Majorca has it all
I’m in no doubt that many holidaymakers choose Majorca because it’s seen as a safe bet. The majority of our regional airports have flights to the Island throughout the summer so it’s a small wonder over 2 million of us take the plunge every year.
It is difficult to think of a more compelling combination of short flying times (about 2½ hours), a wonderful Mediterranean climate and white sandy beaches. What I find so fascinating and I suppose what keeps me going back “time after time” is the many faces of this Spanish jewel.
Like most visitors I tend to base myself in a beach resort, but invariably after a day or two of relaxing in the sun I start to get itchy-feet and feel the urge to explore…….
The capital of Majorca, Palma, could fill a week’s holiday on its own. Buses on the Island are frequent and easy to use so there’s no excuse to let the opportunity pass you by. The sight that greets you on arrival is the magnificent gothic La Seu Cathedral. It is quite simply stunning and no one could blame you for feeling nothing inside the imposing medieval walls of the city will be able to live up to first impressions.
It is definately worth a brief tour of the inside of the cathedral, but in truth compared with its imposing exterior it all seems a little underwhelming. The Rose Window, certainly one the largest stained-glass panels I’ve ever seen, probably just about justifies the effort.
I’m not a great one for standing taking photographs preferring to lose myself in the atmosphere of the places I visit. For that reason Palma is one of my favourite cities. The old part of town feels so authentic with its labyrinth of high-walled narrow streets and occasional courtyards. If you have a travelling companion stick together, I seem to get lost every time I visit. I invariably discover a hidden- away bar or café, then frustratingly I can never find it again. It’s all part of the enchantment.
Away from its medieval roots Palma is a smart and vibrant capital city. It boasts the largest marina in the Mediterranean and if you enjoy seeing “how the other half live” there’s no shortage of mega yachts to drool over. It’s just one of those places where you can drift seamlessly between the ancient and the modern; really quite surreal.
Majorca is a large island, much larger than most people anticipate and as a result there are numerous resort areas dotted around its coast. I won’t pretend that I’ve covered all of its 1400 square miles, so instead I will focus on the three places I have enjoyed most.
The perfect all-round family resort has to be Alcudia on the north coast with its long stretches of sandy beach and shallow child-friendly waters. If a couple of hours on a bus to Palma seem a little daunting Alcudia has plenty of history of its own. The gated old town dates from 14th-century with charming cobbled streets and pavement cafés. As an added bonus there’s even some Roman ruins thrown in.
Although Alcudia does get quite busy at the height of season in July and August, it is by no means Majorca’s nightlife hotspot. That title and somewhat dubious reputation goes to Magaluf and its quieter, but none less busy neighbour Palma Nova.
In recent years these two towns have attracted the young and lively from all over Northern Europe and are extremely popular with stag and hen groups. Just 20 minutes from the airport they seem tailored made for partying weekend breaks and as a result their appeal to families and older couples is rather limited. That said, they do “exactly what it says on the tin” and I have had some memorable holidays in Palma Nova.
I suppose what is so special about Majorca is that you can choose the exact balance of nightlife, culture and relaxation to suit your mood. Today I’m in the mood where my personal favourite is Cala D’or on the south-east coast. Who knows which resort I may fancy tomorrow?
In Cala D’or you get an authentic Spanish flavour with what I would term a sophisticated, but still fun night-time atmosphere. I love spending time at the chic marina with its many trendy and perhaps a little expensive bars and restaurants. Strangely I find with Majorca that a half-board hotel stay works very well for both a variety of dining and keeping a lid on the budget.
Away from the main resort areas the Island has a green but rugged countryside making it wonderful to explore. A mountain backdrop accompanies you as you meander along gradually narrowing roads to get to the heart of the Island. You can really only capture the scale of the place when you take in the breath-taking view from a hill-top vantage point.
If you’re prepared to get up early many of the towns and villages hold weekly markets which are in full swing by 8am. In typical Spanish style the stall holders begin packing-up in the late morning with their days work done. It’s easy to find out where each days markets will be held and I know many tourists who plan their whole holiday around taking in the best ones.
If hiring a car seems like too much hassle there are numerous organised tours, shopping visits and boat trips to choose from. I think the local bus service is good enough to do most things for yourself and the extra sense of adventure is priceless.
Whether it’s your first time or like me you’re making your umpteenth visit you just don’t tire of Majorca, it really does have it all….
Errors and omissions excepted.
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