The name Majorca (also spelled Mallorca) often casts minds to beach resorts. The place also casts minds to crammed British and German tourists drinking through the day and partying at nightclubs when the sun goes down.
Why is Majorca so popular?
It is a Spanish island that thrives on tourism and one that attracts visitors. This thanks to budget airline flights and low-priced all-inclusive resort packages.
Yet, away from the resorts, buffet meals, and all you can drink deals, you will find an island teeming with beauty.
Majorca is the largest and best known of Spain’s Mediterranean situated at the Balearic Islands.
It is also home to the island chain’s capital, Palma, a gorgeous city on the south coast of Majorca. The capital received around 29 million visitors in 2018 with nearly all these tourists heading for the island’s resorts during the warm weather months.
However, Majorca is an island that can be enjoyed throughout the year thanks to the balmy winter conditions provided by its Mediterranean location.
But what if descending on a Spanish island getaway during the peak of tourist season isn’t your idea of fun?
Palma provides plenty of excitement once temperatures drop in the autumn and the resort crowds dry up.
Getting to Majorca, how I booked cheap flights
Looking for a pre-Christmas escape from the cold, grey weather of northwest England, Ryanair offered a low-priced getaway to Palma from Manchester.
Never venturing to one of Spain’s islands previously, my wife and I quickly booked three roundtrip tickets for £120 ($153) all in. Numerous budget airlines fly to the city throughout the year. A great deal can be found with some coming at unexpected times such as winter.
How I secured cheap lodging
As travel veterans, we learned long ago that booking an apartment rather than a hotel is a much easier way to live.
Our five-year-old son, who has traveled around the globe with us, has far more room to stretch out and play than in a hotel room. We can also cook meals and come and go as we please.
Moreover, as a freelance writer in need of working while traveling, I’m able to find plenty of space to work in the apartment.
Airbnb, like Uber, is not allowed to operate on Majorca due to laws governing the ownership and identities of guests. However, there are apartments that can be rented rather than home shares being offered at low prices.
A fantastic experience for the whole family
A winter city break to Palma not only offered the chance to escape the foul weather of England in winter, but it gave us the chance to see a new part of Spain.
Previously, we had traveled to Madrid, but Palma is far different.
Catalan is one of the two official languages and many Mallorquins consider themselves as Catalan, or Mallorquin, rather than Spanish.
While the architecture is very similar to the Spanish capital, the way of life in Palma is much different. Much of that is because the vast majority of Mallorquins make their living from tourism in some way.
Why Choose a Winter City Break?
While summer is the height of tourism on Majorca, winter offers the chance to see the gorgeous island and the capital city of Palma without the crowds.
Temperatures reach 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) during December and the days are filled with sunshine. During our stay, the mornings and evenings were chilly making jackets a part of our wardrobe. However, during the day, short-sleeved shirts were worn as we trekked across Palma to see its beautiful sights.
Discovering Palma de Majorca
There was never a queue to enter Palma’s beautiful 14th century Bellver Castle nor was Palma Cathedral packed with tourists as we toured it.
Restaurants and bars were far from crowded and many establishments had closed for remodeling during the cooler months.
The entire city had a relaxed feel and there was no hustle and bustle, the perfect atmosphere for a winter island city break.
The main attraction when visiting Palma is the sea. While it was too cold to swim in the Mediterranean in December, our centrally located apartment offered us the chance to reach Palma City Beach (Ca’n Pere Antoni) within a five-minute walk from our apartment.
The long stretch of beach runs horizontal to a walking and cycling path that fills up with people at the end of the day. It is a beautiful location for a run along the beach and I took advantage of it several times during our week-long stay.
Ca’n Pere Antoni wasn’t the prettiest beach, but due to it being winter, it was probably neglected due to a lack of tourists venturing to it.
Yet, it still provided a wonderful chance to sit on its sands and to take in the warm southern European sun. It also gave my son the chance to build a sandcastle and get his feet wet in the sea.
Exploring the City of Palma
Along with a fantastic walking and cycling path, there are restaurants and bars located along the Ca’n Pere Antoni. During summer, these establishments are packed with locals and tourists. We took advantage of eating at a pizzeria with prices similar to that in England.
There was never a time the prices in Palma seemed excessive and they rarely exceeded the price of items in England. In fact, our flights on Ryanair and apartment combined was comparable to us traveling to London and staying in a hotel.
Other than the beach and walking around the streets of Palma to take in the architecture and atmosphere, there are two must-see tourist sites.
Bellver Castle (Castell de Bellver)
The first is Bellver Castle, a 14th century castle that sits atop a mountain overlooking Palma Bay. The walk to the castle is just as breathtaking as the views from above and it is advisable to walk from the city center rather than taking the bus. Not only did my five-year-old son walk the two miles to the base of the mountain, but he climbed all the steps to the top where the castle sits.
Bellver Castle offers some of the best views of the city and is perfectly intact. You can even go to the very top of the castle to look out over the island.
It is a view of the castles that I have previously experienced rarely offer and one that is tremendously satisfying.
Bellver also has exhibits inside allowing you to learn about its rich history.
(Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca)
The second must-see tourist site is Palma Cathedral. It can be seen from the promenade and it was located about two hundred yards from our apartment.
Construction on the cathedral began in the 1200s and it is designed in the Catalan Gothic style.
It is an immense structure with ornate decoration on the inside. It is everything you would expect a Spanish cathedral to look like and more.
In the early 1900s, Antoni Gaudi did some restoration work on the cathedral. However, he quit after conflicts with the contractor who hired him.
One of the most noticeable things about the cathedral was the lack of English language signs and information.
However, that did not detract from the experience one bit.
Ending each day with tapas and beers at one of Palma’s outdoor eateries was one of the most perfect ways to finish the year. Even when the sun went down, it was possible to eat outdoors thanks to portable heaters being used by restaurants. Even McDonald’s had an outdoor space that was heavily frequented by diners.
Palma provided a perfect winter city break. While summer is the time that most people hit Majorca’s sandy shoreline, it is the winter that offers the most worthwhile experience.
You shouldn’t resist a winter city break in Palma to get away from the cold weather blues back home. It is definitely a trip worth taking.