Where do you travel in the winter? Finding a great place to spend a winter holiday seems to be one of the hardest decisions for us. The options seem to be to 1) Embrace the cold, and go full-out with skiing and cabins and hot chocolate; 2) Dip into the other hemisphere where the seasons are switched; or 3) Head somewhere always warm near the equator. My new favorite is option 4) Find a traditional summer hotspot with moderate winter temps that will make the perfect winter getaway. We decided on #4, and headed to Spain’s island of Mallorca last January. Visiting Mallorca in the winter turned out to be the perfect antidote to the cold weather and grey skies of Cambridge.
Here are 8 reasons why your favorite summer destinations make the best cold weather escapes.
1 Moderate Weather and Lots of Sunshine
After four months in Cambridge, we were in serious need of some reliable sunshine. While the average high during winter in Mallorca is only 59°F (15°C), it promises 7 hours of daily sun. Cambridge pales in comparison (pun intended), with only 2 short hours on average. We landed on the more favorable end on averages with highs up to 70°F and sun all day every day. It was so unseasonably warm that the Avis agent was complaining that it was too hot for sweaters and scarves. We didn’t mind.
2 Less Tourists
In the summer months, the island swells to where it’s almost beyond capacity, with thousands more pouring out of cruise ships docked for the day. In the winter, Palma de Mallorca felt bustling with its local residents going about their daily lives. Historic sites like the Palma Cathedral and Royal Palace had a few visitors, but weren’t packed. Hiking paths were empty and resort towns on the south east edge of the island were completely shut down. We enjoyed the quaint villages like Sóller and Valldemossa at our own relaxed pace, never having to rush to beat the crowds.
3 More Local
Instead of feeling the crush of tourists, we saw joggers down by the marina, neighbors saying ‘hola,’ and a group of friends picking up stacks of pizza for a party back at home.
4 More Welcome
As some travel destinations have become more popular, especially on the summer cruise circuit, the attitude towards tourists has become less than welcoming. It’s understandable, with places like Barcelona, Venice and Santorini hosting tens of thousands of visitors a day and tourists starting to outnumber local residents. When so many visitors start to disrupt daily life, I can understand the resentment that starts to build. After a breather from the daily invasion during the summer months, locals tend to be more relaxed and friendly.
5 The Natural Beauty Remains
While most tourists flock to Spain’s Balearic Islands for the warm weather, sandy beaches and blue waters during the summer, the water is just as blue and crystal clear in the winter, though I’m much less inclined to jump in. We hiked part of the Dry Stone Route (GR221), an eight day trek along the western coast of the island. We walked down to Cala Deia, where we had it almost all to ourselves. Almost, except for one crazy German, who wasn’t going to let a little bit of cold deter him from diving in.
If it’s not warm enough for the beach in the winter, that typically means it’s perfect hiking weather.
6 Delicious Local Food
While the large square just down the street from our apartment in the heart of Palma wasn’t very lively at night, it meant there weren’t enough tourist to keep the tourist restaurants and bars open. Which was fine by me, because the restaurants and shops that were open were good enough to be sustained by local customers. We picked up some handmade tortellini and fresh pesto from Mercado del Olivar (I know, Italian food in Spain, but it was too good to resist), Spanish meats and cheese from the deli, tasty empanadas from Angelo Paletta, and churros con chocolate along Passeig des Born. I got to try out a little of my Spanish while ordering, which made it all the more fun.
7 Off Season Prices
Since it was off season in Mallorca, prices on flights, accommodation and the rental car were a fraction of the price compared to peak times.
8 More Availability
We had no problem booking a spacious and comfortable two-bedroom AirBnb right in the heart of Palma, without reserving months in advance. It was easy to book a flight and a rental car, simply because the demand was relatively low.
Have you ever gone to a traditional summer spot during the winter? How did you like it?