What to do in Mallorca?

Are you looking for nice places around the island? Then north of Majorca definitely worth a visit. We’re talking about the magic Formentor Peninsula, mountainous, barren places, in places overgrown forest… If you have not been here before you will be surprised.

For those of us who are interested in snorkeling, or just appreciate beautiful and clear waters Playa Formentor is a true paradise. It is a popular beach, so you should come relatively early if you are fussy with where you lay down your towel. There you can lie in the water and bob around, watch the small fishies or enjoy the beautiful view where the steep mountains meet the sea. One of the best features of this beach is that here you can choose between wither lying in the sun, or in the cool shade of the pine trees that grow almost all the way down in the water in some places.

After a day of sun, swimming and snorkeling you should continue along the road, to reach the northernmost tip of Majorca. Along the way there are more bays, such as Cala Murta. At the end of the road you will find the lighthouse “Faro de Formentor”, and here you can enjoy a great view, and a cold drink in the cafe located in the old lighthouse.

The lighthouse was opened in April 1863, after many years of hard work. Because of its isolated location workers were working even on Sundays and holidays. When Majorcas bishop found out about this, he decided that a temporary altar was to be established on the construction site, so the workers could celebrate Sunday Mass.

Wines in Mallorca.

Wine is cultivated on the island since as early as 121 B.C. but it is during the last 25 years when a real upsurge has taken place.

A flourishing wine industry exists on the island with more than 70 wineries and more than 500 wine brands. The wineyards are spread all over the island, but certain areas have a larger concentration of wine makers. There is a great diversity of wine produced including sparkling, white, rosé, sweet and red wines.

Two Denomination of Origin (DO) exist on the island of Majorca: DO Binissalem and the DO Pla i Llevant.

The DO of Pla i Llevant de Mallorca, covering the central and eastern parts of Majorca, received its “DO” status in 1999 whilst the Binissalem region, in the heart of the island, became a “Denomination of Origin” at the end of 1990. Each year at the end of September during several days a popular grape harvest festival, Festa des Vermar, is celebrated in the village of Binissalem, attracting many residents as well as visitors.

Besides from the wineyards that belong to these two DOs, there are several other wineries that also work very hard to produce wines of high quality. These are grouped together and regulated under two labels: Vi de la Terra Mallorca and Vi de la Serra de Tramuntana-Costa Nord.

When a wineries belongs to a DO it guarantees that grapes belongs to a certain geographical provenance, that it contains certain varieties of grapes and that the winemaker has passed the required quality controls.

There are a few indigenous grapes on the island, in other words certain grape varieties that are native to Majorca, such as the red ones Manto Negro, Callet and Fogoneu and the white grape Moll (or prensal blanc).

Typical Majorcan food.

Recurrent ingredients in Majorcan menus are aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and onions. Vegetables make up the main components of many local dishes such as Tumbet, cocas, sopes or trampó.

Almond trees can be found all over the island. The trees are in blossom usually in the month of February – which is one of the loveliest times of the year to come and visit the island, with countless fields covered with white and pink flowers. Gató is a typical local cake with a moist and soft texture and made with almond flour.

High quality virgin olive oil is something Spain is known for and Majorca is no exception. The island is home to thousands of olive trees. Olives are harvested from the trees from late October to January. The precious golden liquid is obtained from the olive varieties Mallorquina/Empeltre, Arbequina and Picual, each with its own particular properties. Traditional olive mills or “tafonas” can be found in villages like Caimari and Sóller.

Pork is an essential ingredient of the island’s cuisine. The star product made with pork is undoubtedly the “sobrassada” that gets its characteristic colour from the pimentón. Majorca is also home to a large population of sheep and thus lamb is another well-liked local dish.

Continuing with products derived from the pig we have lard which is an essential ingredient in the very popular pastry known as ensaimada that comes with or without different fillings.

The Balearic culinary landscape shares many characteristics with the nearby region of Catalonia such as the popular pa amb oli or pa amb tomàquet – which essentially is a slice of rustic bread with tomato rubbed over and then seasoned with some good olive oil and salt. The tomato used in Majorca is an indigenous variety of a small, compact and hanging tomato that grows on sprigs and is known as tomàtiga de ramellet. Pa amb oli is often accompanied by cheese and ham, like some tasty jamón serrano.

Fish and sea food like sepia (squid) and recipes with langosta or lobster, which is the base of for example the popular stew “caldereta”, are also common in all of the Balearic Islands. Gamba roja from Sóller, is another local delicacy.

Typical beverages from the Balearic Islands.

Two popular and typical liquors made with different aromatic herbs are found in the Balearic Islands: Palo de Mallorca and hierbas (herbs).

Hierbas are served as a digestive after a meal and is highly popular both among locals and visitors. Originally hierbas was associated as a beverage from Ibiza but it is now also produced in Majorca. This herb-based liquor with a distinct taste of anise comes in three varieties: hierbas dulces (sweet), semi-dulces (semi sweet) and secas (dry). The mix of plants such as anise, fennel, juniper, rosemary or thyme gives it its characteristic amber and green colour.

The dark Palo liquor is usually drank as an aperitif; alone or with ice or with soda water. Its production is regulated and it is made exclusively in Majorca. As for its key ingredients we find the root of the bitter herb the Yellow Gentian or Bitter Root, in Latin known as Gentiana lutea and the quina calisaya (quinine) plant. Originally it was used to combat illnesses, such as malaria, caused by the many mosquitos that thrived when there used to be a lot of swampland in coastal areas of the Balearic Islands.

Oranges grown in the beautiful valley of Sollér at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains are the base of the Licor de naranjas de Sóller which has gained notoriety in more recent years. Serve this sweet liquor on its own, with ice or in a cocktail.

Since some years back beer lovers can also find locally brewed beer when visiting Majorca. Various micro-breweries are spread over the island and they are getting increased attention from the culinary press and beer enthusiasts. Most of these small producers do not use any artificial additives in their artisan beer.

From the neighbouring island of Menorca originates the famous Gin Xoriguer. This is the brand name of a popular artisanal gin elaborated in a distillery in Mahón, founded by the Menorcan Miguel Pons Justo and that still today belongs to the Pons family. The gin tradition stems back to the 18th century when the island was part of the British Empire. This spirit with is characteristic juniper flavour is often mixed with lemonade and then referred to as pomada by the locals.

Bellver Castle.

Bellver Castle is a beautiful gothic castle built in the 1300s. The castle is very special because it is the only round, gothic castle in Europe.

Nowadays the castle is used as Mallorca History Museum, but the castle originally served as the residence of the Kings of the island, and was built in times of political unrest. Therefore, the outside of the castle was built as a real fortress while the interior is in stark contrast with the outside, built in exquisite gothic style with fantastic arches.

The Spanish government gave the castle to Palmas city in 1931, along with the beautiful pine forest surrounding the castle. The castle was transformed into a museum the year after, and was restored thoroughly in 1976 when it was officially opened as the city’s historic Museum.

Thanks to the large parking lot and the broad road, the castle welcomes a large amount of visitors. The main courtyard is the seat of many different public ceremonies, cultural events and concerts.

During the summer months offer here some evenings classical concerts, which is a wonderful experience to enjoy. The combination of music,the castle’s beautiful design and the possibility of sitting under the starlit sky makes it a really special experience.

Although the view and the beautiful courtyard it is a good enough reason to visit the castle, the museum also well worth a visit. Majorca, and especially Palma, has a surprisingly rich culture, easily overlooked when talking about Majorca,normally only associated with sun and sand of the beaches.

The museum exhibitions change regularly but there are three permanent exhibitions. One of these is about the urban evolution of Palma de Mallorca, and take you from prehistoric Palma, through the Roman era, the Arab domination, the Christian conquest, the Middle Ages and much more to the modern city of today . It’s an interesting way to better understand the city, and after this exhibition, it is interesting to walk around the city, as you will see with new eyes.

There is also The Despuig collection, which is a collection of classical statues collected by Antoni Despuig (1745-1813, son of the Count of Montenegro). He is often mentioned as the Majorcan art patron.