SPOILER: We’re already planning when we can go back next year.
Last month we tacked five days in Mallorca onto our Lisbon city break, and it was unbelievably lush. Despite knowing each other for 11 years, this type of beach-break holiday is one that Mark and I have never been on together. He labels them as boring and I usually drag my girlfriends on them instead, but with promises of prime mountain biking material (it’s where all the pros train pre-season) and all the pan con tomate one could possibly consume, he lamented.
I’m so glad he did because we had the best time. The trip stretched over my 30th birthday weekend, so we took that as a cue to chill the heck out. We ordered room service. We spent lazy afternoons walking around old hilltop towns. We ate so much jamón that it’s quite incredible that we didn’t morph into piglets. We found a way to download and stream the latest GBBO episode so we could watch it in bed as we guzzled down Aquarius. It was lazy and lovely and we’ve already decided that we would happily make it a place that we visit yearly. We adored it that much. Here’s why…
How To Get Around
Sun, sea and sand just a two hour flight from London Gatwick – yes please! As always you can read up on my advice and tips for airport parking in this post. At Palma Airport we picked up a car straight from the terminal – we used Hertz and had no problems. When it comes to selecting a car go for the smallest you can, given the amount of luggage you have. The roads can be narrow and parking limited, so bigger ain’t better in this case. Public transport is limited on the island, so depending on where you’re staying car rental might be the only option. We found it best to google the parking situation before we headed out, just so we knew the spots to keep an eye out for.
We stayed in Finca Serna; a new hotel that opened earlier this year and I practically swooned at when I saw the photos on Mr & Mrs Smith (they had a good deal where you got a free room upgrade, so we ended up in a Garden Suite, which was beautiful). It’s slap bang in the centre of the island, so although there’s not much nearby or anything within walking distance, it’s a good point to travel to the coastline from because everywhere is about a 30 minute drive. Breakfast was included and is served outside overlooking the surrounding countryside and there’s a spa and outdoor pool there too. Minimally styled and ridiculously quiet, we would definitely stay here again for a special occasion.
Where To Eat
I’m a little low on breakfast recommendations seeing as we had it provided at the hotel every morning (although Cafe Riutort in Palma looked great!), but I have plenty of ideas for what to eat post midday up my sleeve and that’s mainly thanks to Kim and Lindsey who have both visited loads and armed me with all the seasoned-traveller recs by the bucketload – THANKS LADIES! Ca’s Patro March is the must-do if you want a lunchtime seafood stop. It’s so busy so make a reservation beforehand, but the view over the bay from our table was unlike any view that I’d ever had when eating a meal before. Unreal. Although the garlic prawns were heavenly. We unfortunately didn’t get to make it to Restaurant Bar Dalt des Coll – which was one of Lindsey’s must-visits – but she dubbed it one of the best places to eat on the island and they open for lunchtime service from Wednesday through to Sunday.
For dinner you’re spoilt for recommendations really. In Palma, El Camino was the place we visited and easily our favourite food stop for the whole trip. Fast-paced service and incredible Spanish tapas all cooked in front of you at the bar. We were gutted that we couldn’t visit again during our trip! El Aquanauta was our back-up incase it was too busy and we couldn’t get a table. SO many places in Deia came up in people’s top picks: El Olivio, Xelini, Restaurante Sa Vinya and Restaurant Nama, and these are definitely on our list for next time! If you find yourselves at the beaches to the east of the island then Restaurante Mama Mia or Quince Restaurante y Catina, are good places to stop off for food. Meson Ca’n Torrat, was Kim’s favourite and is situated to the west and NENI in Port d’Soller is a good spot to take in views of the whole bay. For a truly one of a kind experience, La Fortaleza at the Cap Rocat Hotel is sort of out of this world. We went there as a birthday treat (SO SPENDY!), but the whole atmosphere and grandeur of this repurposed fort was unlike anything that I’ve ever seen. I’d recommend getting to your reservation early so you can have a little nose around.
Where To Explore
The chances are that you’ll be arriving in Palma and I’d definitely recommend at least a few hours of wandering around. We explored one night before dinner so it was a bit cooler weather-wise and it was perfect, although I’m sure that there was so much more to see. The Cathedral and gardens are stunning (and there’s a roomy underground carpark just opposite it!) and the streets winding and perfect to get lost in. Although we didn’t manage a visit to Rialto Living as it was closing just before we go there, it sounds like quite the shopping find.
The speciality here are cute hilltop towns with incredible food finds and incredible views to take in whilst you chow down. We only made it to Deia, but Valldemosa and Fornalutx came highly recommended too. Spend a morning or late evening taking a look around; there are even some walks you can do between towns too (Lindsey recommended the hike between Fornalutx and Biniaraix, which takes around 90 minutes as a round trip and is perfect to do as the sun sets so she says). Soller Market on a Saturday morning is a good place to head as well, especially if you have catering facilities at your accommodation and need to stock up.
And of course how could I forget the beaches!?! We visited Cala Mendia, although I have to admit that it wasn’t a bit of me. A little cramped and extremely choppy on the day that we went, I think we would have preferred Cala Torta which has no facilities and so remains a little more rustic and off the well beaten track. We The People’s ‘Beaches of Mallorca’ Guide is what you need, but if you want a quick reference these beaches were recommended loads: Cala Mesquida and Cala Torta in the north east, Cala Romantica and Cala Murada in the east and Cala Lombards, Mondrago Natural Park and Cala Sa Nau in the south east.
If you couldn’t already tell, we had a WONDERFUL time in Mallorca and five days in the sun (mostly!) spent relaxing, eating and not doing much else was exactly what we needed. I feel like we tend to try and stuff our schedules whenever we go away, so it felt nice to take things at a slower pace. One thing we realised pretty quickly was that we only really felt up to one trip out a day. So if we went out during the day and went somewhere for lunch, then once we’d go back to our hotel to chill for a bit we didn’t really feel like taking a one hour round-trip out again. It meant that we definitely felt more zen during our stay and saved money on food by picking up bits like bread, tomatoes, cheese, ham and fresh fruit from the supermarket that would could throw in our hotel mini bar fridge and eat for lunch or dinner. But it did also meant that there were a few places that we missed out on for food that we really wanted to visit, like Restaurant Bar Dalt des Coll and Meson Ca’n Torrat. So we obviously just have to go back.
We also realised that we just aren’t beach people and that’s totally cool. I’m more than happy to sit and watch the world go back at a beachfront cafe or restaurant, but actually sitting on the beach for longer than an hour or so, Mark gets fidgety, I get sweaty and we both just want to go home. So I think next time we’d go on a little beach road trip on a grey day, when the beaches aren’t as busy and we could just go around eating ice cream and moving on to the next one. We definitely should have gone to Cala Torto instead of Cala Mendia, which was absolutely packed.
12PM – Arrive at airport, head to hotel.
Afternoon – Check-in at hotel and spend the afternoon relaxing in the grounds.
7PM – Head over to Palma for dinner at El Camino (no reservations, but the line moves quickly especially if there’s just two of you).
8AM – Breakfast at the hotel.
10AM – Head out to visit Deia and have a wander around.
1PM – Drive the short journey down the hill to Ca’s Patro March (they take reservations and it’s worth doing it as it was extremely busy).
Afternoon – Slow journey back to the hotel, picking up fresh produce for dinner.
Evening – Eat dinner out on your veranda with a glass of wine.
8AM – Breakfast at the hotel.
Daytime – Mark to do a bike ride around the Cap de Formentor and Anna to visit hotel spa. Lunch on veranda, eating last night’s leftovers.
8AM – Breakfast at the hotel.
Daytime – Relax at hotel.
8AM – Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning – Head to Cala Mendia, picking up dinner supplies on the route back.
2PM – Late lunch back at Finca Serena Hotel.
Afternoon & Evening – Relax back at the hotel and eat final dinner out on the veranda before packing.