Nestled in the north of Spain’s glitzy Balearic Island of Mallorca, Alcúdia is a medieval resort town with the perfect balance of heritage and family-friendly fun. It won’t take long to convince you that Alcúdia is worth visiting. Still, we’re here to show why it trumps other major destinations on the island like Palma and Magaluf and deserves your vote this summer.
From its busy beaches on the sweeping Alcúdia Bay to the neo-gothic sites, well-preserved old town, and happening nightlife, there’s something for every crowd. Mallorca is Spain’s most visited island with 10 million tourists flocking to its shores every year. Alcúdia might not be first on everyone’s list, but that only makes it all the more attractive and the perfect pick for your next Mediterranean getaway.
Underrated and elegant, this guide explores five reasons why you should visit Alcúdia from the history to the watersports, right down to the sumptuous Spanish cuisine. Let’s get into it.
Great beaches come hand in hand with Spanish getaways, and Alcúdia has its fair share of sprawling sands, while also being in easy reach of Mallorca’s most magnificent coves. Alcúdia Bay cradles the northeast tip of Mallorca, around 200 kilometers across the Balearic Sea from bustling Barcelona. The old town and port sit at the top of the bay, and there are plenty of stunning beaches flanked by national parks dotted along the 30 kilometers of sheltered coastline. Still, the town’s own Playa de Alcúdia is worth talking about.
The sandy beach is the largest in the Balearics, stretching over 10 kilometers from Ca’n Picafort in the south to Port d’Alcudia, although Playa del Muro divides the bay. Alcúdia Beach is just 15 minutes on foot from the old town, and with coveted Blue Flag status, you can expect sugary white sands, swaying palm trees, and clear shallow waters. The protection of the bay creates perfect snorkeling and swimming conditions for families and there are plenty of watersports to get involved with from floating slides to kayak rentals and jet ski rides.
Most of the facilities like beach bars, restaurants, toilets, showers, sun beds, and even wifi can be found along the first half or ‘golden mile’, of hotel-backed coastline from Port d’Alcúdia to Ciudad Blanca. Playa de Muro is slightly quieter but the stretch of Alcúdia Beach is one of Mallorca’s biggest draw factors and can get quite busy in the summer months.
Port de Pollença is in the next bay along, with its own distinct feel and smaller, character-full beach. There’s also Cala San Vicente, a quaint resort tucked away from the crowds at the very north of Mallorca. Here you’ll find spectacular coves along the jagged coast with turquoise waters that have played host to family holidays for the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
The History and Culture
Alcúdia’s dramatic past has left its mark all over the old town and its historical importance is more than enough reason to visit. The town’s history goes back more than 5,000 years, inhabited since the Bronze Age, but it wasn’t until Romans captured Mallorca, landing on the beaches in 123 BC, that Alcúdia became so historically significant.
Alcúdia remains the best preserved old town in Mallorca. The area where Alcúdia now stands, overlooking Alcúdia and Pollença bays, was once called Pollentia but it was abandoned when Rome fell and it became a target for vandals and pirates. After the Moors’ longstanding occupation of Mallorca from 1015, King James I of Aragon arrived on the island in the early 13th century to oust invaders and gave Alcúdia, a farmstead at the time, to his son.
The old town had already been bestowed its name by the Islamic Moors from North Africa, Alcúdia, meaning ‘on the hill’ in Arabic. James II of Aragon built a square, church, and graveyard at the end of the 13th century, which all stand today, and the town walls were completed in 1362. Alcúdia was attacked by pirates and the population dropped in the 16th century. Fears it would be abandoned finally disappeared when the harbor was built in 1779, boosting the economy and protecting the town.
Today, Alcúdia’s rich history can be enjoyed at every turn. You can follow the 14th-century walls around the old town and find the neo-gothic Sant Jaume church built into their restored remains. Centuries-old buildings punctuate the narrow streets and you can visit the remnants of the Roman town of Pollentia on foot.
There’s a local market in the medieval center on Tuesdays and Sundays and plenty of cultural events throughout the year, including ‘Un Hivern a Mallorca’ a series of concerts, guided tours, and a jazz festival taking place in September.
Spanish cuisine is a reason as good as any to visit the sun-soaked and diverse nation, and Alcúdia is the perfect place to sample it. It might still have a resort feel with plenty of restaurants and bars, but Alcúdia is less diluted than towns like Magaluf and you can still get a taste of true Mallorca within its walled center.
The Spanish tradition of tapas is the best way to try lots of Alcúdian delicacies. Serrano ham, stuffed peppers, chorizos in cider, and monkfish casserole are all regional specialties. Check out Can Punyetes, a rustic but popular tapas bar serving all these local dishes and more on their outdoor tables down a bustling pedestrian street near the port.
There is also Sa Portassa, right in the center of the old town, with its authentic courtyard setting. The restaurant is one of the best places in Alcúdia for a pa amb oli, a simple Mallorcan dish comprising pan moreno (brown bread), extra virgin olive oil, and other fresh ingredients like tomatoes and garlic. The dish is often eaten at breakfast or as a lunchtime snack but can be enjoyed at any time of day.
Mallorca’s rich history has influenced the cuisine, with Romans bringing olives and grapes to the island, while the Moors harnessed the land for almonds, oranges, lemons, and figs. Mallorca has a varied landscape, with an abundance of fresh fish in the Mediterranean Sea, mushrooms and truffles coming from the earthy Sierra de Tramuntana Mountain Range, and native tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, almonds, lemons, and grapes, soaking up the sun further inland.
Other local dishes to look out for in Alcúdia include, Panada, a flaky pie brimming with pork, peas, and onions, Coca Mallorquina, the simply baked flatbread topped with vegetables, Pilotes Mallorquinas, the comforting meatballs in tomato sauce, and Arrós Brut, Mallorca’s answer to paella, which translates as “dirty rice”.
The Things to Do
It’s not only heritage and culture to dig your feet into in Alcúdia, but it’s a good place to start. As mentioned above, the famous open-air market should not go amiss. You’ll find local produce, handmade jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs sold here from all over the region every Tuesday and Sunday.
Every village in Mallorca has a weekly market, but Alcúdia’s is unique for its bi-weekly schedule. You’ll find stalls lining the pedestrian streets in the center of town, on the Paseo Mare de Déu de la Victoria, from 8 am to 1.30 pm. During summer, it occupies most of the historic center and becomes Mallorca’s largest outdoor market.
Alcúdia is also home to Spain’s smallest Roman amphitheater, located a kilometer or so to the south of the old town, forming part of the Roman city of Pollentia. There’s also a forum and the houses of La Portella here. The site was used as a necropolis during the late Roman occupation and the remains of tombs can be spotted among the theater stands.
There’s been plenty of excavations of the ancient city and there are three archaeological sites to explore. Check out the Pollentia Monographic Museum in Alcúdia to learn more.
Alcúdia also has its fair share of attractions for adventurous types. The town is a popular starting point for hikes and mountain bike tours in the nearby Puig de Sant Martí and Puig Tomir mountains, the latter of which is Mallorca’s northernmost peak reaching over 1,000 meters.
Puig Tomir is in the Serra de Tramuntana, around 40 minutes from Alcúdia, with karst formations and dense forests, while Puig de Sant Martí is just 15 minutes outside the old town. The 250-meter limestone hill offers an easy hike with sweeping views over the port and eastern Mallorca. The peak is a popular practice base for paragliding and hand gliding.
You can do every kind of water sport on Playa de Alcúdia and the 18-hole, Alcanada Golf Club, is not only the best on the island but one of Europe’s premier golfing destinations. The club is owned by the Porsche family and boasts a challenging course in a spectacular setting overlooking Alcúdia bay. The run is just 15 minutes by car from the old town.
For art fans, there’s the Fundación Yannick & Ben Jakober, an artist house with a private collection of children’s portraits across the centuries and eclectic animal sculptures. And nature lovers can’t miss the S’Albufera Nature Reserve. The extensive wetland is the largest in the Balearics, located just back from the coast, five kilometers south of Port d’Alcúdia. The area is great for cycling and walking, but the biodiverse wetland habitat also plays host to a rich variety of flora and fauna and is especially popular with birdwatchers.
Alcúdia brings a perfect balance of laidback resort vibes and after-hours fun to Mallorca. The town attracts a family-friendly crowd, and it is not as well-known for its clubbing scene as Magaluf. Still, there’s a good variety of cool bars and classy lounges, and even some nightclubs that stay open until the early hours.
There’s a lively strip next to the beach, where many of the resort hotels are located. This area is packed with bars hosting quiz nights, karaoke performances, and arcade games. There’s even a British-themed brewery, the Queen’s family pub, serving English food and Irish beer, which is especially popular with punters.
Towards the port, you’ll find the Banana Disco Complex, one of the liveliest nightlife spots in the north of Mallorca. There are several bars and nightclubs here, but Banana Club is one of the most popular and it stays open until 5.30 am every day of the week. There’s also La Nit, a modern and trendy hangout, and Cinq Globs for Latin and salsa dancing. Opposite Banana Club you’ll find Café Milano blasting house music until 5 am on weekends.
The old town is brimming with quaint bars serving tapas and cocktails late into the night. And if you want to pay a visit to the biggest club on the coast, Charly’s Disco Can Picafort is located at the southern end of Alcúdia Beach. The club has three floors, an expansive terrace, and even a swimming pool. Things don’t kick off until around 3 am and you can find something for every music taste on the different floors.
If you’re still not satisfied, you can join the groups of travelers who hop on the bus that leaves for Magaluf at around 8 pm and returns at 6 am, most nights of the week. Magaluf is Mallorca’s premier nightlife destination and it’s located less than one hour from Alcúdia.
When is the best time to visit Mallorca?
The island of Mallorca has a blissful Mediterranean climate, with long, dry summers and short, mild winters. The best weather, for those who like the sun, happens across July and August with an average daily high of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The sea is the perfect temperature for swimming and tourist facilities are in full swing at this time too. However, Mallorca is most crowded and expensive in the summer. If you want pleasant temperatures in the 70s, with blue skies and cheaper prices, head to the island between March and May before the school holiday tourists have descended.
Is Mallorca safe?
Absent of bustling cities, borders, and sprawling residential zones, Mallorca is considered a problem-free place to visit and live, and even generally safe after dark. Visitors should use common sense as they would anywhere and look out for pickpockets and petty scammers, especially in touristy areas. Still, Mallorca demonstrates low crime rates. Heavy storms, flooding, and forest fires can occur but are dependent on the season.
How long should you spend in Alcúdia?
You could spend weeks in Mallorca and not get bored of the varied landscape, delightful weather, and delicious local cuisine. We recommend dedicating at least three or four days to Alcúdia in order to explore all the historical sites, restaurants and boutiques in the old town, as well as the beach and the surrounding nature reserves, but you’ll need at least one week if you want to get a taste for the island on the whole.