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Mallorca, or Majorca, is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, which are part of Spain and located in the Mediterranean.

The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The Balearic Islands have been an autonomous region of Spain since 1983. There are two small islands off the coast of Mallorca: Cabrera (southeast of Palma) and Dragonera (west of Palma). The anthem of Mallorca is "La Balanguera".

Like the other Balearic Islands of Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, the island is an extremely popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from Germany and the United Kingdom. The international airport, Palma de Mallorca Airport, is one of the busiest in Spain; it was used by 28 million passengers in 2017, with use increasing every year since 2012.


The name derives from Classical Latin insula maior, "larger island". Later, in Medieval Latin, this became Maiorca, "the larger one", in comparison to Menorca, "the smaller one". This was then hypercorrected to Mallorca by central Catalan scribes, which later came to be accepted as the standard spelling.


Prehistoric settlements

Example of prehistoric talaiot in Mallorca
Archeological evidence indicates the presence of the porc negre (black pig) in pre-Roman settlements.

The Balearic Islands were first colonised by humans during the 3rd millennium BC, around 2500-2300 BC from the Iberian Peninsula or southern France, by people associated with the Bell Beaker culture. The arrival of humans resulted in the rapid extinction of the three species of terrestrial mammals native to Mallorca, the dwarf goat-antelope Myotragus balearicus, the giant dormouse Hypnomys morpheus, and the shrew Nesiotites hidalgo, all three of which had been continuously present on Mallorca for over 5 million years. The island's prehistoric settlements are called talaiots, or talayots. The people of the islands raised Bronze Age megaliths as part of their Talaiotic culture. A non-exhaustive list of settlements is the following:

Phoenicians, Romans, and Late Antiquity

Ruins of the Roman city of Pollentia

The Phoenicians, a seafaring people from the Levant, arrived around the eighth century BC and established numerous colonies. The island eventually came under the control of Carthage in North Africa, which had become the principal Phoenician city. After the Second Punic War, Carthage lost all of its overseas possessions and the Romans took over.[citation needed]

The island was occupied by the Romans in 123 BC under Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus. It flourished under Roman rule, during which time the towns of Pollentia (Alcúdia), and Palmaria (Palma) were founded. In addition, the northern town of Bocchoris, dating back to pre-Roman times, was a federated city to Rome. The local economy was largely driven by olive cultivation, viticulture, and salt mining. Mallorcan soldiers were valued within the Roman legions for their skill with the sling.

In 427, Gunderic and the Vandals captured the island. Geiseric, son of Gunderic, governed Mallorca and used it as his base to loot and plunder settlements around the Mediterranean until Roman rule was restored in 465.

Middle Age and Modern history

Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages

In 534, Mallorca was recaptured by the Eastern Roman Empire, led by Apollinarius. Under Roman rule, Christianity thrived and numerous churches were built.

From 707, the island was increasingly attacked by Muslim raiders from North Africa. Recurrent invasions led the islanders to ask Charlemagne for help.

Islamic Mallorca

Arab Baths in Palma

In 902, Issam al-Khawlani(es)(ca) (Arabic: عصام الخولاني) conquered the Balearic Islands, and it became part of the Emirate of Córdoba. The town of Palma was reshaped and expanded, and became known as Medina Mayurqa. Later on, with the Caliphate of Córdoba at its height, the Muslims improved agriculture with irrigation and developed local industries.

The caliphate was dismembered in 1015. Mallorca came under rule by the Taifa of Dénia, and from 1087 to 1114, was an independent Taifa. During that period, the island was visited by Ibn Hazm. However, an expedition of Pisans and Catalans in 1114–15, led by Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona, overran the island, laying siege to Palma for eight months. After the city fell, the invaders retreated due to problems in their own lands. They were replaced by the Almoravides from North Africa, who ruled until 1176. The Almoravides were replaced by the Almohad dynasty until 1229. Abu Yahya was the last Moorish leader of Mallorca.

Medieval Mallorca

In the ensuing confusion and unrest, King James I of Aragon, also known as James the Conqueror, launched an invasion which landed at Santa Ponça, Mallorca, on 8–9 September 1229 with 15,000 men and 1,500 horses. His forces entered the city of Medina Mayurqa on 31 December 1229. In 1230 he annexed the island to his Crown of Aragon under the name Regnum Maioricae.

Modern era

A 1683 map of Mallorca, by Vicente Mut

From 1479, the Crown of Aragon was in dynastic union with that of Castile. The Barbary corsairs of North Africa often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response, the people built coastal watchtowers and fortified churches. In 1570, King Philip II of Spain and his advisors were considering complete evacuation of the Balearic islands.

In the early 18th century, the War of the Spanish Succession resulted in the replacement of that dynastic union with a unified Spanish monarchy under the rule of the new Bourbon Dynasty. The last episode of the War of Spanish Succession was the conquest of the island of Mallorca. It took place on 2 July 1715 when the island capitulated to the arrival of a Bourbon fleet. In 1716, the Nueva Planta decrees made Mallorca part of the Spanish province of Baleares, roughly the same to present-day Illes Balears province and autonomous community.

20th century and today

A Nationalist stronghold at the start of the Spanish Civil War, Mallorca was subjected to an amphibious landing, on 16 August 1936, aimed at driving the Nationalists from Mallorca and reclaiming the island for the Republic. Although the Republicans heavily outnumbered their opponents and managed to push 12 km (7.5 mi) inland, superior Nationalist air power, provided mainly by Fascist Italy as part of the Italian occupation of Majorca, forced the Republicans to retreat and to leave the island completely by 12 September. Those events became known as the Battle of Majorca.

Since the 1950s, the advent of mass tourism has transformed the island into a destination for foreign visitors and attracted many service workers from mainland Spain. The boom in tourism caused Palma to grow significantly.

In the 21st century, urban redevelopment, under the so‑called Pla Mirall (English "Mirror Plan"), attracted groups of immigrant workers from outside the European Union, especially from Africa and South America.


A 3,200-year-old well-preserved Bronze Age sword was discovered by archaeologists under the leadership of Jaume Deya and Pablo Galera on the Mallorca Island in the Puigpunyent from the stone megaliths site called Talaiot. Specialists assumed that the weapon was made when the Talaiotic culture was in critical comedown. The sword will be on display at the nearby Majorca Museum.


The capital of Mallorca, Palma, was founded as a Roman camp called Palmaria upon the remains of a Talaiotic settlement. The turbulent history of the city had it subject to several Vandal sackings during the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It was later reconquered by the Byzantines, established by the Moors (who called it Medina Mayurqa), and finally occupied by James I of Aragon. In 1983, Palma became the capital of the autonomous region of the Balearic Islands. Palma has a famous tourist attraction, the cathedral, Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca, standing in the heart of the City looking out over the ocean.


Mallorca has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa), with mild and relatively wet winters and hot, bright, dry summers. Precipitation in the Serra de Tramuntana is markedly higher. Summers are hot in the plains, and winters are mild, getting colder and wetter in the Tramuntana range, where brief episodes of snow during the winter are not unusual, especially in the Puig Major. The two wettest months in Mallorca are October and November. Storms and heavy rain are not uncommon during the Autumn.

Climate data for Palma de Mallorca, Port (1981-2010), extremes (1978-2021) (Satellite view)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.2
Average high °C (°F) 15.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.9
Average low °C (°F) 8.3
Record low °C (°F) 0.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 43
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 6 6 5 5 4 2 1 2 5 7 6 7 53
Mean monthly sunshine hours 167 170 205 237 284 315 346 316 227 205 161 151 2,779
Percent possible sunshine 54 55 55 61 66 70 75 73 63 60 54 54 62
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología
Climate data for Palma de Mallorca Airport (1981–2010), 1954-2021 extremes (Satellite view)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.5
Average high °C (°F) 15.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.5
Average low °C (°F) 3.8
Record low °C (°F) −6.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 37
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 6 5 5 5 4 2 1 2 4 6 6 6 51
Mean monthly sunshine hours 163 166 202 234 283 316 342 315 222 203 162 152 2,756
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología
Palma de Mallorca sea temperature
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average sea temperature °C (°F) 14.4
Mean daily daylight hours 10.0 11.0 12.0 13.0 14.0 15.0 15.0 14.0 12.0 11.0 10.0 9.0 12.2
Average Ultraviolet index 2 3 5 6 8 9 9 8 6 4 2 2 5.3
Source: Weather Atlas



Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands are geologically an extension of the fold mountains of the Betic Cordillera of Andalusia. They consist primarily of sediments deposited in the Tethys Sea during the Mesozoic era. These marine deposits have given rise to calcareous rocks which are often fossiliferous. The folding of the Betic Cordillera and Mallorcan ranges resulted from subduction of the African plate beneath the Eurasian plate with eventual collision. Tectonic movements led to different elevation and lowering zones in the late Tertiary period, which is why the connection to the mainland has been severed at the current sea level.

The limestones, which predominate throughout Mallorca, are readily water-soluble, and have given rise to extensive areas of karst. In addition to limestone, dolomitic rocks are mainly present in the mountainous regions of Mallorca; the Serra de Tramuntana and the Serres de Llevant. The Serres de Llevant also contain marl, the more rapid erosion of which has resulted in the lower elevations of the island's southeastern mountains. Marl is limestone with a high proportion of clay minerals. The eroded material was washed into the sea or deposited in the interior of the island of the Pla de Mallorca, bright marls in the north-east of the island and ferrous clays in the middle of Mallorca, which gives the soil its characteristic reddish colour.


Satellite image

Mallorca is the largest island of Spain by area and second most populated (after Tenerife in the Canary Islands). Mallorca has two mountainous regions, the Serra de Tramuntana and Serres de Llevant. Both are about 70 km (43 mi) in length and occupy the northwestern and eastern parts of the island respectively.

The highest peak in Mallorca is Puig Major, at 1,445 m (4,741 ft), in the Serra de Tramuntana. As this is a military zone, the neighbouring peak at Puig de Massanella is the highest accessible peak at 1,364 m (4,475 ft). The northeast coast comprises two bays: the Badia de Pollença and the larger Badia d'Alcúdia.

The northern coast is rugged and has many cliffs. The central zone, extending from Palma, is a generally flat, fertile plain known as Es Pla. The island has a variety of caves both above and below the sea – two of the caves, the above sea level Coves dels Hams and the Coves del Drach, also contain underground lakes and are open to tours. Both are located near the eastern coastal town of Porto Cristo. Small uninhabited islands lie off the southern and western coasts; the Cabrera Archipelago is administratively grouped with Mallorca (in the municipality of Palma), while Dragonara is administratively included in the municipality of Andratx. Other notable areas include the Alfabia Mountains, Es Cornadors and Cap de Formentor. The Cap de Formentor is one of the places where the tourists can enjoy the pleasure of its beach which is golden and very thin.

World Heritage Site

The Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.


Municipalities of Majorca
Enlargeable, detailed map of Mallorca and outlying islands

The island (including the small offshore islands of Cabrera and Dragonera) is administratively divided into 53 municipalities. The areas and populations of the municipalities (according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Spain) are:

Municipality Area
Census Population
1 November 2001
Census Population
1 November 2011
Estimated Population
1 January 2019
Alaró 45.7 4,050 5,273 5,572
Alcúdia 60.0 12,500 18,914 20,241
Algaida 89.8 3,749 5,272 5,642
Andratx 81.5 7,753 11,234 11,271
Ariany 23.1 766 892 868
Artà 139.8 6,176 7,562 7,845
Banyalbufar 18.1 517 559 515
Binissalem 29.8 5,166 7,640 8,567
Búger 8.29 950 1,014 1,050
Bunyola 84.7 5,029 6,270 6,809
Calvià 145.0 35,977 49,807 50,559
Campanet 34.6 2,309 2,536 2,640
Campos 149.7 6,360 9,712 10,862
Capdepera 54.9 8,239 11,281 11,868
Consell 13.7 2,407 3,778 4,053
Costitx 15.4 924 1,113 1,288
Deià 15.2 654 684 617
Escorca 139.4 257 258 212
Esporles 35.3 4,066 4,845 5,062
Estellencs 13.4 347 363 315
Felanitx 169.8 14,882 18,045 17,780
Fornalutx 19.5 618 695 660
Inca 58.3 23,029 30,359 33,319
Lloret de Vistalegre 17.4 981 1,308 1,372
Lloseta 12.1 4,760 5,690 5,988
Llubí 34.9 1,806 2,235 2,273
Llucmajor 327.3 24,277 35,995 36,914
Manacor 260.3 31,255 40,348 43,808
Mancor de la Vall 19.9 892 1,321 1,509
Maria de la Salut 30.5 1,972 2,122 2,227
Marratxí 54.2 23,410 34,538 37,193
Montuïri 41.1 2,344 2,856 2,912
Muro 58.6 6,107 7,010 7,085
Palma 208.7 333,801 402,044 416,065
Petra 70.0 1,911 2,876 2,860
Pollença 151.7 13,808 16,057 16,283
Porreres 86.9 4,069 5,459 5,502
Puigpunyent 42.3 1,250 1,878 2,012
Santa Eugènia 20.3 1,224 1,686 1,561
Santa Margalida 86.5 7,800 11,725 12,485
Santa María del Camí 37.6 4,959 6,443 7,375
Santanyí 124.9 8,875 12,427 12,237
Sant Joan 38.5 1,634 2,029 2,108
Sant Llorenç des Cardassar 82.1 6,503 8,490 8,431
Sa Pobla 48.6 10,388 12,999 13,475
Selva 48.8 2,927 3,699 4,014
Sencelles 52.9 2,146 3,113 3,290
Ses Salines 39.1 3,389 5,007 4,960
Sineu 47.7 2,736 3,696 3,862
Sóller 42.8 10,961 13,882 13,705
Son Servera 42.6 9,432 11,915 11,568
Valldemossa 42.9 1,708 1,990 1,969
Vilafranca de Bonany 24.0 2,466 2,984 3,380


Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria

A sculpture of Ludwig Salvator in Mallorca

Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria (Catalan: Arxiduc Lluís Salvador) was the architect of tourism in the Balearic Islands. He first arrived on the island in 1867, travelling under his title "Count of Neuendorf". He later settled in Mallorca, buying up wild areas of land in order to preserve and enjoy them. Nowadays, a number of trekking routes are named after him.

Ludwig Salvator loved the island of Mallorca. He became fluent in Catalan, carried out research into the island's flora and fauna, history, and culture to produce his main work, Die Balearen, a comprehensive collection of books about the Balearic Islands, consisting of 7 volumes. It took him 22 years to complete.

Nowadays, several streets or buildings on the island are named after him (ie. Arxiduc Lluís Salvador).

Chopin in Mallorca

Chopin's piano in Valldemossa, Mallorca

The Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin, together with French writer Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (pseudonym: George Sand), resided in Valldemossa in the winter of 1838–39. Apparently, Chopin's health had already deteriorated and his doctor recommended that he go to the Balearic Islands to recuperate, where he still spent a rather miserable winter.

Nonetheless, his time in Mallorca was a productive period for Chopin. He managed to finish the Preludes, Op. 28, that he started writing in 1835. He was also able to undertake work on his Ballade No. 2, Op. 38; two Polonaises, Op. 40; and the Scherzo No. 3, Op. 39.


French writer Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (pseudonym: George Sand), at that time in a relationship with Chopin, described her stay in Mallorca in A Winter in Majorca, published in 1855. Other famous writers used Mallorca as the setting for their works. While on the island, the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío started writing the novel El oro de Mallorca, and wrote several poems, such as La isla de oro.

The poet Miquel Costa i Llobera wrote in 1875 his famous ode, the Pine of Formentor, as well as other poems concerning old Mallorcan traditions and fantasies. Many of the works of Baltasar Porcel take place in Mallorca.

House of the poet Miquel Costa i Llobera

Agatha Christie visited the island in the early 20th century and stayed in Palma and Port de Pollença. She would later write the book Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories, a collection of short stories, of which the first one takes place in Port de Pollença, starring Parker Pyne.

Jorge Luis Borges visited Mallorca twice, accompanied by his family. He published his poems La estrella (1920) and Catedral (1921) in the regional magazine Baleares. The latter poem shows his admiration for the monumental Cathedral of Palma.

Nobel prize winner Camilo José Cela came to Mallorca in 1954, visiting Pollença, and then moving to Palma, where he settled permanently. In 1956, Cela founded the magazine Papeles de Son Armadans. He is also credited as founder of Alfaguara.

Grave of Robert Graves

The English writer and poet Robert Graves moved to Mallorca with his family in 1946. The house is now a museum. He died in 1985 and his body was buried in the small churchyard on a hill at Deià. Ira Levin set part of his dystopian novel This Perfect Day in Mallorca, making the island a centre of resistance in a world otherwise dominated by a computer.

Music and dance

The Ball dels Cossiers is the island's traditional dance. It is believed to have been imported from Catalonia in the 13th or 14th century, after the Aragonese conquest of the island under King Jaime I. In the dance, three pairs of dancers, who are typically male, defend a "Lady," who is played by a man or a woman, from a demon or devil. Another Mallorcan dance is Correfoc, an elaborate festival of dance and pyrotechnics that is also of Catalan origin. The island's folk music strongly resembles that of Catalonia, and is centered around traditional instruments like the xeremies (bagpipe) and guitarra de canya (a reed or bone xylophone-like instrument suspended from the neck). While folk music is still played and enjoyed by many on the island, a number of other musical traditions have become popular in Mallorca in the 21st century, including electronic dance music, classical music, and jazz, all of which have annual festivals on the island.


Joan Miró, a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist, had close ties to the island throughout his life. He married Pilar Juncosa in Palma in 1929 and settled permanently in Mallorca in 1954. The Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Mallorca has a collection of his works. Es Baluard in Palma is a museum of modern and contemporary art which exhibits the work of Balearic artists and artists related to the Balearic Islands.


The Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival is the fastest growing Mediterranean film festival and has taken place annually every November since 2011, attracting filmmakers, producers, and directors globally. It is hosted at the Teatro Principal in Palma de Mallorca[better source needed]

Mallorcan cartographic school

Map of Mallorca and Menorca by the Ottoman admiral Piri Reis

Mallorca has a long history of seafaring. The Majorcan cartographic school or the "Catalan school" refers to a collection of cartographers, cosmographers, and navigational instrument makers who flourished in Mallorca and partly in mainland Catalonia in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. Mallorcan cosmographers and cartographers developed breakthroughs in cartographic techniques, namely the "normal portolan chart", which was fine-tuned for navigational use and the plotting by compass of navigational routes, prerequisites for the discovery of the New World.


Ensaïmades, a type of Mallorcan pastry product

In 2005, there were over 2,400 restaurants on the island of Mallorca according to the Mallorcan Tourist Board, ranging from small bars to full restaurants.[citation needed] Olives and almonds are typical of the Mallorcan diet. Among the foods that are typical from Mallorca are sobrassada, arròs brut (saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork and vegetables), and the sweet pastry ensaïmada. Also Pa amb oli is a popular dish.

Herbs de Majorca is a herbal liqueur.


The two official languages of Mallorca are Catalan and Spanish, been the former the autochthonous language. The local dialect of Catalan spoken in the island is Mallorquí, with slightly different variants in most villages. Education is bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, with some teaching of English.

In 2012, the then-governing People's Party announced its intention to end preferential treatment for Catalan in the island's schools to bring parity to the two languages of the island. It was said that this could lead Mallorcan Catalan to become extinct in the fairly near future, as it was being used in a situation of diglossia in favour of the Spanish language. As of 2016, with the most recent election in May 2015 sweeping a pro-Catalan party into power, the Popular Party's policy was dismantled, making this outcome unlikely.


Mallorca is the most populous island in the Balearic Islands and the second most populous island in Spain, after Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, being also the fourth most populous island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus. It had an officially estimated population of 896,038 inhabitants at the start of 2019.


The beaches in the southeast of Mallorca are popular tourist attractions.

Since the 1950s, Mallorca has become a major tourist destination, and the tourism business has become the main source of revenue for the island. With thousands of rooms available Mallorca's economy is largely dependent on its tourism industry. Holiday makers are attracted by the large number of beaches, warm weather, and high-quality tourist amenities. Due to the climate and diversity in roads, Majorca attracts a lot of cyclists.

The island's popularity as a tourist destination has steadily grown since the 1950s, with many artists and academics choosing to visit and live on the island. The number of visitors to Mallorca continued to increase with holiday makers in the 1970s approaching 3 million a year. In 2010 over 6 million visitors came to Mallorca. In 2013, Mallorca was visited by nearly 9.5 million tourists, and the Balearic Islands as a whole reached 13 million tourists. In 2017, ten million tourists visited the island. The rapid growth of the tourism industry has led to some locals protesting the effects of mass tourism on the island.

Mallorca has been jokingly referred to as the 17th Federal State of Germany, due to the high number of German tourists.

Attempts to build illegally caused a scandal in 2006 in Port Andratx that the newspaper El País named "caso Andratx". A main reason for illegal building permits, corruption and black market construction is that communities have few ways to finance themselves other than through permits. The former mayor was incarcerated in 2009 after being prosecuted for taking bribes to permit illegal house building.

Top 10 arrivals by nationality

Data from Institute of Statistics of Balearic Islands

Rank Country or territory 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
1  Germany 3,237,745 3,731,458 3,710,313 3,450,687 3,308,604 2,224,709
2  United Kingdom 1,985,311 2,165,774 2,105,981 1,986,354 1,898,838 1,324,294
3  Spain 1,059,612 1,088,973 985,557 1,192,033 1,195,822 759,825
4 Nordic Countries 641,920 758,940 758,637 668,328 572,041 387,875
5  Benelux 345,837 366,130 363,911 360,973 368,930 284,845
6   Switzerland 325,241 334,871 312,491 292,226 280,401 188,826
7  France 323,241 328,681 337,891 349,712 316,124 187,589
8  Italy 203,520 165,473 154,227 173,680 200,851 135,535
9  Austria 163,477 175,530 160,890 138,287 181,993 107,991
10  Ireland 104,556 100,059 104,827 115,164 158,646 68,456

Politics and government

Emblem of the Mallorca Insular Council

Regional government

The Balearic Islands, of which Mallorca forms part, are one of the autonomous communities of Spain. As a whole, they are currently governed by the Balearic Islands Socialist Party (PSIB-PSOE), with Francina Armengol as their President.

Insular government

The specific government institution for the island is the Insular Council of Mallorca [es], created in 1978.

It is responsible for culture, roads, railways (see Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca) and municipal administration. As of July 2019, Catalina Cladera [es] (PSIB-PSOE) serves as president of the Insular Council.


Ars magna, by Ramon Llull

Some of the earliest famous Mallorcans lived on the island before its reconquest from the Moors. Famous Mallorcans include:

Notable residents, alive in modern times


Mallorca current rail map
Badia Express Cala Millor
Badia Express Cala Millor

A trackless train is in operation in several tourist areas.

Water transport

There are approximately 79 ferries between Mallorca and other destinations every week, most of them to mainland Spain.


One of Europe's most popular cycling destinations, Mallorca cycling routes such as the popular 24 km cycle track (segregated cycle lane) which runs between Porto Cristo and Cala Bona via Sa Coma and Cala Millor are must rides.