Not many people will claim to not know the whole of this beautiful Balearic island, believing they have seen it all with the white sandy beaches, the endless lines of tourists from all over the world queuing up to take ‘selfies’ in front of the islands’ popular landmarks and the hotel resorts. Simply, if anyone claims this is the only side of Majorca, don’t believe them for a second! They couldn’t be further from the truth if they tried.
There are sights to behold hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the natural tourist destinations that people flock to every year and if you are staying in a resort on the island, not one of these gems is a millions miles away ensuring you can visit them pretty much any time you feel like it.
This piece will run through a list of spectacular places that Majorca has to offer for the alternative traveller. Places that not only appeal to the natural holidaymaker within everyone complete with restaurants, relaxing spaces as well as fun activities to occupy the mind while there but also destinations that inspire and fill you with awe at their sheer beauty.
Firstly, a place that simply has to be included is Palma cathedral. Now Palma, as well as being the capital of the island, is certainly the most visited town where tourists are concerned. However, a place that simply needs to be visited if you’re ever in the town is Palma cathedral or specifically the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Palma. Its stunning architecture and gothic appearance wows crowds and is simply a stunning sight and if it was on the bill of a main event it would be considered the showpiece attraction.
The existing structure dates back to 1229 when King James I of Aragon began construction but it wasn’t actually completed until 1601 and it’s built on the ancient Roman settlement. The detail and sheer size of the building is impressive enough but considering the amount of time the structure has survived and also the history of the area, it’s worth noting that you’d struggle to find a more impressive sight in Palma.
Photo by Andres Nieto Porras
This idyllic little town is situated in the island’s far northeast corner. Take note that there are two towns that bare the name of Pollença – the old town situated further inland than the seaside resort of Port de Pollença. The old town is what I want to concentrate on, simply because it is a complete change of scene away from the resort.
Don’t worry though, the resort is only 15 minutes away by car or 20 minutes at the most if you decide to take the local transport. The stone houses mainly date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and line the narrow streets throughout the town. Visiting this town can also be great exercise too, challenge yourself by climbing the 365 steps from the centre of the town to the Calvary chapel situated on the hill above the town, complete with splendid views across to the mountains and across your own personal exercise challenge!
I know what you’re thinking, “why pick another quiet one again?” Well don’t you ever go on holiday somewhere and have a moment to yourself believing you wished you had gone somewhere…quieter? Majorca has plenty of those alternatives and here’s another. The town of Soller is also situated in the island’s north, on the coast and to the west of Pollença.
Soller is a traditional Majorcan town in every sense. Placed on the coast in what is known as the Golden Valley due to the seemingly endless rows of orange and lemon mangroves, the surrounding landscape is something to behold. With the imposing Tramuntana Mountains, also covered in dense woodland, hovering over the town like a golden eagle over its prey and the deep valley the town lies in, it truly feels like the town is isolated from the rest of the island.
Reaching the town could also be considered one of Majorca’s hidden gems. If you happen to travel from Palma, make sure you take the mountain train that takes in the wonderful surrounding scenery while also providing a nostalgic trip down memory lane. The 1912 wood-panelled train, affectionately known as the Orange Train due to the colouring of the panels, transports the traveller from the hustle and bustle of central Palma through the countryside including the olive groves north of Palma right through to the descent down the mountain on its approach to Soller.
Caves of Drach
The Cuevas del Drach or Caves of Drach “Dragon Caves” in English are four great caves that are believed to have formed at least five millions years ago. Located on the island’s south-east coast near to the town of Porto Cristo, they were created by water being forced through from the Mediterranean Sea through a narrow gap in the rock. The caves extend to a depth of twenty-five metres and two miles in length and they also include a subterranean lake that can be navigated and regularly is through tours.
Although the caves are one of Majorca’s most visited tourist sites, the natural beauty that they possess makes them almost impossible to leave off the list. Through the installation of a subtle lighting system in the caves people are able to browse with interest at the stalagmites and stalactites that have formed within them.
Located in the north of Majorca around ten miles from the capital Palma is the special village of Valdemossa. Set within the Tramuntana Mountains, Valdemossa is one of the prettiest places on the island and perhaps with that in Europe. The traditional stone brings a unique atmosphere to the village; an unspoilt and timeless quality that enables you to take in your surroundings and wonder who on Earth could create a village as pretty as the one you’re in? The Romantic era Polish composer Frédéric Chopin once labelled the village the most beautiful place in the world when staying there during the winters of 1838 and 1839 and what greater compliment could be paid from a Romantic era composer to an utterly romantic village?
Nestled between two mountains high above the town of Soller in the north of the island, is the village of Fornalutx. The village also has a claim on being the prettiest village in Majorca although Valdemossa may have something to say about that! Nevertheless, Fornalutx is effortlessly charming and beautiful; its undoubted offering of traditional Majorcan life is refreshing on an island known for its tourist hotspots. Well serviced with restaurants and café’s, the village isn’t short of modern amenities and the narrow, gorgeous stone cobbled streets offer a piece of tradition while awe-inspiring mountain views are never too far away.