With its sun-swept beaches, towering mountain ranges, and picturesque valleys, it's no wonder millions of visitors visit Mallorca each year to get a glimpse of the Island's diverse landscapes. However, the stunning vistas and glowing beaches aren't the only draw. The rich history of the Island is exemplified by the many Islamic artifacts, which continue to astound archeologists and visitors alike. The Island is separated into comarcas, otherwise known as counties or districts, which outline the Island into six different legislative areas. Each comarca brings its own local flavor and attraction for visitors and provides an easy way to navigate throughout the Island.
The name says it all. This comarca covers the central business district of the City of Palma de Mallorca and its surrounding areas including a cornucopia of bars, restaurants, hotels, and every other modern amenity you'd expect from a bustling city. Just under half the population of the Island call this southwest area of the Island home which features important historical landmarks such as La Seu and Bellver Castle , a former military prison in the 18th and 19th centuries. Tourism has definitely had its impact on the city with millions passing through the Son Sant Joan airport each year. As a result, the culture of the city has come alive. The Museum of Mallorca and The Contemporary Spanish Art Museum outline the early history of the Island as well as display works by important Spanish cultural figures and artists including Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró.
Sierra de Tramontana
Expanding over the vast north coast of the Island, this comarca covers the mountain range of the same name including the popular townships of Valldemossa (home of the House Museum J. Torrens Lladó ) and Pollença that are frequented by many British and European holidaymakers. Here, the undulating peaks and secluded beaches make this particular area of the Island popular with nature lovers and isolationists alike. Many walking paths are available for those who wish to see an alternative side of the Island. In the town of Soller (site of the annual Festa de Nostra Sanyora de la Victoria ), there is a paved track labeled "Pilgrims Way" that takes visitors up through a ravine and into the spectacular vista of Mirador de ses Barques. Should you desire less physical exertion, the beach at Puerto de Palma is an excellent choice to bathe and relax while you take in the slow pace of local life.
Running adjacent to Sierra de Tramontana from the towns of Marratxí to Sa Pobla is the district of Raiguer. Located near the center of the Island, most visitors flock to the town of Alcúdia where the largest resort in Europe, Bellvue, is located. Endless entertainment and cheap prices attract throngs of people looking for a good time. Drinking seems to be the pastime of choice here as thriving bars and pubs (such as Trotter's on the Beach ) greet guests along regular intervals of the beach and around every corner. The famed "Old Town" is also very popular, attracting crowds of people with its famed market every Tuesday and Sunday within its ancient walls. Much of "Old Town" is restricted to pedestrians who, as a result, have transformed many of the plazas and squares into cafe-dominated areas.
Pla de Mallorca
Much of this area of the Island is dedicated to agriculture, animal farming and crop cultivation being a major part of local life. With the tourist boom of the 1950's, however, many residents have taken advantage of the increasing employment opportunities in Palma. Consequently, much of the agricultural importance of the region is maintained by only a select few residents who wish to remain true to the original agrarian lifestyles of the area. Many visitors arrive in Petra in large numbers to tour the former convent of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the mission system in Northern California. Local festivals venerate the former friar which regard him has a national hero. Alaro Castle, dating back to the time of the Moors, also provides a major draw for tourists offering spectacular panoramas of the surrounding olive and almond groves as well as the adjacent museum.
Occupying the land southeast of Palma is Migjorn. Visitors to this part of the Island will be amazed at the gothic architecture of the San Salvador Monastery located in Felanitx, the birthplace of Spanish contemporary artist, Miquel Barcelo. Llucmajor is also a major stop-off point for visitors. Traditionally, it was a manufacturing town specializing in shoes, but today visitors can see the shoemakers' memorial as well as the tomb of King James III of Mallorca who is buried within the local parish church. Santanyí is another excellent spot for those wishing to sunbathe on one of the numerous beaches in the area and is an important location for the Island's archaeological finds.
Situated way in the northeast of the Island, from Manacor to Capdepera, is the comarca of Llevant. Many tourists to this part of the Island visit the marina of Manacor, one of the major attractions with its white stone and steep inclines. However, the more rugged adventurers regard the surrounding pine forest as the main draw. Much of this area is also cultivated, but Costa de los Pinos, with its golf courses and five-star hotels, is an important vacation destination for Spanish high society, providing much-needed revenue for the area.
Though small in size, Mallorca is teeming with restaurants, cafes, and other palatable eateries. You'll find that there's much more to Mallorca than its captivating beaches and clubs. Blending casual and sophisticated dining options, Mallorca's culinary style is a special one.
While in Mallorca's largest city and capital, Palma, you'll find yourself surrounded with top-notch restaurants. Perched high on a cliff, Restaurante Bens d'Avall serves tasty "Caramelized Foie Gras," "Truffle Boullion," "Mallorcan Guinea Fowl," and many more dishes that are sure to whet your appetite. If you're looking for a homey, Mallorcan experience, Restaurant Es Canyis is the place to be. Since the 1950s, this restaurant has been dishing out its well-crafted plates of "Fried Squids," "Carpaccio of Filet Beef," and other entrees all of which are made with fresh ingredients from the market. To get the ultimate Spanish market experience in its most traditional sense, an outing to Mercat Olivar ought to be on your itinerary. You can pick for yourself the freshest produce, meats, and cheeses while snacking on some cheap but authentic tapas from the vendors.
Aside from genuine Spanish restaurants, Palma is filled with international cuisines as well. Le Taj pleases its guests with its array of Indian dishes including a menu for vegetarians. This place offers more than just great food. With their 300-year-old doors imported from India and statues of Indian Gods, guests will get an experience far beyond the food. Craving Italian? Not to worry. At Rossinis Restaurant , you can satisfy your taste buds' desires for tasty pasta dishes or even "Garlic Mussels in Cheese Sauce." While in the hip, chic Virtual Club's restaurant called La Solana, you can try a variety of French and Mallorcan fusion dishes. Enjoy the upbeat, Mallorcan nightlife atmosphere in this fancy fusion restaurant. For a more casual atmosphere with a character all its own, try Crocodillo's . The crocodile themed restaurant serves Cajun style chicken, the popular "Crodillo's Special Skewe," and many more "crocodillo" inspired plates.
Plaza de Mallorca:
Boasting some of Mallorca's most trendy establishments, the Plaza de Mallorca area is a favorite location among locals and tourists. Interested in attaining both mental and physical well-being at one location? Be sure to drop by Puro Beach where you can get in touch with more than just your appetite by taking morning yoga and a dip in the pool all before a day's meal. Sink your teeth into entrees such as "Winter Monkfish," "Arabic Lamb," "Ostrich Flutter," and other purely appetizing dishes. At Restaurante Jardin , caters to the guests dietary needs by serving plates made with the freshest ingredients. Be sure to try their "Goat Cheese Gratin" or "Tartare of Salmon and Prawns" and prepare to be amazed.
Though the islands northern region, Raiguer, may not be as bustling as the popular Palma area, it is still home to some dining highlights. Trotters on the Beach is the perfect beach-goer's pit stop. Relax on their outdoor patio with a meal and a beer anytime of the day.