Renting a car
If you plan to hire a car, it pays to shop around in advance for the best deals available on the island. It’s worth noting that diesel is cheaper to buy than petrol in Mallorca, so hiring a diesel car will save you some money when it comes to filling the tank at the end of your rental period. And consider whether you really need a car for the full duration of your holiday . . .
Getting around without a car
Using public transport means you’ll see parts of the island you might otherwise miss. Mallorca’s well-used and economical SFM train service (currently in the process of being electrified) links Palma with Sa Pobla, in the north, and with Manacor, in the east – both via Inca. From Palma’s Intermodal Station (for train, Metro and bus) you can make the return journey to Manacor – home of the renowned Majorica and Orquídea pearls – for less than 5 €. From Manacor railway station there are bus services to the main resorts on the east coast.
Using the train to visit places like Mallorca Fashion Outlets (retail outlet centre), Inca (for leather factories and shops), and Sineu (for the huge Wednesday morning market) will save you the hassle of finding somewhere to park. Trains run from Palma to Inca approximately every 20 minutes and hourly to Sa Pobla and Manacor. For more information about public transport, visit http://www.caib.es or telephone +34 971 177 777 .
Playing a round of golf
Mallorca is a golfer’s dream, with a fantastic choice of courses to appeal to all levels of players. Your budget for green fees will go further with the services of Simply Mallorca Golf (www.simplymallorcagolf.com). Their small, service-orientated team offers not only everything you need to know about playing on the island, but also discounted green fees at all of Mallorca’s golf courses. They also offer preferential rates at more than 800 hotels here, and car hire, minibus or coach transport – so the site is worth visiting at the stage of planning your holiday.
Mallorca is incredibly bike-friendly, with an extensive network of bicycle routes around the island and in Palma. It’s a popular destination that’s appropriately geared up (pardon the pun) for pedal-pushers – whether they’re professionals in training, serious amateurs, or cycling holidaymakers. You don’t have to be Lycra-clad and super-fit to enjoy cycling here – nor do you need your own bike, as they can easily be hired in Palma and in the main resorts at reasonable prices. You’ll also find bikes for hire in locations such as Manacor railway station and the public estate Finca Son Real.
Sadly, Bicipalma, the prominent new bike pick-up scheme in Palma, is only available to residents of Palma, but there are bikes that can be borrowed free-of-charge from some of Palma’s main underground car parks (including the one at Parc de la Mar, near the cathedral), on deposit of the keys of your parked car. We recommend the cycle ride around the Bay of Palma for lovely views, and lots of places to stop for refreshment.
Pack a picnic
The Mallorcans love to eat outdoors and can often be found in large groups enjoying a casual picnic on a quiet beach or in the mountains. You don’t need to have the use of a kitchen to prepare something delicious, simple and authentic: buy a loaf of rustic local bread (ask the baker to put it through the slicing machine), some plump juicy Mallorcan tomatoes, and a small bottle of local olive oil, for the makings of a basic ‘pa amb oli’. A jar of olives and a few slices of serrano ham from a supermarket deli counter and it becomes a feast that will taste even better outdoors. Finish it off with some seasonal fruit or an emblematic ‘ensaïmada’ (the famous Mallorcan spiral-shaped pastry).
You can find very good value for money when eating out in Mallorca, if you do as the locals do and make lunch your main meal of the day. Many island eateries offer a three-course set menú del día – often including a drink – at very reasonable prices. Around 10-12 € should buy you a decent lunch, but for only a few euros more you can enjoy a very high standard of cuisine, such as that offered by Marc Fosh at Simply Fosh in Palma (www.simplyfosh.com), within the Hotel Convent de la Missió. The British chef was formerly at Reads Hotel, where his extraordinary Mediterranean cuisine gained a Michelin star. Simply Fosh’s three-course lunch at 18 € (plus IVA) is exceptional value for money. For slightly less, you can also enjoy a three-course lunch at either Misa Braseria (www.misabraseria.com) or Tasca de Blanquerna (www.tascadeblanquerna.com) the other two Palma restaurants in the Fosh Group. See our Food feature in this issue and the business directory on abc-mallorca.com for details of other restaurants in Mallorca offering good deals.
For a lighter lunch, lifestyle store Rialto Living (www.rialtoliving.com) has a lovely small café/restaurant (an insider secret) offering delicious and very good value for money at lunchtimes: a dish of the day, a generous sandwich or interesting salad will cost around 8-9 €.
Another tip for those who like a gourmet experience without spending a fortune is to seek out the ‘menú degustación’ offered by an increasing number of restaurants. For a reasonable price you can enjoy a tasting menu of several courses, often including wine. Safrà 21 in Ciudad Jardín (www.safra21.com) offers what’s called a “bistronomic” menu, consisting of five courses for just 25 €. And do remember the Spanish tradition of tapas – a few of these can make a substantial meal that won’t break your budget for dining out.
After a long day’s sightseeing or shopping in Palma, a cool cocktail will slip down a treat. The smart Misa Brasseria, in the Hotel Mision de San Miguel, near Plaza de España and Mercado Olivar, is the venue for a weekly AfterWork party on a Friday (well, shopping and sightseeing can be hard work!) and, as long as you’re appropriately dressed, you won’t feel out of place. They offer value-priced drinks, a special weekly cocktail for just 5.50 € (including IVA), and complimentary canapés.
On Wednesday evenings, Nicolás (a recent addition to Palma’s great choice of cocktail bars) offers gourmet ‘pintxos’ for around 2 € each. These tasty tapas are the perfect complement to one of their mixologist’s delicious cocktails.
Visiting art lovers planning to see Es Baluard, the modern and contemporary art museum in Palma, can save a little money by visiting on a Friday: On this day you choose how much you want to pay to go in! Palma has an astonishing number of private art galleries where you can happily browse at leisure (though this could become expensive if you spot a painting you simply must have!).
If you want to see a movie, The Renoir cinema in Palma’s S’Escorxador complex, usually screens two or three movies in the original English each week. Moviegoers benefit from reduced prices on Mondays, and at the first screening of each day. www.cinesrenoir.com
Visit Aqualand’s website (www.aqualand.es) if you fancy a day out at one of their two water parks in Mallorca: the site often offers downloadable discount vouchers.
There are lots of free attractions in Mallorca (see our Sightseeing Guide in this issue), including S’Albufera, Finca Son Real, CCA Andratx and a host more. Where there is an entrance fee, pensioners often pay a discounted price – though may be asked for proof of age.
If you must keep up-to-date with your social networking sites (“Here we are at Nicolás in Palma!”), you’ll find free WiFi connection in lots of bars, cafés and restaurants on the island. In Palma, public spaces where you can use free WiFi include Ciudad Jardín, Cala Major, Playa de Cala Estancia and S’Escorxador.
Be in the know . . .
Sign up now for free membership of the abcClub at abc-mallorca.com and you’ll receive a regular newsletter with details of the latest special discounts and offers available in Mallorca for members. You’ll also receive invitations to events, such as the opening of an art exhibition or a wine-tasting, which could coincide with your holiday. Special offers could include things like a free bottle of wine with a meal, reduced green fees for golfers, or a percentage discount on a retail purchase.
The website includes details of what’s happening on the island, which might include fiestas and traditional fairs enabling you to experience some local colour and culture, alongside Mallorcans, at little or no cost. These occasions often feature firework displays, live music and dancing, street food, local crafts and more: summer in Mallorca is one long party . . . and you’re invited! Make abc-mallorca.com your homepage and you’ll always know what’s happening on this lovely island – even when your holiday’s over and just a special memory.