While biggest doesn’t always mean best, it certainly does when it comes to Mallorca! Although most travelers visit the largest Balearic Island for a beach vacation, there’s so much more to do on Mallorca than catch a tan. Whether you’re a history nerd or a nature lover, I’m certain you’ll be impressed by the diversity and culture on the island I’m lucky enough to call home!
1 | The Serra de Tramuntana Mountain Range
This huge range covers 30 percent of Mallorca’s territory and features the island’s highest point (1,445m). With peaks like that, it’s no surprise that the Serra de Tramuntana is a hiker’s paradise. One of the best trails is the 135-kilometer-long Dry Stone Route, which is based on a network of ancient pathways. It’s split into eight stages, with houses along the way for an overnight stay.
Throughout the hike, you’ll get the chance to experience classic Mediterranean landscapes, with old villages, mills, and farms full of olive, orange, and almond trees. At the western end of the mountains lies La Reserva Puig de Galatzó. This nature reserve offers walking paths through ancient woodlands, passing natural pools and spectacular waterfalls.
2 | Incredible Beaches
For Mallorca’s classic picturesque sandy stretches, start your beach tour along the southeast coast. Areas like Calas de Mallorca, Es Caragol, and Es Trenc are great for scenic walks, exhilarating watersports, and delicious and affordable seafood. While in the South of the island, check out Es Calo des Moro. You have to take a rocky climb to reach the beach, but it’s worth the effort! It’s cared for by a private foundation, so it’s extremely clean and there are no resorts or bars to disturb the peace.
If you prefer a bit of hustle and bustle, check out C’an Pere Antoni, located just a short walk from the center of Palma de Mallorca. There’s a beach club at either end, offering tasty food and cooling cocktails. The beach is well-maintained and clean, and the water is very safe for swimming.
3 | Huge Parks and Nature Reserves
Many of the island’s best beaches are actually located inside stunning nature reserves. Mondragó Natural Park, for example, is home to the gorgeous S’Amarador Beach, surrounded by rocky coves, sand dunes, and dense forests. The water is crystal-clear, making it perfect for snorkeling between the bright blue bays.
If you’re looking for something a little more secluded, I’d recommend Sa Dragonera Natural Park, located on a small, uninhabited island just off the coast. I love spotting the wall lizards, which can’t be found anywhere else in the world! The park also boasts over 360 plant species, many of which are endemic to the Balearics. For more pretty plants, it’s also worth visiting the Gardens of Alfàbia. There, you’ll find colorful flower displays, impressive water features, and an old farmhouse.
4 | Spooky Caves
Many travelers aren’t aware that Mallorca has such extensive cave systems! My favorite is Sa Calobra, in the Northwest of the island. The underwater caves feature quiet swimming spots and are surrounded by dense pine tree forests and untouched cliffs. The Coves de Campanet are also located in the Northwest. This cave system is around 50 meters deep and covers more than 3000 square meters. It’s worth booking a tour to see and learn about the passages, chambers, and small water pools.
I’d also recommend the Drach Caves, home to one of the largest underground lakes in the world! Take a guided tour through the illuminated caves to see unique stalagmites and stalactites around the bright blue water of the lake.
5 | Fascinating History
Initially colonized by the Phoenicians, Mallorca has since been ruled by a number of kingdoms, including the Romans and the Moors, whose influence can still be spotted throughout the island. In Pollentia, for example, you can find Roman ruins which date back to 123 B.C.! The area is also home to a well-preserved theater, forum, and fascinating museum, where you can learn all about the former capital of the Balearics.
The hilltop Bellver Castle, meanwhile, makes for a great day trip from the island’s capital. Construction on this circular castle began around 1300, and it has since been used by three kings, before becoming a military prison in the 18th century. Admire the unique architecture as well as the stunning views over the island and out to sea.
You’ll also find plenty of historical sights in the capital itself, which is full of Baroque and Gothic architecture. The gorgeous La Seu Catedral, for example, took over 400 years to build, and was worked even on by Gaudi in the 20th century. You can also see the remnants of the Arab Baths, as well as parts of the old city walls, which date back to the 17th century.
6 | Quaint Villages
Venture further afield from Palma de Mallorca to discover some of the island’s smaller villages. I’d highly recommend visiting Andratx, especially on a Wednesday, when local craftspeople sell their creations at the weekly market. The markets in Santanyí are also worth visiting, as local artists leave their studios to sell their wares in the square every Wednesday and Saturday. Elsewhere in Santanyí, you’ll find remnants from the old town wall and the impressive former gateway, Sa Porta Murada.
If you aren’t afraid of heights, Galilea also makes for a great day trip. Located at 460 meters above sea level, the terrifying drive is worth it to see the small houses and scenic courtyard in Mallorca’s highest village. If tasty food’s what you’re after, head to Valldemossa to try the local delicacy, coques de patata (potato starch brioche), while taking in views of the stunning 15th-century monastery.