Majorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, is so well-known as to be practically synonymous with sun, sea, sand and summer holidays. Tourists from all over Europe flock to the Mediterranean, and about ten million each year follow the lead of the Spanish Royal Family and spend their holidays in Majorca.
Visiting Majorca in winter, on the other hand, can provide a good way to avoid the crowds and excellent chances to explore more of this beautiful island, particularly for travellers who are looking for sporting activities and adventures. The mild climate lends itself to year-round outdoor activity, so the popular pastimes of hiking, cycling, horse riding, sailing, diving and watersports – jet skiing is much loved – are still available in the winter months and generally more comfortable to take part in when the weather is a little cooler. Away from the beaches, the island boasts some stunning mountain scenery, pine forests and caves to explore.
Throughout the Christmas and New Year period, as with all the Catholic Spanish territories, Majorca has a wonderfully festive atmosphere with lots of entertainments and treats especially for children. And the party is by no means over in January – early in the New Year, Spanish children celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings (los Reyes Magos), with a huge parade in the evening, gifts and sweets being given the next morning. Then for a whole two weeks (14-29 January), the Balearic capital of Palma comes alive with celebrations of its patron saint, Sebastian – it’s a perfect opportunity for visitors to see and take part in a traditional Spanish fiesta. The festivities include street parties with live music, bonfires and fireworks, fancy dress parades and huge outdoor barbecue feasts.
Prices for accommodation drop by around €20 per night in the ‘low season’ after the summer rush. Some of the most tourist-focused establishments may be closed during winter but a massive selection of quality hotels in Majorca remains open throughout the year. Along with the scores of three and four-star all-inclusive beach resorts – most suitable for large groups of holidaymakers – there are some exclusive, five-star designer hotels, aparthotels and around cities, converted mansions, manor houses and villas are found.
Many of these locally-owned hotels boast excellent cuisine, so are a good place to sample local specialities such as seafood paella, the spicy, warming Sobrassada sausage, wild mushrooms and olives, and the locals’ pride, almond cake and almond ice-cream. There are also some fine local wines, mainly using the Tempranillo (grenache) grape and the local varietals Callet and Manto Negro.