The well-loved Spanish Island, Majorca, basks in the Mediterranean Sun, just east of the mainland. Its name means “the larger one,” compared to Minorca, “the smaller one” next to it. Together, with tiny Formentera and Ibiza, (a watering hole for young merrymakers) they make up the four Balearic Islands.
Majorca’s sunny latitude, along with the calm sea lapping at its sandy shores, makes it far too luscious to leave it to the Spaniards. The Brits, Germans and Scandinavians regularly escape their grim skies and fly to their Majorcan second homes.
Beige stone houses with painted green shutters cluster together in small village-like settings all over Majorca. Some of the prettiest settlements like Valldemossa, Deia and Estellencs are perched along terraced hillsides with sweeping views of the azure sea. An excellent network of roads connects Palma the capital and the smaller hamlets through almond, olive and orange orchards. While goats crop the golf courses, we had donkeys trundle past us at the tennis courts. Nice place to grow up, Rafael Nadal. Endless spectacular vistas appear all over the island, but the most dramatic one, by far, is at Peninsula de Formentor in the far north, where a rocky precipice juts out into the sea.
Palma, Majorca’s capital, holds sway over a wide and deep harbour, and its attractions are many. While La Seu, the exquisite Cathedral, dominates the waterfront, and Palau March (a restored Renaissance style palace displaying a sculpture collection) and Es Baluard Museum (contemporary art gallery in a 16th century setting) have to be squeezed into your schedule, the natural pace of the town is relaxed. The Food Market is a great place to walk around, explore and stock up on excellent local produce. While I came home with olive, chilli and hibiscus-flavoured rock salt boxes by D’es Trenc, many other visitors toted ensaimadas, Majorcan coiled cakes packaged in hexagon-shaped boxes.
Palma’s retail outlets have upped the ante in the last few years. Carrer de Can Veri is the street to head for art galleries, Rialto Living has interesting fashion and home accessories and clothes buffs should head to Corner, Uep, Addict and Modernastro.
Best time to go: April to October. September is best, as you avoid the summer crowds and the sea is still warm.
How to get there: Majorca is well-connected with regular flights from most European cities and via ferry from Valencia.
Where to stay: Top end — Cap Rocat in Cala Blava, a newly-opened boutique hotel on the sea, 20 minutes from Palma.
Affordable style — Puro Hotel in the Palma City centre.
Eat at: Flanegans in Porto Portal, Simply Frosh in Palma, La Residencia hotel in Deia. Forn de Sant Joan has lovely tapas.