Being someone that has always felt at home in the Mediterranean I must admit having left quite a few stones untouched in countries other than Italy. Since I was small my family would take me there at least once a year over the summer. Later on it was just natural to explore other parts of Italy whenever in need for a getaway in the south of Europe. Now it was time for a change.
While scouting for our next short trip destination my girlfriend and I were set to look for a different spot under the sun. Since we could only stay for a week we wanted to have a calm, relaxing time and don’t spend a lot of money and time travelling to wherever it was that we were going. We were also set on renting a car to do day trips this time, so manageable distances were important too.
I think we could not have made a better choice than the stunning island of Mallorca.
Mallorca is rightfully famous for its beautiful coves and beaches with turquoise, crystal clear water and lush vegetation. But this is only one side of the island’s beauty. For once we skipped the beach time and drove to the island’s northern mountains and valleys.
First stop was Deià, a small, historic town sitting within a dense forest of pine, olive, cypress and the occasional palm trees. We arrived at early midday and were greeted by some stunning road side views of the dramatic valley. Driving up the narrow winding streets while passing small towns, farms and olive groves you just want to stop at every corner to take in the views. The only thing that keeps you from exactly that are the other cars behind you and the missing of any space for parking. Maybe opting for a scooter next time so we can sneak into some tiny side entry.
Deià itself is as tiny as you would expect of a town with only 700 inhabitants but with the sun rising above us we did not mind and managed to see a lot of the beautiful historic streets and architecture in a short time.
There was barely a moment when we saw other tourists around and even the bars and restaurants along the main road were very calm. This made for a great atmosphere and we could enjoy every little corner, stop for photos and take in the beautiful landscape.
The architecture of Deià and the region in general is absolutely intriguing. Every building is unique and fitting for its position or purpose. Walking the streets it is hard miss all the history and evolution of space that formed this town.
With so many steep roads and backyard gardens, flowers feel right at home in Deià and make for some very dreamy scenes. Look for the shadowy, fresher areas and you will be surprised how much colour can be found in such a sun struck place.
After a long stroll around we left the interior of Deià and headed out for lunch. There are many great restaurants and bistros close by the city centre but we had planned something special. A small drive away, and just before entering Deià, lies the gorgeous Hotel Es Molì. Tucked into the hill it overlooks the whole valley and boasts some of the dreamiest gardens I have ever seen.
Small, shadowy footpaths lead you through lush, soothing gardens. Scents of mint and flowers brush by you with every breeze while you walk up to the pool and restaurant area. The actual lunch beside the pool was nothing short but delicious.
I went for a fresh, grilled squid and Mediterranean vegetables, sprinkled with sea salt flakes and drops of lemon. My girlfriend had an avocado salad with grilled scampi. It was incredible. I tell you; we were in heaven.
Back on the road we headed for another, famous city of the region: Valldemossa.
It is great to see a few towns and places within the same area as they can be very close yet absolutely different.
Being the bigger town of both Valldemossa boasts a vivid street life and many artisan shops where you find baskets, clothing and souvenirs from the region. In contrast, we found Deià to be the calmer, less populated city where you had many streets to yourself and felt very emerged into the Majorcan mood. On the other hand, there weren’t as many shops and cafés spread around the town.
Despite its larger size Valldemossa feels very intimate and dreamy as well. As soon as you leave the tourist beaten routes and main roads you find yourself in another, beautiful world again. In the beginning, we almost felt lost in the maze of narrow streets but after a while you start to navigate quite easily.
Make sure to stop occasionally and take in all the detail around you.
The historic houses, the small entry ways that are taken over by potted plants and the wonderfully muted palette of colours everywhere.
Besides architecture and tiny streets Valldemossa boasts many delicious, culinary treats. One of the most famous and popular is the regional almond sorbet. It is unbelievable how creamy and flavourful this sorbet is even though no milk or cream went into its making. All just pure, delicious almond nuts. The orange and citrus sorbets are also worth trying. It does not get more natural and fruity than that.
Right next to the main square, behind the monastery “La Cartuja” lies a small but beautiful Mediterranean garden. In need for some shadow we took a stroll and enjoyed our sorbet among roses and pine trees. If you are looking for some relaxation and rest for your tired feet, there is no better fix than a bench surrounded by tall vegetation. At least that is what brought us back to life.
As the sun was getting low we called it a day and made our way home across the island and back to the South-East. Being in a place such as Mallorca we obviously didn’t want to limit our time to explore the interior of the island only. After all there is an abundance of beaches and coves with crystal clear, blue waters that should not be missed.
Right around our hotel in the small fishery town of Portocolom the area offers many great spots for a dip in the fresh blue. With most of them lining up cove after cove making up your mind of which to choose usually really is the hardest part of your days here.
Our first proper stop for a beach day was at the highly praised Cala D`Or. And how rightful so. When you walk down and catch a first glimpse of the sparkling ocean and the lush, green vegetation you know you are in for a treat. We were lucky enough to arrive early in the day when the sun was still rising and the beach was just getting fuller with other travellers arriving.
Although the beach itself is soft and sandy, the rocky surroundings make for some great jumps in the deep water. Every villa and house that is around here has their own access to the bay and a ladder right to the water. And because they are not on private ground everyone is free to use these fun spots.
Cala D`Or was an early highlight of our trip and really is a stunning location. Although the beach is quite small it did not feel overcrowded. We would come back here for another time and a quick dip in the ocean but because of the variety and number in beaches on this island we might end up elsewhere next time.
Also, if you are looking to stay a whole day at the beach there might be better places with better lunch options right at the sea. More of that coming up later.
When midday was slowly approaching, we realised we had absolutely no plans for lunch. At the end of each day we usually put together a detailed itinerary for the upcoming day with a few options of activities and restaurants available.
This way you’ll never have to walk around in the sun, hungry and scrolling your way through endless recommendation lists on your smartphone. And should one place be full or closed (this happened a few times to us) you have an alternative already figured out. Not for this day though. I guess we were just too trusting in our potential luck of just stumbling across a great bistro somewhere.
One of the perks of having a car on an island like Mallorca is to be flexible and independent. It only took us a short drive from Cala D’Or and we were back in Porto Colom, our home base and lovely town. I’ll cover it in the upcoming second part as this is already getting long.
Although Porto Colom isn’t unknown to the travelling community it still feels quite authentic and untouched by major tourism which you might find elsewhere on Mallorca. Why this is remains a mystery, but we were sure happy about it. The area around the town boasts many beautiful coves, beaches and even rocky caves that can be reached only by boat. Timing is everything and if you manage to get out early you will have a place almost for yourself. This is a different story for midday though. Although being a relatively quiet part of the island the small beaches, bars and restaurants reach their peak during lunch time.
When we arrived at the two coves of Cala S’Arenal to have lunch at the local beach restaurant this became obvious to us. Side note: this beach is not to be confused with the mass tourist hot spot on the west coast of the island that is horrible and should be avoided at all costs.
When we were turned down by our first choice right at the beach because we didn’t have a reservation we had to rethink quickly. We had already started the car to drive back into the town when my girlfriend remembered another restaurant that we had passed earlier. A short walk away and tucked in a forest of pine trees we found just what we were looking for all along. We were lucky enough to get one of the last free tables overlooking the bay and could finally relax.
Right next to the restaurant lies a small, separate beach coming out of the pine forest. Rocky cliffs and small foot paths surround the bay and its rich, blue water. With very little space available, most people lie under the trees or make themselves cosy on one of the plateaus in the rock. It is quite the relaxing atmosphere.
This trip was quite the experience and there is just too much to tell and show at one time in the quality that is just to the places we went. With all the photos to go through I shot I feel this could be enough for several Mallorca-series.
I hope you have enjoyed this first, little journey already. I am very excited for the next one that will take us up the northern coast on an adventure of crazy windy serpentines and up one of the longest stairways you have seen. Make sure to follow up on part II that should be out soon.
Until then you can check out my Instagram for more pictures and updates!