Getting Around the Island
Landing in Majorca may not have been the softest (note: taking a 6:30 am flight after staying up all night in Barcelona drinking 1 liter mojitos and bottles of cava may lead to intense sleep deprivation) but before the day was over, the island’s spectacular views had wiped away any unpleasantness. Majorca is best explored by car (or moped if you’re under 25) and be prepared for some multiple gorgeous vistas.
From the airport to the city center is a pretty simple route, there are lots of signs that point to the public transit bus system that leaves every 10 minutes, which is just a five minute walk (or hungover stumble) from the airport exit. The ticket costs 5 euros, and is supposed to include a transfer over to a second bus if the first doesn’t take you all the way. To reach Cala Major, a municipality of Palma but a bit further outside of the city proper, you have to take two buses.
Tip: Beware of the public transit bus drivers- even in my hometown of New York City they are kinder and more sympathetic. If possible, avoid taking buses other than the 1 and 3, as those are owned by a different bus company than the local 100 buses.
Cala Major, close to stunning beaches, and to Palma, but much more relaxed. There’s no need to stay in Palma! Our mistake was moving to the city center for the last night.
Three places that are a must
Take advantage of happy hour offers at restaurants & buy a 5 euro, Majorca branded paddle and ball to entertain yourself by the beach (also doubles as a souvenir), walk along the piers with yachts (but don’t actually rent one)
Explore Cala Major
The small town is close enough to the city, but still somewhat removed, making it pretty peaceful and relaxing. A lot of the hotels in the area are extremely expensive and touristy (one had a fake Elvis performing classic tunes such as Jailhouse Rock), as Cala Major is one of the most popular beaches on the island. I liked that while there were plenty of tourists, there were also lots of locals, so there’s a nice dynamic at play.
You can spend all day on Cala Major beach, basking in sunlight and swimming in crystal clear water. If you’re heading to the beach on either Saturday or Sunday, make sure to get there early to claim a spot and an umbrella, by noon, there is not a single spot to be found, with people sandwiched together in the most unlikely places just trying to find a place to lie down on.
Tip: The Hotel Nixe has an amazing patio from which to watch the sunset from. It offers a romantic and gorgeous view of the city- without having to pay the $400 price tag of a room per night. Grab a drink and watch the sky fade into gorgeous hues of pink and red.
Our first foray into the Majorca food scene was incredible. An island, I could have expected that the seafood would be fresh and delicious, but La Parada del Mar exceeded all expectations. This is some of the freshest seafood you could possibly find anywhere in the world. The line was out the door at 8:05 p.m., 5 minutes after they opened for dinner (spanish time is late after all & open for lunch from 1 to 3:30). You enter the restaurant and are greeted by a fish stall, the kind you would see at a fish store, teeming with filets and creatures looking back at you (and some even moving!). Before sitting, you buy your items (a small or large handful of this, a filet of that, two or three of these) and viola! Your items are whisked to the kitchen to be freshly prepared, taking sea to table to a whole new level. Just a few moments ago you saw your product, freshly caught that day, and in the span of munching on the delicious garlic aioli and bread that comes as an appetizer, your order is up and you’re ready to dig in. I ate an incredible amount of food- green peppers (3euro), two shrimps (6euro), filet of salmon (8euro), and calamari (11.20 for two)- for only 22euros! And every item was incredibly delicious, so fresh it didn’t even need sauces, just a squirt of lemon juice to bring out every delectable bite. The salmon was a highlight, incredibly soft and just melted in your mouth, while the shrimps were pretty hard (and highly amusing) to peel and crack. What an incredible restaurant- we left entirely full and ridiculously giddy and satisfied.
Sodapop Cafe offers some incredible eclectic decor and prime people watching outside looking onto the main street. The house red wine was ideal at 2 euros a glass, to just talk and drink for hours. They even hung a men’s shoe and a women’s heel outside the bathroom door in lieu of regular demarcations. Pop in for a drink (during happy hour up until 11:00pm you can get up to 2 euros off of two drinks) and pair it with a llonguet, an oval, plump, bulky bread that is popular and unique to Majorca which comes hot, sandwiched in between your choice of ham and cheeses, and perfect for a snack or for lunch
Another great cafe directly above the beach: Moments. They offer a great happy hour from 3-6p.m. featuring 2 for 1 mojitos and sangria- delicious! And try the salchipapas- a typical potatoes and sausage dish that is typical to Spain and Latin America, a childhood emblem. This place is perfect for a tasty snack, some much needed shade, and a break from the hordes of people.
Tip: Sightseeing in Palma doesn’t take more than a day. The Castell de Bellver is free on Sundays but the Cathedral as well as the market are closed on Sundays. Make sure to see the Cathedral both at night and during the day.
A quick break for lunch in the middle of sightseeing
Bar Coto, smack in the city center it is centered around a cute, circular plaza and offers an affordable menu of the day- soup/salad, entree and pound cake for dessert for only 10 euros! And all of their ingredients are sourced from the local Mercat D’olivier (a beautiful market to check out) so you’re sure that the ingredients are fresh and local.
Palma is great to just wander around aimlessly in, checking out cute stores and sales. The streets definitely wind and are those you can easily idle amongst.
Enjoy the sunshine and natural beauty that Majorca has to offer.