Eastern Mallorca attracts those seeking escapism, and although there are some resorts here, its strengths lie in its distinct landscape and impressive historical sites. The Serres de Llevant hills dominate the area, rippling down from the north coast to the south of the island. Hidden within their hilly reaches is the ancient town of Arta, while further east, towards the sea, sits the medieval fortress town of Capdepera - both offer architectural insights into the Mallorca of times gone by. Beyond these historical towns, the natural world flourishes in the Llevant Natural Park to the north, the dramatic Coves d’Arta to the east and the stunning Es Trenc beach which sweeps across the southern coast.
Just south of the mainland, the tiny pristine island of Cabrera is one of the best birding spots in Spain. It has no permanent population, and its remote location means it has few visitors (you'll need to catch a taxi boat over), so is a perfect sanctuary for migrating birds. Bring binoculars, and look for the critically endangered Balearic Shearwater. The Es Salobrar de Campos nature reserve that backs Es Trenc beach is also an extraordinary wildlife habitat, with seawater pools and over 1,700 species of bird.
1. After you've panted your way to the Sant Salvador hilltop chapel in Arta for breathtaking views all the way out to sea, reward yourself with lechona (traditional suckling pig) at a Restaurant Sa Teulera Arta in town. Don't be put off by its unprepossessing exterior; the food is fantastic and the welcome genuine.
2. For something fancier, Finca Es Serral just outside Arta, is a gem; organic fruit and veg homegrown by owner Sebastien, combined with locally reared pork and lamb and turned into traditional Mallorquin dishes by his wife Margarita. There's a cosy dining room for winter, a charming courtyard for the warmer months.
3. We had a sensational meal at Son Jaumell, near Capdepera. As you'd expect from a former El Bulli chef, it's gastronomic with an emphasis on local produce and beautiful presentation (pictured). Our tasting menu included acai berry cocktail, seared tuna with beetroot and cauliflower purée, and hake with raisins, pine nuts and a pumpkin foam; all delicious. Book ahead.
These vast caves outside the medieval city of Capdepdera contain gigantic stalactites - the biggest dangling down 26m at the time of writing, and still growing. Take a tour through the enormous chambers, thought to have been used by pirates, smugglers in the days of yore, and as a hiding place for the Arabs during the Christian conquest.
With 2km of snowy-white sand and shallow turquoise waters, Es Trenc is Mallorca’s largest and most famous beach, but if you're willing to seek out something more remote we recommend these smaller sandy coves.
1. Cala Torta is idyllic, with surprisingly deep turquoise waters and fine white sand. You need to trek through sand dunes to reach it, but you're amply rewarded by a lack of crowds and great snorkelling. The tiny cafe serves excellent charcoal-grilled fish.
2. Cala Mitjana (pictured) can be found at the end of a winding country track: tiny and beautiful. If you're lucky, you'll have it to yourselves.
3. S’illot near Alcúdia is a locals' favourite: cobalt water backed by pine forests, and a small restaurant with first-class paella.
Drawn from Mallorca's only natural hot springs, the 38-degree water at Font Santa Hotel powers a circuit with individual bath rooms, an indoor pool, jacuzzi and vaporium, and is thought to be theraputic thanks to its mineral-rich content. It was once a pilgrimage site for locals; today it's a more refined set-up but people flock here nonetheless.