WOOOO the first part of our Spain guide is finally here!
I’m so incredibly excited to list out ALL the details of our Mallorca trip in this post. (Barcelona will be coming later!) All in all, I cannot recommend Mallorca enough. I was not expecting to love it as much as we loved our time in Praiano on the Amalfi Coast, and we definitely did. Mallorca is such a beautiful, special place with warm, friendly people, and surprisingly really affordable prices. We cannot wait to go back!
Here’s a break-down of our trip!
Mallorca Travel Guide:
Where IS Mallorca, anyway?
Mallorca is part of the Balearic Islands (You’ve probably heard of Ibiza–it’s that same island chain!) Mallorca is the biggest of the islands and full of both beautiful sandy beaches and beautiful mountains, and rocky cliffs. It has a little something for everyone.
The best time to visit Mallorca?
In my opinion, exactly when we did–right at the beginning of September. It’s still warm enough to swim but not ungodly hot–and best of all, it’s right after the summer holiday rush! You’ll often find much better availability with hotels as well as lower prices during the shoulder season.
How we decided on Mallorca:
After our Italy trip last year, we knew we wanted our vacation to be part seaside relaxation, part city exploration. My best friend Kate’s mom, Jacki (who I reference here often ?) has been telling us for years now that she thought Spain was hands down better than Italy. (BOLD. I know.) However, she always raves about Southern Spain–Sevilla, Granada, and little beach towns like Cadiz in particular, so that’s what I was looking into.
Ultimately though, we decided on Barcelona + Mallorca instead for a few reasons:
We had 9 days and we don’t like moving around very much because then we don’t get as much time to enjoy each location. Plus, moving around is stressful. That being said, we wanted to choose just two locations based on the above categories. I’ve always wanted to see Sevilla and Granada, but they aren’t super easy to get to cheaply or efficiently.
After doing a lot of research on the coastal towns of Southern Spain, they didn’t have that rugged quaint village charm I was looking for. (Let’s be honest, coming off the Amalfi Coast as our last vacation, we wanted something that rivaled it.) That’s how we found Mallorca–admittedly because it had started popping up on my Instagram feed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have considered it so quickly, haha! It’s a gorgeous island full of historic towns with tons of personality.
We had heard from a few friends who visited Barcelona recently and said it rivaled Paris in terms of their love of European cities. (Admittedly, I didn’t love Barcelona when I visited while studying abroad, so I didn’t really consider it at first.) But–it was quick and cheap to get to, we could fly direct, and it was only a 35 minute flight to Mallorca from Barcelona. I figured I’d give it another try–plus, Neal has always wanted to go. So, Barcelona and Mallorca it was!
In this post, I’ll be focusing exclusively on Mallorca because throwing Barcelona into the mix is just too much information for one post! That will be coming in a later post–but honestly, Mallorca was hands down the highlight of our trip. I think I loved it just as much as the Amalfi Coast, but it was half the price.
How to get to Mallorca: We flew direct from Chicago to Barcelona on Norwegian Air:
Norwegian is a fairly new airline that we hadn’t heard of before booking our flights. The flights were SO affordable that we didn’t really think twice. “Norwegian” we thought–”it must be nice–Norway doesn’t half-ass anything. ?” We were both very wrong AND kind of right. Overall, I would recommend flying it again as long as you know exactly what to expect, which is this:
Thoughts on Norwegian: The cons
First, let’s start with the bad news.
You cannot get away with just a carry-on, because there is a 10KG weight limit. (RIDICULOUS.) Yes, you know us, we carry on EVERYWHERE and we had intended to do so on this trip, only to not remember that European carry-on weight limits are very strict. Therefore, we were forced to check our bags and could’ve gotten away with much larger suitcases.
You cannot check-in online, and check-in process at the airport is slow, annoying, and old-school. There are no kiosks. You very much feel like you’re flying a budget airline here.
You do not get anything for free. No free soda, no free wine, certainly no free meals like you would on most international flights with other airlines. If you plan ahead and bring food, then you won’t have an issue. However, you can purchase meals ahead of time (which evidently I did, I think just in case we were late and didn’t get to eat before, I was terrified of being stranded on a plane for 8 hours while starving.)
The seats on our Norwegian plane were 3 seaters on both sides (at least in Coach) which is a lose-lose situation when you are flying with two people, because either one has to sit in the middle, or one has to sit in the window with a stranger in between. Not ideal for anyone who cares to sit together.
Pro’s of flying Norwegian:
IT’S REALLY, REALLY INEXPENSIVE. I booked our flights with Chase points but they came out to be the equivalent of like $500 round trip per person. To BARCELONA. I can’t even get home to Portland for that cheap!
The planes are brand new and VERY nice. You have lot’s of movies/tv shows/etc to choose from.
You can purchase snacks and beverages and order them off the touch screen in front of you and they bring them to your seat, which is pretty awesome. (Granted, this can be abused–as we racked up probably about $60 in wine and snacks on our flight there. ?)
The best part–I have no idea if this is a placebo effect, but Neal and I both agreed we didn’t feel jet-lagged at all. Their cabins are apparently pressurized differently, meaning you don’t feel as fatigued post-flight, and we both agreed we weren’t jet-lagged at all. (Tired? Yes. Jet lagged? No.)
Barcelona to Mallorca on Vueling–Why you should upgrade to TimeFlex ticket:
We then connected through Barcelona and hopped a plane 1.5 hrs later to Mallorca (flying into Palma de Mallorca) on Vueling Air. Vueling is Spain’s budget airline (like RyanAir) but is MUCH nicer. We were pleasantly surprised because we had very, very low expectations. Tickets to Mallorca literally start at $36. THIRTY SIX. But don’t get those–you should absolutely 100% pay the extra few bucks to upgrade to the Vueling TimeFlex ticket for a few reasons:
With TimeFlex, you get FastPass access–meaning you don’t have to wait in the insane hour-long check-in lines AND you get a fast-pass through security. Had we not had this, we might have missed our connection in Barcelona because the lines were ungodly everywhere.
Additionally, the TimeFlex allows you to be flexible on flight changes (and because I thought it might save us if for some reason we ended up missing our connecting flight). If my semester abroad taught me that budget airline European air travel is nothing if not incredibly frustrating. ?
Another heads up:
If you have to switch terminals in Barcelona, be aware that they are about 10 minutes apart and you need to take a shuttle to get there. The shuttles run frequently and you pick it up on the curb outside the terminal. Just follow the signs–it’s fairly intuitive. The terminals are not remotely close together. Chances are though, if you fly any airline other than Norwegian, you’ll likely fly into the main terminal–T1, which is also what Vueling flies out of, so you should be fine there with a closer connection.
Things to do in Mallorca:
Getting around in Mallorca–renting a car:
We rented a car when we got to the airport, something I would highly recommend. Most of the towns are about 10-20 miles apart from one another, so driving is the easiest way to get around. I was worried that parking would be an issue but really wasn’t. We rented a small SUV (not necessary) and I would definitely say to go with the smallest car possible because the roads are narrow and windy and parking spaces are typically pretty small!
Should you rent a scooter in Mallorca?
So we also rented a Vespa from Bullimoto, which was amazing because for a few extra bucks they drop it off and pick it up for you–but–it was WAY SCARIER than I had anticipated. I read online that a Vespa was the best way to get around the island, but I’m thinking maybe that a Vespa is the best way to get around PALMA, but not really outside of that. I also made the mistake of renting the one with a lot of horsepower because I figured Neal would complain if I made him drive a dinky slow scooter. ?In hindsight–I wouldn’t do it again unless we were just staying in Palma AND I would rent the one with the least amount of horsepower! ?The good news: It still made for cute photos!?
Where to stay in Mallorca:
I was surprised to learn that Mallorca is actually bigger than I was expecting. There are so many different towns around the island as well, and all of them are very different, but it really came down to the hotels we wanted to stay in. After my research, I had narrowed it down to Deià and Port de Soller as the top two areas I wanted to stay for the first leg of our trip, and ultimately, a hotel in Deià–Hotel Es Moli stole my heart in my research, so Deià it was!
Stay at: Hotel Es Moli in Deià
I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Es Moli, but it is such a hidden gem and we both agreed that our time here was the highlight of our trip. The hotel is a complete steal (we paid $350/night for a room with a private terrace) and has some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.
Deià is a very small town in Serra de Tramuntana mountain range and it is absolutely breathtaking. Because it’s in the mountains, this means that no hotels in Deià will have waterfront access, but Es Moli actually has a private cove about 20 mins from the hotel that they provide a shuttle to free of charge (or you can drive there and park yourself, which is very easy). This was by far my favorite part of the trip.
I actually hate sand (not really a beach girl) ?so the rocky cove was my idea of paradise–seeing pictures of the private cove actually was the one factor that sealed the deal!
The cove also has a bar/restaurant with reasonable prices (you can either pay cash or charge to your room–they don’t accept credit cards.) It’s exclusive to hotel guests, so when we were there (keep in mind, this was in September so I’m sure it would’ve been more crowded in say, August) it wasn’t too crowded.
Like many hotels in Europe, breakfast at Es Moli is free and was a lovely spread. The grounds of the hotel are absolutely stunning–they have a massive garden area with lots of lounge chairs to relax in if you prefer to be secluded from the pool. The pool is very big and there is a balcony section with chairs overlooking the mountains. You truly cannot beat it–especially for the price!
The interior of the hotel itself is nothing fancy, but it’s charming and clean. Some of the rooms have been renovated in certain areas of the hotel–you can see which ones they are if you look at the photos of certain types of rooms prior to booking. Just make sure you pay attention when booking so you get a newer room. (We got a Double Room Tramuntana with Balcony – Balcony, Mountain View and it was around 350 Euro per night.)
The following photos are all from Es Moli’s Private Cove:
Where to eat in Deia, Mallorca:
Above: Drinks at Sa Fronda are a must!
I can only speak on where to eat in Deia (where we stayed the first leg of our trip), because we ate at Cap Rocat both nights we stayed there. The little town of Deia is only about a 10-minute walk from Es Moli, and there is a nice path that takes you there. There’s basically one main strip with a handful of restaurants–every place we tried, we loved!
An Italian restaurant with the most amazing food! Get the stuffed pear and gorgonzola pasta. (If you’ve been to La Giostra in Florence––this rivals it!!) Neal also got a steak that was so good!
We loved this place so much we went there twice in one day. The cutest local bar with several outdoor tables and a teeny bar inside. Great during the day or at night, when it gets busy and fills up with locals.
Hanok Korean restaurant:
There is one Korean restaurant in Deiá–a tiny mom and pop place with all of five tables, and it was the best Korean food we’ve ever had. Just tell them what you like and order whatever they recommend. We LOVED it.
The Belmond Residencia is a gorgeous hotel at the end of the little main strip. A beautiful place to go for a drink, and their main restaurant is supposed to be really great too!
Take a Day trip to Valldemossa:
If you’re staying on the west coast of the island, a day trip to Valldemossa is definitely a must! It’s only about 20 minutes from Deià (you’ll pass through it on the way from Palma) and it’s the most beautiful little town. This historic town dates back to the 10th century and is comprised of cobblestone streets, cafes, and plenty of local shops. There is a lot more happening here than there is in Deià, so I definitely recommend getting here for at least a couple of hours! We went for an afternoon, but there are also a few hotels if you’d like to stay the night.
Make sure you stop into Es Molinet in Valldemossa–it’s the cutest shop with the most beautiful breezy dresses! The owner imports them from India!
Stay at Cap Rocat:
To end our time in Mallorca, we moved to Cap Rocat, in Cala Blava, for our last two nights! After Julia posted about this incredible hotel on her babymoon, I knew I wanted to surprise Neal with a couple of nights at Cap Rocat. He’s very into history and it truly was one of the most unique hotels I’d ever seen–definitely on par with Borgo San Felice, where we stayed in Tuscany, which is an old Tuscan town converted into a boutique hotel.
Cap Rocat is a 19th-century Spanish fort that is built right into the cliffs so that enemy ships wouldn’t be able to tell it was there from the sea. The hotel only has 30 or so rooms and each room is a suite built into a bunker–each with its own private roof deck and day bed. I have never watched a more incredible sunset than sitting on that day bed with a glass of wine! ?
They have two restaurants, the Sea Club, which is their main restaurant right on the water, and also a Michelin star restaurant, which we didn’t go to because I don’t love fine dining enough to justify the price tag. ?We ate at the Sea Club both nights and it was very good and had good options with both seafood and non seafood. We also both agreed that the prices here were actually really fair for how expensive the hotel is–the drinks weren’t outlandish and neither were the food prices. I think we paid $150 for dinner there our first night (including wine and food).
One of the most amazing perks of staying here is the breakfast
It’s all you can eat, and you fill out a breakfast card the night before and put it outside your door with your desired delivery time, and they bring it to you and set it up on your private terrace. We ordered pretty much one of everything on the menu the first day and it was SO. GOOD. I’m still dreaming of their baguettes slathered with butter and their homemade jam.
Overall, we LOVED our time at Cap Rocat, and I think this is definitely a hotel you stay it to STAY AT the hotel the entire time. If you want a few days to REALLY unwind and do nothing, this is an incredible place to stay. If you want somewhere close to the action where you can explore a lot of places easily, I don’t think this is the place for you, haha!
Above: Old bathing suit, Lole button down (my favorite, favorite linen top–I wear it often as a cover up!)
Cap Rocat has paddle boards and kayaks you can use whenever you like! THANK YOU to our new friends Raline and Matt for taking this photo!!
The breakfast at Cap Rocat is TO DIE FOR and all you can eat! They deliver whatever you want to your room, at any hour of the day!
Still with me!? You get a gold star ?this was a long post! I hope you loved re-living it with me! You DEFINITELY need to plan a trip to Mallorca ASAP! Have questions? Feel free to DM me on Instagram!