Difference between revisions of "Mallorca"
Revision as of 13:08, 25 February 2010
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, the others being Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
Mallorca (3640 sq.km) is known as an easy-to-reach mecca for friends of sunny beaches, amazing landscapes, wonderful mountains and affordable mediterranean food. With a coastline of more than 550km. In high season the island receives about 8 millions of tourists from around the world. This is both a blessing and a curse for the inhabitants, and they are well prepared for it and provide a very well-organized tourist infrastructure.
Nevertheless, Mallorca can show even other faces when you leave the coastline and take a look at the inner country. Prices fall with each kilometer you move away from the coast, and reach the usual Spanish standards in the center of the island or even some parts of the mountain area.
Geographically the island can be divided into three parts. The Serra de Tramuntana rocks extend from south-west to north-east, while the Serra de Llevant stretches along the eastern coast. Between them lies the central plain (Es pla).
The natives speak so-called Mallorquin, a sub-dialect of "Balear" which is a regional dialect of the Catalan. Catalan is learnt in schools along with Spanish; both are official languages in this region. The vast majority can speak both languages. In tourist areas, you will frequently come across people speaking English, German, French and other common European languages.
Mallorca has beautiful white sand and crystal water beaches, so most are base for package tourists nowadays. In more remote areas you might find very rarely visited beaches.
There are frequent flights from many European cities to Palma de Mallorca airport. In particular, many of the discount airlines have daily flights.
From the airport (Sant Joan airport ) public buses run frequently to central Palma. Many car rental agencies have their offices at the airport.
You can catch a ferry to Palma de Mallorca from the other Balearic Islands or from several points on the Spanish coast, including Barcelona and Valencia and a super-fast ferry service from Denia Alicante. You can catch a ferry to Alcudia from Menorca.
Many spots are reachable by bus, but the services are limited on Sundays and in the lower season, as well as during the night.
There is inland train transportation, but mainly limited to Puerto de Sóller, Manacor, Inca, Sa Pobla and Sineu.
Cars can be hired in many tourist towns, especially along the coast. Unless in high season, when you should book your rental in advance if you want to ensure getting one, hiring a car directly at the airport without reservation shouldn't be any problem at all. However, as "at desk" rental prices are often far higher than booking in advance it may be prudent to organise it from home before you arrive (and to avoid disappointment during peak periods).
When you are only for short time in the island the best way is to take one of the conducted tours organized by the Official tourguides center in Mallorca . Valldemossa  is only 18 km away from Palma (tour of 3 or 4 hours will be perfect. This itinerary takes visitors around the streets, plazas and most picturesque spots in the village of Valldemossa, an introduction to the French writer Aurore Dudevant (aka George Sand) and Polish composer Frederick Chopin's stay on Mallorca. The celebrated couple resided in this Mallorcan village during the winter of 1838-39. Its landscapes, peoples and customs made a strong impression on the writer. During their visit, the couple stayed in cells at the Royal Carthusian Monastery.
Note - If you find yourself in Palma, looking for a quieter beach than the 5km strand, take the blue bus line all the way to its Western terminus, which is simply called Playa. It is a wonderful little cove set about by rocks, with a local restaurant right on the beach. There are other coves in either direction, but this is the most welcoming.
Recommend Paella, especially the seafood version while in Mallorca. Local dishes include Frit Mallorquí and Sopes Mallorquines (a simple, yet healthy vegetable soup with meat, wild mushrooms, etc.). Many dishes are made with Sobrassada, a rather spicy sausage made of pork, paprika, condiments, etc. - also eaten plain on a slice of bread. For breakfast, instead of croissant, try the typical Ensaimada (a spiral-shaped bun), and for dessert the Gató (a cake made of almond) with almond ice cream.
Drinking is allowed if you are 18 or older the same as in the rest of Spain. While alcohol is widely sold, pursuant to local laws only bars, restaurants, discotheques and the like are allowed to serve it after midnight.
Spanish people go out quite late and, while in the main tourist resorts you can find people drinking and chatting from early hours, you will not see many locals before 24:00.
The main nighttime areas are:
Also, you must know that while drinking in the street is allowed, big groups drinkings are not tolerated and the police will fine you if you leave any rubbish in the street. In any case, is better to carry a plastic bag for any rubbish you could have.
You should consider trying the Sangria, a mix of wine, fruit juice and brandy. Another option are the excellent local wines. Many bodegas offer tours with free tastings.
Accommodation is mainly for the package-tour tourist who wants a room near the beach. Most of these hotels are cheaper if booked by a travel agent. But over the past few years, the number of alternative accommodations for more experienced, individual travellers has steadily been growing: designer hotels, fully equipped apartments, aparthotels and fincas to name a few.
Rural tourism: Also known as "Agroturismo". Refers to farmhouses and country estates built before 1960, still being used for agriculture but, of course, fully refurbished and modernized. Just perfect for families with children.
"Rural Hotel", "Turisme d'Interior" and "Petit Hotel" on the other hand are generally former mansions and manor-houses located in smaller towns such as Sòller, Lloseta, Deià or Campanet. They offer a limited number of rooms for guests, mostly 4 star service with an excellent cuisine, Spa services, etc.
Although the vast majority are 3 and 4 star hotels, the island does offer excellent 5 star hotels and resorts, small and trendy Designer Hotels next to Palma's shopping district as well as charming city hotels in the old city centre of Palma de Mallorca.
If you prefer to stay in your own apartment, but don't want to miss the hotel's daily entertainment programme, sports and shows in the evening, then consider staying in an aparthotel. Most of them are located in the north (Alcudia, Playa de Muro) or on the east coast of the island (Cala Millor, Cala d'Or) and offer a wide range of services.
There are no commercial camp grounds in Mallorca, but there are some recreation areas with toilets and sometimes with showers where camping is allowed.
Renting a villa is an excellent, if often expensive, way of enjoying Mallorca's more secluded locations. These are generally found on the western and northern sides of the island. There are several choices, from the so called "casitas" that are small, with no service and with no license, to be found in google  and those called "luxury", licensed, offering a wide range of services such maid, breakfast, rental cars. To be found in Google through