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Do you and your partner, or each member of your family, have your own ideas about what a summer holiday should involve? That’s not a problem in Majorca, where options include never-ending beaches and tiny coves, cycling in the mountains and walking around coastal paths, or golf by the sea and chic shopping in Palma.
And a trip to this beautiful Balearic Island doesn’t need to cost a fortune, writes Annie Bennett.
Many resorts in Majorca are undergoing redevelopment to meet the demands of today’s visitors. So, if you haven’t been for a few years, you are in for a surprise.
In Playa de Palma, which is just east of the capital Palma and has a fabulous curving bay, the all-inclusive Riu Bravo has just reopened after a total overhaul. Expect bright, spacious rooms, great beds, walk-in showers, an appealing spa and tasty tapas as well as international food.
The Iberostar Cala Millor is also newly refurbished this summer and now has smart white rooms and pale wood floors. It is right on the beach in the popular resort of Cala Millor, on the east coast of the island.
If you prefer something smaller, the family-run Hotel Miramar in pretty Port de Sóller, on the north-west coast, overlooks a sheltered beach that is ideal for children. This is a good base if you want to do some hiking or cycling in the Tramuntana hills or explore rural Majorca by car.
Sharing tapas is a relaxing way to eat in Majorca, but keep an eye on the prices as ham, seafood and even cheese can be surprisingly expensive. Look out for blackboards outside restaurants offering a menú del día, which is usually a three-course lunch with a glass of wine, a beer or a soft drink for around €10-€15.
Michelin-starred Majorcan chef Andreu Genestra has recently opened Aromata (Concpción 12, 0034 971 495833) in the centre of Palma, where the menú del día lunch costs just €15.50.
If you are in Palma on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, join the locals in the Sa Gerreria area on the Martian Route, around Plaça d’en Coll, when bars offer a drink – usually beer or wine – plus a tapa for €2.
A lot of the most enjoyable things to do in Majorca are free. You never have to pay to use a beach, but loungers and umbrellas cost €7-€9 per day, so it is worth checking whether hotels offer them free on the beach, rather than just around the pool.
Playa de Muro is a great family resort in the north of the island with a long stretch of golden sand where the water is shallow and safe for kids. Parts of the blue-flag beach are backed by dunes where there are picnic tables – perfect for a bargain lunch of local cheese, charcuterie and fruit in the shade of the pine trees. Paths lead from the beach into the Albufera nature reserve, the largest wetland area on the island.
For something more low key, head to Cala Torta, near the small resort of Cala Ratjada on the north-east coast, an idyllic cove with turquoise water. The beach bar looks very laidback but prices are a bit steep, so stock up with supplies at a supermarket in your resort before you set off.
If you are planning on going to one of the waterparks, it is always worth buying tickets online in advance to save money and avoid queues. A family ticket (two adults and two children) for Aqualand El Arenal, for example, costs €88 online, a saving of of 14%.
Getting around Majorca using public transport is very reasonable. From the airport, there is a bus service to Palma and the resorts along Playa de Palma. From Palma, you can get to all the resorts and most of the larger beaches by bus, but check timetables as services are sometimes infrequent.
Many people don’t realise that there is a train line across the island from Palma to Inca and Manacor, which is cheap and easy to use and a good way to see the countryside with no hassle. Take the train to the town of Sineu in the centre of the island on a Wednesday to go to the large outdoor market, which is a mix of local produce and the usual tourist stalls, but feels more authentic than some of the others in Majorca.
The narrow-gauge, wooden train from Palma to Sóller passes through orange and lemon orchards and olive groves as it winds northwards. It is quite an experience and gives you an idea of just how gorgeous inland Majorca is, but it does cost €25 return, so you might prefer to take the bus, which only costs between €5 and €10 return.
Hiring a car gives you a lot more freedom and is the only way to reach some of the quieter beaches. It is advisable to book as far ahead as possible in summer to get a better price, especially if you want a particular kind of car.
It’s tricky to find any bargain hotel rates in July and August but if you can go in May or early June, or between mid-September and mid-October, there are good deals to be had.
Admission to Es Baluard, the contemporary art museum in Palma, usually costs €6, but on Fridays you can choose how much – or how little – you want to pay. And if you get there by bike on any day of the week you get in for just €2.
Please note: All prices and facts were correct at the time of writing