Alcúdia is one of Mallorca’s romantic old towns, hidden away on the north side of the island near the coast. If you’re looking to escape the touristy areas around Palma and get off the beaten path, Alcúdia is the perfect place to spend a couple of nights, which is exactly what we did! There are plenty of things to do in Alcúdia old town if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the resorts and explore somewhere with more of a historic vibe. In this article we put together some ideas to help you plan your itinerary.
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Our trip to Mallorca was our first time out of the UK since before the pandemic began, and to say we were excited is an understatement! We were primarily on the island for a conference, but we decided to make the most of it by extending our stay and exploring things to do in Alcúdia.
Alcúdia old town caught our imagination because it has the medieval feel that we love, but it is also a super easy drive from Palma, straight up the Ma-13. The journey took us less than an hour in our hire car.
The old town itself is pedestrianised, but you do get the odd resident’s car squeezing past you on the street. That said, there is plenty of free parking all around the city walls, so you won’t have any trouble on that front.
Alcúdia: a quick background
Becoming a town in the last quarter of the 13th century, Alcúdia was in an unbeatable location for trade. This is how it made its income, along with wine and fish, until the port was ordered to close in the 18th century.
It stands today enclosed in walls by the decision of King James II of Aragon, who saw them built and made the town the seat of the parish and the administrative centre for the area. It was during this time that it became one of Mallorca’s largest centres of population.
We spent 48 hours wandering the streets and sampling the delights of Alcúdia and the surrounding areas, which was easily enough time to make the most of it.
Best time to visit Alcúdia
If you’re looking to relax, take in the beauty of the surroundings and not be met by crowds of people, visit Alcúdia old town at the end of the season.
We went in mid-November and lots of restaurants and hotels had started to close for the winter, so we would recommend visiting at the end of October, or perhaps in April ahead of the summer season.
Alcúdia would also make a great location for a workation in Mallorca or a base to explore the north of the island.
Where to stay in Alcúdia
Before planning your activities in Alcúdia, you need to find somewhere to stay! While the town is ‘doable’ in a day trip, we’d definitely recommend at least one night’s stop-over to truly immerse yourself in the magic of the place.
Many of the hotels in the area are located in Port d’Alcúdia and Platja d’Alcúdia on the nearby coast. However, for the most authentic experience of Alcúdia, we recommend staying an a traditional can (hotel) inside the old town walls.
We stayed at Can Tem, a gorgeous little family-run hotel in the heart of the old town. It’s within close walking distance of everything in the old town and so makes for a charming base for your trip.
The hotel is set in a 17th-century manor house with stony walls and atmospheric high ceilings, all beautifully preserved. There are only six bedrooms – ours was spacious, comfortable and true to the historic ambiance.
Best of all was the warm welcome and hospitality we received from Toni, the owner and host. He told us all about the building and gave us tips on what to do nearby, which we share with you below along with our own experiences.
The breakfast each day included some amazing traditional homemade cakes, perfect after the meats, cheeses, fruits, cereals and pastries on offer! Not to mention the delicious freshly squeezed juice from local oranges.
Things to do in Alcúdia Old Town
1. Explore Alcúdia old town at night
Lighting can change everything. You will know yourself if you’ve visited any medieval town that it becomes even more majestic after sundown, and that is no different with Alcúdia.
Let the peacefulness wash over you as you get lost in the maze of the old town in the evening. It felt extremely safe (obviously, the usual travel precautions about personal safety and belongings apply) and calm, and we visited out of season so it grew dark at around 6pm.
After a glass of wine and something to eat we decided to wander round the whole of the old town before heading back to our hotel. The lighting really does give it an amazing atmosphere.
2. Walk on top of the old city walls
Half of Alcúdia’s city walls, completed in the 14th century, have been restored with a walkway built on top. You can access the walls via the stairs where Camí de Ronda meets Carrer del Quarter de la Cavalleria.
From the top of the walls you get a brilliant elevated view across the picturesque roofs of the old town on one side, and out towards the dramatic coastal mountains on the other.
The walls are only open during daylight hours with a gate to secure entry at night. There is only one set of stairs, so you will need to walk back once you’ve walked the length of the wall, but this isn’t far.
In total it took us about 40 minutes to walk to the end and back. This was at a steady stroll, stopping a lot to take pictures.
3. Take a walk down to Port d’Alcúdia
One afternoon during our stay we walked down to the beach at Port d’Alcúdia, which took about 15–20 minutes. We stopped for a couple of drinks and a bite to eat at a bar on the beach before taking a stroll along the sand and out to the pier, before walking back towards the old town.
As you can imagine, given this is where most of the tourist hotels are, it has more of a resort vibe, and you can expect prices to be a little higher. We didn’t mind paying a bit more for some tapas with a sea view!
If you are staying in the old town it is definitely worth a walk down to see the harbour and bay surrounded by mountains.
4. Eat tapas and play cards at Cerveseria Santa Anna
We hung out at Cerveseria Santa Anna a couple of times during our stay in Alcúdia, as we found it to be welcoming and reasonably priced.
After a long day of travelling, and over two years of lockdowns, we arrived in Alcúdia at about 8pm on a Saturday. In the off-season you could be mistaken for thinking that nothing is open, as the old town is extremely quiet, but the owner of our hotel assured us that there would be somewhere to eat.
We stumbled on this place and did the awkward, out-of-practice-traveller move of walking in, sitting down (with our masks on) and looking around nervously because we couldn’t remember if you needed to order at the bar or wait at the table! A few minutes later, one of the guys working the bar came over and politely asked our order.
Completely out of practice but with all the confidence in the world, I asked for a vino rosso, hoping for a red wine, but forgetting this is Italian and not Spanish, only to be slightly disappointed a few minutes later as we sheepishly drank our rosé wine while Googling the Spanish for red wine (it’s vino tinto, in case you were unaware!).
The chilled-out atmosphere is comfortable enough to sit for hours playing games or chatting over a beer, local gin or local wine (games aren’t available here, we took our own).
We tried the ham and cheese plate, padron peppers, croquetas, chicken wings, pork cheek and octopus (not all in one sitting!) and we enjoyed every dish.
5. Shop at the weekly Alcúdia Market
Every Sunday and Tuesday in Alcúdia, market stalls pop up around the Porta del Moll, a 14th-century gate with two towers, where you can buy fresh local produce including meats, cheeses, fruit and vegetables, and local craft goods.
It’s open from around 9am until about 1pm, so make sure you head down before lunch. It’s well worth timing your visit to Alcúdia to include a market day if you can, as it really gives you a feel of the local culture.
Look out for the giant tomatoes on the veg stalls. Mallorca has a specific type of pink tomato that is about the same size as a grapefuit, and is used in the Mallorcan dish pan amb oli (pronounced something like ‘pamboli’). This is a dish in which Mallorcan bread (pan), traditionally cooked without salt, is topped with grated tomato, salt and olive oil (oli).
6. Eat bunyols from a street vendor
On the same day we visited the market, we also discovered a woman with a stall on the other end of the old town, frying what looked like donuts. We noticed her below from the top of the old city walls, and made sure we walked back around to investigate. It turned out she was a local vendor selling bunyols.
Bunyols are basically a fried-dough fritter that are popular around Spain. And they make for a great sugary pick-me-up during a long walk round the old town!
We bought the small bag of these fried delights for just €2. Unless you have an extremely sweet tooth, a small bag will be enough for two people, and they are great washed down with a coffee.
7. Try a slice of local ensaïmada
Ensaïmada is a Mallorcan delicacy and must be tried when you’re here. You can find them in most cafés and bakeries. They sometimes come filled with sweet or savoury deliciousness, or just simple and delicate on their own.
We were lucky enough to have a homemade slice of this at our hotel, Can Tem, on the Sunday morning we were there. The version we tried was filled with a delicious caramel. Toni told us this was the Sunday version of the pastry, because it was a little more special than usual.
8. Visit the Church of Sant Jaume
The architectural highlight of Alcúdia is definitely the Church of Sant Jaume, which is built into the city walls on the south side of the old town.
A church has stood on this site since the town’s early days in the 14th century. After the original church decayed and eventually collapsed, a new one was built in 1893, and that is the impressive building you see today.
The church is neo-gothic in style and has many stunning features, such as its huge circular stained-glass window. It’s just as impressive inside too, where you can pay €1 to explore the attached museum and see a large bishop’s gown on display upstairs.
9. See the ancient ruins of Pollentia
Alcúdia’s origins stretch back to Roman times, and the evidence of this can be seen right next to the city walls. The site was previously occupied by a Roman city called Pollentia.
Pollentia was built in 123 BC by Qintus Caecilius Metellus, and was the administrative centre of the Roman Empire in the Balearic Islands. The city’s ruins have been excavated and are today the most significant archaeological site in Mallorca.
The Pollentia ruin site is just a few paces away from the Church of Sant Jaume outside Alcúdia’s old city walls. For a €4 entry fee, you can walk among the foundations and walls of the old city, its town square and theatre.
10. Visit the Monographic Museum of Pollentia
The entry fee to the ruins of Pollentia also gives you access to a small museum that stands opposite the church: Museu Monogràfic de Pollèntia. The museum is set inside a small building dating back to the 13th century.
This museum gives further insight into Pollentia and the ancient origins of Alcúdia. You can see objects recovered during the excavation work and various artefacts including Roman coins, sculptures and ceramics.
11. Capers and orange trees: take in the local flora
One thing we noticed constantly in Alcúdia was a pleasant floral smell that hung in the air throughout the old town. We’re still not sure exactly what it was, but our best guess is that it is came from the capparis spinosa plant, otherwise known as the caper bush.
The caper bush clings to the limestone ramparts of the old town and is an intrinsic part of the town’s flora. If we’ve got this wrong, please post in the comments below and let us know what else Alcúdia’s floral aroma might be!
Orange trees are another dominant aspect of the local vegetation. We spotted them everywhere, inside the old town as cats climbed on their branches, and dotted on the roadside as we walked to the port.
The local oranges have an incredible flavour. Make sure you pick some up at the market, or try some freshly squeezed orange juice at a café or hotel.
Things to do near Alcúdia
The coastal area and mountain scenery near Alcúdia is among the most breathtaking on the island of Mallorca. Here are a few ideas to make the most of exploring the area.
12. Explore the captivating old town of Pollença
Not to be confused with the Roman city of Pollentia, Pollença is a quaint old town not too dissimilar to Alcúdia, located just ten kilometres away.
An ancient 365-step stone staircase called the Calvari Steps leads up from the heart of Pollença to a small white church, from where you can look out upon the surroundings from a glorious viewpoint. When we reached the top we were serenaded by a singing Mexican guitarist, who we later found out has been playing there for years!
Architectural and historical points of interest are dotted around Pollença old town. Take a little walk to find the Roman bridge, Pont Romà. Standing over the old town square is the 18th-century church of Mare de Deu dels Angels with its famous rose window.
We enjoyed some lunch outside in the square under the church’s shadow at Club Pollença. The goat’s cheese salad was delicious! You can also choose to stay overnight overlooking the square next door at Hotel Juma, which is the oldest hotel in Pollença, first opened in 1907.
13. Drive up to Mirador Es Colomer for the breathtaking view
The best way to explore Mallorca is on four wheels. For our trip to Alcúdia we hired a car using RentalCars (which helps you find and compare the cheapest local options), which gave us the freedom to explore the mountain roads nearby.
Located just beyond Port de Pollença from Alcúdia, the viewpoint at Mirador Es Colomer is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular on the island.
After parking on the roadside you can climb up the stairs to a rocky perch that looks out across the dramatic clifftops and coastal mountains of north Mallorca. Don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights! Alex wouldn’t go near the edge… but also don’t worry, as there are barriers in place to stop you falling.
The drive up to the viewpoint is quite a precarious one that weaves back and forth as it ascends the hill. The turns are extremely sharp and the edges jaw-dropping. It’s not for the faint-hearted! But you also get an amazing view back down to the port, which gets better the higher you go. Just keep an eye out for mountain goats…
14. Continue on the winding road up to Formentor Lighthouse
We had intended to continue past Mirador Es Colomer all the way to Cap de Formentor, where a lonely lighthouse stands at the end of a rocky promontory jutting out into the sea. Sadly, the road was closed, and we couldn’t complete the journey. (We now gather this is often the case out of season.)
When we return to Mallorca, this will be first on our list to see. Just take a look at the images when you google ‘Formentor Lighthouse’ – the winding road that leads up to it is picture-perfect, like something out of a fantasy novel.
Depending on the season you can drive up to the lighthouse on the mountain road and park near it, or in summer drive part-way and then take the bus.
If you want to cut out the drive and just enjoy a relaxing boat excursion to see the views, you can instead book a Formentor Beach and Lighthouse cruise from Port Alcúdia.
15. Drive back to Palma on the mountain road via Sóller
After seeing Mirador Es Colomer we weren’t quite done with heart-stopping mountain roads. There was still room for one final journey, and it was a long and nail-biting one… all the way back to Palma, but on the scenic road via Sóller.
The mountain road from Pollença to Sóller is 56 kilometres and takes about an hour and a half to drive. It’s not quite as nervy as the road up to Mirador Es Colomer, but the twists, turns and rocky edges are constant for the entire distance!
At one point, our hire car started beeping and it felt like the clutch was failing. For a heart-in-mouth moment we thought we would be stuck on the mountain with the sun on its way down. To our relief, the clutch was just over-heated, and after a few minutes’ rest we were off on our way again.
There is a little respite from the height when the road descends to the shores of Gorg Blau, a tranquil green reservoir, which is a great place to stop and enjoy the view. Various other miradors are dotted along the way.
Finally, just before the road descends to Sóller, there is a fabulous viewpoint on the right-hand side of the road where you can look down on the town, nearby port and coastal surroundings.
If you want to really crank up the adrenaline, you can turn off the route midway and take the winding road to Sa Calobra. This notorious road is supposedly the scariest on the island, with 26 hairpin bends in total! The payoff at the end is a secluded cove with crystal-clear waters.
From Sóller, it’s a much easier journey back to Palma straight down the Ma-11. We were definitely relieved to be back on a steady road again!
For ideas on how to spend your time back in the capital, see our article on things to do in Palma.
We were a little unlucky on our trip to Mallorca to be hit by some rain, which we were told repeatedly by locals was unusual for the time of year. If this happens to you, check out this guide to what to do in Mallorca when it rains.
Have you been to Alcúdia or explored its surroundings on the north side of Mallorca? Let us know in the comments below.
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