Budget Travel Guide to Mallorca
Mallorca has a lot going for it, once you’ve bagged a dirt cheap deal to get you there. Sure, all inclusive is fun, but you aren’t going to spend all week at the hotel. So you’ll be pleased to know that Mallorca has a great mix of old towns and tourist traps, beautiful architecture and stately marinas, unspoiled coast, a cycle friendly attitude, beautiful subterranean paradises and tasty Spanish cuisine. And of course, the weather varies between gorgeous and pretty nice the whole year round.
Here are a few ideas of some things you can get up to in Mallorca that will help look after your Euros, but also get you out and about.
Visit a marina
Mallorca is not a very big island, only some 65 or 70km from end to end. This means that there are lots and lots of ports, harbours and marinas for you to explore. Of course, this is free and a very pleasant wander it does make. We enjoyed the contrast between the giant super luxury yachts and the rustic fishing boats.
We found that marinas sort of took you off the beaten track a little bit, away from the main flow of tourists. There were people working on their boats, the boat lift in operation and other little interesting things happened that made it a very pleasant place to while away an hour.
Mess about on the beach
You don’t need me to tell you that hanging out on the beach is a free activity. But aside from paddling, in Mallorca we also saw free exercise equipment, sort of like a kid’s playground, but for adults, on the beach.
There are some nifty areas of rock pools for exploring, and there were even a few sand sculpture artists at work that were well worth stopping for.
Try the tapas
If you’re looking for good value drinks and maybe some snacks, you can’t do much better than heading away from the tourist bars on the seafront and finding the small cafe bars that the locals visit. We found some lovely ones in the old town area of El Arenal. Some places will offer a Cana (a small glass of beer) with a complimentary tapas for 1 Euro, which is an absolute bargain.
You don’t get to pick your tapas, you get what you’re given – this is great because it means you get to try all sorts of new things! My favourite was the one pictured here – 2.70 Euro for a delicious glass of red wine, a cana and a plate of snacks including the most delicious Serrano ham – I think you’d struggle to get that much Serrano for £2.50 in the UK to be honest!
We also got, variously, small fish in oil, vinegar and parsley, deep fried bite sized morsels of breadcrumbed white fish, olives, tiny gherkins, ensalada Russo, ham and cheese croquettes or simply crisps! Trekking round a few small bars can be a great way to have a long and leisurely lunch!
|The Boy on his Bike (right)|
Hire a bike
Mallorca is absolutely cycle mad. With the island mainly being flat it is great for novices and time triallers alike, and the mountainous region in the north east provides further challenges for the more adventurous cyclist.
We found bikes to hire for 5 Euro per day, which we thought was pretty reasonable. Admittedly, cycling the 10km or so in to Palma it would have been cheaper, just, to get the bus, but significantly less fun. There is a cycle path which runs all the way around the coast from El Arenal up to the capital which is an easy and beautiful route. We found this to be an absolutely enchanting day out, with a visit to the great Cathedral in Palma being a lovely reward for our efforts (and free admission).
I would definitely enjoy going back to Mallorca and hiring a bike for the full week, cycling across the island and exploring some of the small villages. When we crossed the island on the coach it was clear that cyclists were well respected on the roads and the scenery would definitely warrant a closer look!
Creep into the Caves
|Stalactites and stalagmites|
There are a number of amazing caves on the western end of the island. Although stunning, they are not particularly cheap to visit. However, I would recommend checking out at least one and to make it a little cheaper, we found that there were leaflets in the dispensers in our hotel which offered a few Euros off admission. Combining that with getting the public transport across the island (really easy to do, the transport links are excellent and extremely easy to navigate) we managed to pay half the price for our day trip that we would have paid had we booked it as an excursion with an agent at the resort.