Away from the traditional beach resorts, Mallorca the largest of the Balearic Islands, has a wealth of alternative experiences to offer the intrepid traveler. Not just for the package holiday maker, Mallorca is rich in history and natural wonders which makes exploring the Spanish isle an absolute must.
The majority of visitors reach Mallorca via Palma Airport located just 8km outside of the city center. From here there is the usual option of picking between a taxi, private transfer or the shuttle bus which runs every half an hour during the summer months to Palma centre at a single fare cost of 2 euros. For those really wanting to explore the island though, a Palma Airport car hire is in order. Remember to bring a credit card with you when picking up the car as all hire firms insist on it for insurance purposes, regardless of how you paid.
The first place to visit away from Palma de Mallorca city center is Soller, a 28km drive north. As well as getting here by car there is also a train service which runs from Palma to Soller five times a day, affording some fantastic vistas en route. The town itself lies in a valley flourished with orange groves and olive trees and a walk around this pretty Art Nouveau inspired town followed by tapas and some of the fine pastries available, is well worth a trip. Catch one of the trams to the main station and you will find a museum containing work by Picasso and Joan Miro or alternatively make your way to the Jardin Botanic museum and garden for a leisurely but fragrant meander.
Surrounding the Soller is the Serra de Tramuntana which is a mountain range of outstanding natural beauty. People come from across the world to walk, climb and observe the wildlife living on it. To cool down after all that exertion, there are two beaches located close by in the Bay of Soller. Feeling the need to retreat? Then maybe a trip to the Royal Carthusian Monastery in Valldemossa a 25 minute drive from either Soller or Palma is in order. Famous for being a hideaway for pianist Frederic Chopin and his lover the writer George Sand it unfortunately brought them no peace, as Sand vehemently wrote in her book Winter in Mallorca. However for thousands of others the former ancient monastery and charming village makes for a calming break from the hustle and bustle of the city or beach resorts.
Journeying east from Palma, 66km or an hour’s drive, are the Cuevas del Drach (Dragon’s Caves). These awe-inspiring caverns are full of floor to ceiling stalactites and stalagmites which wind down to La Ventana (the window) through which one of the largest underground lakes in the world, the Lago de Martel, can be seen. A highlight of the trip is the classical music performances staged on the lake by musicians in boats, lit by atmospheric lighting to create the perfect ambiance. Visitors can sit and watch from within the naturally created amphitheater, all for the initial entrance fee of 7.5 euros.
To experience something a little more adrenalin charged why not go to the races? Opened in 1965, the Hipodromo Son Pardo in Palma was the first floodlit race course in Europe and boasts Mallorca’s very own particular brand of horse-racing. Known as trotting racing it entails a jockey sat in a cart being pulled around by a horse who must be prevented from breaking into a gallop. If it all seems too much like hard work, then there’s always Mallorca’s acres of soft, white sand and sparkling blue waters to fall back on.
Michelle Elkins is a regular contributor to the Palma Airport Guide which provides all information on travel to Palma Airport from arrival and departure times through to Palma Airport car hire.
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