Deià is the kind of place that makes people gasp aloud. The striking beauty of the coastline juxtaposed against the rugged mountains is that rare combination found in only a handful of places, and one that once seen, isn’t soon forgotten. But it’s the inhabitants that really make it a unique place. Artists have been attracted to the village since the 1800’s, but it was the end of World War I that started shaping it, with expats filling the cafes and beaches, bringing a cache not previously had. Today, it’s the home of rock n’ roll royalty and regular folk alike. So many contradictions for such a small place. For a bit of this, a bit of that, there’s no place like Deià!
Getting there #
Situated on the island’s north coast, getting to Deià involves either taking the bus or driving. The 210 bus from Palma takes about 50 minutes and runs every 4 hours. Driving takes 35-45 minutes using the Ma1110 and Ma10 out of Valldemossa. The drive is spectacular, though some say the Ma 10 coastal road is not for the faint of heart. Just keep speed in check and eyes on the road, and the drive is pleasant.
Deià has been settled since Prehistory, its location, springs and soil making it a desirable place to be. During the Middle Ages, the Arabs named the town “Ad daia”, a precursor to the present designation. The Moors were instrumental in creating solutions to overcome the difficult terrain of the village's steep hillsides. It was them who starting using terraced farming as the method of choice, making fertile land out of what was previously unusable. In the 13th century, Deià became an extension of Valldemossa, but gained independence in 1583, beginning a period of growth that saw even the smallest parcel of land up the mountainsides being used to grow olives. The legacy of this continues today.
As early as the 1800’s and especially after the end of World War I, Deià has become home to many artists and musicians, adding a bohemian flair to the village. With the arrival of the English writer Robert Graves in the early 1930's, and he flock of friends and muses who came in his wake, Deià earned a reputation as an "artists' colony", and it has a lively creative scene to this day.
Modern tourism gave Deià its next phase. From the end of the 19th century, visitors started coming to the area, initially drawn by the beauty, but also by the fact it was an inexpensive destination.
“The Majorcan countryside is not at all a place to go in search of inspiration; but admirable for people whose minds already teem with ideas that need recording in absolute quiet. …” – Robert Graves
Local Sights #
For literary fans, the Robert Graves Museum (La Casa de Robert Graves) is a can’t miss. The poet and author lived in Deià from 1929 until his death in 1985 and his home is a carefully preserved snapshot.
The Deià Archaeological Museum and Research Centre is also worth a visit. Housed in a former 17th century windmill, the building is as beautiful as the contents are interesting.
Finally, the walk is worth the view if you take the time to head up to the church of San Juan Bautista. The cemetery is almost as famous as the church and is the final resting spot for many of its illustrious inhabitants, including Robert Graves. The church houses a museum displaying art and devotional objects.
Food & Drink #
As eclectic as the residents are, so are the food choices. A selection follows:
You couldn’t really make a list of places to eat or drink in Deià without mentioning Sa Fonda. The place is a legend unto itself. Though not much to look at, it does have a pretty enough terrace, and on any given summer night, you may find yourself listening to live music with notable musicians, actors or supermodels sitting at the table next to you sipping sangria. Or maybe not. It’s that kind of place. Food is reasonably priced and the laid-back vibe is a great way to pass a happy hour or two.
Address: C/ Arxiduc Lluis Salvador 3, 07179 Deia +34 971 63 63 93
Hanok Korean Restaurant
Korean food in Spain? Really? Yes, really! This place has an amazing reputation and a tremendously loyal following. The food is sublime and the service friendly and attentive. Prices are correct, though not super cheap, and worth every scrumptious bite! Open for lunch and dinner.
Address: Carrer Felip Bauza, 3,07179 Deia +34 971 63 64 22
Fine dining and family run don’t always go hand in hand. But this is the case with Sebastian. Fantastic food and warm staff make this a special experience. A favourite treat for birthdays, date nights and other occasions, the beautifully presented food in a cosy setting is one to see. Address: Calle Felipe Bauza s/n, 07179 Deià +34 971 63 94 17
On this list as it is a vegetarian/vegan option, and also because they serve that elusive meal on the island… brunch! A self-described tea room, this is a great place to come for a snack, a coffee, or a healthy lunch. Food is organic and locally sourced when possible. The atmosphere is great, with cool music and a (kid) friendly vibe.
Address: Es Clot 22, 07179 Deia +34 687 95 59 18
Shopping and Market #
Deià has a small weekly market on Wednesdays, but there are better ones nearby and this one is not worth making a special trip for. There is a fabulous village shop though everyone adores: Es Forn. Packed with produce and regional products, it’s a go-to for the whole village. There are also little shops and boutiques where hidden treasures exist if you take the time to search!
Sports & Recreation #
If hidden coves and secluded beaches are of interest, Deià has more than its fair share. Cala de Deià is by far the best known, the crystal blue waters, cliffside beach shacks, and stony beach (no sand here, folks!) a favourite of locals and visitors alike. The chic set mingle with the local families flawlessly, and the vibe is distinctly congenial. The 25 minute walk from town means you have to work for it, but once there, it’s a slice of heaven.
Speaking of walking, Deià’s placement, perched on a mountainside, means there are plenty of walks and hikes to explore so don’t forget your trainers.
Art & Culture #
As an artist enclave, there is no shortage of small galleries and ateliers dotting the village. A quick wander will put you in touch with the most exquisite pottery, paintings and jewellery and chances are that you’ll even get a word with the artists.
Fiestas & Annual Highlights #
Deià has hosted an annual music festival for more than 40 years. Every Thursday from May to September the Deià International Music Festival brings in talent from all over the world with a series of weekly classical concerts. A feast for the eyes as well as ears, the concerts take place at the lovely Son Morraig house.
Living in… #
With about half of the 850 residents being expat, and a goodly portion of those the rich and famous, Deià comes with a hefty price tag. The average asking price is over €1 million going up to €10 million, though small pied-a-terre type setups can be had for as low as €450,000… those are few and far between, though.
The beauty can’t be beat, and the views are amazing, but nothing is perfect. Deià gets seriously cold and damp in winter. It also loses sun in winter hours before the south side of the island due to its position behind the Tramuntana Mountains. Roads into Palma can also be more treacherous in the cold season as snow has been known to hit this part of the island. Clearly, people do live with worse conditions every winter, but it is just something to clock, as it seems inconceivable during the hot summer months.
Charm factor #
This gorgeous village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enough said. If you’re looking for beauty and elegance, with a huge dash of the bohemian, Deià is the place for you!
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Por Stephanie Horsman
21 abril, 2023