The biggest Island in Spain, Mallorca, is a popular holiday destination. It is known for its beautiful capital Palma, and its numerous sandy beaches. The vast majority of tourists come here for the beach and never-ending parties. Though the beaches are nice, and I can’t complain about the parties, Mallorca is so much more. The Serra de Tramuntana Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is just a step away from Palma de Mallorca, yet remain somewhat undiscovered. In fact, if you visit Mallorca in winter (or early spring and late fall), this is exactly where you should go. There are several beautiful historic towns, splendid treks through nature, and gorgeous views galore. We believe our Mallorca itinerary shows the best of each!
- 0.1 Why Visit Mallorca in Winter
- 0.2 How to Choose Your Mallorca Itinerary
- 0.3 Traveling Between Palma de Mallorca and the Tramuntana Mountains
- 1 Palma de Mallorca
- 2 Valldemossa
- 3 Deià
- 4 Port de Sóller
- 5 Sóller
- 6 The Mediterranean in Winter Rocks!
Why Visit Mallorca in Winter
Mallorca boasts splendid weather year-round with mild winters perfect for sightseeing. Average temperatures in winter range from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius, and it’s pretty sunny. Tourism in Mallorca is markedly seasonal: of 12 million tourists in 2018, only 5% visited in January, February, and December. There are virtually no crowds, yet there are enough interesting places to visit. Finally, traveling to Mallorca in winter can be up to 50% cheaper than in summer. Plane tickets are really affordable, and there are top-class hotels for less than 100 euros. Our return ticket from Barcelona was only 20 euros. Unbelievable!
How to Choose Your Mallorca Itinerary
It’s not difficult to choose the best Mallorca itinerary. Charming villages and towns pepper the island’s only World Heritage Site Serra de Tramuntana, a beautiful mountain range. The whole mountain range is a protected important nature reserve, including numerous plant and animal species. Valldemossa, Deià, and Sóller are its nicest towns. Those visiting the Tramuntana Mountains in summer will be delighted by its secluded beaches. If you visit Mallorca in winter, the beach town of Port de Sóller is a better option. Finally, you can’t leave Mallorca without visiting its gorgeous capital, Palma.
Traveling Between Palma de Mallorca and the Tramuntana Mountains
Mallorca has a pretty developed public transport system with buses, trains, and metro in the capital. There is a bus line that connects Palma de Mallorca with the most important towns along the Tramuntana Mountains. We went first to Valldemossa, then continued to Deià, and ended up in Port de Sóller. From there, we took an old tram to the town of Sóller. We enjoyed its unique design and wonderful views. From Sóller to Palma we took a historical wooden train, in operation for more than 100 years. Again we loved its unique interior and the breathtaking views from the windows. It was like stepping back in time! You can also take an organized tour to Serra de Tramuntana.
Palma de Mallorca
Elegant Palma de Mallorca is the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. In spite of its medium size (home to half a million people), it is surprisingly cosmopolitan. Different historical rulers created its rich and varied heritage and influenced its open mentality. Palma’s most interesting area is the Old Town, a network of narrow curvy streets and historic architecture. To the west, we find one of the city’s most atmospheric areas, Santa Catalina. Once a fishermen neighborhood, today it’s a place booming with life. The city’s only urban beach is to the southeast of the Old Town.
What to Visit in Palma
Spend most of your time exploring Palma’s quirky Old Town. Its epicenter is the monumental Plaça Major, a typical Spanish square with an elegant building with arcades all around. The main historic sites are southwest of the square, towards the sea. The most imposing one is the Gothic Cathedral of Palma. Together with the Cathedral Museum and the Almudaina Palace they are the most important historic compound on the island. Though Palma was under Arab rule for over 300 years, the Banys Àrabs is the only structure from those times still standing. Another historic building you should not miss is the 14th century Bellver Castle. On your way there, you’ll pass by the fabulous Contemporary Art Museum Es Baluard and the Old Mills of El Jonquet.
Where to Stay
In Palma you have two options: either to stay in the historic center or to stay at the beach, southeast of the city. If you have time, we recommend both options. Close to the intercity bus and train stations, on the edge of the Old Town, the Som Ars Magna Bleisure Hotel is a great base for exploring Mallorca. This classic hotel offers comfortable rooms and a rooftop swimming pool. If you want to splurge a little, we recommend staying at the fabulous Hotel Basilica. Housed in an 18th century manor house in the middle of the Old Town, it offers a slick design and discreet views. If you want to stay on the beach, we dearly recommend the Aparthotel Fontanellas Playa. We stayed there for a couple of days and loved everything about it. Ask for a sea view room on the upper floors and you’ll be in heaven.
Arguably the nicest town in Mallorca, Valldemossa is a fabulous destination. Set amongst the lush greenery of the Tramuntana Mountains, it booms with beautiful architecture and nice tailored parks. From a distance, it looks like a fairy tale town; up close, it’s even more beautiful! Many important historical figures used to live here, including the Argentinean writer Borges, Polish composer Chopin, and French writer Sand. The author of the first major book in Catalan, Ramon Llull, also lived in the area. Today, it is just a tiny settlement of fewer than 2000 people. Though it’s a popular tourist destination, it can be pretty empty in winter, just like the rest of Mallorca.
What to Visit in Valldemossa
The town’s most important landmark is the Valldemossa Charterhouse. King James II built it at the beginning of the 14th century for his son Sancho as a royal residence. The complex consists of the Royal Palace, the Cartoixa Church, the Municipal Museum, the Town Hall, and the Jardins Rei Joan Carles Garden. The other highlight you mustn’t skip is the 13th century Sant Bartomeu Church. Mallorca’s only Saint, Catalina Thomàs, comes from Valldemossa. You can visit her native house and the adjacent small chapel. Once done with the sites, take a walk along the local roads and enjoy the views. In the afternoon, you can watch the town entering into a shadow as the sun moves behind the mountains. I know, it’s the planet moving, and the sun provides for killer sunsets.
Where to Stay
As mentioned above, Valldemossa is a small town, yet pretty touristic. Thus, it has a decent selection of hotels and guesthouses. Our favorite is Hotel Sa Vall, just outside of town. Housed in a historic manor house, it boasts an outdoor swimming pool and large garden. Most of the rooms offer nice views, and some even a private terrace or patio. If you want to stay in the middle of town, the Marton Hotel Valldemossa is a great option. On the other hand, if you rather sleep in nature, stay at the chic Agroturismo Son Viscos, just 15 minutes on foot from the town. The hotel is along a garden with old Moorish mills.
The smallest place on our list is barely a village of some 600 people. Deià is practically a bunch of ochre stone houses with olive and orange groves all around. Unlike Valldemossa, which is on the slopes of the Tramuntana Mountains, Deià is perched high on the top. In fact, its location is so spectacular, that its dramatic views will impress even the most demanding. Deià is all about nature. Thus, the starting point of several hiking trails. A couple of secluded beaches, right under the village, complete the feast. Again, many important people settled here in search of inspiration. The English poet and novelist Robert Graves lived here most of his life.
What to Visit in Deià
There aren’t many important sites in the village. In the very center, next to the lookout, there is a small church, Sant Joan Baptista. At the northern edge of the village, we find the House of Robert Graves. It’s now the Ca n’Alluny museum open to the public. It has the original furniture from the 30s, a small auditorium, and a garden. Another interesting house turned into a museum is the Son Marroig estate, a few kilometers away from the village. In the late 19th century, the member of the Austrian nobility Archduke Luis Salvador came to make an encyclopedia about Mallorca. Since he fell in love with Deià, he stayed in the estate. Finally, don’t leave Deià without stopping for a drink at the legendary Café Sa Fonda.
Where to Stay
Deià is home to some of Mallorca’s most spectacular hotels. The only problem is that they close in December, January, and February. So if you are visiting Mallorca in late fall or early winter, stay in Valldemosa or Sóller. If you are visiting from March till early November, we recommend staying at Sa Pedrissa. Located steps away from the village, it’s a 17th century villa that belonged to the Archduke. We loved its elegant decoration, personalized service, open-air pool, and unbelievable views from the garden. Thank you! Another place closed in winter is the renowned Belmond La Residencia. This luxury hotel offers first-class accommodation with 2 outdoor pools, a sublime spa center, and a gorgeous garden.
Port de Sóller
The bus route through the Serra de Tramuntana ends at the village of Port de Sóller. As its name suggests, it is the port of the town of Sóller. Though the place looks rather small, it is the largest port in western Mallorca. Marine excursions and trips begin here. The port of Sóller came into prominence as a trading port for local products such as lemons and oranges. The port sits at the end of a small natural bay protected by hills and mountains. Next to the port, there is a marina and a long sandy beach. The seafront promenade goes all along the coast.
What to Visit in Port de Sóller
One of the area’s main attractions is the historic tram that connects Port de Sóller with the town of Sóller. The historic tram goes through the urban area, between fields, and along the beach. The village’s main draw is the beach. We loved walking on its clear sand in winter, with only a couple of tourists around. We even saw a rabbit happily roaming around. When it comes to architectural landmarks, the most important one is the Torre Picada, close to the village. Built in the 16th century, it was part of a bigger defense system against pirates. Another place worth visiting is the Museu de la Mar, a small maritime museum. The views from the square in front are breathtaking.
Where to Stay in Port de Sóller
There are several nice hotels in Port de Sóller, but again most don’t open during winter. Nevertheless, some do for certain periods, so please check availability. We stayed at the lovely Miramar on the seaside promenade. Our tastefully decorated room overlooked the sea and the mountains. The friendly staff gave us an insight into life in Mallorca in winter. If you want to splurge a little, then Hotel Esplendido is for you. Located along the seaside promenade, it offers amazing views and first-class accommodation, including a spa. If you have a thing for historic buildings, stay at the Hotel Es Port, a 17thcentury fortified mansion. You’ll love it!
Our last stop on this Mallorca itinerary is the pretty city of Sóller. With a population of 14000 people, it is the only real city on the Tramuntana Mountains range. The epicenter is the charming Plaça de sa Constitució, in the rather small Old Town. Among several narrow streets, the pedestrian Sa Lluna is the city’s main artery. Shops and restaurants line the street. The historic tram passes next to the square and ends in front of the train station. The whole city has a magical atmosphere. Lovely trees cover most of the streets and squares, and impressive mountains surround it all. Take your time, as the city breathes slowly.
What to Visit in Sóller
Sóller has a plethora of interesting places to visit. Due to its size, they are not far from each other. The city’s main landmark is the 14th century Saint Bartholomew Church, which towers above the main square. The original structure is from the 13th century, but the interior is largely Baroque and the façade Art Nouveau (Gaudi’s follower Joan Runió designed it). Among the several interesting museums, we recommend the renowned Can Prunera, which exhibits works of Picasso, Miró, and other famous artists. For an insight into Mallorca’s botany, geology, and zoology head over to the Natural Science Museum and the Botanical Garden of Sóller.
Where to Stay
Since most hotels in Sóller open year-round, you can base yourself here. The city’s most famous hotel is the Gran Hotel Soller, a 19th century neo-gothic palace. It’s all about old-time charm and modern-day amenities. They have a nice garden, an indoor spa, and an open-air swimming pool. Unfortunately, it closes from early December till late February. Other great hotels in Sóller do open the whole year. Hotel la Vila and Soller Plaza are two fantastic options on the main square. Hotel El Guía, on the other hand, is in front of the train station. All three offer comfortable rooms and first-class service.
The Mediterranean in Winter Rocks!
Every year, from November till April, we go on trips around the Mediterranean. We live in between Barcelona and Athens, so we know first-hand how crowded and hot summers can get! In all honesty, we are not beach rats. Spending all day long under the sun surrounded by people is not our thing. If you’ve been to Santorini or Malta in summer, just imagine them in autumn and winter. The sun shines, and there is no one! Picture Sicily, Naples, and Nice in fall and winter. You get lovely weather and loads of space. Plus, locals are relaxed and happy! I almost forgot! We went to the Azores Islands in Portugal in winter and couldn’t believe our eyes!