Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands, offers its visitors not only sunshine, numerous bars, restaurants and shops but also a beautiful harbour and a historical centre.
The two official languages of the Balearic Islands are Catalan and Spanish. They are both used in schools, the media, and the government, and all locals who were raised in the islands are fluent in both. Due to heavy immigration from mainland Spain however, Spanish has begun to dominate in the more densely populated areas.
In addition to the two official languages, each island has its own local dialect of Catalan: mallorquí (Mallorcan), menorquí (Minorcan), and eivissenc (Ibizan, also spoken on Formentera). They are mutually intelligible among themselves but people from Catalonia often have difficulty understanding them. Local people use these dialects in most situations of everyday life, but comfortably switch to standard Catalan or Spanish when speaking with someone who does not understand their dialect.
Spanish-speaking visitors will thus have no problems at all in the Balearic Islands. English will be understood in tourist areas, as will to a lesser extent German, French, and Italian. There is also a large number of northern European expatriates living on the islands.
The Balearic Islands have the airports of Palma de Majorca, Ibiza and Mahón, making any journey extremely easy.
It is also possible to reach them by ship, since Barcelona is only a night-crossing away aboard the most modern vessels. The journey takes just eight hours. By air the flight from Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid takes less than an hour, while from París and London it takes under two. It is also possible to take vehicles to the islands aboard ferries specially designed for the purpose. Both air and sea services have extra flights and crossing during the "high season" (July 1st-September 30th),
If you are visiting the centre of Palma your best bet is to go on foot. You can also hire scooters and bicycles if you prefer. If you decide to drive into the city from another part of the island, leave your car in one of the municipal car parks. You will be offered a bicycle (free of charge) to use to explore the city until you return to pick up your car. There is one railway line in Majorca, departing from Palma which will take the traveller to a number of villages on the island. A quaint and antique wooden electric train departing from the main station in the Plaza de España will take you on a beautiful journey through the mountain range to the quaint village of Soller. If you prefer, you can hire a car. Schedules for bus train and ferries for all islands can be found on .
The local cooking of the islands is exotic, exquisite and at the same time imaginatively presented.
The official Majorcan foodstuff should be a type of red pork pate called sobrasada in Majorcan, sobrasada in Spanish. Highly popular in parts of the mainland too. The red colour comes from hefty amounts of sweet paprika. It is good. There is also an official Majorcan cake, called ensaimada. It contains pumpkin jam and lard (obviously the Majorcans do keep some pigs) and it is delicious. The locals are very proud of their centuries-old olive trees, so while visiting the island it would be worth trying Majorcan extra virgin olive oil, which is otherwise hard to find.
Palo and Hierbas are two of the most popular local liquors among local residents. Palo is made from the fruit of the carob tree. It is often drunk mixed with soda water and sometimes even taken for medicinal purposes. Sweet, mixed and dry "Hierbas" are available. The ingredients include assorted herbs.