A guide to Mallorca’s hidden gems

Mallorca is a diamond of the Balearic Islands, shining bright with an irresistible classic charm and cosmopolitan flair. Luscious UNESCO hills, crystal-clear coves, rural wine estates, a rich combination of cultures – these are just a few things you can expect from this magnificent Spanish isle. Head far from the madding crowd and you’ll find hidden gems bursting at the seams, from breathtaking mountain trails and national parks to postcard-pretty villages and untouched beaches, all just waiting to be discovered. Uncover the under-the-radar treasures of the ‘star of the Mediterranean’ with our guide before its best kept secrets get out…

Mirador Es Colomer near Cap de Formentor, Mallorca, Balearic Islands. Image: iStock/Niklebedev51

Best for: beautiful beaches

Calo Des Marmols

Calo Des Marmols sits in all its gorgeous, tranquil glory near the southern tip of the island. The pale blue waters are so clear they’re almost transparent and the sand is whiter than white, but the true beauty is that visitors to this paradise are few and far between thanks to its remote location deep within the bay. If the beach’s beauty doesn’t lure you in, the peace and quiet are sure to do the trick.

Cala Deia

This rugged little cove is a majestic hideaway close to the quaint village of Deia, sitting pretty between Soller and Valldemossa. A trickling river and citrus trees line the path down to this rocky beach, which is surrounded by idyllic mountain scenery. The clear green-blue waters invite you in for a cooling dip, while the charming stone fishing huts set the scene for a truly picturesque setting.

Calo des Moro

Sitting in the southeast corner of Mallorca, flanked by rocky cliffs clad with pine trees, this unspoiled protected cove is a dream come true. A small, steep path will lead you down to soft white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters – ideal for taking a dip or donning your snorkel to discover life under the sea. Calo des Moro might be hard to find, but it’s worth the navigation battle.

Cala de Moro, Mallorca, Balearic Islands. Image: iStock/pkazmierczak

Best for: breathtaking natural scenery

Sierra de Tramuntana mountains

The UNESCO World Heritage Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range is almost 90 kilometres long, stretching from the southwest to the far north of the island. Picturesque hiking, driving and biking trails reveal ancient stone walls, centuries-old olive trees, dramatic viewpoints and charming villages. A particular highlight is the 15th-century Castell d’Alaró, while the most important pilgrimage site of Santuari de Lluc monastery is not to be missed.

Mirador Es Colomer en route to Cap de Formentor

Showing off the island’s rugged beauty in all its glory, Mirador Es Colomer (elevated over 300 metres above sea level) shows off uninterrupted views that truly take your breath away. Follow the stone path towards the sea and you’ll be greeted with vistas of Colomer, Alcudia and Puerto Pollensa. Then take the scenic drive to the end of the peninsula, where you’ll find Cap de Formentor and its lighthouse – the ‘meeting point of the winds’.

Mondragó Natural Park

With a topography that varies from luscious mountains to clear turquoise waters, this ecological treasure has something for everyone. You’ll find forests of wild olive and pine trees, botanical dunes growing marine thistle and sea lilies, craggy coastal cliffs with aromatic bushes and, the crowning glory, the most impressive bay of Mallorca, Cala Mondragó, which is made up of the fine white sands and crystalline waters of S’Amarador and Sa Font de n’Alis.

Torre del Verger, Sierra de Tramuntana mountains, Mallorca, Balearic Islands. Image: iStock/aldorado10

Best for: authentic village charm

Valldemossa 

A visit to Valldemossa is a visit back in time, where old-world charms meet gorgeous natural beauty. This picture-perfect town sits in an idyllic mountain valley, surrounded by forests of olive, oak and almond trees, so you’re never too far from an utterly scenic view. Lose yourself in the rich cultural heritage and bohemian spirit while wandering the pretty cobbled alleys lined with blonde stone buildings. If it’s good enough to inspire Chopin…

Pollensa

An ancient rural town sitting at the foot of the Sierra de Tramuntana mountains, Pollença will capture your heart with its history, character and café culture. Amble around the Old Town’s Placa Major, all before climbing the 365 Calvari Steps to the top of town, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views. Be sure to visit Pont Romà, the 18th-century Mare de Deu dels Angels, and Convent de Sant Domingo.

Santanyi

Serenity and creatively combine to give this Mallorcan town its unique charisma. Art plays a central role here, with myriad galleries and workshops lining the honey-hued stone alleys, while each year, the town plays host to a music festival (between May and September) to celebrate artists from across the globe. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, visit the postcard-pretty Cala Figuera fishing harbour and fort of Cala Llonga.

Valldemossa, Mallorca, Balearic Islands. Image: iStock/Juergen Sack

Best for: mouthwatering local cuisine

Palma

Mallorca’s cosmopolitan capital has a culinary scene that’s thriving more than ever. With a plethora of exciting new gastronomic concepts popping up alongside local institutions, this foodie hotspot is bursting with flavours to be savoured. Celler Sa Premsa has served up delectable Mallorcan specialties since the 50s, in a rustic tavern setting filled with old wine barrels, but if it’s innovative (and affordable) Michelin-star dining and a carefully curated wine list you’re after, head to intimate Adrian Quetglas.

Binissalem

Sitting in the heart of rural Mallorca, you’ll find the beautiful wine region of Binissalem, where the native grape varieties give the wine a distinctive character and remarkable quality. And where better to sample and learn about the local harvest than Can Ribas Vineyard, which is one of the oldest vineyards on the island with a rich history. Then head to nearby Alaró and you’ll find rustic Es Verger and its famous lamb, which according to Rick Stein is the best lamb he’s ever tasted. If you’re visiting in September, be sure to visit Festa des Vermar – Binissalem’s annual wine festival.

Deia

Rural charm and uplifting landscapes characterise this Mallorcan treasure, so it’s no surprise it’s beloved by the island’s artists and creatives. Clinging to the side of craggy Cala Deia, you’ll find Ca’s Patro March. The seasonal waterfront setting is rustic and fuss free; what’s really special is the freshly caught fish and succulent seafood that’ll tantalise your tastebuds. Cliffside Sa Foradada is another gem, serving up classic, flavourful paella against a stunning backdrop. You can’t drive there, however, so you’ll have to arrive by boat, or take the scenic path through the mountain.

Typical Spanish seafood and paella. Image: iStock/tbralnina