Few Mediterranean holiday spots are as often and as unfairly maligned as MALLORCA. The island is commonly perceived as little more than sun, sex, booze and high-rise. It’s an image spawned by the helter-skelter development of the 1960s, yet it takes no account of Mallorca’s beguiling diversity. In fact, the spread of development, even after fifty years, is essentially confined to the Badia de Palma (Bay of Palma), a thirty-kilometre strip flanking the island capital, and a handful of mega-resorts notching the east coast.

Elsewhere, things are very different. Palma itself, the Balearics’ one real city, is a bustling, historic place whose grand mansions and magnificent Gothic cathedral defy the expectations of many visitors. And so does the northwest coast, where visitors delight in the rearing peaks of the rugged Serra de Tramuntana, beautiful cove beaches, monasteries at Valldemossa and Lluc, and a string of delightful old towns and villages – such as Deià, Sóller and Pollença. There’s a startling variety and physical beauty to the land, which has drawn tourists to visit and well-heeled expatriates to settle here since the nineteenth century, including artists and writers of many descriptions, from Robert Graves to Roger McGough.

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