Hello everyone I'd be grateful for your suggestions. My wife and I are from Los Angeles and are visiting Spain for the 1st time in March 2020. We've booked 4 nights in Barcelona, then 4 nights in Valencia for the Las Fallas festival. We have another 3 nights available - am considering either Madrid or Mallorca. At first thought, Madrid is a no brainer, but since we'll have spent 8 nights in city settings, I wondered if Mallorca would be a good change of pace. We're not big on museums and "official buildings," we prefer walking and bicycling and cafes and living "like the locals." With that in mind, I'd love to hear some thoughts from people who've visited both destinations. Thank you in advance for your recommendations!
Depends on what you want. I loved Mallorca, we spent 3 days in Palma. Lots to see and it is beautiful. Relaxing
Madrid is great also.. besides museums, you can walk all over the place, enjoy the markets, parks
I've never been to Madrid so my opinion is one sided. It's a place that has never attracted me and the general consensus from most people is that its main attraction is art museums.
I've been visiting Mallorca for over a decade and love the island. Palma is my favourtie Spanish city and is a great place to base yourself whilst exploring the island. You won't be able to cover a fraction of what the island has to offer, particularly without a car (which I wouldn't recommend in Palma as parking is difficult and expensive).
Don't concentrate on this idea of "living like the locals" as that means going to work, coming home to do the household chores, have dinner at home and collapse in front of the TV. By all means you can enjoy the markets, restaurants etc alongside the locals but you'll also be alongside fellow tourists, nothing different separates the two and both sets of people experience the same thing so just live like a tourist as that is what you are. I visit a particular restaurant every time I'm in Mallorca as it's close to where I stay, the food is good, the kids like it there and the owners are very friendly. Of course they know us well by now and one could argue that we're almost treated like locals but I would disagree. We're treated no differently to when we first visited, except this time they know our names and they know the kids will opt for the albondigas, the reception has always been good but we're still tourists at the end of the day and it makes no difference to our experience.
Have you purchased your airline tickets yet? If so are they both in and out of Barcelona or into Barcelona and out of Madrid? That would pretty much dictate my general planning. If you have tickets in and out of Barcelona then I suggest saving Madrid for a future trip. I like Madrid, have been there maybe six times or more and don't hold the opinion that it is primarily a museum destination. However, Madrid makes a great base for daytrips and a jump off point towards Andalucia, Extremadura, Galicia or elsewhere and it might be wise to save Madrid and other areas for a future trip when you can dedicate more time.
Mallorca is very pretty. Palma is a lovely big city and with three days you could do a daytrip to the countryside. We took a bus to Valdemossa and enjoyed that very much. Another option (and this is what I would choose because I too like to combine bigger and smaller places, — in fact the smaller lesser known places have now become my favorites) would be Barcelona, Valencia and Teruel. Teruel is a lovely town and UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its Mudéjar architecture (Moorish influence). Learn the story of the lovers of Teruel. This to me would a great town to explore, since you are looking for a change of pace from the big cities.
March is typically not the best time to visit Mallorca, I'd stay on the mainland in some smaller town or another, to break up your coastal big city visits, and see some of the charms of inland Spain. Teruel, Cuenca, or even Toledo could do the trick.
Or... for a really off-the-beaten path "live like a local" type of destination, you could try spending those nights in the Matarraña region, just north of Valencia, in Aragon. It's been nicknamed Spain's "hidden Tuscany", I doubt many foreigners know it even exists ;-)
I really like Teruel, and this is a good opportunity to see it. By public transportation it's approachable only from Valencia or Zaragoza. Since you're already planning to see Valencia, now's a good time. Keep in mind, though, that Teruel is equally challenging to get away from. If you're flying home from Barcelona, you'll need to travel to Zaragoza (another interesting city but much more on the tourist path than the basically unknown Teruel) and change to a Barcelona-bound AVE. Total travel time will be 4-1/2 to 5 hours, and there are only four departures a day. Alternatively, you might choose to head out early from Teruel and spend some time in Zaragoza before going on to Barcelona. The first train is at 6:25 AM; the next one isn't until 12:02 PM.
Teruel's inland and at altitude (about 3000 feet), so it will be somewhat cooler than Barcelona and Valencia. I've linked to the city's Wikipedia page, which has a weather-summary chart. Note that the averages are based on a period ending in 2010; things may have changed quite a bit since then.