A Guide to Mallorca Outside the Hotels
Mallorca is the Spanish island where 15 million tourists travel every year to bask in the sun and swim in the blue waters. The island offers, of course, a great deal of sunbathing possibilites on its many beaches. These are all filled with tourists from northern Europe who move only between the hotel and the nearest sand strip. Unfortunately, this kind of tourism has created ghettos of package traveling, containing nothing but exclusive hotels and bad junk food in various places around the island.
The opportunity to experience Spanish culture, history, nature and food still exists though! The only thing you have to do is to leave the sun lounger and jump on a bus. Mallorca is a small island and most towns and beaches are easily accessible via a short car or bus ride.
My visit started in the northern part of the island, namely Alcudia. This is where the all-inclusive hotels lay dense. However, it is a good spot to start out from for your one-day trips.
Heading further north, our first stop was the lighthouse Formentor that requires some good walking shoes and a lot of drinking water. The view and scenery are so unexpected that we thought we were on a different continent!
Driving southeast from Alcudía we find the small and quiet town Artá, which in itself is a piece of art. We strolled the streets empty from loud tourists, simply enjoying the historic architecture and paused with quality Italian food and coffee in a restaurant on the main street.
The language spoken at Mallorca is a dialect variety of Catalan and could, occasionally, be quite tricky to understand. Most of the time though, my Latin American Spanish did just fine. Apparently, however, the greatest group of tourists coming here seems to be Germans, considering people in the service business chose to speak German with my traveling companions and me. Thus, when you catch that bus to leave the white and impersonal hotel for a day it might be a good idea to have some Spanish or German skills in your pocket.
Situated in the middle of the island is the city Inca, and every Thursday morning there is a market held in the center of the town. The market offers everything from souvenir-sarongs to actual Mallorcan handicrafts and food and is worth the visit just to breathe in the atmosphere of haggling in 35 degrees (Celsius). In addition, traveling on the local bus might lead you to new meetings and, thus, to a Colombian empanada place not mentioned in any brochure.(It is located close to the bus station, next to the tunnel.)
Among the various cities and places I visited during only one week in Mallorca, Palma is my favorite. The island’s capital reminds me of Barcelona with its narrow alleys, gothic cathedral and beaches close to the city center. It is easy to get around both by bus and foot, and there are several coffee places where you can escape the heat under a tree and let various street performers entertain you.
In conclusion, Mallorca did surprise me with her turquoise blue waters, grandiose architecture, historical villages and spectacular nature. The island offers both rest and plenty of activities for the non-charter tourist and as soon as you leave the hotel and the nearest beach, the amount of sunbathing tourists vastly reduces.