Sun, sex and sangria at party resorts like Magaluf draw millions to Mallorca every year. But there’s so much more to this beautiful Spanish island – it’s an awesome gap year destination, with plenty to see and do for gappers on a shoestring.
1. Zoom back in time to 1830s Valldemossa
Valldemossa is a pretty town buried in Mallorca’s mountains, and was the summer home in the 1830s to the famous Polish composer and his French lover George Sand, author of A Winter in Mallorca (which is sold everywhere on the island). A wander through its winding cobbled streets and picturesque houses feels as though little has changed in 150 years. Around Valldemossa are rich forests and rolling hills, with plenty of fantastic hiking routes.
2. Hike the Torrent de Pareis, then run into the cool Mediterranean sea
Warning: this is brutal. But stay with me. This six-hour gorge hike in the scorching Mediterranean heat isn’t a piece of cake on a relaxing summer holiday, but the breathtaking scenery is well worth the sweat. Stand under the fresh mountain springs during the gorge hike, where you can refill your water bottle with natural mountain water. Start at the top at dawn to reach the crystal-clear Mediterranean sea in time for lunch – and don’t worry, you can take a bus back!
3. Ride the San-Francisco-style tram in Soller
4. Wander down Las Ramblas
The miniature version of the famous Barcelona Ramblas – fewer people, fewer hustlers, and a great spot to sit on a bench and watch the world go by. Climb the steep steps at the end of the avenue to Palma’s main square – also a petite replica of Madrid’s famous Plaza Mayor – and wander towards the enormous medieval cathedral.
5. Laugh at signs in Magaluf, Mallorca’s Little England
Ahh, Magaluf. A place known to many British teenagers as ‘Shagaluf’. It’s one big party at night but during the day, while hangovers dominate the town, check out its hilarious attempts to out-British the homeland.
6. Watch a movie at the outdoor cinema beneath Palma’s stunning cathedral
During the scorching Spanish summer, Mallorcans take it easy in the daytime but come out in full force at night. Palma entertains its residents with outdoor film screenings during the summer months, so grab some popcorn and perch yourself on the seafront beneath Palma’s monumental cathedral to enjoy a (hopefully subtitled) movie. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s FREE!
7. Visit the Arab baths in Palma
They’re tiny and the visit will take you twenty minutes – but these tenth-century ruins are the only survivor from Arab rule in ‘Madina Mayurqa’. There’s a lush garden as well as the elegant bath chambers, so they’re well worth a trip if you like your history.
8. Enjoy a clifftop dinner at Puerto de Soller
Check out Nautilus, a clifftop restaurant above Puerto de Soller, even if only to take a photo. Its tagline is “the sunset place” and it does exactly what it says on the tin – relax with incredible views and sangria for a classic Mallorcan experience.
9. Take a lesson in Spanish or Catalan
Mallorcans are proud Catalan speakers, but language lessons are available in Spanish too. Most are in Palma but you’ll find individual teachers across the island. Learning a language on your gap year will also look great on your CV!
10. Marvel at the natural beauty of Cap de Formentor
For classical rugged Mediterranean landscape, head to the beautiful Cap de Formentor at the north-eastern tip of the island. Twisting mountain roads take you right to the top of the cliffs to the viewpoint, where you can gaze miles out to sea past weird rock formations. Stop by the secluded sandy beaches on your return trip.