If you’re heading to Mallorca for a spring cycling trip, be sure to make Son Brull a beer or food stop on your way back from a ride. Set in the hillside not far from Port de Pollenca, Son Brull is a restored 18th century monastery which has been sensitively converted into a boutique hotel and spa. Cycling up the imposing driveway you find yourself outside a stone courtyard which leads through to the infinity pool and terrace. It is a fantastic spot to end the day in a rather beautiful setting.
Step off the tourist treadmill and into sleepy Alaro, a small town of narrow streets from where you can follow graded paths and running trails through pine woods and stunning valleys.Try lunch at the best lamb eating place in the Balearics in the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana after a lovely walk or drive. The small family -run Petit Hotel is beautifully furnished and reasonably priced, offering authentic Mallorquin cuisine. It is located close to the shady plaza where you can enjoy delicious local ice cream or pastries from the bakery and where markets and fiestas will be held during August.
This lovely inland town in the north east of Mallorca is full of charm and atmosphere and lives up to its name with arty shops, pavement cafes and a beautiful fortified church at the top of the hill. Its theatre doubles as a cinema and meeting place, while the tree lined Placa del Conqueridor hosts the weekly market and annual festivals where freshly made bunyolas and chiritos can be eaten and cool pomada sipped (don't drive after it!). Cool courtyards hide behind the pavement cafes which line its pedestrianised main street. Not far away is the talayotic settlement of Ses Paisses, and slightly further, down a rough track, the beach of Cala Torta is one of the most unspoilt in the area.
In the north east of Majorca, about 8km from Cala Rajada and 60 km from Palma, near the Llevant mountains. A planned tram-train service will link Arta with the city of Manacor, where trains go to Palma.
Google map: bit.ly/MKJePx
Not everyone knows that you can hike in Mallorca nor that its government provides stunning refuge accommodation for hikers along a well signposted route, the GR 221 Dry Stone Route of the Tramuntana mountain range. The refuges are typical rural manor houses located in beautiful surroundings within small villages or in mountains, like Escorca's 'Tossals Verds' refuge. The Port de Soller refuge ‘La Muleta’ is particularly stunning located as it is in an old 1912 built radiotelegraphy station located on Cape Groson, next to a lighthouse and is quite the perfect spot to catch the sunset at the end of a long walk. All the refuges have been recently refurbished so the conditions are very good with staff providing a warm welcome to tired walkers.
It all leaves you with a certain image – different from the standard - of a Mallorca where you walk, the route is very beautiful and scenic, and at the end of the day, tired, you come to these beautifully located refuges that are not only refuges but a place that lets you ‘experience’ food, meet other walkers and drink great cheap coffee.
To give some background, the GR 221 Dry Stone Route is a 132 km eight stage hiking route of medium difficulty which can be walked in parts or combined with other sightseeing. The five refuges - Can Boi, Muleta, Tossals Verds, Son Amer and Pont Roma – are all located in the northern rocky part of Mallorca which both needs tourists economically and landscape-wise remains unspoilt by the brand of tourism Mallorca has long been associated with.
Price wise, the dorms are all uniformly priced at € 11 a night with optional dinner at € 8.50 which is brilliant value for three courses including a carafe of wine. The refuges can all be booked online at: www.conselldemallorca.net/mediambient/pedra
Final point, the doors close at 10pm with the lights going out at 11pm. So if hard walking and early sleeping is your idea of a good holiday, do check out the link I have put below.
Santuari de Lluc, Mallorca, 525 metres above sea level, reached by an exciting, twisting road, or by a walking route through the Tramuntana Mountains, is a surprisingly large former monastery, now a place of pilgrimage, with simple accommodation in former monk's cells, with bathrooms en suite, at modest rates(book in advance). It has space, calm, striking buildings and interiors, and a good museum, from prehistory to modern times. Restaurants, cafes and a shop cater for varying numbers of pilgrims and visitors -- an evening meal at a table nestling against one of the surrounding wooded hills, with the sounds of goat-bells, followed by a walk up the paved path to a Calvary with superb views of the Monastery and the surrounding mountains, is an excellent prelude to a restful night's sleep.
It is not until the last coach full of day trippers departs that you really appreciate the quiet beauty of this 18th century monastery. Situated in a valley 500 meters above sea level, surrounded by the impressive mountains of the Sierra de Tramuntana, it is a spectacular location for quiet reflection. Listening to the resident choir school, who sing morning and evening, is a beautiful experience for both believers and non-believers alike. The monastery is an ideal base to explore the mountains, by foot or mountain bike. There are numerous trails direct from the monastery: you could hike up the Puig de Massellana (1364m) or follow the old paved Pilgrims trail to Caimari. Outside the monastery there is an information office for the Tramuntana range with helpful English speaking staff.
With simple, functional accommodation and a range of local rustic fayre from no less than three restaurants, a cafe and a bakery it has something to suit all budgets (the cafe is best value). But beware - it will not suit party animals - you are expected to be silent after 11:00 pm!
Plaça dels Peregrins, 1, 07315 Escorca, Mallorca, Illes Balears
+34 971 87 15 25
Google map: bit.ly/KyR2ET
Bus Connections to Lluc: There are buses to and from Inca and Palma. In summer (May-October) there are also public buses from Port d`Soller, Alcudia, Can Picafort and Pollensa. There are also Tourist day trips from most towns, or you could plan as stay as part of a hike or bike across the Tramuntana range (which is what we did).
Arta is a small, picturesque town in north east Mallorca. It is quaint, non-touristy and has charm in abundance. It is relatively easy to rent a lovely traditional house in the vicinity - we did, one with olive trees, vines, small pool and beautiful rustic character. The Sanctuary of Sant Salvador is worth seeing on top of the hill and the local caves are a must (Victor Hugo and Jules Verne have signed the visitors book!) It is a quiet unspoilt corner of the island, great for children, the locals love them. You can get to the coves and nearby beaches easily in a car and further afield are the sights of Pollenca, Soller and the wonderful Tramuntana mountains.
Puerto Pollenca is a small port town on the north east coast of Mallorca. The town itself is close to the family tourist centre of Alcudia so it is very well serviced and accessible. The beach is pretty, and the port is very scenic. Puerto Pollenca is only a few kilometers from the historic town of Pollenca and also a short bike/ bus ride away from the Roman ruins at Alcudia. These ruins are extensive and unspoiled; the atmosphere is miles away from strip hotels and bars. Perfect for picnics and walking. The flat land in the area makes it ideal for a morning or late afternoon bike ride. Definately recommend.
Google map: bit.ly/JvktD2
A few miles out from Valldemosa we stayed in a sensitively built restored old building set in the mountain side on an old terrace owned by Enrique Vives who lives opposite. This three bedroom villa is peaceful and very beautiful. It doesn't have the five star luxurious element but the decor is traditional and homely and the facilities are plenty for any family with kids of most ages to enjoy especially with the swimming pool. Set up high, every night we settled down by the covered patio barbeque area at the end of the long garden to eat and enjoy the fabulous sunsets across the sea. Every morning we watched the morning mist swirl around the top of the craggy peak behind the villa. The garden is a delight with several 'rooms' to explore such as finding a tiny pond where water trickled from the rocks containing frogs or the bigger water reserve containing larger goldfish. Most days Enrique would bring apples and talk about how he built the villa stage by stage and his plans to build an ensuite to the main bedroom which already has it's own balcony/ garden area. Walking further up the track you can visit the hertigate -Ermitage de Trinidad which is open at various times in the day to the public (but you won't see a soul!) Another tranquil place set among olive and oak trees and views to the sea. We thoroughly enjoyed the location and would recommend the villa to any family.
An apartment in the medieval monastery of Lluc, high up in the wild Tramuntana mountains of northern Mallorca. Surrounded by a sacred forest of holm oaks with magnificent walks, the only sounds you’ll hear are sheep bells or the Blauets from the monastery’s choir school singing the salve every day. Thick ancient walls make it pleasantly cool even in high summer, and the local produce is delicious.
Soller is a small town that is a train ride away from the capital Palma. The train between Palma and Soller is an experience on its own as it is an old train that snakes through limestone mountains with some breathtaking views. Soller is nestled among mountains with several interesting walks for all abilities from simple strolls through olive groves to steep climbs. There is one nice walk to a small coastal village called Deia where Robert Graves lived for several years. Soller is a small atmospheric town with several hotels and small bars and is relatively underdeveloped compared to many more touristy areas in Mallorca. A great place to stay if you enjoy hiking and nature and want to get away from the more busy touristic areas of the Balearics.
Google map: bit.ly/ITmURs
Beautiful small rural hotel in the stunning village of Orient. My wife and two teenage sons stayed here in August last year. Son Palou is a family owned and run and the welcome we had from check in until we checked out made us feel like part of the family. The hotel is in the charming village of Orient and I can only describe the hotel as Heaven on earth.
Specific highlights were the swimming pool where my sons and me spent an idyllic summer afternoon, our evening meal on the terrace patio - the suckling pig was wonderful. We also enjoyed the freshest sangria I have ever tasted. My youngest son's highlight was the fresh orange juice at breakfast straight from the orchard.
The website is lovely but the reality is even better, every part of the hotel inside and out is pristine.
Son Palou has my highest recommendation and we will be back.
Adults only hotel tucked away on the north eastern part of island. Amazing pool area with sun loungers and four poster beds on the grass. It's an oasis of calm. Luxurious air-conditioned bedrooms and public areas.
There is a buffet menu for all meals with local cuisine and fresh produce. Sporting activity programe and nightly entertainment if you want it. An adult only haven. No coincidence most of my fellow guests were teachers!
Urbanización Cala Mesquida, s/n, 07580 Capdepera (Mallorca), Spain
+34 971 89 70 08
Google map: bit.ly/IHePjG
A friendly, very clean hotel that offers large family rooms with views of the Cathedral and harbour. Extremely well located, within a two-minute walk you find yourself on Paseig Maritimo in central Palma giving you easy access to the Cathedral, the Almudaina Moorish palace, the port and vast promenade, but also quaint shops that still sell Spanish-made leather goods, shoes, clothes. A few minutes in the opposite direction takes you to the open air market where you can stock up on local goats cheeses and meats, sweets and local empanada pastries. Snaking through the medieval streets takes you to the station, from where you can catch a train or bus to other parts of Mallorca, as well as the old picturesque train to inland Soller. Go at carnival time, so you can soak up the good-natured atmosphere, with families turning out in fancy dress for two days running: pirates, bumblebees, Smurfs, ladybirds or Inquisitors provide a riot of colours and laughter. Come back to the hotel for a glass of dark, deep local red wine on the sun terrace, and watch the sun set over the mountains or enjoy views of Bellver castle on the horizon.
Canyamel is a gem of a place, in a fantastic location, which my cousin says "should be kept secret".
It has two beach bars, completely different in style and ambience but both special in their own way. They serve excellent meals, cold beers and good wine.
One is very modern with moulded chairs and tables, lobster evenings, and food and (sometimes live) music 'till late.
The other is more traditional in style, serving lunches, snacks, cervezas, coffees, pollo and fritas.
Both overloook a tranquil secluded bay beneath the Caves of Arta and Cap Vermell and have the feel of old Mallorca about them.
You can sit late into a warm summer's evening listening to the waves on the shore and watching the lights go out on the villas high up on the cliffs which shelter the bay, while eating lobster or locally caught fish.
Canyamel Playa, Capdepera, Mallorca
Google map: bit.ly/x5KuAw
The journey from Palma to Soller on a lovely rickety wooden train and then by bus to Valldemossa is breathtaking. The Carthusian Monastery in Valldemossa is where George Sand and Frederic Chopin stayed in the winter of 1838/39 and George Sand wrote of their experiences in her book " A Winter in Majorca " The tour of the Monastery is not to be missed.
Google map: bit.ly/nAtVuq
Third Thursday in September an open art exhibition in the old town area of Palma. Not only galleries but public buildings and shops open their doors with an amazing variation of art exhibitions. It all takes place with a lively fiesta atmosphere with people wandering in and out of exhibitions with a glass of wine looking and listening to everything that is taking place.
Old town area in Palma, Mallorca
Google map: bit.ly/pFOMR8
Digame Mallorca is a fab website, that has everything that is going on in Mallorca. Whether it be a bar, club, restaurant, activity or music gigs that you are looking for, you can find it here plus much much more. Really user friendly site. They also have a monthly free magazine you can pick up.
A small but lovely Malaysian restaurant in Sóller, on the main shopping street just opposite the Ca'n Prunera museum. The food is fresh and delicious, and, if anything, somewhat underpriced.
This is a wonderful modern art gallery in the heart of Palma, in a beautiful mansion with sweeping staircases and chandeliers. The display spaces are clean, neutral modern products of a sensitive renovation. There are impressive temporary 'big name' exhibitions (Picasso etchings when I was there), and the permanent collection boasts some Dali, Miro, etc. But the real treat is the extraordinary array of Spanish modern art, from artists that few of us Brits have heard of. We loved Eusebio Sempere, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Miquel Barcelo, and the comical surrealism of Equipo Cronica, such as their wicked update of Velasquez's painting Las Meninas, also beloved by Picasso. It's a hidden delight.
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