Mallorca (also spelled Majorca) is the largest of the 16 Balearic islands. Lying in the Mediterranean about 60 miles off the coast of Spain, the islands have been home to diverse cultures since ancient times. Today Mallorca is often inundated with tourists because of its beautiful landscape and mild, sunny climate. Palma de Mallorca is the capital of the Balearics and has a cosmopolitan look, with many shops, restaurants, and other activities for visitors.
Cruise ships visiting Mallorca often offer shore excursions that either include a tour of Palma de Mallorca, the capital city, or a trip to other parts of the island. Here are a few examples of cruise ship shore excursions on Mallorca.
Palma Highlights -- 3.5 to 4 hours
This typical city tour introduces visitors to Palma de Mallorca and includes city sightseeing from the bus as well as stops at Bellver Castle and La Seu Cathedral. Bellver Castle is a short distance from town and has been restored. La Seu Cathedral is in the Gothic style, with flying buttresses and one of the world's largest rose windows, which is over 40 feet in diameter. The cathedral took over 500 years to complete. Anton Gaudi, the architect responsible for the La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, worked at the Palma de Mallorca Cathedral intermittently for about a decade when he was also working in Barcelona. Those who have visited La Sagrada Familia will immediately recognize the large canopy over the altar as his work.
Gaudi also introduced electric lights to the Palma Cathedral.
Valldemosa and Soller -- 7 hours
This tour was the one that Ronnie and I selected when we were in Mallorca on the Silversea Silver Whisper. It sounded particularly interesting since it included a chance to drive through the countryside to the famous monastery at Valldemosa, lunch and a drive through the mountains to Soller, followed by a narrow-gauge train trip back to Palma de Mallorca.
The Carthusian Monastery has beautiful gardens and cloisters, but gained its fame from two guests--Frederic Chopin and George Sand--who spent the winter of 1838-1839 there. The train ride from Soller back to Palma de Mallorca goes over the mountains and offers great views of the Mallorcan scenery.
Cruise ships dock at the Peraires Pier, located about 2.5 miles from the center of town. Shopping for Mallorcan pearls, glassware, wood carvings, and other handcrafted artwork is good. Those with more expensive tastes might want to visit the boutiques along Avenida Jaime III and the Paseo del Borne. Many shops close between 1:30 and 4:30-5:00 pm. The Museo de Mallorca includes an interesting collection of Moorish, medieval and 18th to 19th century art. The giant cathedral and the Arab baths are also worth a visit.
For those who wish to venture away from Palma de Mallorca, some of the most dramatic landscape is on the northern end of the island at Cabo Formentor. The road to the end of the long, narrow peninsula is long and winding. Another option outside the city is a tour of the Caves of Drach on Mallorca's eastern coast. This immense cave system features a natural lake and is one of the most visited sites on Majorca.
Unfortunately the cave has only one admission each day at noon, so it might be crowded.
Deciding what to Mallorca with only one day in port is a challenge for anyone. It has a little of everything. No wonder many people return to this fascinating island.