.

  9. What a comprehensive and lovely post about Mallorca. I feel like I took a tour right alongside. Everything from the blue of the waters .. to sunsets . to amazing food and drink. My husband and I have a list of places we’d like to travel to someday and this is definitely going to be added!

  10. The color of the water is truly amazing, wow. I would love to hike around there, both the beach and the mountain sound amazing. Thanks for the inspiration for our next Europe-trip. Blessings!

  11. Mallorca was definitely not on my list of places to visit before. I’ve always associated it with stag parties and “girls holidays” which isn’t my ideal situation! I honestly didn’t realise there was so much to do that doesn’t involve getting drunk and making a fool of yourself. I may have to reconsider now as everything looks so beautiful!!! Especially Sa Calabra!

  12. Funny story; I went to Mallorca decades ago when I was younger, with my parents, and the one thing I remember was getting embarrassed – since my parents were there – whenever a topless woman would come nearby (hotel pool, beach)… Still, always thought of it more as only a beach, party, and for the rich and famous kind of destination whereas your post actually shows there is a whole lot more to Mallorca. Looking at the photos and reading it reminded me of my time in Greece and I shall have to now go back to Mallorca to explore it more. Just for fun I think i’ll take my young son with me, you know so we make it into a tradition of sorts.

  13. i really like Mallorca. I went there only for 3days as surprise trip for my parents while travelling around Spain, but it was nice. I love the city Palma de Mallorca, just so beautiful!

  14. I went to this area a couple of years ago but in july with my sister and niece. It’s a great area, very family friendly with lots to do outside of the resorts. They are going back again this year but I will be exploring other parts of europe.

  15. Oh my goodness, I remember that road up to the monestary. I took it in a coach, terrifying.
    It sounds like you had a great time and it is so nice to get away from the crazy tourist towns in the South.

  16. Never heard of Mallorca as such a beautiful destination! From breathtaking sunset to splendid view, everything looks surreal. You’ve captured Mallorca very beautifully in your shots!

  17. Honestly before reading your post, I’ve never heard about Mallorca. However, you made me fell in love with this place with all the peaceful pictures! I would love to take a boat tour of the harbor 🙂

  18. The water at Sa Calobra looks so beautiful. Mallorca sounds like paradise… I would love to visit some day <3

  19. Interesting to know that there is a less touristy area of Mallorca. I have always considered the island to be a too common destination for other Swedes, so I have not considered going myself. It really looks beautiful on your photos, so maybe my Swedish fellows have been right about going there all along. 🙂

  20. OMG! I hadn’t heard of this place!! That bay. And the water! And that curve in the road – I would die! And the cute town with the markets! I MUST go and have a sangria!

  21. I have never heard of Mallorca! Thank you so much for sharing this. I absolutely love these pictures and hearing about your adventure. Port of Alcudia sounds so interesting. Hope to visit one day!

  22. Such great pictures and Sa Calobra looks amazing, could spend a life time there. In terms of that hike through Cala San Vicenete, you are braver than I, but by the looks of the calm beach it was certainly worth the hike and the step downfall! I totally agree with you, I hate when people go to a forgein country and order the same food as when they are home, so to find a little treasure trove and an authentic one such as La Cabana is gem and perfect way to end a night.

  23. I was staying in Port de Pollenca too when I was there in June. But I had a completely different experience than yours and I ended up visiting Valldemoosa and Soller instead. Just realised how many things there is to do in this small island. Fortunately the weather was excellent when I was there.

  24. I was considering a trip to Mallorca during my visit to Spain last year, but then decided to visit Ibiza instead. Now I regret not extending my trip and visiting the Island. Loved reading about your adventure, makes me want to pack my bags and visit Mallorca soon! I’m in love with Sa Calobra! The roads look like quite an adventure on its own but totally worth it.

  25. I’ve heard about the major things to do in Mallorca, but this puts a whole new perspective on it. Your photos and description of Sa Calobra were gorgeous (love the blue water!!!) Plus, I’d love to go cycling to Lluc (or maybe just visit it)–it looks very scenic as well.

  26. Such a well written and beautiful post. Everything for me is perfect in this post from the blue colour of sky to the small hidden village Sa Colabra, the drinks, sunsets, cobbled roads , the deck and so on. The food also looks so tempting. I loved all your pictures. Before reading your post, I had never heard of this gem. It is awesome and looks exactly non touristy.

  27. Firstly thanks a lot for the non-touristy take. There are so less articles out there who see destinations from that angle. Your blog covers all the kind of experiences i love and avoids the ones i dislike making it a perfect account for people like me.

  28. You have got some amazing breathtaking pictures here. I was totally blown away looking at the view of the sea and the waves smash against the rocks. The natural beauty is stunning.

  29. With a little bit of research clubbed with going off the usual tourist circuit, one can discover some amazing hidden gems, Your post is a testimony to this. I had never thought a place like Mallorca can have such amazing locations. The trail, hidden bay, cobbled lanes, sunsets, food and breahtaking vistas. This place has all of it.

  30. Looks like Mallorca isn’t just good for a party destination. The island itself appears entertaining because of it’s natural beauty. Now someone needs to do a guide like this for Ibiza since that is another Spanish party destination.

  31. LOL! Mallooorca waas definitely not on my list of places to visit before. Noone ever said that. also who doesn’t not want to party when there? I didn’t know about the most of the places from this list. thanks for sharing it to us! Cheers.

  32. Never read about Mallorca before. This is so learning for me. And I love the non touristy destinations anywhere. Here too I see the places are so good. The curvy roads… I would have been dizzy! You got some gorgeous shots!

  33. Loved this artcle. Mallorca has become popular of late but great to see you focusing on the lesser known options. I would love to do the Hike to Cala San Vicente. The landscape looks bleak and epic… just as I like.

  34. What a great place to explore!The views of Mallorca are stunning.It seems it is a place with lot of attractions and activities.Thanks for this article.I leaned lot about Mallorca.The food items look delicious too.

  35. Sometimes we make decisions and later thank ourselves for making such decision. Your plan to take that trip to Mallorca proved to be a good decision. Youve even convinced me that should I take a break, I too consider your recommendation.

  36. I was wondering where is Mallorca in the world. Then I googled it first and learned it’s in Spain! Spain is a very interesting country for me. Others say it’s almost like Philippines, maybe because they conquered our country for 333 years. Well anyway, I really agree with Momi Berlin that your trip was a good call. I really am on the side of having breaks in life because we cannot just simply work always without breathing in between. We’re not super humans to be able to do that. Great captures especially those by the sea!

  37. Mallorca is one of my husband’s favorite places to go on vacation. He has planned for us to go there one day so your photos and your blog made me more excited. Your photos are really great and it helped me travel there albeit virtually. I hope you share more photos from your travels. I really love it!

  38. Have not really heard about this place named Mallorca until I read your sharing here. Enjoy reading it, and saved it for my future travel planning. Wish I can personally travel to there & enjoy the beach, scenery etc. Thank you for sharing it & I am now aware & know about this place 😉 cheers, SiennyLovesDrawing

  39. Wow, this is such a well written article. The place is actually not familiar to me and I haven’t heard about it yet. I would love to visit here as well if given a chance. Your photos is like the one I’m seeing in a printed magazine, very well captured and beautiful. I think you really have a good eye in landscape photography. I truly enjoy your blog and would love to hear more from your travel experience. Thank you so much for sharing!

  40. I’ve never been or even heard of mallorca but after reading your post it definately looks like a beautiful place to visit. By the look of your images I imagine it was very tranquil and relaxing! Beautiful photos by the way, you captured your time away perfectly! x

  41. Are you sure this is non-touristy? OMG, the place is so beautiful!!! It’s sad if people are skipping out on visiting Mallorca. If I am just around the place , I will definitely go there and promote it to everyone. Super dope the place, my goodness!

  42. WOW! The place is so breath-taking, so beautiful! Those pictures are great, and it really showed how stunning the place is. I cannot imagine how such a pretty place can be “non-touristy”. If only I had the chance, I’d make sure to visit! <3

  43. Love Mallorca, my daughter and I went there 2 years ago. We toured the whole island similar to what did. Loved reading your article, full of great information and fantastic pictures. Thanks for bringing back memories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *