The joys of autumn in Deia are encapsulated for me by the smell of wood smoke, especially on cold, clear nights. During the day, the village sits back after all the heat and craziness of summer and smiles to itself. Even the clear blue sky looks like it’s seen a thing or two. But at night, I’m reminded I’m in the mountains and it’s time to curl up and be cosy.
It’s easy to be caught out by autumn in Mallorca. Early November days may be so warm and sunny that the old ladies on Palma’s Jaime III promenading in their furs among the tourists in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops look like they’ve been beamed in from Geneva. As the shadows lengthen, and the tourists start to shiver, it’s the ladies who laugh last.
But if you’re prepared for autumn on Mallorca there are many wonderful ways to while away your days and nights. Here are ten of my favourites.
A morning dip
In my opinion, Cala Deia is at its best in autumn. It’s obviously not bathwater warm like it can be in summer but it’s crystal clean and thoroughly refreshing. And, of course, you often have a beautiful beach to yourself.
Walking in the mountains
Autumn is the perfect time for long walks in the mountains. The weather is predictable so you can be confident it’s not going to rain halfway through an excursion. But it’s also cool enough to hike long distances comfortably. One of my favourite long walks is from Sant Elm to Sa Trappa. It takes roughly four hours if you’re not pushing yourself and the views are spectacular.
Anyone reading this who knows me will fall off their chair laughing at the thought of me birdwatching. Fair enough, but around Pollensa in particular, the birdwatching is meant to be fantastic. Black Vultures, Bee-eaters, Audouin’s Gulls, Ospreys, Night Herons, Eleonara’s Falcons, Scops Owls, Hoopoes and many more can all be observed in beautiful nature.
The monastery at Lluc
I only ever visit the monastery at Lluc in the autumn when there are fewer tourists around and it feels as if you’re walking back through the centuries. For me, this is one of the most spiritually charged places on the island, especially at twilight on a cold, crisp November day.
Once the allure of spending all day on the beach has gone, the joys of spending the morning at the market come into their own. My favourites are Sineu – less crammed with tourists at this time of year – Soller and, in Palma, Santa Catalina. Santa Catalina is also filled with wonderful restaurants. Try the vegan Israeli breakfast at Simply Delicious if you want to warm up fast.
November is a terrific month for fiestas in Mallorca and checking them out is a great way to get to know the island. Dijous Bo in Inca, the agricultural, livestock and commercial fair, happens on the second Thursday of November. The traditional olive fair at Caimari, a quintessentially Mallorquin village in the foothills of the Tramunta mountains, takes place over the third weekend of the month. Mallorquins love mushrooms and the mushroom fair at Mancor de la Vall on the last weekend in November is a treat for mycologists and epicureans.
La Merienda at Can Juan de S’aigo
I used to think Can Juan de S’aigo, in the heart of Palma’s Old Town, was a bit like Brigadoon. Sometimes I found it, others I didn’t. Even then, I took great pleasure in getting lost – as you should. But when you turn a corner and spot the lights surrounding the café sign (which always remind me of an actor’s dressing room mirror), you’ve found the home of possibly the most delicious feather-light quart and almond ice-cream anywhere in the world. Be warned, there’s another Can Juan de S’aigo off Jaime III in Palma. While the cakes are just as good here and the decor is nicely kitsch, the place has zero atmosphere.
It used to be that bunyols, tiny deep-fried doughnuts were only sold during the Festivity of the Virgin, which has just passed. Today they’re available from autumn until spring. They are, of course, deeply satisfying on a chilly day.
Holing up in bars
It has to be said that Mallorquin bars are not normally great in autumn. They’re too brightly lit and rarely heated so they’re never snug like a northern European or American bar. (I blame the Spanish lack of guilt about drinking and the absence of Protestantism myself.) Having said that, there are a few satisfactorily dark and welcoming joints in Palma where you can hid out for an hour or two. My favourites are Antiquari and Ginbo. It was in Ginbo that I saw my first cyber-martini.
There are few things more pleasurable of an evening than staring into the embers of a log fire, watching castles rise and fall while you sip a good red wine from Binissalem or a cup of thick, gloopy Spanish chocolate a la taza. Listening to the wind rise outside, you have the enormous pleasure of knowing you’re part of a centuries-old Mallorquin tradition.
What does autumn in Mallorca mean for you?
These are the things I love to do. What about you?