Would you consider Mallorca as a destination where to escape pre-winter slush? I mean the boring period around November and December when we should have a beautiful, white snow blanket decorating the landscape but in Southern Finland, the reality is quite different. The reality is dark, rainy, muddy, slushy and, with all respect to my beloved country, pretty shitty. Nothing like the winters in my childhood when a meter of snow before Christmas was the rule, not a rare exception.
I was convinced Mallorca would tick the box. At least it couldn’t be any worse. When my friend and fellow blogger Teea and I booked our winter flights to Mallorca, the weather forecast looked more than promising; lots of sunshine and extremely pleasant +21–23 degrees. What a fantastic hiking weather!
End of November and the beginning of December felt like the perfect time to travel to Mallorca. We wouldn’t need to worry about tourist crowds, travel costs were more than reasonable and, besides the weather forecast, also the average temperatures for the winter season in Mallorca were on our side. I’d love having 18 degrees – it would be much warmer what we had on our best day this summer here in Finland.
Unfortunately, the closer we got to the trip, the more the weather forecast changed. And not the way we’d prefer! Suddenly, our promising sunny 20+ degrees had become rainy and windy 10 degrees.
As we believe in miracles, we trusted that the original forecast would take over.
First touch to the winter season in Mallorca
When we finally landed in Palma de Mallorca at the end of November, the captain kindly announced the outdoor temperature was 12 degrees. Before stepping out of the cosy and warm airport building, we were expecting to face cold November rain and chilly shivers on our skin. Instead, we felt a gentle breeze that felt, at least to a Finn, pleasantly warm. The rain had stopped, and the climate seemed somewhat tropical. If this were the winter weather in Mallorca, we would be more than fine!
That image was washed away almost immediately after arriving at our hotel. As soon as we left for a walk looking for a restaurant, another rainfall started rinsing the quiet streets of Palma de Mallorca. Realising that the first restaurant we found was called ‘Finnish Bar Pia and Pepe’ didn’t exactly lift our mood, either.
This. Can’t. Be. Happening.
I got an immediate flashback from 10 years ago. I had just moved to Fuengirola in Spain for a few months and didn’t know a thing about the place. That means I had no idea there’s a Finnish community of 10,000 people at the time with Finnish bars, schools, supermarkets, doctors… I still remember very lively the cold shivers on my back when on my third day I sat in a cafe, heard a famous Finnish song on the background and had the waitress taking in my order – in Finnish.
Palma de Mallorca in November
With more than 400,000 inhabitants and much more than 12 million tourists a year, you can only imagine how packed Palma de Mallorca is during high-season. I don’t need to experience the crowded city to know that I prefer Palma de Mallorca in winter. There’s barely a handful of fellow travellers, the beach boulevards are wide and quiet, there’s no beggars, hawkers or pickpockets, no queues to sights or restaurants and the narrow streets are decorated with cute Christmas lights.
As always, there’s another side to the story. The beach is the last place you want to go to, the hotel pool is pretty to look at but a thought of dipping in makes your blood in the veins freeze, and wearing long johns under your jeans isn’t an exaggeration. Not even for a Finn.
best worst evening in Palma de Mallorca, the temperature was just about 3 degrees. And yet, people persistently sat outside restaurants next to heaters sipping their drinks. Respect! But the real plague of Mallorca, meaning the bad-behaving over-boozed tourists, are conspicuous by their absence.
And before you ask, yes – Spanish do have siesta also in winter!
Winter driving in the mountains of Mallorca
The best tip to Mallorca – winter or summer – is to rent a car and explore the stunning landscapes of the Balearics. Nature in Mallorca is outstanding, and I’m going to do my best to prove it to you in my future posts.
In winter, renting a car in Mallorca is practically free; our rental car cost less than 5 euros a day. However, there are a few little things that require your attention when driving on the narrow and curvy mountain roads during the winter season.
The weather in the mountains is obviously much more unpredictable compared to Palma de Mallorca. On our first mountain leg, we got to experience both, sleet and thunderstorm at the same time. The winter thunder was no joke; the power went off twice while we were shopping for groceries in the local supermarket. It’s fairly interesting experience to do blind shopping in a place where you wouldn’t know what to buy even if the lights were on.
Strong wind isn’t a stranger to Mallorca’s winter either. The gusty winds can hamper driving (or blow you away like it almost did to me on the lookout points along the road to Cap de Formentor – and I’m not a small girl!). Besides the wind, you’re quite likely to see snow and black ice on the mountain roads in wintertime. The snow piles up on the sides of the roads making the driving surface even narrower and, the fact is, Spanish cars have no winter tyres.
The winter views in Mallorca are outstanding, but pictures of the Mediterranean Sea sparkling in the sun can be misleading. Let my hair tell the truth.
Snow surprised Mallorca also last winter, so it’s not entirely unheard of. Plus, snow brings along some positives as well. The snow-capped mountains create a stunning contrast to the turquoise-blue Mediterranean Sea, and seeing Spanish people go completely crazy over snow is fun to watch for a Finn.
On the first Sunday of December, it felt like all the people in Mallorca had gathered to the mountain range for a snowball fight. Instead of driving on lonely mountain roads, we got stuck in several traffic jams and closed roads. So make sure you’re not driving with too tight of a schedule, especially if you’re heading to the Tramuntana mountains on a snowy winter day.
As snowy, icy and jammed mountain roads with summer tyres aren’t challenging enough, Spanish people love building snowmen and other tall pieces of snow-art in front of their windscreens. I mean, seriously. I admit the snowy car decorations were funny to watch, but I can’t stop wondering how on Earth can the driver see where he’s going behind all that snow?
Do that in Finland, and you’ll get a massive fine. At least I’m pretty sure you would. I’ve never seen anyone doing it here!
A few practical tips for a winter holiday in Mallorca
Whether Mallorca is a go or a no in winter depends on a lot what you’re expecting from your holiday. If you’re longing for hot beaches, you might want to book your flights someplace warmer. Even if our winter weather was full of snow, thunder, wind and rain, you might get lucky and actually get that sunny 20 degrees also in winter.
If you love the look of snow-capped mountains as much as I do, I highly encourage you to give Mallorca a go.
Hot or not, it will get cold as soon as the sun goes down, so pack along some long johns, woolly socks, hat, scarf and gloves. Water and windproof outdoor clothes aren’t a bad idea either. When booking a hotel, make sure your room has heating. Especially the old stone buildings can be freakingly freezing in winter. It’s also good to know that some apartment hotels might work with a self-service principal in winter, even if the hotel description guarantees having 24-hour reception all year long. Also, in some areas, the services are cut down in winter. In Puerto Pollensa for example, only a handful of restaurants (plus Burger King) were open at the beginning of December.
Mallorca is a hiker’s paradise, but some of the routes might be inaccessible in winter. A good example is Torrent de Pareis, the trail that urges me to get back to Mallorca in summer season as soon as possible. But we’ll get back to that topic a bit later.
Oh yeah, before I forget! We did get some winter heat on our Mallorca holiday as well – on the day of departure. As we were driving to the airport, the sun was shining from the cloudless sky, the air was still, and the temperature was at least 20 degrees, if not more. Too bad we didn’t have time for anything else than driving from the north of the island back to the Palma airport.
Better luck next time.