“The Best Place In the World” - I always found this totally subjective and absolutely personal accolade that’s thrown around year after year kind of silly. At the same time, I must admit, when I do come across this type of headline, it does spark a curiosity in me so I guess the media wins. Dammit. To my delightful surprise, Palma de Mallorca was voted the best place to live in the world by UK publication, The Sunday Times earlier this year, and a few weeks ago, I was invited by the Spanish tourism board to explore the Balearic Islands, including you guessed it, PALMA DE MALLORCA. Coming from Toronto, another place that’s had its share of top titles this year (Best City To Live In by The Economist and Most Liveable City by Metropolis Magazine), I saw this as an opportunity to see what this title was worth – and let’s be honest here, an opportunity for me to escape the impending rainy grayness for the warm Mediterranean sunshine and sparkling turquoise waters. I think we already know the outcome of this trip. Pure. Bliss. As the largest Balearic island that’s likened to a little Barcelona and receives over 300 days of sunshine a year, how can it not be, right?
But for me, the beauty of Palma was not just the city itself but also the ability to escape to its captivating surrounding areas like Deià and Sòller that are just a short road trip away. Here are some of my favorite moments discovering “the best place to live in the world” AKA Palma de Mallorca and beyond.
LOCKED IN A MOMENT IN TIME
Deià is circled by stunning views of the Serra de Tramuntana Mountains, a UNESCO heritage site. On the top of my wish list in Mallorca was to visit the La Residencia villas in Deià and meet the adorable resident donkeys that have had a significant role in the history of the island and take part in a traditional Mallorcan cooking lesson and lunch in the countryside.
The trail to the top of the hill where Chef Nicolas Gámbón awaits at a stone shepherd’s hut is such a beautiful hike and a good workout before the giant “picnic” feast. At lunch, I watched Chef Gámbón make pa amb tomàquet or pan con tomate (tomato garlic bread with olive oil) before a setting of delicious locally cured meats, cheeses and olives. In Mallorca, pa amb tomàquet is prepared with tomatoes called tomàtiga de ramellet, a specific vine tomato used for this bread. My favorite dish that I can’t stop thinking about is the sobrassada sausage that’s so soft that it spreads on the tomato bread like pâté and then drizzled with local honey. Paired with the gorgeous and lush country backdrop, this is definitely a moment in time I wouldn’t mind being locked in for a while.
The air, the water, the food - everything and everywhere in Mallorca is fresh and there’s no shortage of it either. There’s 550km of coastline and almost 300 beaches around it. You have to see the cliffs of Formentor and an awesome lookout point to do so is at Es Mirador d’Es Colomer in Pollença - you can’t help but get goosebumps looking at this grand view.
Of course, my favorite type of freshness is the kind you can eat. From the halibut stew with rice and calamari at Nixe Palace to the tumbet at OD Port Portals, paired with the bright citrus flavors of the orange ensaimada pastries in Sòller, you better have remembered to pack your stretchy pants.
The light! “Mallorca, you give good sky,” I found myself saying numerous times. Head south to see that enchanting light touch the white-sand beaches, north for hikes on epic mountain trails, or west for crystal blue seas crashing onto dramatic cliffs. It’s no wonder so many artists have escaped to Mallorca.
Joan Mirò and Robert Graves are just two of the many talented artists who have found great inspiration and refuge in Mallorca. You can visit writer Robert Graves’ home in Deià and in Palma, you can take in one of my favorite spots in the city, the Fundaciò Pilar I Joan Mirò, an extensive museum, studio, and group of buildings dedicated to the work of Joan Mirò. From his paintings and drawings to upholstery and glass works, Mirò’s diverse range and impact on surrealism is out of this world and unbelievably moving.
When it comes to transportation I’m lazy AF, so I loved that in Palma you can pretty much get around everywhere you need to within 20 minutes. Maybe this plays a huge part in why there’s such a chill vibe here - there’s an ease and emphasis on quality of life that makes the residents genuinely pleasant (I’m sure the daily sunshine helps too).
The choice to eat well is also easy – the results of the intense fishing and farming in Mallorca are delicious – as is the opportunity to embrace health and wellness. At the breathtaking Son Brull in Pollença, I was treated to a relaxing massage where my therapist Marie José’s magical hands eased my terrible knots while I learned about the benefits of their in-house grown citrus, almonds, and olive oils. Remember when I said, pure bliss? Yup, this is it.
As a visitor to any new city, it’s a bit like living in a bubble; the sun shines brighter, the food tastes better, and everything is just so much more exciting. So, beyond my tourist goggles, I can’t really say whether Palma is THE best place to live in the world but is it a pretty perfect place to visit? Oh, heck yeah.
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