The past few weeks in London had been cold – colder than I care for, but I had Christmas in Mallorca to look forward to! Work days at a top of 3 degrees, and when you top that off with a daily ride to work full of sniffly, coughing commuters, well, you can appreciate that we all need a little break come Christmastime.
I’d been very good [hello Santa] coming up to the festive period. One who enjoys the sparkly allure of a Christmas party, this year the late nights were kept in check, that is, until 22 December when a slew of happy events led me to being in a state not at all fit for a 4.30am rise.
We got through Stansted airport, fending off the rest of the Saturday morning school holiday rush. I thought I was doing well, despite the brain fog and living on the edge of severe grumpiness, only to get to security and realise my computer and liquids were inside my carry-on suitcase. I slid the laptop out through the side and attempted a very cunning manoeuvre to remove my plastic bag full of liquids, only for the entire suitcase to flip over on itself and for all the contents to scatter along the floor.
Oh yes, I was that person.
It would have been hilarious if only it wasn’t me. I’m sure for the hoards of holiday-goers trying to cope pre-caffeine it was hysterical. I didn’t look. I still can’t think too much about it.
Fortunately, just over two hours later, I was in Spain where I would happily take the sun and breezy 17 degrees by the marina – a pleasurable escape from the grey that has been my adopted home of the UK (I’m its biggest fan but even I need a little sunshine every now and then).
Thank the Universe for Christmas in Mallorca (sometimes spelled Majorca).
Then there was Spain
There really is something about Spain, for us at least.
We love the language and the accents and the culture. The sun and beaches are pretty nice too.
Last Christmas we defied tradition and visited Ibiza, a long-time dream destination of ours. It certainly did not disappoint and remains one of our favourite places. I’m looking forward to returning to that blissful, melodic island – probably in summer when everything is open!
We couldn’t get as far as home (Queensland), so wanted an Ibiza-esque Christmas experience in 2017. That is, sunshine, beautiful scenery and travel experiences, but with a little more actually happening over the festive break. After a long discussion where the list of possibilities became impossible (we just want to go everywhere!), one weekend in September we literally closed our eyes and put a virtual pin on Google Maps.
Mallorca (or Majorca) was the winner.
Is anything open at Christmas in Mallorca?
At Christmastime for most around the world, we all encounter the same thing which is a lack of activities, shopping and travel options on offer late December. Fair enough, this is a time for families and if you’re lucky enough to not be working, then so be it (you deserve it!).
As a visitor to a region though, we want to be able to take in a couple of new experiences, and my research indicated that while much of the island of Mallorca may not be open (some beach clubs operate seasonally across the summer months), the capital of Palma promised to be abuzz with plenty to do.
As it turns out, this is very true. Even London totally (totally!) shuts down on Christmas day, but in Mallorca the local buses were operating, as was City Sightseeing (hop on hop off bus tour) and many bars and restaurants opened their doors.
Winter in Mallorca – travel tips, transport and best-of
The weather in December averages a top of about 15 or 16 degrees. It’s warm in the sun but can be a little chilly if there’s a breeze, and the temperature does drop at night. It’s quite pleasant though.
The capital, Palma, is buzzing with plenty going on, so in the first instance wander the back streets, visit art galleries, take a look inside the old churches and try some tapas.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (or La Seu) is unmissable, its Gothic structure standing tall over the city. Work on this cathedral began in the 13 Century, and famous architect Antoni Gaudí (who has left his stamp all over Barcelona) even spent time working on this structure between 1904 and 1914.
Another Gothic structure that’s well worth the trip to the top of a hill overlooking the city, is Bellver Castle. The only circular castle in all of Spain, this 14th Century structure is really interesting to explore, and with a huge bonus in that it boasts the best views across Mallorca.
Hire a bike and ride along the extensive promenade, explore the marinas and along the coast.
You could ride to, or take bus number 25 to nearby beach s’Arenal. Many beaches and beach clubs around the island are closed over winter but this is a nice area and some eateries and shops are open.
The bus system is quite easy to use, but you’ll need cash. A single fare is currently €1.50, and the driver can change up to a €10 note.
If you have spare time and in need of retail therapy, there’s plenty of stores and a mall in the city, and a large shopping destination called Porto Pi which you can take a bus or a cab to.
Another experience that was mentioned to us a few times was a steamtrain that runs between Palma and Soller on the other side of Mallorca.
The whole trip is about an hour and a half one way, and you can’t pre-book tickets. The line was closed for maintenance when we were there, but this seems like it would be a lovely thing to do. Do keep an eye on the timetable though, because return trip would need to be planned.
Christmas in Palma – dining ideas
To be honest, we didn’t have a bad meal here! I remember being concerned about what may not be open at Christmas in Mallorca but there’s no need to worry, you’ll have plenty to choose from even on 25 December.
Notable venues we found:
– Lennox the Pub, for €2.50 glasses of wine and gorgeous bar ambience.
– Cafeteria Tropic (opposite the marina and next to the Auditorium), for delicious tapas.
Beautiful Devon – it’s not just for summer! Visit Devon has suggested these amazing spots that are ideal for a wander in winter (a great opportunity to walk off the pudding too).
Best winter walks in Devon, UKThe Middle Dart Valley Walk, Totnes
Distance: 5 miles
This route is perfect for winter as the trail follows surfaced paths and lanes, so if it’s snowy or been a little wet the going will still be easy, and there is just one gentle climb and no stiles – ideal for families and those looking for an easier stroll.
Beginning and ending at Totnes, the walk passes along the River Dart through the Dartington Hall Estate, where there are lovely views over the Middle Dart Valley. Walkers could stop off at Dartington Hall or the Dartington Press Centre nearby for refreshments and then the walk continues along lanes and through woodland, where walkers will pass by the working waterwheel before returning to Totnes.
The South West Coast Path, Bolberry Down
Distance: 7 miles
Bolberry Down has a network of paths running along the high cliff tops with wonderful views, providing a choice of walks which vary in length and course. In the autumn the heathland is vivid with gorse and heather, and the migrant birds gather ready to leave.
This section of coast is relatively flat and the National Trust have undertaken work to ensure that a network of paths can be used by people in wheelchairs, or with buggies, or for those who prefer a flatter terrain.
The Mamhead Sensory Trail, near Exeter
Distance: 1.5 miles
Beginning and ending in Haldon Forest Park, just minutes outside Exeter, the all-ability trail and takes walkers along flat, well surfaced tracks. It’s perfect for those with younger children, as it’s a ‘sensory trail’ with special markers along the way to encourage walkers to appreciate their whole surroundings, and plenty of resting points and picnic benches. It’s also pushchair friendly, with no steep inclines.
Starting at the car park in Mamhead, the route follows through the forest and a beech-lined avenue to the high viewpoint near the Obelisk. From there walkers can admire views across the whole of Exeter, and on a clear day across to Start Point and Dawlish. The route consists of two loops that both lead to and from the car park, and can be shortened to one mile.
The Tarka Trail, North Devon
Distance: 1.5 miles
The Tarka Trail is an accessible walking and cycling path that runs through 163 miles of North Devon coast and countryside beginning at Instow and encompassing the South West Coast Path. Walkers will pass through old railway tunnels, under bridges and through the village with the opportunity to follow the path ahead and round to the beach, walking through the dunes. When the tide’s in, walkers can continue along the cricket club driveway to join the path through the village where there’s a few nice pubs to warm up in after a cold winters walk.
The Ernest Bassett Walk, Dartmoor
Distance: up to 5 miles depending on route
Devised by a keen Dartmoor walker and founder member of the Dartmoor Rescue Group, this walk is intended as an easy introduction to the area’s natural attractions.
Beginning in Okehampton on the shoulder of Dartmoor, the walk covers the historic architecture and an old waterwheel before continuing along paths, fields and through woodlands, leading to the East Okement River.
The scenic route passes by small waterfalls and still pools, before continuing in a climb to East Hill where, on a clear day, walkers will see fantastic views across to Exmoor and an almost aerial view of Okehampton – before returning to the town.
Windford Valley Walk, Arlington Court
The Windford Valley Walk is part of the 2700 acre Arlington Estate. The wooded walk features fairly easy terrain with one section of steps and one steady climb, which will take walkers through a variety of lush, wooded walks.
Wellington’s are recommended as the public footpaths can be muddy. For those who enjoy long walks, Arlington House is a great stopping point of a nice cup of tea (walkers are advised to check Arlington House opening times prior to arrival).
Steeperton Tor from Belstone
Distance: 7 miles
For those walkers who like a more challenging route, Steeperton Tor walk, starting from the village of Belstone, near Okehampton, is an exhilarating route into the high ground with a few boulders along the way.
Walkers will climb past the waterfalls and rapids of the River Taw, Oketor and Belstone Tor, before heading back over Belstone Common and back to the village of Belstone.
Distance: 1 mile
Devils Point Park, part of the South West Coast Path, is a mile long park and coastal pathway that is now joined with the historic Royal William Yard.
Both steeped with naval history, Devils Point, used for centuries as a farewell and welcome home point as Royal Navy Warships arrive and depart, features spectacular views across Plymouth Sound and Cornwall.
Located adjacent to Plymouth’s Royal William Yard, an old walled naval yard built in 1826, the two are now joined by cantilevered stairs which link the two sites together, allowing walkers on the South West Coast path to walk through to the 19th Century walled yard through a concealed entrance.
The contemporary, purpose built stairs feature a glass viewing platform and panoramic views over the Tamar Estuary. Walkers can admire the coastal surroundings before finding refreshment in Royal William Yard’s many artisan restaurants and cafes.
Torquay’s Victorian Gardens and Lookouts
Distance: 3 miles
The 3 mile circular walk along the beautiful South West Coast Path from Daddyhole Plain, Torquay, passes what was once a Victorian rock garden, now preserved as a wildlife conservation area with some rare and beautiful plants.
With stunning views of Tor Bay and down through wooded cliffs walkers can catch a glimpse of crystal clear waters.
From viewpoints along the way walkers will see Torquay’s most dramatic rock formations such as the Devonian limestone arch, named London Bridge by the Victorians.
Towards the end of the coast path section lies Peaked Tor Cove where the Torbay Home Guard’s Second World War lookout post can be found offering panoramic view across the Bay. The spectacular walk and views demonstrates why the English Riviera is a UNESCO-recognised Global Ge-opark.
Plym Valley Trail
Distance: 5 miles
The Plym Valley Trail is a gentle route for walkers which heads towards Dartmoor.
The trail starts at Plym Bridge Woods and offers great views and the opportunity to spot wildlife. The walk passes the disused quarries of Cann and Bickleigh Vale, and many old viaducts and railway paths along the way, as well as rivers and woodland.
Devon’s also dog friendly, which we like! Drop by this site to plan your visit: visitdevon.co.uk
Keen for an another adventure that’s great for the body, mind and spirit? Have a read here
Welcome to Travel Live Learn! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London, along for the ride. Our most popular content here is about pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be.