The Balearic Islands have always been a safe bet for a family holiday with sunshine and beaches It’s such a varied island with beautiful scenery, welcoming people and a wealth of activities for all the family. I know some people can be put off by the stereotypical “booze and party” image of some of the resorts but look beyond that and there are some real treasures that make this island more than just a run of the mill package resort island.
I have been travelling to Mallorca for the past fifteen years for a range of holidays from girly weekends, to couple get aways and latterly family holidays and its never disappointed. From the moment I land on this beautiful island it feels special. I can never put my finger on what it is but probably the perfect mix of mountains and sea, warmth and sea breeze, outdoor living and chilled out evenings. It really makes you focus on the simple things in life and time with family.
So, let me share with you some of my top tips for seeing the best that Mallorca has to offer and creating that perfect family getaway.
1.When to visit
Mallorca is a great holiday destination at many times of the year, but I personally like to avoid the summer season if I can. Its testament to how popular Mallorca is but it can get very busy in the summer months. Since the kiddies went to school we have been going in October half term and this year tried Easter for the first time. Clearly you spin the weather roulette wheel but whether its good luck or not we have had good weather in the early to mid twenties. You always get some overcast and rainy days even in the summer but with flight prices nearly halved, quieter beaches and more bang for your buck accommodation wise its definitely worth a go!
2. Head North
If you are looking for a balance between traditional Mallorca and ensuring there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy venture to the North of the Mallorca. The resorts of Pollenca and Puerto Pollenca both have a great deal to offer in terms of a family holiday.
In Pollenca you can experience all a traditional town can offer in terms of a beautiful square in which to sit and watch the world go by – whilst the kids play within close range. The Calvari steps (all 365 of them) have continued to provide my kids with hours of fun over the years as they race to the top and see who can count them first. Egged on by the promise of a cold drink in the lovely little cafe at the top and an amazing view of the island for Mum and Dad. Take note if you are visiting in the summer please wait till later in the day , it gets super hot! It’s not ideal when your kids are at the buggy stage but if you have a sling then there is nothing stopping you! And all the calories burnt will more than compensate for a lovely coffee and a cake!
Theres a good range of restaurants in Pollenca, but we tend to eat on the square despite the fact we may pay a little more for dinner and forfeit some authenticity to be able to embrace the relaxed atmosphere and scope for play once the kids have finished their dinner. Top tip – the ice cream stand on the square is fantastic post dinner or for a mid afternoon treat – try the “tutti frutti” flavour – yum:)
If you are thinking of staying around Pollenca then there are a great number of villas available. Consider James Villas, Oliver’s Travels and for an extra special holiday Scott Dunn. There are also a good range of villas that are privately rented through the likes of Owners Direct and Holidaylettings. A villa holiday gives lots of freedom in terms of space for the family, usually access to your own pool and an ability to come and go as you please and take meal times when it suits you. We have had some wonderful villa holidays around Pollenca. They are typically rural but you are never far from Pollenca or Puerto Pollenca. There are also villas that are within walking distance of both depending on your needs. Regardless I would recommend hiring a car for your stay for supermarket trips and to explore the island.
A firm favourite of mine (and that’s even before the Night Manager had been broadcast). I still say that having travelled to many places across the world, sit me down with a nice glass of cava looking out to sea from Puerto Pollenca and I am in my travel heaven. You have the Tramuntana behind you and the beautiful bay in front of you… idyllic. It’s so family friendly with a grown up, sophisticated twist that makes you feel it ticks all the boxes.
- The Pine Walk – a beautiful stretch of path along the beach lined with atmospheric restaurants and cafes. As dusk falls it’s a lovely walk in and out-of-town interjected with the kiddies running out onto the peers to spot fish or play on one of the lovely playgrounds dotted along the stretch. So many restaurants to choose from but favourites of ours include:
- El Casinet – pizza and pasta, child friendly
- Tolo’s – further down towards the Alcudia end of the resort – lovely buzzy atmosphere, Italian food and a favourite with the cyclists. If you kids are into bikes then this is the place to be!
- Grand Cafe – a coffee and cake stop mid afternoon
- Cappuccino Bar – grab a quick pre dinner drink whilst the kids play top trumps – and feel like grown ups again!
- Valls – the best ice cream bar in town , and don’t forget to try the chocolate fondue for a real treat.
- Cap de Formentor – not for the faint hearted but a lovely drive along the peninsular up to a lighthouse with some of the best views in Mallorca. Stop along the way at the Playa Formentor for possibly one of the once beautiful beaches I have ever been to.
- Accomodation – decisions , decisions – there is something for everyone. Lots of package resorts from the main tour providers and some excellent self catering flats. We stay in the Bellresguard area which is fantastic at the Illa D’or end of the Puerto Pollenca. A great little complex with pools, modern accommodation and an integral Spar shop that doubles as a chill out cafe bar for everything from everyday essentials to a take out coffee or evening meal.
- Playgrounds a plenty – you are never far away from one in this resort. The large one in front of the police station (Guardia Civil building) is a lovely one with equipment for all ages and our family have spent many a happy hour there under the shade of the pine trees. A great little cafe just next to it too provides a great ice cream and drinks stop after a play session.
- Take a trip round the bay to Alcudia – a ten minute drive round the sweeping bay (watch out for the kite surfers!) brings you to Alcudia. A walled town which provides a change of scenery. Kids will love to walk the walls and pretend to me defenders of the realm. A beautiful mix of traditional side streets and accessible facilities for meal times makes this a firm favourite.
- Run, Swim, Cycle – whist making it a wonderful holiday for the kids is always top of our priority list it’s always nice to be able to have some “me time” on holidays. It’s not for everyone but if as a parent you enjoy any of the above then these resorts provide an excellent opportunity to escape for a little bit and take some of the most breathtaking exercise routes I have experienced! And if not then just ten minutes with a book on a lounger looking out to sea also does the trick very nicely!
3. Take a day trip to Palma
From an early age we have taken the kids for a trip to Palma, despite people often saying “but there is nothing for the kids to do”! It’s a fantastic city, a mini Barcelona to my mind. The kids are fascinated by the boats and boy there are many. There is a kid friendly board walk area where you can go and look at them and spot the fish. Below the cathedral are play parks with a difference – beautiful settings! Squares a plenty for the kids to run around whilst you all have a meal and boat trips around the harbour provide a lovely excursion to see Palma from the outside looking in. Not far from Palma down the main motorway past the airport is the Palma Aquarium. A firm favourite for a trip, especially if it’s a rainy day or far too hot. I am not a fan of aquariums but I have to say its a great facility and the outdoor area with its bouncy castles, water shoots and entertainment provide a great day out for the family when down at that end of the island.
I have barely scratched the surface in terms of what this island has to offer, and in future posts will share my top tips for other parts of the Mallorca. But there is no doubt about it , it’s a place that captures your heart as well as ticks the boxes for an unforgettable family holiday.