Foolproof recipe for the most rejuvenating vacation ever: crystal-clear turquoise water, white sand beaches, palm trees gently swaying in the Balearic breeze, and sangria that flows as plentiful as water. Mallorca is an island just off the eastern coast of Spain and only an hour and 45-minute flight from Munich. It’s a surprisingly short trip to get somewhere that feels like an entirely different world.
Traveling Europe is everything we dreamed it would be, but also more tiring that we ever imagined. Our excursions are usually limited to 4 days at a time because of work and training schedules. It’s usually enough time to see the major attractions of a city, but not without careful planning and strong hustle. So, this time, we agreed to do less. The goal was to slow down, rest, and de-stress.
Back in February, I found a great package deal through L’Tur that included a round-trip flight, transfer to the airport, hotel, and a half-board meal plan. The ticket also included a Deutsche Bahn (DB) train voucher to and from the airport, but we ended up driving because the flight was so early in the morning. It was a deal that almost seemed to good to be true, so I looked into the legitimacy of this site for a few days before pulling the trigger (always trust your gut with these things, people). During that 2-month wait up until the vacation, I was still a little nervous about it, but everything turned out fine. The vacation package was legit, and 250% worth it.
We arrived in Palma de Mallorca and found the check-in booth for our transfer without any issues. The Alouasoul hotel was located in the Can Pastilla area, just 10 minutes from the airport. It was only 9 am when we arrived to check-in, so we dropped off the bags in the luggage room, asked for a map of the area, and set out to explore.
Although the hotel was just steps from the water, it didn’t have its own beach–just rocky areas where you could walk around, but not necessarily lay out or swim. I don’t think it took away from the experience though, because there were nice beaches within a 10 minute walk. The hotel was situated next to a large park, with some nice scenic overlooks and a pedestrian walkway/bike path. Looking north, we could see all the way to Palma which was 5-6 miles away.
The weather wasn’t great that morning, and it looked like it was on the verge of rain. We really wanted to see the Palma aquarium during our trip, so that morning seemed like the best time. It was a 20-minute walk south and extremely easy to find, as are most things here because they’re situated right on the coast. It was a pricey (€25 pp) but impressive aquarium. The large indoor tanks have big soft cushions on the floor, so it was fun to plop down and get lost in an underwater world for a while. There’s also a nice outdoor section with a waterfall and tropical plants, and a cafe where we enjoyed an espresso and a piece of cake.
The weather cleared up tremendously, and we stopped for lunch at a little oceanfront restaurant and enjoyed some sangria and roasted cuttlefish. Once our stomachs were satisfied we checked out the awesome view from our 5th-floor hotel room balcony. I think I kept repeating, “Are you kidding me? ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?”
We didn’t do a whole lot the rest of the day other than relax around the hotel. The outdoor patio was very nice and I lounged around and napped while Lee went swimming in the pool (salt water–not chlorine!). Although the weather was 70 and sunny, the water was freezing so everyone stared at him with their mouths agape.
After eating breakfast, we packed a bag and rented a couple bikes from the front desk. We rode south without any particular plan in mind other than finding some beaches. This was a great bike ride, because it gave us the chance to explore all the areas south of Palma. From what we could tell, the main bike path runs along the coast from Palma to a just south of El Arenal–around 12 miles altogether. It’s clearly marked and is separate from the road for the most part. Around the El Arenal area, the bike path shares the road with cars, but it’s a small brick road and there isn’t much traffic anyway. Most everyone prefers bikes around here.
For 90% of the bike ride, there were long stretches of white sandy beaches on our right-hand side and restaurants on our left. Every restaurant along the coast has outdoor seating with a direct view of the ocean.
Once we got past El Arenal, the path became more secluded as it ran next to an upscale residential neighborhood. Gone were the sandy beaches and suddenly we found ourselves on top of rocky cliffs overlooking the most pristine blue water.
The further south we rode, the better the views got.
When the bike path ends, you can still keep riding south through the residential neighborhoods. There are signs indicating pathways that lead down to small beaches. We found a path in the neighborhood between Son Veri Nou and Cala Blava that led down to a set of stairs. At the end of the path was a beautiful secluded horseshoe-shaped beach with shallow clear water.
We went swimming, despite the water being ice-cold (you can’t go to Mallorca and not swim), and then laid out in the sun for a while before heading back towards town. We stopped and ate lunch in El Arenal, and the food was incredible. I’ve never eaten as much seafood in my life as I ate while in Mallorca. Every meal was delicious–from our 4-star hotel to small seaside shacks boasting home-made paellas heaping with freshly-caught shellfish.
After lunch, we walked across the street to the beach and spent the rest of the afternoon baking in the sun. I imagine these beaches get pretty crowded during the summer, but in early April there’s scarcely anyone there. And, no one was swimming. As far as I’m concerned, we had the beach to ourselves!
Later on at the hotel, we enjoyed some more seafood at the dinner buffet, took a walk along the rocky shore collecting sea glass, and returned to our room to admire the sunset from our balcony.
After fueling up with fresh fruit, espresso, and “Mallorcan bread” from the breakfast buffet, we plopped our sore asses back on our bikes and pedaled 6 miles north to Palma. The Catedral de Mallorca can clearly be seen looming in the distance. It’s huge!
As long as you’re on the bike path, you literally can’t get lost on your way to the cathedral. One of the reasons I loved this trip so much is because we never had to use the GPS on our phones to navigate somewhere. If you’re traveling via the bike path, you have two options: North, or South. That’s it.
The Catedral de Mallorca (“La Seu”) is situated just off the coast, with a large pond and fountain out front. It cost us €7 each to get in, but the entry also includes the small museum just outside the main chapel.
The inside of the cathedral is breathtaking. The architecture is cold and Gothic, but is bathed in warm light from glowing candles and multi-colored stained glass windows.
The most remarkable thing about the cathedral was how the light from the stained glass windows creates rainbows all over the interior of the chapel.
After admiring the cathedral, we walked inland a bit through the narrow winding streets of Palma. It’s a colorful and lively town with delicious smells, unique buildings, and friendly people. There is no shortage of flower or produce stands, or little cafes to stop for an espresso and some sweet indulgences.
Around lunch time, we rode south back towards our hotel and stopped for some sangria with an ocean-front view, as always. Along the way, we stopped to watch a sailing class and interesting people along the bike path. We got a lot of amusement from a guy who was rollerblade-dancing while pushing a stroller. He was seriously killing it.
Enjoying our final sunset that night was bittersweet. At least we had a bottle of delicious Mallorcan wine to make it a little easier.
For the final few hours before the dreaded ride back to the airport, we just sat out on the rocky beaches by the hotel. It’s hard to imagine a place more relaxing than this.
As soon as we landed in Munich I told Lee I was already thinking of a trip back here. There are some places I don’t have a strong urge to re-visit; they’re a “visit-once-to-get-the-experience” places, and that’s fine. But as for Mallorca, it’s calling my name.