7 Ways Off Season Mallorca is Better

When we found ourselves headed there unexpectedly, we didn’t realize it would steal our hearts seven different ways. Off season Mallorca is better.

Don’t you love it when you arrive at a destination you’ve never visited and right away you can’t believe your luck? Off season Mallorca was like that for us.

“I live where I would like to live. I live in Mallorca, Spain, and I am not sure there are better places.” Rafael Nadal

Redeeming timeshare exchanges can be somewhat of a crapshoot. When a place in off season Mallorca popped up, budget plane fare sealed the deal. Our hearts were stolen by this Mediterranean island, as others have been. But we realize we were lucky enough to get an experience many (and there are very many in high season!) visitors never have.

We spent two weeks on Mallorca and found it fairly easy to find our way around. Driving on the right cancelled out the language issues. (Hint: even though native Mallorcans speak a Catalán dialect as their first language, your high school Spanish will do just fine.)

We tried to get to opposite sides of the island during our stay and succeeded. Mallorca is divided into regional districts called camarques, with each camarca having a town or village seat, much like counties do in the U.S.

off season mallorca is better

Camarca districts, Mallorca. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Unlike most visitors, we didn’t spend much time in the main city of Palma at all. Nor did we care to visit the popular, but Vegas-y, hotel and restaurant strip along the North Shore in new Alcúdia. We could see how those areas could easily get crowded and emit a different kind of energy than we prefer, particularly in the high season. Instead, we chose smaller towns and villages, quieter roads, and leisurely outings. These turned out to be what we think is a more authentic experience.

We’ve listed a lucky 7 ways you might conclude a visit to off season Mallorca is better, too:

1. Wander virtually alone down backroads and byways leading to Roman ruins and prehistoric megaliths. Mallorca is an island built with stone. Stone walls line narrow country roads. They divide fields and orchards, and they terrace mountainsides. You’ll be humbled, as we were, by the realization that everything you see was gathered, cut and placed by hand.

off season Mallorca is better

Old dry-stacked stone on a narrow lane

“With the time the stone, specially the part exposed on the sea side, has acquired a pretty shining golden-yellow colour which gives a delightful glow to the whole building; particularly when it is illuminated by the sun a charming hot and light shadow is lit that can only be given to the stone by the weather and the south.”  Arxiduc Lluís Salvador

Remnants of previous civilizations are wondrously accessible as modern life goes on around them. The taliots of Capocorb Vell, dating from the Iron Age, were steps away from our favorite little roadside restaurant in rural Llucmajor camarca.

off season mallorca is better

Bronze age community surrounded by almond orchards. Photo Credit: Capocorb Vell Archaeological Site

off season mallorca is better

Talaiot” by Lothar Velling, Disenyador gràfic, Espanya – SuCapitanidad on de.wikipedia – Originally from de.wikipedia; description page is (was) here01:01, 3. Mai 2004 SuCapitanidad 1024 x 768 (137.334 Byte) (Talaiot – neolithische Siedlung auf Mallorca ). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Talaiot.jpg#/media/File:Talaiot.jpg

Pollentia is the most significant archaeological site on Mallorca from Roman times. The site, while still under partial excavation, is ideal for visitors, with a looping path to the various parts of the former city. When we visited, there were less than half a dozen others on the site. Founded in the first century B.C., Pollentia was the island capital until the 5th century Vandal invasion. You’ll see the remains of housing, public buildings including a temple, and a small amphitheater which was later used as a cemetery.

off season mallorca is better

Roman ruins at Pollentia. Note the modern roadway in the background, still following an ancient route.

off season mallorca is better

Ampitheater at Pollentia

2. Imagine Barbary pirates, invaders and smugglers. Strategically located, Mallorca has been invaded over the centuries by Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Normans, and Bourbons, to name just a few. Built for protection and communication, Mallorca’s medieval watch towers remain scattered all over the island. Mallorcans could defend and broadcast warnings using smoke or fire from coastal towers. These were strategically placed using sophisticated calculations designed by mathematician Joan Baptista Binimelis in the 16th century.

off season mallorca is better

Torre Cala Pí

Individual landholders also built towers which are now mimicked as elements in modern architecture.

off season mallorca is better

A tower in town

Pirates and smugglers throughout the centuries have used Mallorca’s calas (coves) along the coastline as places to cache their loot and evade capture. It’s hard to imagine prettier hideouts.

“It is one of those views that completely overwhelm one, for it leaves nothing to be desired and nothing to the imagination. All that a poet or a painter might dream of, Nature has created here.” – George Sand, who spent a winter here with her lover, Frederic Chopin, in the 19th century.

off season mallorca is better

Cala Pí

off season mallorca is better

See the new and the old tower?

3. Sample Herbes de Mallorca. This is a delicious herbal liqueur, unique to the island. At the close of our first meal on Mallorca, the bill was presented on a tray with two snifters containing a bright green liqueur. “What is this?” we wondered. “To your health!” was the reply. Outstanding was our verdict. Tunel, the most common brand, dates from the 1890’s, but the liqueur has been around since the 13th century when distillation methods were improved. The predominant note is anise, but other aromatic plants such as lemon verbena, rosemary, camomile, and fennel are also used and sometimes appear in the bottle.

off season mallorca is better

Sorry, I was a little blurry after a couple of these! If there is homemade liqueur on the premises, don’t hesitate!

4. Don’t worry about running into lots of tourists. Particularly Americans: they’re few and far between. More than 10 million tourists come to Mallorca each year, the vast majority of them in the summer. Americans don’t even number in the top ten countries from which tourists come. Germany takes the prize with 3.7 million German tourists per year. The UK comes in next with 2.1 million. Most of the tourists we encountered were German and Italian. Don’t get us wrong, we love our countrymen! But sometimes it’s nice to be the only ones, too. Off-season Mallorca is better without having to fight a crowd.

off season mallorca is better

Spotted: a lone American on a deserted cala

5. Indulge in world-class cuisine served in very unexpected places. We really didn’t know what to expect when it came to food on Mallorca, but we should have told ourselves, “It’s Spain, the food will be amazing.” And it is. From the most out of the way location you might imagine (try literally on the side of a mountain) to restaurants in a former bank, theatre or even almond press, the food in Mallorca is superb. And inexpensive! Feast your eyes here and check the information at the end of this post for details.

off season mallorca is better

Paella at Bistro 1909, Old Town Alcúdia

off season mallorca is better

Lighter fare at Bistro 1909, Old Town Alcúdia

off season mallorca is better

Slow roasted goat at Restaurant Escorca

off season mallorca is better

Restaurant Escorca is literally built into the side of a mountain.

Former bank, now Café Colón, Llucmajor, Photo Credit: majorholidaycheck.de

Former bank, now Café Colón, Llucmajor, Photo Credit: majorholidaycheck.de

off season mallorca is better

Artful chicken at Año 1849, Santanyí

off season mallorca is better

Spring starter at Ca’s Busso, Llucmajor

6. Go up and down the mountains. Many summer tourists never leave the beachside cities. They may arrive by cruise ship and have a shore excursion in Palma or go north from the airport to Alcúdia’s glamorous hotel strip. Others ensconce in smaller resorts along the many calas (coves) to sunbathe and relax. We recommend you head for the hills.

The serpentine road to Sa Calobra in the Escorca camarca is a breathtaking climb with a 270 degree loop under itself (called “the knotted tie”) at its highest point. Then you make your way down again through the Torrent de Pareis gorge, sometimes called Mallorca’s Grand Canyon. Drive it yourself as we did (well, Pete did the driving and I did the gasping), or take a bus tour. We passed many intrepid cyclists on this road and thought they were insane.

off season mallorca is better

Narrow tunnel on the Torrent de Pareis

off season mallorca is better

The road through Torrent de Pareis. Notice the rock on the north side of the island is greyish in color. Photo Credit: velodenz (flickr)

Make the climb to the Santuari de Sant Salvador on the highest point of the Serra de Llevant in the Felanitx camarca. You can do this on foot if you’re a hardy pilgrim, as there are beautiful tile stations of the cross to mark your way. If you’re a cyclist, you’ll get a different workout and an exhilarating ride back down. Needless to say, we drove. The reward? Beautiful religious monuments, views to forever, a former monastery turned hotel, and a lovely restaurant.

off season mallorca is better

Sant Salvador in the morning mist

off season mallorca is better

Crucifix at Sant Salvador

off season mallorca is better

The former monastery at Sant Salvador

Take the historic train, Ferrocarril de Sóller, from Palma to Sóller. From the train station, you can take a tram to Port de Sóller on the water. Sóller boasts a beautiful church designed by Gaudí in the center of town. On your way back, make time to enjoy the free art exhibitions in the train station. It’s an unexpected way to get a dose of Miró and Picasso. This train has been in operation since 1912.

off season mallorca is better

Photo Credit: trandesoller.com

off season mallorca is better

Port de Sóller from the Torrent de Pareis

7. Hang out in a vintage village. Probably the most popular is the Old Town of Alcúdia, a 14th century walled village with towers at each corner. Old Town is literally across the street from the Roman ruins of Pollentia, so you can make a wonderful day of it, as we did.

off season mallorca is better

Hanging out in Old Town Alcúdia – no waiting for a table!

Sleepy little villages like Santanyí don’t get many visitors in the off season.

off season mallorca is better

Watching the world go by in Santanyí

Our favorite day of the two weeks we spent on Mallorca occurred in the perhaps-overlooked town of Llucmajor, located in the camarca of the same name. Like most villages, life centers around the central plaza here. On the day we visited, what appeared to be a fundraising event turned into an impromptu street dance. A traditional Mallorquí xeremier band (a xeremia is similar to the bagpipes, and the flabiol they play is like an ocarina or recorder) got things going.

off season mallorca is better

Costumed dancers in the Llucmajor town plaza. Onlookers brought their own castanets!

The dance troupe and musicians encouraged all to participate.

I kept thinking of 5th grade in the U.S., when we were forced to square dance. How everyone hated it! But everybody – all ages! – in Llucmajor seemingly loved the traditional dancing. What a sense of community!

off season mallorca is better

Not as easy as it looks, especially in that outfit!

Have you visited Mallorca? If so, what did you think? If you haven’t, let us clue you in: off season Mallorca is better.

off season mallorca is better

Timeless beauty

Pinnable Image:

mallorca pinterest

Practicalities, Tips and Information:

We arrived in mid-April, just after the almond trees had finished flowering. Many guides, as does this blogger from Estonia, suggest booking your stay during the month of March for the bloom. Others recommend the fall. We encountered many cyclists on the roads. It’s a popular time for them to come ahead of the tourist traffic and before the summer weather turns hot, so be warned. Swimming pools and sea water are cold (by our standards, at least), although brave European kids of all ages were in the water.

Vintage train to Sóller: Ferrocarril de Sóller S.A., Central Offices and Sóller Station, Plaça d’Espanya, 6., 07100 Sóller. Phone:  971-630130. Station Palma de Mallorca, Eusebio Estada, 1., 07004 Palma de Mallorca. Phone:  971-752051 y 971-752028 Trains run daily, except during January. Check website for schedules and fares.

Capocorb Vell Archaeological Site, located off Highway Ma6014, Kilometer 23, Llucmajor. Admission fee: around €5

Museu Monográfic de Pollèntia I Zona Arqueològica, Major, 9 – 07400, Alcúdia. Tel. 971 89 71 02 Downloadable guide. Admission fee: €7

Restaurant Escorca, Ma10 Highway, Escorca. Tel. 971 517 09

Año 1849 Restaurant,  Plaça Major, 22, Santanyí, Tel. 971 653 823

Bistro 1909, Facebook Page, two locations on Plaça de Constitution, Old Town, Alcúdia. Tel. 971 54 95 88

Restaurante Ca’s Busso, Carretera Cap Blanc (Ma6014), Km 24, 07609 Llucmajor. Tel. 971 12 30 02

Café Colón, Plaza España No. 17, 07620, Llucmajor. Tel. 971 660 002

Comments

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Lois – We agree. We didn’t plan to visit Mallorca whatsoever, but now we’re just in love with it.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Paula – We’re convinced off season and/or out of the way is best for us as well. I wouldn’t want to make the Torrent de Pareis drive in touristy traffic. Even when we visited, there were buses and cyclists to avoid.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Nancie – Very true about it’s always off season somewhere. We loved the food everywhere in Spain. Pretty settings and interesting happenings in Mallorca were all part of the fun with food. 🙂

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Toni – The light is really amazing on the island. It bleaches everything out on land so that the sea’s color seems to intensify.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Megsy – True, it seems like there is a lot of tradition with high season destinations. To us, the experience suffers if you can’t enjoy it because of too many people.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Heather – We’re sure the party scene is huge. It would have to be with 10 million tourists every year. But visiting at other times, as we did, will charm you.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Lesley – There are plenty of beaches and calas to get lost in. Most were free of people when we visited.

  1. says

    I always try to travel during the off season, it really gives a better flavor of an area without having to deal with the masses of tourists and I think the experience is always more authentic….need to visit Mallorca some day
    noel has an awesome blog post here: Krakow highlights in one dayMy Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Noel – We totally agree. I hope you get to Mallorca, selfishly, because I’d love to see your photos.

  2. says

    I am loving all your Spain adventures! Mallorca looks amazing (of course on off season) the food, the ocean, the roman ruins. Everything looks great! Thanks for the tips too.

  3. TravelGretl says

    Love traveling when it’s not the season! Don’t do it enough though 🙂 It’s all the goods from a place: they know how to handle tourists, but the tourists are not actually there!

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi TravelGretl – You’re so right. I think the locals enjoy the opportunity to interact with visitors more, as well. When it’s the high season, they’re concentrating on making sure everyone is taken care of.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Bianca – Oh, there were topless sunbathers here and there. Coming from SE Asia temperatures, we were freezing. But days were sunny and the on island experience was spectacular.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Lieurene – Ha! The food on Mallorca is certainly droolworthy! Glad we could influence you to consider a visit!

  4. says

    Whoa – those windy, twisty and climbing roads would have had my brake foot spasming! I’m sure you were glad to let Pete do the driving while you could supply the gasps. Absolutely amazing scenery and I loved your overview of the island well away from any of the tourist crowds which always gives your the feeling that you’ve discovered the place for yourselves.
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go has an awesome blog post here: The Quarry: Yabba Dabba Doo or A Most Unusual AbodeMy Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Anita – Thanks! I was thinking that next visit, we may want to spend time in Palma to visit the art museum and the cathedral in particular. But there are other camarques to explore that we didn’t get to as well.

  5. says

    Absolutely beautiful! We’ve never been to Mallorca, but have heard such amazing things about it – now we just have to go – offseason, of course. 😉 I love the George Sand quote…it seems like a truly magical place. I’ve really enjoyed your visit to Spain (and taking us there with you!) Hope your travels onward are wonderful!
    Lisa Chavis has an awesome blog post here: White-Out on the Scenic Bergen Railway!My Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Lisa – Your recent trip in the northern regions of Europe has been inspiring to us as well. I hope you’ll visit Mallorca; I think you and Cheryl would just love every bit.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Lyn – I don’t know why, but I didn’t think to expect the Roman ruins, much less the Bronze age sites. A definite bonus.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Alli – The food and the ocean views are both fabulous on Mallorca. It was hard to put the camera down. 🙂

  6. says

    Love the photo of the lone American on the beach! 😉

    I had to smile at a few of your food photos. Having just spent 6 weeks in Spain, those fat white asparagus showed up on pretty much every salad we had (they’re good, but I like green asparagus better) and the egg/potato tortilla with bread – Oh! how many slices of that did we eat while walking the Camino? ! It was a breakfast staple for us.
    Patti has an awesome blog post here: Putting a Face on Iran: Arrival ~My Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Patti – Yes, I think he’s quite handsome. 🙂 If there’s a couple of things I’ll remember Spain for (as if I could narrow it down) it’ll be the white asparagus and the patate tart. Classic!

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Irene – No, I’d have been a cranky tourist amongst the hordes, to be sure. This was the perfect time for us to go.

  7. says

    Hi Betsy,
    I am so entranced with the town square dancers. They obviously knew the dance very well, even though it all seemed so impromptu. But I also couldn’t help but want to get right in there with them and feel that freedom of movement and expression.
    Indeed — what a lovely cultural experience. That’s just one of the many things I enjoy about Spanish culture — the coming together each day in the town square to socialize. That form of living adds years to one’s life, I think!
    Regards,
    Josie
    Josie has an awesome blog post here: Full-Time Travel: How is it Financially Possible?My Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Josie – I agree. Even though we were outsiders, the sense of community was palpable. Just for a few minutes, we felt we belonged. It was impactful.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Suzanne – I remember you saying you had friends there while we were there! When we return, we’ll probably do the same. Great values ahead or after the tourist season.

  8. says

    I love this post, Betsy. It brought out all my Hispanophilia. Mr. Excitement has a speaking gig in Madrid for early December, so we’ll be there during the way off season. Getting out of the beachy touristy areas of Mallorca looks like it was a real find. Spring and fall are obviously probably a better time to go than December, but sometimes ya gotta go when you can go. We visited Turkey in mid-March this year and were told by our Ephesus guide how smart we were not to have shown up with all the cruise passengers during the summer when it’s enormously hot and crowded. PS: Your dancing video actually brought out some fond memories of learning folk/square dancing in the US. I even had to take it for PE when I was in college after getting an “incomplete” in golf. 😉
    Suzanne Fluhr has an awesome blog post here: Artisanal Ice Cream – A Visit to La Ibense in Salou on the Costa Daurada in the Catalunya (Catalonia) Region of SpainMy Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Suzanne – Oh, how fun! I hope you can plan a side trip! I have no fond memories of square dancing in school, but now I think it would be fun. I can’t imagine anything less fun than trying to get to these places with a crowd of cruise ship daytrippers, can you?

  9. says

    Stunning. I’ve never been to Mallorca and my impression of it is based on the beaches and resorts you stayed away from. I love the villages you visited, the ruins and the views. I’d love to make the trip you did.
    Donna Janke has an awesome blog post here: Why Would I Go There?My Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Donna – So glad you enjoyed our impressions. Going inland and seeking out the sleepier little overlooked villages is all you need to do. The mountain drive to Sa Colobra is actually the most popular thing to do per TripAdvisor. I can’t imagine even thinking of it when there are tons of tourists on the island.

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Corinne – It’s the kind of place you want to share with people because it’s so wonderful, but you kind of don’t, too, isn’t it? 🙂

  10. says

    Great guide. Couldn’t agree more! Mallorca sometimes get a bad time over here because in the summer it can be over crowed with drunk Brits! I think that is one of the reasons I have been put off revisiting since I was a child. But if you travel when most do not then I think you manage to get the real flavour of the island.
    Nic has an awesome blog post here: Inspiring Interviews: Travelling WeaselsMy Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Billie – I’m with you. It was almost too chilly for us coming from Malaysia/Singapore, but everything was just lovely.

  11. says

    Oh I would love to hang out in the Old Town across the street from the Roman ruins of Pollentia, And I would love to chill in ancient surroundings and eat such delicious food. Most of all I would like to bump in Rafael please ;)!!

  12. says

    Ahhhh your pictures and stories of Mallorca are making me “homesick” for Spain. I have never been to Mallorca but it looks wonderful. We’ve been to Andalusia a few times, always in the off season, and love it. It’s a real luxury to be able to visit places like this when it’s the local crowd dancing in the square and not packed with other tourists. Love your video!
    Shelley has an awesome blog post here: The Simmons Building – Calgary’s Cool New Dining DestinationMy Profile

  13. says

    I’m a firm believer in off season travel (or maybe shoulder season depending on the weather). I was so envious when I saw your first photos right before TBEX. It looks wonderful, and I was thrilled we were able to visit Costa Brava before everyone arrived as well. Great weather, restaurants open and happy to see the first visitors, uncrowded hotels. Yes, you’ve reinforced with me it’s the way to go.
    alison abbott has an awesome blog post here: Farm to Table Embraced at Luxury HotelsMy Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Alison – Everything you mentioned is a reason. I’ve no doubt our mutual experience in Costa Brava would have been far different as well.

  14. says

    So glad you enjoyed Majorca! We visited in early October, and happened to hit gorgeous sunny hot weather! We particularly loved the tiny artists’ village of Deia on the north coast (and swimming at the little beach there). And how can you beat hiking past orange trees and olive groves from Soller to Fornalutx (said to be Spain’s prettiest town)? Your post brings back very fond memories…
    Sand In My Suitcase has an awesome blog post here: Saved from heat stroke at the Pinang Peranakan MansionMy Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi Janice – We’d go back any old time. Deia would definitely be on the list, as we’ve seen quite a few references to it. Fornalutx is a new name for us, though. We’ll keep it in mind!

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