After lots of questions from my lovely Instagram followers, I’ve decided to put together a blog post outlining all our favourite places in Mallorca. You could be here a while, as I’ve been visiting the island every year since I was three and have also lived here on and off over the years, but I will try not to rattle on too long.
There are so many of places I want to share with you, but I will try to keep it as concise as I can – it’s been fun writing down all the mental notes I’ve been keeping over the years, thus the title. One small word of warning though, this may not be the most up to date guide, as we are guilty of sticking to the places that we know and love, so please do comment at the end of the post if you have anything to add.
So here we go – these are the places we love on the island and return to time and time again…
Pollensa & Puerto Pollensa
Pollensa is where my heart is on the island – my parents bought their first apartment in Puerto Pollensa when I was three. Back then the town was tiny – a beautiful, simple place, more of a fishing village than the sophisticated town it is today. Some of the old classics still remain though and ultimately the character along the Pine Walk and on the seafront is largely unchanged.
When in Puerto Pollensa, my all time favourite thing to do is to walk along the Pine Walk. Ideally early in the morning or just before dusk when it’s quiet and peaceful and the sea is calm. It’s a bit like a duck pond and the lapping of the water, combined with the boats bobbing and the shade of the palm trees is like nothing else.
The Il a Dor hotel has been there for many years – built in the 1920s, it was a favourite of Agatha Christie’s – she even wrote a Hercule Poirot book whilst staying there, Problem at Pollensa Bay. It’s the perfect place to sit and have a drink at sunset and also gorgeous for a morning coffee, though be warned if you aren’t staying at the hotel in the busy summer months, they will only serve you an early morning coffee if you agree to have the full breakfast – a buffet that costs 20 Euros. In the quieter months you can grab a coffee and a croissant at any time.
If you walk to the very end of the Pine Walk (past the hotel), you will be able to see the house that was used to film The Night Manager – it’s called the Fortress and is on the tip of the headland. I’m sure if you have seen the series you will recognise it – you’ll need to take a boat into the bay for a closer look!
Just past the other end of the Pine Walk (the town end) is a café called Capuccino that’s our other favourite coffee/drink spot by the sea. Capuccino is a Spanish chain of restaurants, but they always select unique and historical buildings and their décor is beautiful, classy and calming. The food is also great – I have a thing for their sushi rolls! It’s a great all rounder for any time of day.
If we are staying in Puerto Pollensa for lunch then we have two favourite spots. The first is the very traditional Club Nautico (Yacht Club), which my parents have been members of for years – I spent much of my teens relaxing by the pool with friends and have such happy memories of those days. Nothing much has changed since then and it’s our favourite place to go for Paella. We particularly love the Paella Ciega de Marisca (blind man’s paella) – it’s filled with lovely seafood that already peeled for you and we just love the flavours in this version. They also do a mean Club Sandwich is Paella isn’t your thing.
The other restaurant, which is also very close to the yacht club and surrounded by sea and boats, is Stay. A gorgeous place for lunch or dinner with delicious food and a good selection of local wines (more on those later).
We are lucky to always stay in Pollensa, where my parents have a house. The house is just off the Calvario steps, which are a must visit/climb whilst in the town. The steps are famous and the views from the top are simply stunning. You see across the town to the Puig de Maria. When the weather isn’t too hot it’s a lovely hike to the top of the Puig – there is a simple restaurant there (call ahead as not always open) and you can book to stay in very simple rooms overnight too. It is a lovely place to visit and the views from the top are outstanding – I thinks it’s even listed in the book, 1000 things to do before you die!
Back in town and our absolute favourite place to spend time is Trencadora. It’s a lovely, relaxed and super friendly Italian restaurant, run by Josie and her husband Marco, who is the chef. It is always a bustling place – the courtyard is beautiful and one of the only gardens in the town where you can sit to eat – always be sure to book as it is very popular. The food is delicious, authentic and good value and Sunday lunch has become a bit of an institution with the locals. I can’t recommend it enough – I always have the Penne Amatriciana – I often want to try other things, but it’s so good I find it hard to resist. They do delicious gluten free pasta, which is a real bonus for me and also the best gluten free pizzas I have tasted. Sometimes we get a ‘floating’ pizza to share with our main courses – I always want to have a slice, but can’t bear to part with my pasta! They also have a fab selection of local wines.
A quick diversion onto the local wines…. the wine in Mallorca is outstanding and a booming industry on the island. There are a number of vineyards on the island and the quality of wine they are producing is brilliant.
Some of our favourites include Can Vidalet, which is just outside of Pollensa – you can visit for tastings and they are happy to ship back to the UK. We love all of their wines, but the Blanc de Negres and Ses Pedres are particular favourites, though their Blanc de Blancs is delicious too and slightly fresher for those of you who aren’t into Chardonnay. Ask for Anya and she will take good care of you.
And finally (there are so many more I could mention, but keeping it to our top three) is Anima Negre – they make amazing wine and their ÀN and ÀN/2 are two of our favourite red wines on the island. Really delicious and always a treat to drink. You will see all of these on restaurant menus in the north of the island and also for sale in independent delis and wine shops.
The Sunday Market & Il Gardino
In Pollensa, another institution and one of our favourite times of the week, is the Sunday market. We like to get there early (by 9am when Il Gardino opens on the square) – they have their own patisserie around the corner where you can buy the best croissants and pastries to have with your coffee at the restaurant. You can order simple croissants and pain au chocolats from the table, but if you want to choose from the full selection it’s best to pop around the corner yourself!
If I’m totally honest I’m more of a fan of Spanish coffee than Italian (sorry if that offends anyone!) and Il Gardino serves Italian. Directly across from it though it Club Pollensa and that is where I get my coffee – in my opinion it’s the best in town!
Il Gardino has delicious Italian food and is another favourite of ours for dinner. Make sure you book in advance (at all restaurants in the busy months), but especially here and Trencadora if you want to get an outside table. At Il Gardino their tortellini romantici is a must.
Son Brull Hotel
Finally for Pollensa, if you are looking for a meal that is a real treat – something to celebrate a special occasion – then I would highly recommend 365 at the Son Brull Hotel. Just outside the town, set in a beautiful historical building, this Relais Chateau is well worth a visit. They have a tasting menu at 365, which is always delicious and full a few surprises, as well as good a la carte options too. We don’t go every year, but when we do it’s always a lovely treat. It’s also a great place to go for a drink on the terrace, as it’s a stunning building and the setting is magical. They have a spa that non-hotel guests can visit for treatments too.
Around the Island
There are a few other places on the island that I want to highlight for you – if you are looking for a more traditional seafood restaurant (which are sadly slightly few and far between these days), we love Ca’l Patro – it’s family run and serves local, fresh seafood. It’s a simple place with quite high prices, but we love it there.
Situated in the centre of the island close to the town of Alaro, Es Veger is a rural restaurant to visit outside of the sweltering summer months. It’s a very rustic establishment on the top of a mountain! The drive up is slow and steep, but it’s definitely worth the effort. The restaurant only really serves local lamb and other meat (very fresh, you often see their sheep pottering around just outside the restaurant) and served with simple vegetables, aioli that will blow your mind (and stay with you for a few days) and delicious local wine from the José Ferrer vineyard down the road. It’s a real experience, but can be very busy. It’s always worth calling ahead to check it’s open before making the journey. There are also lovely walks and hikes from the restaurant through the mountains nearby.
Palma is an amazing city – a bit like a mini Barcelona and somewhere that I think has been long underrated. It’s now becoming a destination in it’s own right and so it should be! There are lots of cultural things to do depending on your interests, but here I wanted to just share a few of our favourite places in the city.
Just along from the Cathedral on the edge of the city centre, is an area called Portixol. There is a stylish hotel run by a Swedish couple call the Portixol Hotel (the also run the lovely Esplendido in Port Soller, which is also worth a visit). Both are hip, stylish and relaxing places with fabulous food. When we are in Palma we always try to hire a bike (or borrow one from our hotel) and cycle along the path that runs all the way along the seafront, past the amazing Cathedral and along to Portixol. Orginally a fishing village on the edge of the city, there are still lots of really sweet fisherman’s cottages along the seafront. We love to cycle along and stop for a coffee or lunch in one of the cute cafés or restaurants there. We don’t have any particular favourites, we tend to just stop wherever takes our fancy!
This area of Palma has been really on the up over the last few years – very popular with the Scandinavians and French, a lot of really sweet restaurants and cafés have now opened here. Like with Portixol, we don’t really have any favourites – there are so many to choose from, so just have a wander around and take your pick. A good place to start is at the covered market – we love it there – amazing food and always a lively atmosphere. You can get tapas and a drink at various stalls or just buy your food to take away and cook at home.
Palma Old Town
The centre of Palma is really beautiful – take time to wonder around the narrow streets and explore the shops. When it comes to stopping for some food, again there are so many amazing places to choose from! Some of our favourites include:
Right in the centre of Passieg de Born is this lovely fresh café/restaurant. It’s a place we love to stop for a glass of wine and some tapas at lunchtime – the perfect spot for people watching.
This beautiful hotel tucked away in a square in the centre of the old town is worth a visit just to see the cool, calm interiors (see previous post here). Both restaurants in the hotel are great and very different from one another. The rooftop is a lovely place to have lunch – sitting on the pool deck looking across the city is a gorgeous place to be! They serve mainly sushi and salads. For the evening book a table in the garden of Quadrat – again a lovely setting and delicious food, we really enjoyed the tasting menu here.
A simple, fun restaurant with indoor only tables, but in our view some of the best tapas and pinxos in town. Perfect for a quick lunch or a snack supper – popular with locals too.
So that is, in a nutshell, our favourite places to eat and relax in Mallorca. It really is a special island and we return year after year to the Balearics, never tiring of their beauty.
I hope you have enjoyed my notes and if you visit the island, do let me know how you get on!