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Few months ago we went to Europe in order to visit my family in Belarus. At the beginning of the trip we had a chance to spend 5 nights in Barcelona. My sister-in-law somehow managed to convince me to do a day trip to the island of Mallorca. I’m still shaking my head as to why I went along with this madness. Nevertheless, we went, we saw, we flew back to Barcelona. All in the span of one day.
I didn’t really want to deal with public transportation in order to get to the airport, so we booked a roundtrip transfer ahead of time. Unfortunately, we got a call telling us that all taxi drivers are going on strike the day we were supposed to fly to Mallorca. Great. Our only option was taking a bus, which we did.
Waiting for our airport-bound bus. That bear got absolutely filthy by the end of the day.
This is where having a central location paid off big time or bigly, as they like to say in US these days. To add to our misery, it was raining and we had to stand in a long line of other weary travelers who I’m sure, were not flying to Mallorca for a day.
Legroom on our Vueling plane (not that great for my large husband). Thankfully, the flight was only 30 minutes long.
This was not a good way to start our little trip and by the time we landed, everyone was cranky as can be. Then we got a rental car (from Sixt) and my husband almost got in a accident. This is why we don’t usually rent cars in Europe. Anyway, we started our long, winding drive through the mountains, to the town of Soller. The weather cleared up a bit, and things were looking up, literally and figuratively.
Beautiful views, but no time to enjoy them
Mallorca is a very scenic island. It sort of reminded me of Tuscany region in Italy. You can read about Mallorca’s colorful history here
A picturesque town that we were not able to visit because there were no parking spots available
We stopped and did some hiking before discovering that we were trespassing on someone’s private property. Oops!
An obligatory family photo
Town of Soller
Soller is a typical cute European town with few cafes, shops, a church and not much else. Our GPS had the worst time figuring out directions, so we ended up going down the same narrow street a few times. Once again, we couldn’t find a place to park.
This is a scourge of most cute old European towns that were built before the invention of automobile. There was one parking area in town, period. We were fortunate, though, because a gentleman was leaving and let us have his spot that was prepaid for the next few hours. That’s all we needed, so his kindness was much appreciated. We found a place to eat because everyone was starving at that point.
Hey, there is that stuffed bear again! The look on my husband’s face pretty much sums up how I felt throughout the day.
We took a ride to the port of Soller via vintage tram from 1912, similar to trolleys they have in San Francisco (see more info on it) It was a fun way to view the sights and I do recommend it. If I remember correctly, the cost was only 10 euros roundtrip, and my son’s ticket was half price.
The harbor in the port of Soller
We walked around the waterfront in the rain, got some fresh orange juice and bought a few souvenirs before taking the tram back to Soller. Our flight was fast approaching and I was nervous we would be late to the airport. But we made it, barely.
Was it worth it?
Not to me, though my sister-in-law has no regrets. She said it was 100% worth it. It is a beautiful island, but Mallorca is the kind of place you go to relax, not drive like a maniac while taking photos from your car. I really wish we had more time to hike in the mountains and wonder the old cobblestone streets.
Personally, I’m a fan of fast-paced travel, but this was a bit much even for me. If you do decide to go for just a day, I recommend you pay for a tour or arrange a taxi. While traffic wasn’t bad, it was quite stressful for my husband to drive in this unfamiliar environment. Add all the rigamarole of getting to the airport via bus, plus all the bickering, and it just wasn’t an enjoyable day for me. I know I sound like a Debbie Downer, and when you look at the photos, it seems serene and picturesque. What’s not to like, right?
To me, that’s what travel bloggers (though no one in particular) often do. They present the pretty and the pleasant, but forget to expose the ugly underbelly of family travel. I make sure to go there, friends. The ugly underbelly, that is. Behind all the nice scenery and smiles, there is often drama, strikes, tiredness and filthy teddy bears. The juice on this day trip to Mallorca was simply not worth the squeeze (to me). But at least the airline tickets were cheap (only $50 roundtrip each).
Should you add Mallorca to your European itinerary?
Maybe, maybe not. If you are in Barcelona and have a few extra days, by all means, fly to Mallorca and stay a couple of nights. Llike I said, tickets are cheap and lodging on the island is relatively affordable. For $150 per night (or less), you can find a decent place that will fit four. Personally, I would stay in the mountains because the beaches in Europe are nothing to write home about, especially if you’ve been to Florida.
You can search AirBnB or Booking.com (both are referral links) to get an idea on what type of options are available. Believe it or not, there is even a Hyatt in Mallorca and it looks incredible. It costs 20k points per night and I have to say, appears to be worth it. According to photos and reviews, this is no cookie-cutter property, but a true resort that incorporates local architecture and traditions.
To cover flights from Barcelona on Vueling, you can use flexible points or cards that offer travel rebate. There are a few offers that could be a good fit: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard and Capital One Venture Rewards. Those bonuses give you flat rebate against travel purchases.
If you are starting your flight in US, you’ll be happy to know that Iberia flies to Mallorca as well. You’ll have to connect in Madrid or Barcelona, but if you are using AA miles, there won’t be any additional cost to add the island to your itinerary. However, airline tickets to Europe are so cheap these days, you may be better off saving your miles.
Will I go back? I might someday, but I’m not super eager to return. I liked it, but there are other islands in Europe that are calling my name. I would love to go back to Santorini, which is probably my favorite destination in the world. I also would like to visit Madeira, a place my in-laws raved about. Mallorca is pleasant, but I’m not sure it’s worth it to go out of your way in order to visit the area. Then again, I’m not really a good judge on it since we only spent half a day on the island.
Readers, if you’ve been to Mallorca, please comment!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.