Set between two huge bays, Badia de Pollença and Badia d’Alcodia, this busy town was once a Roman settlement. Although you can see remnants of its ancient past, the town has a slightly sanitised feel and most of the medieval walls encircling it are a modern copy. Just outside the walls are the remains of the Roman city of Pollètia, 1200 sq m (2150 sq ft) of which have been excavated and opened to the public. The Pollètia Museum in Alcúdia exhibits archaeological finds from the site. You can also pretend to be a gladiator in the ruined amphitheatre.
For a change of scenery, the Parc Natural de l’Albufera nature reserve nearby is excellent walking, cycling and bird-watching country. Look out for moorhens and coots in the grass, and herons and flamingos in the reeds. You can pick up a map and list of birds to spot at the reception centre. Buses go to the park from Port d’Alcúdia (the seaside resort around 2km (1mi) from Alcúdia), and from Alcúdia to Palma.
Coves del Drac (Caves of the Dragon)
With almost 2000m (6550ft) of caves and six subterranean lakes, this attraction is not for the claustrophobic. The caves were discovered near Porto Cristo on the east coast in 1896, and today crowds of visitors come for the hour-long multilingual tour – be prepared to queue if you come at a weekend. The beautifully illuminated clusters of stalactites and stalagmites are named after things they resemble, though inevitably some labels are more obvious than others. The highlight of the tour is classical musicians playing from boats on a large underground lake. Inspired by this evocative spectacle, you can take a boat ride across the lake before you leave the caves.
If you want to stay in the dark for a bit longer, Porto Cristo’s large aquarium is not far from the caves. Kids particularly enjoy the deadly sea creatures on display.
The principal coastal road runs through Porto Cristo; from here buses run to Palma and Port d’Alcúdia.
The idyllic town of Deià has a bohemian feel: the setting is stunning and it has attracted a large number of artists, writers and musicians over the years. English poet Robert Graves died here in 1985 and is buried in the hillside cemetery. The town’s main street is lined with artists’ workshops and galleries selling locally produced work. There are also many bars and cafes where you can sketch, write poetry, or just have a beer. Beside the church is the Museu Parroquial, which has an interesting collection of religious effects, icons and old coins. The Archaeological Museum & Research Centre displays artefacts found in the Valldemossa area. On the coast, Cala de Deià has popular swimming spots and bar-restaurants. Daily buses run from Palma to Deià.
Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca is the island’s only true city. Palma is the perfect location for holidays to Majorca. Traditionally the haunt of celebrities and royalty, it combines natural beauty with glamour and is a perfect jumping off point for exploring the rest of the island. It’s a stylish city that buzzes by day and sizzles by night.
Palma’s imposing Gothic cathedral, La Seo, is the town’s main feature and worth at least an afternoon. When you’ve roamed over it, it’s time to turn your attention to musuems full of religious artefacts, the town’s fine Gothic architecture and the last remaining traces of Turkish occupation.
Sóller is an attractive town on Mallorca’s north-west Coast. To really appreciate Sóller, take the old train from Palma; it twists and turns past trees and olive groves, through the stunning Tramuntana mountains. The journey takes about an hour, and the views are spectacular. Many people use the town as a base for walking in the surrounding area, but it’s also a charming place to explore, with attractive old buildings, lush gardens and open plazas. Bars and restaurants border the main square, Plaça de la Constitució. The 16th-century Església Parroquial de San Bartolomé is also here, its modernist facade belying a beautiful Gothic interior. An ex-San Francisco tram takes visitors down to the attractive (but overcrowded in high season) Port de Sóller on the coast. Boats run excursions to Sa Calobra, Deià, Sant Elm and Illa sa Dragonera.
This attractive town owes its fame largely to Frédéric Chopin and his lover George Sand, who spent their famous ‘winter of discontent’ (1938-39) in Cartuja de Valldemossa. This former monastery was converted into rental accommodation after the monks were turfed out in 1835. Today you can visit the lovely gardens and rooms: highlights of the tour are Chopin’s piano, his death mask and several of his original manuscripts