I’m not above a good trashy girls holiday, and yes you certainly wouldn’t go for sightseeing, but the important thing to remember is that the Balearic Islands can still be one of the most beautiful destinations to visit.
I’ll set the scene. Knowing full well we’d paid for an all inclusive hotel with a ten minute walk to the strip, my friend and I were very ready to expect intolerable lads on tour, but at least we could drink the bar dry, right?
We arrived just as England had beaten Colombia on penalties so from the gorgeous Palma de Mallorca through to Palma Nova and then Magaluf, there was the inescapable chants of ‘Football’s Coming Home’ that carried us onto the strip. Fine, let them have it, they’re enjoying themselves and at the end of the day, they’re not doing anyone any harm…
Unfortunately our hotel bar had just closed, so we set about trying one of the many infamous bars on the strip.
The first place we arrived at, I was spitting feathers so ordered a pint and a gin. In return received a pint of gin, with no qualms from the bartender with her “say when” approach to measures.
A good start then.
We then wandered up the hill to be approached, rather unsurprisingly, by many a rep offering two drinks and two shots for as little as 5 Euros – which in our infinite wisdom of being on holiday – we embraced with open arms.
Now I don’t know if there’s much point in going through some of the places on the strip – I suppose it depends on what type of holiday you’re looking for. Of course, Magaluf has a reputation, and the strip does nothing to alleviate many of the negative connotations that arise with a visit to the island.
But if you agree to go on a jolly to Magaluf, you know what to expect and you either embrace it or just sit in your hotel room and sulk. It’s not as if you’ve been magically transported to Magaluf against you will – so get involved.
One of the first places we tried was Alex’s Bar. It’s four bars / mini clubs, each with a different theme. So far, so good. On the first night we opted for the indie bar, choosing to go the House bar the following night and yes, it was sticky and minging but go in with an open mind and you’ll have a scream, which we did.
One of our favourites on the strip was the very confused Mambo’s that had an extensive range of top shelf spirits and inviting decor, as if appealing to the Ibiza set, but a mechanical bull in the middle and often had wet t-shirt competitions. It is Magaluf after all.
You’ve all probably heard of the ‘Maga cough’. You can be pre-warned numerous times that the cheap spirits will essentially burn your insides, and after a mere three drinks, we were fully expecting to wake up feeling as though we’d been mauled by a wild animal.
Again, it’s why we’re there so we thought we’ll take it in our stride and man up.
The ‘New Magaluf’
Taking a walk along the beach the night before, we’d spotted some actually very nice bars that we were looking forward to trying out and they didn’t disappoint. Towards the bottom of the strip, just after the roundabout lies the newer and nicer part of Magaluf.
Recent years have seen a marked increase in investment in the area, trying to move away from the sangria, sunburn and shagging reputation that has blighted the island since the 80’s. It’s not uncommon to still find a boozer offering a pint with your Full English Breakfast while watching Only Fools & Horses at 8am but there’s some really nice places to be found also.
Places like Nikki Beach and Folies Beach Club, all crispy white decorated with seats looking on to the beach so you can catch the famous sunset in style while sipping a not-pint cocktail. And beautiful it was.
The beach certainly isn’t unspoiled but the colour of the water during the hot Spanish days was enough to entice even the most ocean-petrified beach goers…for all of 60 seconds until that scene in Jaws played too readily in our psyche.
You can rent two sun loungers and a proper umbrella for 13 Euros for the whole day, a bargain.
Palma de Mallorca
The capital of the island, Palma de Mallorca is an often-overlooked visit during your holiday – mostly because it’s easier to lie in the sun with a raging hangover than it is to get on a bus and spend 30 minutes getting somewhere.
We visited the town because we had got ourselves some tickets for the legendary Elrow x Origen Festival at Son Fusteret, but it must be said that the trip over there in itself was a big treat.
The drive featured rolling mountains in front of a purple sky like one I’d never seen before and which was the setting for the outdoor festival of pure fun.
This Elrow was psychedelic themed and as expected, they went all out. Surprised by the fact most ravers were actually Spanish and not crap Brits abroad despite its popularity in the UK, you can tell Elrow’s budget extends further than just a few inflatables and great music. I’d recommend anyone to go to Elrow in Spain, as it is like no other.
Palma itself is well worth a visit, and is a complete contrast with the usually Brit abroad hotspots. If you are a fan of tapas, you can’t go wrong – with the likes of La Bóveda serving up some amazing dishes, as well as Michelin starred Restaurant Marc Fosh providing a much more high-end offering. Finally, a visit to the Sky Bar at the top of Hostal Cuba is a must, if only for amazing views and famous sunset.
Overall, the week we spent in Mallorca was amazingly good fun. Of course, you know what to expect in Magaluf, but stay in Palma Nova, definitely spend a day in Palma, enjoy the gorgeous scenery and don’t take things too seriously.