Pollensa (also known as Pollença) is an ancient town of attractive narrow streets and an impressive main square, lined with cafés, restaurants and bars – just a few kilometres from the northern resort of Puerto Pollensa. Its Roman bridge, signposted ‘Pont Roma’, is still in use.
The Arabs laid the foundations of Pollensa, but the Knights Templar founded the ‘Nostra Senyora de Angels’ church overlooking the square. Pirates raided this part of Mallorca regularly in the 15th and 16th centuries. The most famous invasion was by Moors in 1550, when local man Joan Mas led a small band of fellow citizens – armed only with sticks – to defeat the enemy. The town holds a noisy battle re-enactment every August 2nd, with townsfolk dressed as either Christians or Moors, during Pollença’s ‘Mare de Déu dels Àngels’ fiesta.
On Good Friday, thousands come to the Calvary hill to watch the moving and atmospheric Mallorcan Passion Play known as the ‘Davallament’ – sensitively depicting the suffering of Christ on the Cross and the lowering of his body, which is conveyed by torchlight down the 365 steps of the Via Crucis. Across town, the Santo Domingo Cloisters host the summer open-air concerts of the Pollensa Music Festival, and Mallorca’s largest wine fair (Fira del Vi) each spring.
THE PORT & PENINSULA
Puerto Pollensa is both port and resort – and particularly popular with the British. It has good facilities, long sandy beaches, and is an ideal family holiday spot. Although it’s not a year-round resort, there is still some life in the town during the winter for those who live there. The resort still retains some of the character that has brought some visitors here time and time again over many years.
No visit to the north of Mallorca is complete without seeing the island’s northern tip – the Cap de Formentor – where the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range meets the Mediterranean, at the end of a 20-kilometre peninsula. The scenery along this dramatic road is truly spectacular, with viewing points at the Mirador de Mal Pas and the Talaia d’Albercutx watchtower. Although the lighthouse itself is not open to visitors, its surroundings offer awesome views of this wild and rugged spot.
Formentor was the subject of a famous Mallorcan poem ‘El Pi de Formentor’ (The Pine of Formentor), written by the priest Miquel Costa i Llobera – whose family once owned the peninsula. This dramatic northern tip of Mallorca has also been an inspiration to both well-known and aspiring artists.
The area has two golf courses: Club de Golf Alcanada – just north of Puerto Alcúdia – has an immaculate 18-hole, par 72 course, designed by Robert Trent Jones and his son. Experienced golfers will find something to challenge them – particularly at the 7th and 16th holes – and glorious views over the Bay of Alcúdia, Alcanada lighthouse island and the Sierra de Llevant.
The 9-hole, par 70, Golf Pollensa course, designed by José Gancedo, is a mainly forested course, with exceptional views and plenty of hazards for any golfer. The driving range and golf school could help you improve your handicap.
For a good hike, walk through the scenic Boquer Valley, down to a remote rocky cove. Puerto Pollensa’s beautiful waterfront Pine Walk is a relaxing alternative. Or hire a bike and cycle along the bay waterfront to explore Alcúdia’s walled old town.
The resort offers a variety of water sports, including windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, parasailing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Sail & Surf is one of the water sports schools operating along the Puerto Pollensa beach front, south of the marina. Take to the extensive bay in a chartered boat, with or without a skipper – or join one of the excursions from Puerto Pollensa marina. Tudor Dawn Charters offers trips on sailboat ‘Tudor Dawn’, equipped with fun toys to enhance your time on the Med. Tour the bay on a glass-bottomed boat, or cross by the hourly water taxi to Formentor beach.
HIT THE BEACH
The Bay of Pollensa beaches are all different but enjoy superb views. In the resort itself, the long sandy Llenaire beach offers a variety of water sports; further south is Can Cullerassa beach – where you’ll find a tree to shelter beneath and a stretch of sand to call your own, but too much posidonia for pleasant bathing. North of the marina and backed by the Pine Walk, Albercutx beach is really a string of tiny sandy beaches – where you’re only a step or two from the edge of the clear shallow water. The pine-clad Formentor beach is in a beautiful cove, with mountain views and facilities (including those of the hotel) to hand. Further along the peninsula, the small Cala en Feliu, Cala Murta, and Cala en Gossalba are more challenging to reach, but rewarding in their tranquility.
GET OUT AND ABOUT
Puerto Pollensa is the starting point for several well-advertised coach excursions to other parts of Mallorca. If you’re travelling independently, the Fundacion Yannick and Ben Jacober’s Sa Bassa Blanca museum is a must. Set deep in the countryside, the foundation is signposted from Alcúdia old town: on arrival you’ll find a sculpture park, rose garden, and a remarkable gallery of portraits of children from the 16th-19th centuries.
Birdwatchers should be able to while away some happy hours amid the 150 hectares of lakes, reed beds and canals of the Albufera Nature Reserve or at La Gola Ornithological Tourism Centre, in the resort.
BROWSE & BUY
Many of Puerto Pollensa’s seafront shops are geared to holidaymakers, but the streets behind are worth a wonder. The town of Pollensa’s streets reveal some interesting small shops and boutiques where you might find local crafts, jewellery, fashions, and leather goods. Foodies will be in gourmet heaven at the excellent delicatessen Ensenyat. Give your hair and skin a treat with a visit to the Think Cosmetic shop, selling covetable beauty and wellbeing products made in Pollensa from Mediterranean ingredients; they produce toiletries for luxury hotels such as Son Brull. There are also furniture and interiors stores in and on the outskirts of Pollensa. For a market experience, head to Pollensa on Sunday mornings, or the more tourist-oriented one in the resort on Wednesday mornings.
Puerto Pollensa has numerous restaurants, cafés and bars, covering every taste and budget, and some of them offer a memorable dining experience. At the water’s edge in the marina you’ll find Stay – open all day every day of the year, for anything for a coffee to a delicious dinner – and La Lonja, a modern restaurant where you can enjoy good fish. Tucked away but worth finding is Restaurant Siller, offering good Mallorcan food and a friendly welcome.
Pollensa’s main square is lined with eateries and bars, with outdoor tables where you can soak up the town’s relaxed ambience. Restaurants of note around the town include Clivia, Cantonet, and La Font del Gall. Out of town, 365 Restaurant at the Son Brull Hotel & Spa uses organic produce grown on the estate.
TRY LOCAL WINES
Pollensa town is renowned as the location of the annual Fira del Vi, the popular wine fair held in spring in the cloisters of Santo Domingo, showcasing the increasingly impressive wines of Mallorca’s bodegas.
The Romans first planted vines in the north of the island 2,000 years ago. Two excellent bodegas are in the area: Ca’n Vidalet is in the foothills of Pollensa, producing award-winning wines – as well as the island’s first locally made gin, named Onze (11) for the number of Mediterranean botanics from which it’s distilled.
Bodegas Mortitx, between Pollensa and Lluc, has vineyards at an altitude of some 360 metres above sea level, exposed to extremes of climate. Tours and tastings can be arranged at both bodegas.
STAY AND SLEEP
The area offers two excellent 5-star hotels. The Son Brull Hotel & Spa is some five minutes’ drive from the town of Pollensa, in a property that was once an 18th century Jesuit monastery. Now a stylish contemporary, but comfortable, family-run boutique hotel, with 23 rooms and suites, it has a small spa with pool, large outdoor pool, restaurant and bar.
Occupying a privileged position at one end of the pretty Formentor beach, the Hotel Barceló Formentor opened in 1930; famous guests have included Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, and the writer Scott Fitzgerald. The hotel boasts no fewer than five restaurants, small gym, beauty salon and lovely gardens.
British company Empire Property Group International is developing a 40-acre site into a new luxury 5-star hotel resort with serviced villas in Puerto Pollensa. The resort will include residential, commercial and retail properties, set amid a lush landscape, and not far from the seafront.
LIVE THE LIFE
Many British retirees, in particular, choose to settle in this area, which is also popular as a second home location.
Facilities and services are good, and the international community seems to have good opportunities for a social life year-round. Although the north of the island can suffer some of the worst of the winter weather, there are still many days when glorious sunshine and blue skies make it a joy to be here – able to enjoy the benefits of an outdoor life.
Whether you want a permanent or second home in this area, there’s a wealth of choice – both in price (from around 150 thousand to several million euros) and type; everything from a modest apartment to an architect-designed villa on the Formentor peninsula, or a parcel of land where you can create your own dream home. One of the most expensive pieces of real estate ever sold on the island was La Fortaleza, located on an imposing promontory on the outskirts of Puerto Pollensa.
Real estate agents specializing in properties in this area include Barnard Hamilton Properties, and Prestige Villas (both Pollensa), and Riusech Inmobiliaria, McCallum, and Sol Inmobiliaria (Puerto Pollensa).
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