The largest of the Spanish Balearic islands, Majorca has a rich and varied past. Invaded both by the Romans and the Moors, plenty of evidence of these two occupations remains today. Palma, the capital, was founded by the Romans, although is now rather better known for its Gothic cathedral La Seu as well as an extensive range of boutiques and restaurants.
For most people, Majorca means beaches. These vary from sweeping stretches of sand to small rocky coves often accessible only by boat. Understandably, water sports are popular as are, also, hiking and cycling, particularly in the cooler spring and autumn months.
This is also an island where something is always happening. Festivals and fiestas, such as Sóller's Es Firo, are frequent. Weekly markets are also held all over the idland; their stalls of produce, household goods and handcrafts are often accompanied by puppet shows, pony rides and, as in Pollensa's weekly market, a tradition of drinking coffee in the main square after church.
Things to Do
Majorca is that rare destination that has something for everyone. Known above all for its beaches, it also offers culture and history, some of the best shopping in Spain and superb restaurants.
Bask on the beach
There is no such thing as a typical Majorcan beach. Those searching for long stretches of sand will find what they're looking for at beaches such as Playa de Muro in the north of the island or Cala Llombards in the southeast. Meanwhile, the many rocky coves can offer a more secluded or dramatic getaway. One of the most popular is Cala Deià near Soller. This tiny beach is also associated with the poet Robert Graves, who made his home in nearby Deià and is buried in its churchyard.
Soak up some culture
The enormous Gothic cathedral on the waterfront in Palma is a must-see. Dedicated to San Sebastian, the island's patron saint, it boasts one of the world's largest stained-glass windows. Visually striking, especially when viewed from the sea, the vast, cool interior is also well worth a visit.
Get on your bike
The island is ideal for cyclists. There are bike hire shops aplenty and no shortage of interesting destinations. A great warm-up is the 10-mile cycle path between Palma and S'Arenal, which also has the advantage of passing the cathedral. More serious cyclists may be tempted by the hair-pin bends and steep gradients of the road to Formentor beach in the north-west of the island.
Calendar of Events
There is something going on in Majorca all year round. As well as a plethora of festivals and art events, the smaller towns also have their own regular markets.
Sunday market in Pollensa. This small town in the north-west has a weekly Sunday market that is a foodie's delight. It begins when the locals gather for coffee in the Café Espanyol in the town square the Placa Major.
La Nit De L'art. This annual art festival, held in Palma each September marks the start of the Majorcan art season. Dozens of galleries open their doors to the public for a single night in an exuberant festival.
Es Firo. This festival that reenacts the battle between the inhabitants of Sóller and the invading Moors is one of Majorca's noisiest and most visually spectacular. Held in the second week of May, it transforms Sóller from a town of citrus groves and a quaint narrow-gauge railway to one that hosts a mock sea battle and some spectacular fireworks.