Experience The Real Majorca: Why There’s Much More To This Island Than Sandy Beaches
If you’re planning a resort holiday, Majorca might be one of the first places that spring to mind. But what if you’re after something a little different? After all, lounging in the sun all day isn’t for everyone. From ancient cathedrals to medieval walled towns, there’s more to this island than sandy beaches.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma – Majorca.Image by Secret Pilgrim
Places To See
Majorca has a rich and varied history. A trip to the island should involve taking the time to appreciate it. The first inhabitants settled between 1300 and 1000BC, and centuries of history have left their mark.
A historical site not to miss is the Sanctuary de Sant Salvador Felanitx, an old hermitage lying 509m above sea level. It is flanked by two impressive monuments, a 14m stone cross and 35m column topped with a statue of Christ. Of interest are the main church and side chapels. Still a place of pilgrimage, the trip is worth it for the panoramic views if nothing else.
If you’re hankering after some ancient history, a trip to the Ses Paisses, Arta should satisfy. These ruined Bronze Age settlements are around 3,000 years old and a reminder of the original island settlers. The massive entranceway formed by stone slabs is particularly impressive.
For a taste of historical Majorcan luxury, head to the Raixa Estate, Bunyola. An impressive stately mansion, the house has been owned by several noble families. Parts of the garden even date back to the 13th century. Raixa was remodelled in the Italian villa style in the 18th century and consists of several homes arranged around a central farm building.
If you’re fed up with sunbathing and want to get active, Majorca has plenty to offer. Unsurprisingly the island offers an array of sailing trips, which promise stunning views of the coast and turquoise waters.
Tudor Dawn Charters offer yacht charter, day sailing activities and a selection of day cruises in the Bay of Pollensa. Trips can be customised to suit your requirements. Gear for water sports and snorkelling can be provided. And you got the choice between sailing or a quiet relaxing cruise.
A great way to see the Majorcan countryside is by horse. Companies such as Experience Majorca offer activities such as beach riding, themed Wild West nights and pony trekking for small children. Most stables will cater for all abilities, so there should be something for everyone.
If riding is out of your comfort zone, trekking is a good way to get off the beaten track. That’s not to say it’s easy! Guided hikes like those by Mallorca adventure sports can take up to 7 hours and encompass steep terrain. Make sure you enquire about which walk would be most suitable for your party.
The wisdom of go where the locals go is particularly apt in Majorca. Many restaurants in touristy areas will sell food to please the masses rather than offering authentic local cuisine.
Cellar restaurants are housed in wine or olive oil cellars and have become a popular destination for traditional Majorcan food. They are a common feature of small towns and villages in the central Es Pla region. El Celler in Petra serves rustic food such as steak, lamb chops, olives and bread.
You can’t visit a Spanish island without sampling some local tapas and paella. La Boveda in Palma attracts its fair share of tourists, but it is also popular with the locals. As a traditional bar, it serves delicacies such as tapas, patatas bravas and vegetables fried in batter.
Bar Nou in Pollensa is a good place to go for home-made paella and fresh fish at reasonable prices.
Where To Stay
If you want to experience the real Majorca, stay away from the big holiday resorts. Instead, look for smaller accommodation options or B&Bs run by locals. There are a number of sites that offer a wide range of hotels in Majorca, but here are two of the best.
Finca Son Palou is a family-run hotel, in a small village in the Tramuntana Mountains. A converted 14th-century farmhouse, it is the ideal rural retreat if you want to absorb yourself in traditional Majorcan country life. They grow their own fruit and vegetables, which they then use in the restaurant.
If mountain isolation isn’t for you, a hotel-like La Reserva Rotana could be the answer. It is a restored traditional mansion just outside the town of Manacor and reasonably close to transport links like the airport. The house is equipped with its own golf course, for those who can’t do without the little luxuries.
There is a great deal more to Majorca than meets the eye. From ancient artefacts to traditional hotels, there’s plenty to do on a holiday away from the tourist resorts.
Do you have any tips on how to experience the real Majorca?
About the author: Gavin Harvey is a personal trainer who loves to experience the traditional culture when he travels.