5 Travel Tips for Americans visiting Mallorca
I am not a travel writer, but I feel compelled to share some ideas from my recent trip to Mallorca from the West Coast of the United States. I do have experience traveling to about 25 countries and living abroad to draw comparisons from though.
Mallorca is the largest island in the Balearic Islands off the East coast of Spain. It is one of the top beach-style vacation destinations in Europe, extremely popular with tourists from the UK, Germany, and Scandinavian countries.
- Learn a little Spanish and use it, but don’t be upset when the signs are in Catalan (sometimes similar to Spanish) or when people respond to you in English. Making an effort to speak Spanish seemed to help a few times with cab drivers and some people who were not customer-facing in the tourism industry. I recommend learning Spanish over Catalan because any Spanish you learn will transfer more broadly to other travels and Spanish should be a cover-all.
- Go in May before the main wave of northern Euro tourists arrive. I haven’t experienced this personally, but every European I told about the trip said “Wow, May is great timing. You’ll be there before it’s too packed and too hot.” This might also come with a price benefit has most places seemed to have tons of excess capacity.
- Take a day or at least half day to walk around the capital city — Palma. The city has been around since pre-BCE times and has more culture than your trip to one of the beach towns focused on serving cervezas. The flag of the Balearic Islands features the cathedral. If you’re spending only a few days in Mallorca after a month of cavorting around historical European cities, then maybe time in Palma is optional.
- The Mercat de Santa Catalina open air market in Palma was one of my favorite spots. It is part grocery (get ready for raw fish), part dining experience (jamon-tasting bar) and a wonderful stop. There is even a wine vendor filling bottles directly from barrels for about 2 Euros per liter.
- Aoili (al olio?) is amazing here. It’s just olive, lemon juice and garlic (and maybe egg white) but somehow it tasted better in Mallorca than anywhere else. That may be due to the local olive oil which comes from trees on the island, many of which are over 500 years old. Just like other tapas, it is ubiquitous and can make for an amazing accompaniment for your beer, wine or sangria.
- For budget-conscious, buy sunscreen & maybe aloe vera in the United States, pack it in your check-in luggage (in a plastic bag). It was consistently “over-priced” at 15–20 Euro a tube and 7 Euro for aloe vera.
- Rent a bike! Biking is very popular as a mode of transportation in the beach towns and cities. Bike shops often have a few bikes with child seats for younger kids (4 yrs and less).
- As of May 2017, there’s no Uber or Lyft in Mallorca (or all of Spain). As long as you’re polite, you can walk into any hotel lobby and ask for them to call you a cab. I did this several times. No one seemed think this a rude request. The official cabs were fair and courteous.
Just writing this makes me want to go back! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section.