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October 2, 2023

Highlights of Mallorca, Spain

private Mallorca toursThe island of Mallorca—the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands—is a sun-drenched Mediterranean destination of pristine beaches, rugged mountains, lush gardens, medieval hill towns, excellent cuisine and stylish luxury hotels.

Mallorca (also spelled Majorca) combines well with other nearby Balearic Islands like Menorca and Ibiza and favorite destinations on the mainland like Barcelona and Madrid. Artisans of Leisure can incorporate private tours of Mallorca into any of our luxury Spain tours.

We often recommend beginning a private tour of Mallorca in Palma de Mallorca, the historic capital of the island. Palma’s history dates to ancient times, with the Phoenicians and the Romans among the earliest occupiers. Later Moorish and Catalan conquests have contributed to rich layers of history and culture. The city today has a dynamic, cosmopolitan culture reflected in the array of contemporary art galleries, upscale boutiques and first-rate culinary scene.

Our expert local guides take travelers to explore the labyrinthine old town filled with honey-colored sandstone buildings, cobblestone medieval streets, vibrant public squares and bustling local markets.

There is also a strong Art Nouveau presence, thanks to Catalan architects like Gaudi and Domenech i Montaner whose early 20th-century designs lend a colorful, dynamic aesthetic to the cityscape.

At the heart of Palma is the landmark Palma Cathedral, known locally as Le Seu. Completed in 1601 after 300 years of construction, it’s a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that incorporates elements of other later styles.

Notable elements include the stained-glass windows, particularly the central rose window, the largest in Europe…

…the wrought-iron baldachin (canopy) designed by the Catalan Modernist artist Antoni Gaudi and the 20th-century contemporary art installation in Saint Peter’s Chapel by Miquel Barcelo.

Opposite the cathedral is the Palau de l’Almudaina, a Gothic palace that the Mallorcan kings converted from an older Moorish fortress.

The palace is still the official Mallorcan residence of the Spanish monarch, but we can arrange for our travelers to tour the lavish interiors when the royal family is not in residence.

Nearby are the ancient Arab Baths (Banys Arabs). Set in a tranquil garden, the remains of the bathhouse date from the Moorish rule of the 10th to 12th centuries.

Mallorca has developed a notable foodie reputation in recent years, with delicious, flavorful cuisine that combines various Mediterranean influences with local ingredients. 

We take our travelers to vibrant markets, high-end restaurants and off-the-beaten path rural inns to savor traditional dishes like paella, sobrasada (a spicy sausage), tumbet (a vegetable dish similar to ratatouille) and ensaimada (a famous local pastry).

Palma is also a great place for browsing local artisan crafts, such as blown glass, or handmade avarcas (Balearic sandals) and colorful leather Mallorcan shoes.

Just outside Palma is Castell de Bellver, a 14th-century castle that is unusual for being completely circular. Originally constructed as a palace-fortress for the kings of Mallorca, it functioned as a military prison for centuries.

Palma has a number of notable museums we take travelers to, depending on their interests. Some of our favorites include the Pilar and Joan Miro Foundation, Museu de Mallorca and Palau March, home to the Bartolome March Foundation’s art collection, which includes works by artists such as Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and others.

Inland, we take travelers to explore the picturesque villages and dramatic scenery of the Tramuntana mountains.

The Serra de Tramuntana is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site for its traditional terraced agricultural landscape of orchards, olive groves and ancient Arabic groundwater management systems.

The area is known for its rugged, unspoiled scenery and atmospheric medieval villages with rich local culture.

Favorite historic towns in the Tramuntana include Soller, known for its Art Nouveau architecture, botanical gardens, art museums and charming port…

…and Valldemossa, a historic hilltop village with spectacular views and atmospheric cobblestone streets lined with shops, galleries and cafes.

Valldemossa’s most notable landmark is the Royal Carthusian Monastery, a royal residence in the early 1300s and a Carthusian monastery from 1399 until 1835. It is famously associated with the classical composer Frederic Chopin and the author George Sand, who spent the winter of 1838-9 in one of the cells while Chopin composed several of his Preludes.

Other highlights in the Serra de Tramuntana and the northwest coast include the beautiful villages of Fornalutx and Deia, a magnet for artists, writers and luminaries from the world of fashion and film. We love strolling the cobblestone streets, browsing the local galleries and boutique and enjoying relaxed farm-to-table dining.

We arrange for our travelers to visit our favorite historic country estates with magnificent gardens, well-preserved interiors and spectacular views…

..and the home and gardens of the English writer and historian Robert Graves, who lived in Deia from 1929 until his death in 1985. 

We also recommend privately guided hikes through the island’s unspoiled interior,  visits to wineries for tours and tastings…

…excursions to hilltop castles…

…private boat charters…

…and visits to limestone caves with impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations, including one with a remarkable subterranean lake.

A favorite experience we arrange is a private tour of a medieval olive oil finca (agricultural estate).

A picnic under the olive trees, with an olive oil tasting, is a highlight.

We arrange accommodation on Mallorca at the top luxury hotels that offer exclusivity, style and a sense of place. One of our favorites is Belmond La Residencia, a luxurious retreat in the mountains overlooking Deia with acclaimed fine dining and an impressive private art collection.

Another is Grand Hotel Son Net, a beautifully restored 17th-century Mallorcan finca in the shadow of the Tramuntana peaks.

Upon request, Artisans of Leisure can arrange additional touring on the island and activities such as meetings with local artists, cooking lessons, helicopter tours, hot-air balloon rides and hiking excursions.

Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private luxury Spain tour featuring the highlights of Mallorca.

Destinations:  Europe, Spain

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