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2nd trip to Spain - Mallorca and Barcelona!

I've got to share a little excitement with my fellow travelers - after watching for the past few months, I found a decent airfare deal this morning to Spain and we are now booked to return for our second trip! We've never been to either Barcelona or Mallorca and I'm very excited to go and experience them.

My old RS Spain book dates back to 2015 - I just checked out the new 2020 and I see that neither of them cover Mallorca. What's everyone's favorite guide for planning time in Mallorca? We won't be there for partying - just want to explore the island and see it's beauty.

Posted by
4368 posts

Lonely Planet Mallorca is OK, a bit short on substance.
DK Top 10 of Mallorca is a handy small guide to the most popular sights and things to do.
https://www.abc-mallorca.com/ is a comprehensive site but can gloss over some places.
Mallorca isn't really an island for partying, Ibiza takes the claim for that and whilst places such as Magaluf and S'Arenal offer plenty of party atmosphere they're best left avoided.

Posted by
2575 posts

I am going to assume that you're not referring to its capital city, which should be referred to by its official name "Palma" but to the whole island, yes?

For a bit of background:

During the dictatorship of fascist general Franco, in areas of non-Spanish(Castillian) culture -ie Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Basque Country...- names for many cities and towns were changed and new names imposed -mostly those that were in local languages or/and referred to local, hence "non-Spanish", events, historical figures, etc.. That was thankfully reverted after the dictatorship officially ended in 1978 and since most names have returned to what they originally had been.

In the case at hand, the fascists imposed "Palma de Mallorca" as the name of the capital city of the Balearic Islands when its name, since ancient times, had been simply "Palma". In time -as the dictatorship lasted four decades!-, many started to shorten its name to just "Mallorca" but that often caused confusion as the name of the island the city is in is also called "Mallorca". So what were you referring to? the city or the island as a whole?

As said, after the demise of Franco, the name of the city reverted to Palma but lots of people, especially overseas, still refer to it as "Palma de Mallorca" or its shortened variation "Mallorca" so confusion and misunderstandings remain. Btw, for info: most locals don't like their city being referred to as Palma de Mallorca, they (rightfully) insist the name of the city is "Palma" and the name of the island is "Mallorca".

Having clarified this, I hope these links can be of help to you:

Enjoy!

Posted by
593 posts

JC, thanks for the tips.

Enric, I had no idea on the naming conventions. Yes, I'm talking about the island of Mallorca as a whole. I haven't researched it enough yet to know where we will want to base. Maybe Palma or maybe somewhere else. I need to decide how to split our nights. We will have 9 total - just a rough guess I'm thinking 4 in Mallorca and 5 in BCN but I'm not sure yet. We fly into Palma and out of BCN. Thank you very much for the links! I look forward to perusing them. :)

Posted by
4368 posts

Deciding on how to split your stay depends on what you want to see and do. Speaking the obvious, Barcelona is a city whereas Mallorca is a whole island of cities, towns and villages so there is more to see and do in Mallorca.

I'm not a fan of Barcelona, I'd spend my days in Palma over Barcelona at any opportunity however everyone has different opinions and for some Barcelona is their favourite city in the world.

The island is indeed beautiful and encompasses a whole variety of landscapes, from the Unesco protected Tramuntana mountains in the north, the rocky coves along the east with their incredible caves, past pretty little fishing ports, vast natural coastal wildflife havens, expansive sandy beaches with azure waters up to the busy resort areas around Palma and the millionaire yacht havens. Mallorca can be explored within a few days but you'll be barely scratching the surface.

I recommend renting a car to explore the island, it makes things so much easier but in doing so it makes basing yourself in Palma a bit of a pain as Palma is very congested and parking is difficult. I would look at somewhere like Andratx. Close enough to Palma but also within the mountains and easy to visit the villages there or to head south, past Palma and explore the flatter, drier southern towns and take a drive along the coastal route. I would spend more time in Mallorca and less in Barcelona however I'm certain that others will disagree.

Posted by
2575 posts

Speaking the obvious, Barcelona is a city whereas Mallorca is a whole island of cities, towns and villages so there is more to see and do in Mallorca.

While respecting JC's preferences, I'd like to point out that... Barcelona is "just" the capital city of Catalonia, a region the size of Maryland with 947 cities, towns and municipalities, many of them very worthwhile visiting. And distance-wise, the most remote from Barcelona are at merely three hours drive, but there are many other options at shorter distances from the capital city.

Furthermore, it's not only about cities and towns but also about forests, coves, cliffs, mountain ranges and valleys... and for that, you're in a perfect spot.

Just sayin'.

In case you want to have a look:

Enjoy!

Posted by
593 posts

JC, we've never been to Barcelona and I'm really excited to go. I work as an interior designer so my architecture related list is already a mile long. My gut feeling as I've put my list together is that we will have to make a return trip to Barcelona because I'm afraid if we try to cram it all into 4 or 5 days it will become one big blur of buildings and I don't want that. I'd rather hope to make a return trip in the future instead, so I'll have to narrow down my priorities and save ideas for the next trip. I'd like our time in Barcelona to have a good mix of sight-seeing, street-wandering, delicious eats and drinks, etc.

I haven't wrapped my head around our itinerary for Mallorca yet so I don't know our exact time allocation. I'm definitely interested in exploring the beautiful towns like Deia, Valldemossa, Soller, Fornalutx, etc. I'm also interested in Palma but not sure if we can fit it in this trip yet - not sure with our timeline if we can do both Palma and countryside. We can definitely rent a car but as you said it's not handy in Palma. It would be nice to explore some beaches, do some hiking, and explore some towns. If there are historical/ancient sites, those might make the list too. And I know this will easily fill our 3-4 days, just scratching the surface of what the island offers. I've been trying to figure out where to base - I'd ideally like to stay somewhere big enough where we have some good restaurant choices. I'm also tempted by the lovely places with pools, but definitely want a smaller place (not a large resort). There are a lot of options and I'm trying to wrap my head around geography and where we want to be.

Enric, I wish we had time to explore outside of Barcelona! Those links have some lovely destinations. I think we're going to focus our time just in Barcelona this trip as there is so much to see and do there. It's always this problem - too much to do and not enough time! :)