The secret Mediterranean town that is perfect for a beach holiday in the summer of 2022

Santanyí holidays where to stay Mallorca secret cities Mallorca Santanyí travel holiday Mediterranean beach holiday summer 2022 - Mark C. O'Flaherty

Santanyí holidays where to stay Mallorca secret cities Mallorca Santanyí travel holiday Mediterranean beach holiday summer 2022 – Mark C. O’Flaherty

While the west coast of Mallorca gets the most attention, and you absolutely have to dive off the rocks of Deià after a seafood lunch at least once in your life, the southeast part of the island is arguably more beautiful. Avoid the resorts of Cala d’Or and stay inland at Santanyí, a golden stone town dating back to the 13th century. It’s almost too perfect; every narrow street looks like a meticulous film set, especially when the golden hour casts the sharp shadow of palm trees on the walls of the Church of Sant Andreu. The city is as peaceful as it is pretty. About 3,000 people live here, but sometimes you hardly see a soul when you walk across the square.

It’s that tranquility and visual patina that brought people here to open chic little interior design shops, art galleries and restaurants with walled gardens and citrus trees. There are relatively few places to actually stay, which means it’s not crowded – there’s the mid-range Hotel Santanyí (hoteletsantanyi.com) on Plaça de la Constitució, and some sweet Air BnBs, including the artfully decorated two-bedroom apartment Can Ponç Parra (airbnb.co.uk/can-ponc-parra). However, last year the hoteliers behind Sant Francesc – one of the most luxurious, modern hotels in Palma – opened the doors to Can Ferrereta (see below).

They transformed a 17th-century mansion into what might be the most perfect place to vacation in Europe, from the monochrome interior and artwork by Joan Miró, to the wine list, seafood croquettes and suckling pig. Despite having only 32 rooms, it has had more attention than anything else in the Balearic Islands for years. You would hardly know the hotel was there; it fits in perfectly with the rest of Santanyí. There is no nightlife scene and it seems unlikely that the town is on the same island as Magaluf.

Can Ferrereta’s success is likely to be the first tremor of seismic change – the 16th-century city walls, built to keep out Ottoman invaders, are now as much an invitation to newcomers as anything else. Go now, while you don’t have to book a month in advance for tapas.

10 reasons to travel to Santanyí this summer

1. It is very small

You can walk from one side of town to the other in 10 minutes and you’ll have the lie of the land in an afternoon. From the center of the city to one of the main tourist attractions – the stone horse sculptures of the late artist Rolf Schaffner – it is nine minutes. Santanyí is a place where everyone knows each other and people stop to chat while walking their dogs. The landscape is completely flat, and the narrow streets provide plenty of shade, so it’s never difficult to navigate, even in the harshest heatwave.

2. It’s close to Palma, but not too close

You don’t have to go through the city to get to Santanyí when you fly in, so you’ll avoid traffic jams. But you’re also still only an hour from Palma, Mallorca’s capital, if you want to shop, grab an octopus ink paella at one of the city’s beach clubs, or dine at El Camino (elcaminopalma.es), the Palma cousin to London’s Barrafina restaurants. Parking in Palma can be a nightmare, so you might as well just take a taxi back and forth – especially as car hire has risen in price over the last couple of years. But if you have a car, it gives you the opportunity to explore more beaches, and parking is free and plentiful in Santanyí.

best beaches Majorca Balearic Islands beach holiday Mediterranean beach holiday summer 2022 - Mark C. O'Flaherty

best beaches Majorca Balearic Islands beach holiday Mediterranean beach holiday summer 2022 – Mark C. O’Flaherty

3. It has the most perfect beach

One of the most stunningly beautiful beaches in the Balearic Islands is Cala Llombards, a six-minute drive or 10-minute bike ride away, down a small winding road. There are always enough sunbeds and umbrellas to rent for the day and a beach bar that serves great chips, bocadillos with jamon and sangria. The beach is set into a rocky cove, with steps carved into each side, leading to rock shelves perfect for diving into luminescent blue water. If you were able to design the perfect sandy beach, you couldn’t do better than this. Swim out with the tropical fish in deeper water, to the mural of a single eye carved into the rock face, then back to shore for a piña colada.

4. It has surprisingly good restaurants

For such a small town, there’s a solid week of dining rooms and gardens to eat in, more sophisticated than you might expect. Most of the places around the square are pretty predictable, and fine for a bite to eat and a drink, but Laudat (restaurantlaudat.com) and Es Cantonet (es-cantonet.net) both do inventive things with traditional local produce. Although the parking lot and facade of Henry Like’s Pizza (henrylikespizzasantanyi.com) suggest something low-gloss, it’s actually quite a pretty leafy area outside the gates, with patio tables and a bright orange Aperol-branded bar for an aperitif. For some of the best traditional tapas on the island, head to Es Molí (00 34 971 65 36 29). Wherever you are, work your way through the local Mallorcan reds – 12 Volts is a particularly good fruit-forward blend of Callet, Fogon, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Where to Eat Santanyi Best Restaurants Majorca Mediterranean Beach Vacation Summer 2022 - Mark C. O'Flaherty

Where to Eat Santanyi Best Restaurants Majorca Mediterranean Beach Vacation Summer 2022 – Mark C. O’Flaherty

5. It has possibly the best hotel in the Balearic Islands

The pool at Can Ferrereta (hotelcanferrereta.com), surrounded by olive trees, is the stuff of dreams. Under 14s are banned from the hotel, so it’s very much a couple’s place, with people whispering on soft sunbeds. Everything is calm and perfect, with attentive service and fantastic food from chef Alvar Albaladejo in Ocre, the hotel’s restaurant. Excellent locally caught seafood, grilled meats and lush salted chocolate desserts are served in the courtyard or in the elegant dining room inside. Can Ferrereta’s predominantly black, white and natural wood interior design mixes rustic, understated minimalism with elegant modern art and furniture, and will make you want to redecorate the whole house as soon as you get home. Even the smallest ‘Nest’ rooms (from €276/£235 per night including breakfast) are fantastic. Read Telegraph Travel’s full review here.

Can Ferrereta Best Hotels Mallorca Mediterranean Beach Holiday Summer 2022 - Mark C. O'Flaherty

Can Ferrereta Best Hotels Mallorca Mediterranean Beach Holiday Summer 2022 – Mark C. O’Flaherty

6. It comes with a pinch of salt

There are good wineries a short drive away, but the most famous local produce is the artisanal fleur de sal from Es Trenc, a lovely beach town (popular with nudists as well as families), a 20-minute drive away. It’s definitely worth a visit, but you can also buy all the fancy packaged fancy sea salt you could ever want at Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc at Plaça Major 15 here. This is great gift shopping: there are countless flavours, from smoked to saffron, beetroot to orange and chilli, and the round boxes are as pretty as anything you’d find in a high-end chocolatier. flordesal.com

7. It is a market town

While Santanyí can seem deserted at times, it transforms on Saturdays and Wednesdays, with loads of German and British tourists coming to town for the market. Every table in every cafe is taken, and the Plaça Major and the adjacent streets become full of people haggling over the price of questionable Gucci accessories. Ignore the unremarkable tat and head to the stalls near the church for artisan food of olive oil, cheeses, sobrassada and priapic-looking salami.

Things to do Santanyi what to do Mallorca markets Mediterranean beach holiday summer 2022 - Mark C. O'Flaherty

Things to do Santanyi what to do Mallorca markets Mediterranean beach holiday summer 2022 – Mark C. O’Flaherty

8. It has tons of festivals

Mallorcans love a festival and Santanyí has ​​its fair share of quirky annual events, including the Santo Domingo de Guzmán festivities in Es Llombards on August 8, with massive outdoor dinners, dancing and all manner of games and oddities to celebrate the patron saint of astronomers. Before Domingo has his day, the city is taken over in the last two weeks of July by the Saint Jaume Festival, with live music and fireworks and the “parade of the giant” on July 24. On 17 January, Santanyí joins the island-wide festival of Saint Antoni, with animal blessings, bonfires and devil hunting.

9. You always want to know what time it is

The bells of the Església de Sant Andreu ring on the hour and every half hour, echoing through the streets. The clock tower is also the best way to help you navigate around the city. Dating back to the 18th century, the church was rebuilt to house the organ, one of the most impressive and ornate in Europe, built by the famous instrument maker Jordi Botsch in 1762 for Santo Domingo in Palma. When the church in the town was demolished in 1835, the organ was moved east to Santanyí. It was restored to its original glory in 1999 and is regularly used for concerts by visiting artists. Even if nothing is planned, go and have a look – it’s an amazing object straight out of a Disney movie.

Sant Andreu Church Santanyi Mallorca Mediterranean Beach Vacation Summer 2022 - Getty

Sant Andreu Church Santanyi Mallorca Mediterranean Beach Vacation Summer 2022 – Getty

10. It’s a great place for a retreat

Cal Reiet (calreiet.com) is one of the nicest places to stay in Mallorca, a 15-room holistic retreat with yoga programs, wellness treatments, raw and vegan workshops and a 20-meter swimming pool in the garden. Rooms cost from €300 (£256) a night, and it’s worth booking even if you don’t plan to eat healthy or meditate while in town (calreiet.com).

Covid rules

Visitors over the age of 12 must show valid proof of one of the following: being fully vaccinated; a negative Covid-19 test (either a PCR taken within 72 hours before departure, or an antigen test taken within 24 hours before departure); or proof of recovery from Covid-19 in the last six months.

This article is kept up to date with the latest information.

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