Palma & the Badia de Palma
Petite, sea-splashed, party-loving Palma is one of Europe's most underrated capitals. For a city of its size, its sights play in the premier league with major metropolises. Take its immense Gothic cathedral, moored like the prow of a great ship on the Mediterranean's edge.
Palma de Mallorca
Old Palma and Es Puig de Sant Pere charm with their boutique hotels gathered around stately patis (patios) and design-focused digs, as well as the occasional family-run hostel. Stay near the Passeig d’es Born or the Plaça Major to be in the thick of the city's shopping and dining scene. Sea view? Head to the Passeig Marítim or Es Portixol.
'A sky like turquoise, a sea like lapis lazuli, mountains like emerald, air like heaven,' enthused Romantic composer Chopin of his new home Valldemossa in 1838. His words ring true almost 200 years later in western Mallorca. The Serra de Tramuntana range ripples all along the west coast, surveying the Mediterranean from above.
Serra de Tramuntana
Dominated by the Serra de Tramuntana range, Mallorca’s northwest coast and its hinterland form a spectacular contrast to the built-up resorts you leave behind around Palma. The landscape is remarkably wild, ensnared by limestone peaks scarred by wind and water and cliffs that drop abruptly to the brilliant blue sea like natural ramparts.
Northern Mallorca is the island's heart and soul, bundling coastal drama, cultured towns with spirited fiestas, a twinset of white-sand bays and an exciting portfolio of adventure sports into one enticing package. The Serra de Tramuntana is at its most fabulous where the range culminates on the Cap de Formentor, flicking out into the Med like a dragon's tail.
There’s a reason that tourists arrive in Eastern Mallorca in their hundreds of thousands on their annual sun pilgrimage: this is one of the prettiest coasts on an island of many. Yes, there are stretches of coastline that can seem like a poster child for all that’s abhorrent about Mediterranean coastal tourism.
Artà & Around
Boasting the poetic distinction of being the first place in Mallorca to receive the morning sunlight, the island’s northeastern corner is a refreshingly low-key area where rounded hills stubbled with green radiate out in every direction, and calm, pine-lined beaches (a number of which are accessible only by foot, horseback or boat) dot the coastline.
The fortresslike coastal geography between the Badia de Palma (Bay of Palma) and Colònia de Sant Jordi has preserved this area as one of the least-developed of the island. Much of the coast is buffered by tall, nearly impenetrable cliffs splashed with the sapphire blue waters of the Mediterranean.