When my friends, Julie Ann and Javier, told me they were getting married in Mallorca, Spain over July 4th weekend, my first thought was “Well, I’m going to need to take a second job to afford this trip” and my second was “This is going to be the trip of a lifetime.” I was correct on both counts.
I didn’t do much/any pre-travel planning (literally booked rooms the day of my flight), but you should learn from my mistakes. Below, I’ve got some tips for anyone considering a trip to this gorgeous, sunny Mediterranean island.
- Rent a car. This island was made for exploring. The roads are terrifyingly small, but every turn and crest of hill is more beautiful than the last. You won’t want to just be in one port or town. There’s too much to see.
- Stay in one of the island’s charming smaller port towns. We stayed in Porto Petro (photo from hotel balcony below), which I’d recommend, for a few nights. We also stayed in Cala D’or for a few nights, which was a little too touristy for my taste. (Read: Lots of drunk Brits singing karaoke until the wee hours of the morning.)
- Go beach hopping. There are so many gorgeous beaches. You’ll want to try a few. Our favorites were Cala Mondrago (part of a national park), Cala Mesquida (most beautiful wide white beach… and randomly filled with Germans), Cala Sa Nau (away from the crowds and surrounded by craggy cliffs).
- Explore the smaller towns and island’s sites. If you’re staying on the eastern side of the island (which you should) and in the mood for a hike, check out the wooded trails leading up to the Sant Salvador, a mountaintop 13th-century monastery offering panoramic views from its windy peak. Save a Wednesday or Saturday morning for the bustling food and artist market in Santanyi (have an idyllic lunch on the lemon-tree-filled patio of Restaurant Laudat). And just save time for stops along the way—seemingly every town has a sun-bleached old cathedral, charming city square, and inviting restaurants.
- There is so much good food it’s hard to pick favorites. But here are a few musts: Quince in Porto Cristo was the most charming waterside cafe ever. Seriously ever. Nicest owners. Best food. Beautiful views. Go for tapas (pic below). Get drinks at sunset at Blue Bar Chiringuito in Porto Colom. Then get dinner (ideally, seafood paella) at Club Nautic Restaurant just across the water.
- Spend at least one day/night in Palma. The island’s main city feels like a little sister to Barcelona. There’s plenty of shopping, historical sites, and beautiful narrow streets in its old town—without the overwhelming tourist crowds of Barcelona. Have a late dinner at the bright and airy El Tapas de Flanigan (Best ham croquettes we ate the whole trip. And we ate a lot.) and take a walk by the stunningly beautiful seaside cathedral at night. Our boutique hotel, Santa Clara Urban Hotel & Spa, was the perfect mix of historic charm with luxe modern amenities—and smack in the middle of the old quarter.
- If you want to splurge, spend a night at Hotel Cap Rocat where my friends got married. I did not. Because I’m not a millionaire. But it was AMAZING. It’s an old seaside fortress turned into a luxury hotel overlooking Palma. I really can’t stress enough how incredible it was. Go for drinks, dinner, a night (or ideally one of your favorite couple’s wedding).
- Final tips: 1) There are about 8 billion Airbnb options on the island. Book early in the summer time, because they fill up fast. And there are some really amazing villas you can get pretty cheap if you look. We used Hotel Tonight some and had success with that. (Sidenote: I love that app too much.) 2) The very popular bread, aioli, and olives appetizer sounds weird. Embrace it. It’s so good. 3) Bring copious amounts of high SPF sunscreen. The sun here is insane. And the sunscreen is overpriced. 4) They mine salt on the island. Stock up on that for souvenirs. You won’t regret it. 5) Order sangria every chance you get (this is really just life advice, not necessarily specific to this trip).