Magical Mallorca: An island that is so much more than it’s 90s reputation for partying – turned out to be one the most stunning places I’ve been.
When Skyscanner threw up the only flights for our dates, that ticked all our boxes, was Palma – I was slightly disappointed. Having done the 90s pilgrimage to Mallagluf back in the day I had quite a view of this island. A view that was very wrong! I should know better from having been to many party islands like Cyprus and Ibiza that, like Ayia Napa and San Antonio, Magaluf is only a tiny part of Mallorca and as the extensive research began so did the excitement!
First up I found researching where to stay the hardest part. So sharing my thoughts and findings in case it helps…
North, I already knew Alcudia as part of that girls trip had been before to visit a friend. Much more family resorty but stunning beaches as does most of the island does.
Also north is Cap de Formentor and the lighthouse – the most northwest point of the island, worth the treck if that’s your thing. And the island does attract a lot of fitties! Like Ibiza has a whole holistic yogi side, so Mallorca does an active one! It’s a hiker and bikers dream!
East of the Island we have the very very beautiful Cala d’Or or Cala Millor – which is near the Love Island villa! Both felt quite isolated from rest of the island unless you had a car.
West we have Soller & Dei – literally would have moved here – quaint gorgeous towns, the latter is a celeb hub.
Far left of Palma is the infamous Magalluf as mentioned but I didn’t mention it was affectionately named .. Shagaluf!! 🙄 It is still the party place for the brits just now places like Nikki Beach have sprung up too.
Left of Palma is Palma Nova – where I actually wanted to stay as felt close enough to Palma but not in the heart of party ville but I couldn’t find rooffops I was happy with. If I had then I was looking at at Barceló Illetas Albatros or Melia.
Heading south west to Camp de Mar – quiet gorgeous resort with an insane insta worthy restaurant
South east is Cala lombards is where is THE famous blue water again car needed.
And penultimately to the city of Palma – which is 100% Spanish city break vibes if you aren’t wanting a full beach break.
And where did I choose…. controversially and lastly we have Playa de Palma! East of Palma and known as the German/ Dutch version of Mallagluf – it was a bold choice! But I decided I wanted to be close to the airport and somewhere that had great rooftops. And as long as I had a fabulous hotel, the area didn’t matter so much. Bold and brilliant choice it turned out – especially as we didn’t have a car.
Car hire is really a must if you want to see the island – if you can forgo rose lunches! Not only is getting taxis tricky and expensive but some areas/ gorgeous restaurants that seem impossible to get to – really are without a car. Taxis are scarce! Well not entirely impossible but not easy beyond Palma and airport drops.
The other thing I considered was splitting up the trip and doing a few nights in both Playa and Soller. But wouldn’t you know, we were arriving during a massive bank holiday week festival where some things were open and others not, so decided was safer to stay in Playa and travel round by train and taxi.
Airport & Transfer
So back to the trip and the airport was super easy and quick to get through. I had a mild panic, being the festival, I should have booked a taxi and at last minute tried to but they all were booked. Which made the panic slightly higher, so I called my hotel who assured me it was fine. And it was, not even a queue! Cash was needed and was about €22 to Playa.
I had a few hotels I was toying with for this area Negresco and Iberostar Llaut Hotel were close second (with great rooftop offerings) losing to the HM Ayron Park and it did not disappoint. I had done a Google map walk around the area and was a bit worried as it seemed a bit of a shady street and the hotel seemed small when boasting 5 pools but I need not have worried.
Greeted with cava at one of the most helpful, approachable receptions I’ve been to – all requests had been honoured. And the staff were consistently kind and helpful. Its got a boutique feel but big enough to get lost! Also FYI There’s also a little corner shop directly opposite should you need any supplies.
Our room was a basic room and perfect for our needs. Roomy with loads of storage space, spotless bathroom. My only wish was a mirror where the kettle was. Yes there was a kettle that wasn’t advertised so that was a bonus.
Breakfast was a feast and set with indoor and outdoor eating options. Being sung to by the chef making me my omelette with limitless cava, made my mornings!
There are 5 pools. We managed 3! The 2 we skipped were an indoor one and another smaller one that seemed more for the rooms around it.
The ground floor one is picturesque and kept immaculately but tended to be where the kids splashed around so we opted for the two rooftop pools. Yes, not one but two!
One is definitely busier with the pool posing picture opportunities and the other tucked up and behind the bar. Ideal for those wanting to sleep off the night before. My only two feedbacks would be that the lunch menu downstairs and up was a bit limiting and the gorgeous Balinese beds had to be paid for. Many a day they would lie empty. Bit of a waste.
At night it was quiet at the hotel bars. Even on a Saturday with a DJ on the rooftop it wasn’t that busy. Which am sure the rooms on the top floor appreciated! So don’t expect a night out here but is perfect for a rooftop sunset drink before heading out.
And if you are looking for some dancing party vibes then Sky lounge rooftop round the corner followed by Beachhouse nightclub is must!
Playa de Palma
As I mentioned this area isn’t the most refined let’s say! But it has some surprisingly stunning rooftops that unless you knew, you could find yourself trawling street where clothes are scarce and shots are free! You know the vibe! But just a 10/15 walk from the hotel I managed to try 5 gorgeous rooftops bars and restaurants. Click here for more on them but I will highlight a couple.
First and a stand out was Katagi Blau. Also was the most expensive … obvs! But a sensational setting, superb sushi and a stunning sunset! Worth every penny. They also didn’t rush us out and we stayed from day to night! Close second was Okun, it just didn’t have as many seats with ‘the’ view but it did have great calamari and super friendly staff.
I also picked this area as we had wanted to do a short boat trip and the only one I could find that was just a few hours, not a party big boat was just a 15 min walk from the hotel. They take you out to round to where the amazing turquoise waters appeared. they provided life jackets and snorkel equipment for those that wanted it. I just jumped straight in!
If I had longer I would have probably done a whole day but all the options I found on Get your Guide. (One small note – It did play unusually noisy music and the captain joked about fish that eat you and tsunami’s 🙄otherwise was worth it!)
As the boat was late morning, it was perfect to arrive back for lunch. I had researched a beach club called La Marina which whilst we were now very much wandered into the S’Arenal area (worse that Playa!) it was actually an oasis of chilled calm with great food and a protected setting! I suspect in height of summer it might be a posers beach club but it was perfect for us!
I can see why so many people jet in for a city break as the flights are so short and from so many airports (when not being cancelled!) and it’s a beautiful city. Great shopping, culture and set by the sea it’s also easy to see why so many people have second homes here. And it’s littered with rooftop bars! Though many are for hotel guests only but I found a few for all!
My favourite was Almaq at El Principal Hotel. Gorgeous setting, friendly staff and fabulous food. What’s not to enjoy!
A close second tho was Sky at Almudaina hotel – I chose both as they had either the Church or the cathedral in view. There’s tons of others I didn’t get to… just have to go back!
Palma to Soller
If you are in Palma then this is a must. The 1912 ‘Tren Soller or ‘Ferrocarril de Sóller’ aka the wooden train that glides through the Mallorca countryside. Originally built to transport produce now its a true train geeks treat and I’m the least train fanatic going but the excitement for this is ridiculous!
Thee advise was to rock up and get a ticket on the day but this was too important for us so we booked online – which you can only do a week in advance. Arrived earlier than suggested, picked up tickets (yes you get proper souvenir tickets) no problem and with 45 minutes to spare. We thought we’d get a coffee and kill time but the lovely lady on the platform explained that boarding starts 30 minutes before and there was a first class carriage at the front and as we were first we could have it! So if you want to do your posing for pictures get there early!
The journey is only an hour and was €32 return including the tram the other side (will come on to that – more nerdy excitement!) but warning the return times are so early! It’s such a shame for those doing a day trip as some of the restaurants in the port were so stunning it would be such a shame to miss sunset at at least one. So we decided to shell out for a taxi back at Cinderella o’clock. Not a cheap decision but without doubt worth it. Side note pre booking taxis back are almost impossible so ask the venue you end up at and be prepared to wait. One place even said worse case of their team lived our way and would drive us! That’s how amazing the people were here.
Back to the train…. the scenery is spectacular it is like being transport to another world whilst it whistles it’s way through the valley of gold Aka Olives and orange groves.
I’d probably recommend sitting on the left but it really doesn’t matter that much as it’s all so incredible. You can also open the windows wide and even get a sneaky doorway shot! (Not recommended for children!)
We made a little pit spot at a station for the scenic photos (though not guaranteed on every journey) and before we knew it were in Soller.
Soller is a stunning little town known as the valley of oranges. You can jump straight from the train down the steps to the tram and head to the port or you can take an hour or so to explore – which we did as why would you not when here. The trams run every 30 mins and you don’t have to prebook – they also run right through the restaurants – it’s quite an experience!
So head to the cathedral, grab a table in the plaza and get the camera ready! There was also lots of market stalls (as it was a Saturday) and shops in windy roads should you wish to stay longer. But I knew the port was going to be my spiritual place and I wasn’t wrong.
Port de Soller
Where Chopin composed some of his music! The tram takes 15/20 minutes and there’s 2 stops at the Port. We got of at the first and then walked along the promenade pinching ourselves at this tranquil oasis.
There is so much choice for seaside eating but I booked in advance as sometimes the choice is overwhelming but a few others I nearly chose were Mar Y Sol, Ran de Mar and Sa Barca . I settled at the Fergus Hotel Ciales restaurant mainly because I knew that tram would come right past regularly! Though I think it does for all of them!
Food was great, service lovely. Perfect pit stop before pottering and some shopping and a cheeky sangria at a Eden Hotels rooftop bar! Sadly it wasn’t open (side note found lots of places on the island’s opening times didn’t tally with their socials or website) but they happily let us take our drinks up so bonus was practically to ourselves!
Then came dinner time and here was where I had first world where to eat problems! I had been stalking a restaurant called Neni and it’s next door / part of the same hotel rooftop bar called Donkey bar on socials for a long time – set up in the mountain overlooking the port, it was the dream but neither open for lunch/ afternoon drinks. It was at this point I considered splitting the trip to stay there but they didn’t have twin rooms – very random but helped make the decision. In stead we would taxi back.
Meanwhile 2 minutes from them is Nautilus restaurant which does open for lunch but it faces the ocean and really you want to be there for sunset. What is a girl to do when only in the port for one evening. Then I had a cunning plan. Starter/ light main in Neni followed by light main/ pudding in Nautilus.
I was a genius! You really can have it all. And it worked and didn’t feel rushed at all nor were we stuffed as started at 6 finished at 11!
Words can’t explain how much this place meant to me – whether it was a spiritual vibe or just all the excitement of the day but hands down one of the best days ever. So if you are in any doubt whether to leave Palma- do it! More info on these restaurants here.
I will also just mention Deia in case it helps anymore. I looked at trying to squeeze in a trip to another of my bucket list places. A Restaurant by the sea called Ca’s patro March, in Cala Deia. I haven’t seen the BBC show that’s made it famous but I did read the reviews and would suggest you do too. Seems it was a diamond find prior to be being popular! If you aren’t staying in Deia or Soller then it’s a shelp and even if you are, you need a car really … or a private boat! Taxis seem to be notoriously hard to either find to take you or come get you and with no signal even harder! It’s down a massive hill, so don’t arrive on time. Arrive super early to get down, the food and service seem to be on average though I am all about the setting so that didn’t bother me the getting to and from did so on this occasion gave it a miss but if you have time, can get a reservation then it does look a stunning setting. Up to you.
Camp de Mar
Lastly we headed one day to Camp de Mar. There is a bus that takes around an hour and a bit from Palma or of course a taxi which was around €40.
Cocktails at Maria 5 beach club is a must and if we had been staying longer would have eaten here too but the reason for heading out this way was yet again chasing another bucket list venue Restaurant Illeta.
This also had mixed reviews but as was easier to get there I decided it was worth the risk. Like so many places you could only make a reservation on the phone so when we arrived I was a bit concerned they wouldn’t have it. Not only did ‘Roberto’ have it but he had my request for my friends birthday we had been ear marked for a great table as requested! The food was good despite some reviews and there was no rushing us. We were able to just sit and enjoy the view. Heaven quite literally. If you are taking a taxi back – we tried the hotel to help us but they explained they don’t come (post covid shortages). But there was a taxi rank that one comes every half hour and there’s shops right by! Yes I may now be the proud owner of a few new dresses!
Magical Mallorca you’ve been amazing, now to work out how I can move here.