Spain is the land where every city offers its own slice of paradise. But if you find yourself torn between Mallorca and Barcelona, you’re not alone. These are two of Spain’s most sought-after travel destinations, each with its own distinct allure.
In one corner, we have Mallorca—an island paradise renowned for its stunning beaches, outdoor adventures, and low-key luxury. In the other, Barcelona—a city bursting with art, architecture, and vibrant street life.
So, which is the ultimate travel destination? Mallorca or Barcelona? In this blog, we will compare and contrast the quintessential experiences, travel logistics, culinary adventures, and even the downsides of each location to help you make an educated choice for your next travel escapade. Trust us; you’ll want to read on.
Let’s dive into Mallorca vs. Barcelona!
Mallorca or Barcelona? Here is The Quick Answer
If you’re short on time and just want a quick answer—here it is. Choosing between Mallorca and Barcelona boils down to your personal travel preferences. If you’re a beach enthusiast yearning for secluded coves, water activities, and an island vibe, Mallorca is your go-to.
On the other hand, if you’re an art and history buff with a taste for cosmopolitan life, Barcelona’s rich architecture and vibrant cityscape will speak to your soul.
My Personal Opinion
As someone who’s explored both destinations; Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca extensively, I must say each has its unique charm that caters to different types of travelers. For nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those looking to unwind in a tranquil setting, Mallorca offers an unparalleled experience.
So, the choice between Mallorca and Barcelona really depends on what you’re looking to get out of your trip. Either way, you’re in for an unforgettable Spanish adventure.
Why You Should Visit Mallorca
Wondering why Mallorca is a must-visit destination? If you’re a beach bum, a history buff, or a foodie, Mallorca has something for everyone.
Here are the top reasons you should consider this stunning island for your next travel escapade.
Mallorca is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the Mediterranean. Think crystalline waters, fine white sand, and hidden coves. Places like Cala Millor and Es Trenc are paradises for beach lovers.
From rustic fincas (rural estates) to luxurious seaside resorts, Mallorca offers a wide range of unique accommodations that suit all budgets and preferences. Experience Mallorcan hospitality at its finest.
Convenient Public Transport
Mallorca’s public transport is efficient and widespread, with well-connected bus and train networks that make it easy to explore the island without a car.
Mallorca’s nightlife is anything but dull. The island offers a plethora of bars, clubs, and beachside lounges, especially in areas like Magaluf and Palma, that cater to every musical taste.
If you’re a fan of Mediterranean dishes, you’re in for a treat. From mouth-watering seafood paellas to local sausages like sobrasada, the culinary scene in Mallorca is rich and diverse. Don’t miss out on the island’s fresh produce, often sourced directly from local markets.
Rich History and Culture
With historical landmarks like the Palma Cathedral (La Seu) and charming villages like Valldemossa and Deià, Mallorca has a rich cultural heritage waiting to be explored.
Contrary to popular belief, Mallorca can be quite affordable, especially when compared to Barcelona. Whether it’s dining, accommodation, or activities, you’ll find options that won’t break the bank.
Attractions and Things to Do in Mallorca
Mallorca is more than just a sun-kissed paradise; it’s a hub of activities and attractions that will keep you entertained throughout your stay. Here’s a breakdown of some must-do activities and attractions that showcase the island’s diversity.
Explore Palma de Mallorca
Start your Mallorcan adventure by exploring its vibrant capital, Palma de Mallorca. Key attractions include the Gothic Cathedral La Seu, the bustling Passeig des Born, and a plethora of museums and historic sites. Don’t forget to wander through the maze-like streets of the old town to experience its authentic charm.
Historical Train to Sóller
For a scenic journey that transports you back in time, hop on the historical train to Sóller. This vintage wooden train takes you through the heart of Mallorca, passing by orange groves, mountain ranges, and quaint villages. Once in Sóller, a charming tram ride to the port is the perfect way to cap off this excursion.
Adventure Sports in Tramuntana Mountains
Outdoor enthusiasts will find their mecca in Mallorca’s Tramuntana Mountains. Whether it’s hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking, this UNESCO World Heritage site offers an array of adventure sports that allow you to appreciate the island’s natural beauty up close.
Art Galleries and Local Culture
If you’re an art aficionado, you’ll be pleased with Mallorca’s thriving arts scene. From the Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Palma to local galleries in Deià, there’s no shortage of artistic expression. Many galleries often feature works of local artists, offering a slice of Mallorcan culture.
Hot Air Balloon Flight
For those seeking a unique perspective of the island, a hot air balloon flight is an unforgettable experience. Soaring above Mallorca provides stunning panoramic views of the sea, mountains, and rolling landscapes below. It’s a serene way to appreciate the island’s diverse geography.
Travel Logistics in Mallorca
Navigating your way around Mallorca is a breeze thanks to its well-connected and convenient transportation options. Below are some essential details on how to get around in Mallorca to make your trip hassle-free.
Airports in Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca Airport (IATA code: PMI) also known as Son Sant Joan Airport or Aeroport de Son Sant Joan is the main international gateway into the island. Located just 8 km from Palma, the capital city, it offers multiple options for onward travel.
How to Get Around in Mallorca
EMT and TIB Buses: Both EMT (serving Palma and surrounding areas) and TIB (connecting different parts of the island) buses are reliable and budget-friendly options for getting around Mallorca. Bus schedules are available online, and stops are well-marked.
Car Rentals: For travelers looking for more freedom and flexibility, renting a car is an ideal option. Numerous rental companies operate out of the airport and major towns.
Bicycle Rentals: If you’re interested in exploring at a leisurely pace, renting a bicycle is a great way to take in the scenic beauty of Mallorca. Bike rentals are available in many tourist areas and even some hotels.
Boat and Ferry
Boat services are another attractive way to explore the island. Ferries to the smaller adjacent islands and scenic boat tours along the coast are available from multiple ports, including Palma and Port de Sóller.
Cost of Transportation
One-Time Bus Tickets: A one-way ticket for local EMT buses costs around €1.50 to €2.0, while TIB bus prices vary based on distance, starting at around €3.
Car Rental Costs: Daily car rental costs can vary widely based on the car and rental agency, but expect to pay around €25 to €60 per day for a basic model.
Accommodation Options in Mallorca
Finding the right place to stay can make or break your vacation experience. Thankfully, Mallorca offers a diverse range of accommodations to suit all tastes and budgets. Below are some top-notch options.
St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort
Address: Ma-1, 19, 07181 Costa d’en Blanes, Illes Balears, Spain
Phone: +34 971 62 96 29
La Residencia, A Belmond Hotel, Mallorca
Address: Carrer son Canals, 07179 Deià, Illes Balears, Spain
Phone: +34 971 63 90 11
Indulge in pure luxury at this oceanfront resort complete with world-class spa facilities, Michelin-starred restaurants, and private terraces with stunning sea views.
Can Cera Mallorcan Hotel (Adult Only Hotel)
Address: Carrer de Sant Francesc, 8, 07001 Palma, Mallorca
Phone: +34 971 71 50 12
Experience authentic Mallorcan charm at this renovated 17th-century palace, situated in the historic center of Palma. Each room is uniquely decorated, merging tradition with modern comfort.
Finca Es Castell
Address: Ctra. Caimari-Mancor, 07313 Selva, Illes Balears, Spain
Phone: +34 971 87 51 54
Address: Camí de Cabo Blanco, 07620 Llucmajor, Illes Balears, Spain
Phone: +34 971 94 01 21
For a truly unique experience, opt for this rural estate located in the foothills of the Tramuntana Mountains. Enjoy organic home-cooked meals and take part in authentic rural activities.
Zafiro Palace Alcudia
Address: Camí Real al Moll, 2, 07400 Port d’Alcúdia, Mallorca
Phone: +34 971 89 76 96
Address: Carrer de Marbella, 36, 07610 Palma, Illes Balears, Spain
Phone: +34 971 26 64 50
If you love to be near the water, these coastal resort offers multiple pools, a variety of dining options, and easy access to Alcudia Beach.
When Not to Visit Mallorca
Timing can significantly impact your travel experience. While Mallorca is a year-round destination, there are specific times you may want to avoid.
Overcrowding During Summer
July and August are peak tourist months, and the island can get incredibly crowded. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and have a more laid-back experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
Higher Prices and Limited Availability
Accommodations and flights can get pricier during the high season. The increased demand also means limited availability, so if you’re budget-conscious or prefer a broader selection of options, it may be best to steer clear of the summer months.
While Mallorca enjoys a Mediterranean climate, it’s essential to consider weather extremes. The summer heat can get intense, reaching temperatures above 30°C (86°F). Winters are mild but can be damp and chilly, particularly in the mountain areas.
If you are mindful of these factors, you can plan your next trip that offers the best Mallorca has to offer without the downsides.
Why You Should Visit Barcelona
Barcelona is more than just a Spanish city; it’s a collage of architectural art, diverse culinary flavors, and cultural richness. Here’s why this Catalan gem should be on your must-visit list.
Rich Cultural Landscape
Barcelona is a city steeped in history and artistic heritage. From the narrow lanes of the Gothic Quarter to the vibrant artwork that adorns the streets, this city is a cultural aficionado’s paradise. Music festivals, art exhibitions, and traditional Catalan festivals are frequent, offering a deep dive into local culture.
Architectural Marvels by Antonio Gaudí
No trip to Barcelona is complete without exploring the works of Antonio Gaudí. His architectural genius is displayed in iconic landmarks like the Sagrada Família and Park Güell. These structures are not just buildings but a journey into Gaudí’s imaginative world.
Diverse Gastronomic Experiences
Foodies will find themselves right at home in Barcelona. The city offers a mix of traditional Catalan dishes, classic Spanish cuisine, and a dash of international flavors. From tapas bars to Michelin-starred restaurants like Lasarte, the gastronomic landscape here is as diverse as it is delicious.
Attractions and Things to Do in Barcelona
When in Barcelona, every corner you turn reveals a new spectacle, be it a monumental building, a historic site, or a bustling market. Here’s a succinct list of must-dos in this Catalan capital.
Sagrada Familia and Park Güell
Two of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces, Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, are essential stops. The intricacy of Sagrada Familia’s design and the whimsical allure of Park Güell offer unparalleled artistic experiences.
Gothic Quarter Exploration
For history enthusiasts, the Gothic Quarter is a labyrinth of narrow medieval streets full of historic buildings. Don’t miss the Barcelona Cathedral and the remnants of Roman walls in this captivating district.
La Rambla and La Boqueria Market
La Rambla is a bustling street in the heart of the city known for its shops, cafes, and vibrant atmosphere. Adjacent to it, La Boqueria Market offers an array of fresh produce, meats, and ready-to-eat meals.
Picasso Museum and Magic Montjuïc Fountain
Art aficionados must visit the Picasso Museum, which houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. As evening sets, head to the Magic Montjuïc Fountain for a light and music show that’s absolutely enchanting.
Iconic Camp Nou Stadium and FC Barcelona’s History
Football fans shouldn’t miss the chance to tour the Camp Nou stadium, home to FC Barcelona. Get behind-the-scenes access and understand the rich history of this iconic club.
If you’re looking to relax and take in some sun, Barceloneta Beach is the spot. The beach is renowned for its golden sands, clear waters, and a broad promenade filled with restaurants and bars.
Travel Logistics in Barcelona
Getting around Barcelona is a breeze thanks to its robust and efficient transport network. Here’s a quick guide to make your travel in the city as smooth as possible.
International Connections through El Prat Airport
Barcelona-El Prat Airport (IATA Code: BCN) is the main international gateway to the city. It’s well-connected to major cities around the world and is just about 12 miles from the city center.
Cost-effective Metro System
The Barcelona Metro system is an economical and efficient way to get around. It’s expansive, covering nearly every part of the city you’d want to visit, including major visitor attractions.
Cost of Metro
A single metro ticket costs around €2.40. However, various passes and discount cards can make it more affordable if you plan to use the metro frequently.
Hola Barcelona Travel Card
For unlimited travel on public transport, consider the Hola Barcelona Travel Card. Hola BCN Travel Card gives you unlimited access to buses, metro, trams, and trains within the city for periods ranging from 48 hours to 5 days. Prices start at approximately €16 for the 48-hour card.
Accommodations in Barcelona: Where to Stay for Luxury and Budget-Friendly Options
Barcelona offers a myriad of lodging choices to suit any budget, from high-end luxury hotels to more cost-effective options. Below is a handpicked selection that I have tried, tested and checked reviews of.
Address: Plaça Rosa Del Vents 1, Final, Pg. de Joan de Borbó, 08039 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 932 95 28 00
Hotel Arts Barcelona
Address: Carrer de la Marina, 19-21, 08005 Barcelona
Phone: +34 932 21 10 00
Passeig de Gracia | Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40, 08007 Barcelona
Phone: +34 931 51 88 88
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 269-271, 08008 Barcelona
Phone: +34 932 16 44 90
Hotel Casa Camper
Address: Carrer d’Elisabets, 11, 08001 Barcelona
Phone: +34 933 42 62 80
Cotton House Hotel
Address: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 670, 08010 Barcelona
Phone: +34 934 50 50 45
Generator Hostel Barcelona
Address: Carrer de Còrsega, 377, 08037 Barcelona
Phone: +34 932 20 03 77
St. Christopher’s Inn Hostel
Address: Carrer de Bergara, 3, 08002 Barcelona
Phone: +34 931 75 14 01
Address: C/ del Carme, 25, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 937 15 44 20
When Not to Visit Barcelona
Barcelona, while a captivating city, has a reputation for pickpocketing, particularly in crowded tourist areas. If you’re not keen on dealing with this concern, it may be wise to avoid peak tourist season when pickpockets are most active.
Peak Season Drawbacks
Barcelona’s peak tourist season is during the summer months of June to August. While the city is most lively during this time, it also comes with drawbacks:
- Crowding: Popular attractions like Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and La Rambla become heavily crowded, which could hinder the quality of your experience.
Cost Surge in Services and Accommodations
During the peak season, expect a surge in the prices for nearly everything—from hotel rooms to restaurant bills. If budget is a concern, visiting during the peak season might strain your wallet.
Food Comparison: Palma De Mallorca and Barcelona
Culinary Delights in Mallorca
When it comes to authentic Mediterranean flavors, Mallorca doesn’t disappoint. Here are some highlights:
- Seafood Paella: A trip to Mallorca is incomplete without tasting its iconic seafood paella, a delightful blend of saffron rice and fresh marine catch.
- Sobrasada: This Mallorcan sausage is a must-try, offering a unique blend of ground pork, paprika, and other spices.
- Michelin-starred Restaurants: For those seeking a fine dining experience, Mallorca is home to renowned eateries like Marc Fosh and Adrian Quetglas.
Gastronomy in Barcelona
Barcelona serves as a melting pot of Catalan, Spanish, and international cuisines, offering a plethora of options for food lovers.
- Tapas: These small appetizers range from olives and cheese to calamari and patatas bravas. A must-try when in the city.
- La Boqueria Market: This famous market offers fresh produce, meats, and seafood. It’s an experience in itself to just walk around and soak up the atmosphere.
- Michelin-starred Restaurants: Barcelona is no slouch when it comes to fine dining. Top spots include Abac Restaurant and Lasarte.
An 8-Day Itinerary for Both Places
Mallorca: Days 1-4
Day 1: Arrival and Palma de Mallorca
- Arrive at Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI).
- Spend the day exploring Palma’s historic center, including the iconic Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma.
Day 2: Beach Day
- Head to one of Mallorca’s stunning beaches like Playa de Muro or Cala Millor.
- Tip: Arrive early to snag the best spot.
Day 3: Soller and Surroundings
- Take the historical train to Soller.
- Explore the quaint town and its orange groves.
Day 4: Tramuntana Mountains
- Embark on adventure sports like hiking or mountain biking.
- Opt for a guided tour for a safer and more informative experience.
Barcelona: Days 5-8
Day 5: Arrival and Sagrada Familia
- Arrive at El Prat Airport (BCN).
- Visit the Sagrada Familia; book tickets in advance.
Day 6: Gothic Quarter and La Rambla
- Explore the Gothic Quarter’s narrow alleys and historic landmarks.
- Walk down La Rambla and visit La Boqueria Market.
Day 7: Montjuïc and Camp Nou
- Spend the first half of the day exploring Montjuïc, including the Magic Fountain.
- In the afternoon, take a tour of the Camp Nou stadium.
Day 8: Barceloneta and Departure
- Spend your last day at Barceloneta Beach.
- Make your way to the airport for your departing flight.
Tips for a Seamless Experience:
- Use the Hola Barcelona Travel Card for unlimited metro and bus rides in Barcelona.
- For Mallorca, consider renting a car to explore the island at your own pace.
Helpful Travel Tips to Maximize Your Experience in Barcelona or Mallorca
- Low-Cost Airlines: Consider budget airlines like Ryanair or EasyJet for affordable flights to both Mallorca and Barcelona. Always book in advance for the best rates.
- Ferry Services: A variety of ferry services offer routes between Barcelona and Mallorca. This is a scenic, albeit slower, alternative to flying.
Public Transport Efficiency
- Mallorca: The EMT and TIB bus systems are incredibly efficient and cover most of the island. Additionally, car and bicycle rentals are widely available for more freedom.
- Barcelona: The city boasts a cost-effective metro system, which can be more economical with a Hola Barcelona Travel Card for unlimited travel.
Currency and Miscellaneous Advice
- Currency: Both Mallorca and Barcelona use the Euro. ATMs are widely available, but always inform your bank of your travel dates to avoid any transaction issues.
- Tipping: In restaurants, it’s customary to leave a tip of around 10% if the service has been good.
- For an extensive list of activities, dining options, and more, visit the official tourism website of Barcelona. It’s a treasure trove of useful recommendations to enhance your travel experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Mallorca warmer than Barcelona?
Yes, Mallorca generally has a warmer climate compared to Barcelona, especially during the summer months.
Can you do a day trip from Barcelona to Mallorca?
A day trip is technically possible with about a 1-hour flight each way, but it’s not recommended due to the limited time you’ll have to explore Mallorca.
Which place is cheaper?
Mallorca is generally cheaper in terms of accommodations and daily expenses compared to Barcelona.
Is Mallorca good for tourists?
Yes, Mallorca is excellent for tourists, offering a range of activities from beach relaxation to historical exploration.
How many days do you need in Barcelona and Mallorca?
For Barcelona, a minimum of 3-4 days is recommended to explore key attractions. In Mallorca, a 5-7 day trip would allow you to experience both the beaches and the mountainous regions.
How many days in Mallorca is enough?
A 5-7 day trip is recommended to fully experience what Mallorca has to offer, from its beaches to its mountainous terrain.
Is Mallorca a walkable city?
Mallorca is not a city but an island. Its capital, Palma, is quite walkable, but you’ll need other forms of transportation to explore the entire island.
Is Majorca cheaper than Barcelona?
Yes, Majorca (another name for Mallorca) is generally more affordable than Barcelona, especially in terms of accommodations and dining.