Welcome back to another edition of ‘Long Weekends in Europe’. Last time we went for a winter getaway in Flanders. With the sun starting to appear in the skies once more, we thought it was about time we visited somewhere warmer.
Found in the Balearic Island chain, Mallorca with its varied terrains and warm clement weather makes it an attractive location for amateur and pro-cyclists alike.
The island itself has been home to a variety of cultures over the years, each bringing with it their own influences, making for a unique blend of island life, which is a joy to experience.
Mallorca is the sight of some of the finest beaches in Europe, as well as some magnificent medieval architecture that still dominates many of its towns’ skylines.
Where should I stay?
There are plenty of brilliant destinations across Mallorca, each offering something slightly different.
In the southern part of the island is the capital of Palma, known for its seaside resorts and relaxing atmosphere. You’ll never need to go far in search of refreshment when in Palma, as there are plenty of bars and restaurants. Whilst the capital is a beautiful place, thanks to architectural wonders like the Santa Maria Cathedral, there are some smaller towns in the north of Mallorca that offer an equally authentic taste of Balearic life.
The ancient municipality of Alcúdia has been home to islanders since the bronze age but the influence of the Roman invasion in 123 BC can still be seen in many of the buildings that are still standing today.
The biggest attraction in Alcúdia is its ‘old town’, which is a vibrant and bustling place to visit. Plenty of fantastic restaurants and bars can be found in the area, making it the perfect place to enjoy a spot of lunch after a testing ride through the mountains. There are also regular markets held on both Tuesdays and Sundays that play host to sellers of all kinds of delicacies and trinkets.
Alcúdian bars also make some of the best Sangria in Mallorca, so why not take the opportunity to sit in one of the towns beautiful squares and give it a try whilst watching the world go by?
What is there for families to do?
Mallorca is more than traditional resorts and swimming pools, it has plenty on offer to keep the whole family entertained.
Near to the port of Alcúdia you can find the S’Albufera nature reserve which is one of the largest areas of wetlands in the Balearic Islands. The park is an essential stop for many birds migrating between Europe and Africa and is a mecca for keen birdwatchers hoping to spot one of its rarer visitors. You needn’t be a birdwatcher to enjoy the beautiful scenery and admire the many of species of bird that make this special place their home. It is a great spot for some quiet reflection whilst observing the gracefulness of the birds flying overhead.
One of the things that Mallorca is famed for is its impressive cave network. The most popular of these is the Cuevas del Drach that can be accessed by boat, giving travellers the chance to see the legendary lake Martel, considered to be one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world. The caves are also a famous music venue. If you ever get the opportunity to explore the caves, make sure you stay for the daily classical music performance as the acoustics inside are unparalleled. It is a truly spellbinding experience.
Given the Spanish influence in the Balearic Islands, the food in Mallorca is very similar to that which you would find on the mainland but with an ‘island twist’. One of the most popular dishes is the traditional paella, which is usually made with fresh seafood caught by local fishermen. This seafood ‘island twist’ is what makes Mallorcan paella distinct to its mainland cousin, which is traditionally made with meat.
Tapas is also a speciality in Mallorca. Consisting of everything you’d expect anywhere in Spain and washed down with a cool shot of limoncello, it really does make for a refreshing dinner. One of the best places to get some tapas is at the understated Café Coto in Palma. The café is found just off the main high street but is both tastier and cheaper than many of the more prominent restaurants.
The Palma marina also houses some of the best bars found anywhere in the world. The Bar Abaco is a testament to Mallorcan opulence and is often visited by the wealthy that like to moor their yachts in the marina. The Bar has a vast menu of drinks that are sure to keep you occupied all night long.
Cycling in Mallorca
Given its warm climate and testing terrain, it is hardly a surprise that so many cyclists flock to Mallorca every season. The island is one of the most commonly used destinations among professional cycling teams to host their annual pre-season training camps. The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range is a truly idyllic place to ride your bike, however, don’t get too comfortable as the climbs in the region are nothing short of brutal.
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In terms of racing, Mallorca is home to one of the most important early season tests in the cycling calendar, the Challenge Mallorca. This event is held annually, consisting of a series of one-day races that each test the riders in different ways. Despite each of the events holding equal importance to the race, the most prestigious title to take is the Trofeo Palma. Traditionally reserved for the sprinters, the race finishes in the Mallorcan capital and was won by Britain’s Ethan Vernon in 2023.
When should I visit Mallorca?
Like most of the places we have covered during this series, there is never a bad time to visit Mallorca. However, there are certain parts of the year that suit some more than others. The summer months can be unbearably hot for those that aren’t used to it, making it a far more expensive trip when it comes to buying drinks and ice creams. For this reason, it may be best to make the voyage to Mallorca in the months just before and after summer as the temperatures are more pleasant.
If you do want to visit the island in the summer, make sure you do so in July as the annual festival of St. Jaume consumes Mallorca for nine long days. The festival is best observed in Alcúdia where locals cover their homes and businesses in colourful decorations.
For a truly unique experience, you could visit Alcúdia during the triennial festival of Sant Crist. This celebration involves the entire town walking silently through the streets barefoot in a tradition dating back to the early 1500s. It may not be for everyone, but it is a chance for some peaceful contemplation.
If sun, sea, and cycling are your thing then Mallorca may be the place for your next long weekend in Europe. Whether you want to take your bike with you on a cycling adventure, or simply want to take a family getaway, make sure you take out cycle travel insurance with Yellow Jersey before making the trip.