A Road Trip around an Island in the Sun
You won’t need much convincing to fall for the island of Majorca. It’s small enough to be driven around with ease and benefits from some 300 days of sunshine. In true Spanish style, it’s dangerously good-looking too. This 145-mile Majorca car trip follows a looped route through the island, beginning in vibrant capital Palma de Majorca and curving up towards the north coast before heading across to the west. It’s a chance, not only to see the island’s changing landscapes but also to experience Balearic culture away from the main resorts.
Known for its historical buildings and its strong food scene, the port city of Palma is Majorca’s heartbeat. Around 400,000 people call it home. Don’t miss the Catholic cathedral, dating back to the 1600s, which took almost 400 years to build. Its nave is one of the highest in Europe. Nearby, the Old Town remains a maze of alleys, squares and mansions – call in at Peix Vermell for some of the city’s best seafood. Elsewhere, art fans will enjoy the exhibitions at Joan Miró’s former workshop, while sun-seekers can find more than two miles of beach at Platja de Palma, outside of town. Campos is a 35-minute drive away.
An unassuming rural town, Campos makes for an enjoyable stop-off in its own right – special mention goes to century-old family bakery Pomar Patisserie. Opt for the fresh ensaimadas (local pastries). The town is best seen, however, as a springboard for heading down to Colònia de Sant Jordi, 20 minutes away on the coast. A seaside settlement turned low-key beach resort; it’s a relaxed spot to while away a day or two among wooded hills and white sands. Try the paella at Port Blau. Back in Campos, Manacor sits half an hour to the north.
Manacor, the capital of the Llevant region, is the hometown of tennis superstar Rafael Nadal. He’s not the city’s only claim to fame – Manacor also plays home to Perlas Majorica, a high-quality artificial pearl factory offering tours and a well-stocked showroom. The city itself has an old historic core, much of it handsomely restored. For a meal, book a table at Molí den Sopa, set in an old windmill and serving authentic local dishes. The road then continues up towards Port de Pollença, tracing the bay shoreline of Badia d’Alcúdia.
Port de Pollença
Backdropped by mountains, studded with villas and frequented by sailboats, Port de Pollença is one of the prettiest spots along Majorca’s north coast. Boat trips, beach time and bike hire are among the chief attractions, but visitors can also head slightly inland to the town of Pollença itself. It dates back to the 1400s and has a likeable, laid-back mood – be sure to sample the fusion food at Spira. Moving south again, call in at attractive coastal towns of Sóller and Deià before continuing south to Calvià.
There’s something satisfying about a car-hire trip that returns full circle to where it started. But while Calvià might sit just 12 miles from Palma, it offers a mood of its own. Sitting in green countryside, it’s an unrushed town overlooked by many visitors. The large church of Sant Joan Baptista marks the centre. On a different note, Calvià also grants easy access to some of the resorts of the south, the best known of which is nearby Magaluf. Once back in Palma, round off the drive with a coffee at famous old café Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo