Majorca: The Larger One!
Majorca, spelt Mallorca in Spanish and Catalan, derives from the Latin word major and simply means "the larger one"... in relation to its fellow Balearic Islands, Minorca (literally "the smaller one"), Ibiza and Formentera. In fact this popular holiday destination is the biggest of the Balearics by far measuring 3,640 km square, making it over five times bigger than Minorca at 695 km square. That means there is plenty to discover to say the least.
A massive tourist destination since the 1950s, Majorca may conjure up mixed impressions for many, who might associate the island as little more than a sunny spot for young Brits to overindulge in sangria and get frisky at nightlife towns like Magaluf. That would be a bit like judging London by what goes on in Leicester Square on a Saturday night and not a fair representation of what the island has to offer at all - as it's many fans will attest to. This massive isle is home to breathtaking mountain ranges, gorgeous rocky bays, sandy beaches spectacular caves, picturesque towns and a vibrant capital to boot, Palma de Mallorca, with its magnificent Santa Maria Gothic Cathedral.
Above: The amazing waters around Cala Sant Vicenc
Beaches are usually the top priority of any holiday maker (particularly if they come from the more sun-deprived lands of Northern Europe!) and thankfully Mallorca has plenty. An editorial favourite is Platja Formentor, the very spot where Grace Kelly honeymooned in the 1950s, a sheltered bay with a long thin stretch of fine sand and shallow azure waters. A place well worth the hype, although space is at a premium - and sunbeds at the Hotel Formentor are €50 a day. Meanwhile the town of Cala Sant Vicenc has four of five beautiful bays, with a mix of sandy beaches and rocks where you can lay down a towel. One of the most beautiful and spacious beaches on the isle is at the pleasant resort town of Port d'Alcudia, where a huge sweep of white sand stretches for kilometers with warm shallow waters and amazing views across the water. More great Majorcan beaches here.
Spending all of your time on the sand would be a waste in Majorca, as there's so much to see, particularly the gorgeous villages in the Tramuntana mountain range. Some like Fornatlux seem completely untouched by time, whilst the Bohemian town of Deia has been a mecca for artists and hippies for years, its beauty immortalised by British poet Robert Graves. Hire a car or a scooter and prepare to wend your way through the mountains to discover these treasures... but allow plenty of time, the winding roads are slow going, especially with cyclists and tour buses to contend with.
On the mainland Palma de Mallorca, with its aforementioned cathedral - one of Europe's grandest edifices - is a must, but you'll enjoy the sleepy plazas and neighbourly vibes of picturesque towns like Pollensa and Alcudia in the North.
Finally Majorca is famous for its caves, the most impressive of which are probably the Coves del Drach (Dragon's Caves) in Porto Cristo. You follow a set route into vast caverns of stalactites and -mites and underground waterways, before finishing with a surreal concert next to a subterranean lake - and a chance to ride a boat on the lake as well. Touristy but fun.
Getting to Majorca
Flights to Majorca's Palma de Mallorca airport (PMI) are plentiful from the UK as well as from many major cities around Europe. The Spanish and Catalans love holidaying on the island as well, and connections from Barcelona are especially good, meaning you could easily combine a holiday in Majorca with a weekend break in the Catalan capital. Ryanair, Vueling and Iberia all make the journey, often several times a day. If you fancy taking the boat Balearia and Trasmediterranea both set sail regularly, but bear in mind journey time is around 8 hours and the cost is often more than flying.
If you've booked a holiday package no doubt hotel accommodation at one of the island's many resorts will be included in the deal, however if you are organising your vacation yourself then a great place to look is Travelopo, who have a massive range of villas available to book of all budget. They specialise in luxurious properties and there's a voyeuristic pleasure in browsing through the beautiful real estate on offer. Having said that, those on a lower budget will also find amazing deals. If you travel either side of July and August, with a group of friends, you can get a great villa for a week for just 100 GBP per head.