The island of Mallorca (Majorca), off the east coast of Spain, is the largest in the Balearic Island group, which collectively forms one of the most popular beach holiday destinations in the Mediterranean, if not the world.
Mallorca took off as a tourist paradise in the 1960s, when a development boom spawned the building of hundreds of high-rise hotels, apartment blocks, and shopping centres that now line most of the island's coast.
The capital, Palma, still retains some of its historical flavour, sporting grand mansions and a magnificent Gothic cathedral in its bustling old centre. The northwest coast, too, still offers some secluded coves below the peaks of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, and several quaint old towns and villages still untouched by the commercial development common on the island.
If travellers visit Mallorca for sun and fun on the beautiful beaches, as most people do, it is worth heading off for a tour of the island by car, or even bicycle, to discover the romantic fishing villages, historic monasteries, monuments, museums, and spectacular landscapes secluded from the hubbub. The interior is largely the preserve of a thriving agricultural community, dotted with windmills, as well as olive and almond trees.
Palma de Mallorca has the island's international airport and is the main ferry terminus, receiving ferries from Valencia and Barcelona on the mainland. It is also the hub of the extensive transport system that covers Mallorca, with bus services linking all main settlements, and train lines to Inca and the scenic tourist train to Soller.
The best way to get around is by car and there are several rental agencies in Palma, but in high season reservations need to be made in advance. Everything on the island is within three hours drive from the capital.