From Rome to Mallorca, this town has seen it all.
At the very tip of the northern edge of Mallorca, Alcúdia effortlessly combines antique beauty with Mediterranean coastal paradise. Steeped in history, Alcúdia’s Old Town seems to hold all the secrets of the North within its walls. Planting itself firmly on the map, as one of Mallorca’s top tourist destinations, this is the gateway to Port Alcúdia which found fame in the early 1970s.
For many centuries, the front littoral zone, which nowadays has the most sought-after and valuable land on Mallorca, was shunned by locals for the simple reason that it was unsafe to live there. The danger of pirate raids was omnipresent. To keep their families safe, settlements were built inland rather than directly on the coast, and the only buildings found along the shore belonged to fishermen and served to keep their nets and gear.
When the French subjugated Algeria and turned it into a colony in 1830, piracy ceased in the Mediterranean. With the advent of modern tourism, these modest fishing ports turned into the lively hotspots. This explains why Alcudia, like many other villages and towns on this island, is split in two: Alcúdia Town and Port Alcúdia. The Pueblos ("Villages" or "Old Towns") and Ports all over the island have distinctive looks and feelings that one must experience to appreciate.
Read on to find out all about what is now Alcúdia's Old Town.
Getting to Alcúdia Town #
Alcudia is easily accessible via hire car or public transport. If you’ve just touched down and want to make your way from the airport, head down the motorway Ma20 for 10 minutes or so, and then on to the Ma13 for around 40 minutes straight, a nice simple route that can be reached in under an hour. Also, the airport bus (route A32) runs on the hour, every hour (more or less) from May - October and twice daily during the low season (November - April). The cost of the bus is around 8€ per person and the ride takes one hour.
History and Local Sights of Alcúdia Town #
The first mentions of human existence in Alcudia date back to prehistoric times into a period now called the pre-talayotic and talayotic eras. The first settlements (pre-talayots) were built in caves or hills of earthen dwellings. The later villages are called talayots. the mostly circular, tower-shaped stone buildings typical for Mallorca's bronze age buildings.
In 123 BC the Romans had the foresight to come ashore to the golden beaches of Alcúdia Bay, and it was from here that they captured the island of Mallorca. Under their reign, the settlement was first named Pollença. The vestiges of the original city can be found on many street signs and restaurants as you meander through the centre. After a catastrophic attack by Vandals, the Romans aborted their beloved Pollença and it became desolate and derelict for many years to come.
Little is known about the reign of the Arabs only that it formed part of a district called Bullansa which might have been deducted from the name Pollença, the Catalanspelling and which includes the area of today's municipalities of Pollença, Alcúdia, parts of Escorca, Campanet and Sa Pobla. The name of Alcúdia is of Arabic origins, derived from al-qudia, meaning "the hill".
After the conquest of the island by the Christians in 1229, the town was re-founded and in 1298. The finca of Alcúdia was granted by Jaime II and the statute of a "Villa" – an independent city – and made into a parroquía or a parish, a decision mainly due to matters of strategy and defense. The city walls you see today were errected at this time, which, after having been expanded over three centuries and under the reign of several different masters, was eventually left to decay once it had lost its defensive function in the more peaceful times to come.
These defensive walls has been restored in recent decades along with so are many of the buildings from the Gothic and Renaissance periods, all combining into Alcúdia's unparalleled attraction as an old town. When you come and visit, make sure not to miss out on the archaeological site of the Roman city of Pollençia.
Shopping and Markets #
Alcudia Town is a hive of activity all year round. Inhabited since early 2000 BC, the city presents itself in a beautiful array of tiny streets and buildings, cascading the colours of the rainbow onto the narrow, cobbled paths below. One of the most enchanting things about this town is that it is full of bespoke, unique shops. Unlike other areas of the island, it hasn’t succumbed to tourist ‘tat’ shops but instead showcases jewelers, bakeries, children's clothing and handmade toys just to name a few.
The local market occurs every Tuesday and Sunday throughout the year promising aisle after aisle of fresh produce, accompanied by a vast array of locally made crafts, jewelery and clothing. Alongside the usual market findings (Mallorca’s best faux Burberry bags and Mulberry purses), you are able to discover many local wonders such as pure flor de sal salts and olives harvested in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains.
The vibrant colours that exude from the expansive catalogue of exotic fruits and vegetables, light up the narrow paths between the market traders. For just a small fee you are able to restock your fridge and wardrobe simultaneously; unless you happen to be a resident of Mallorca, the only question on your mind will be, ‘How do I get it all home?’!
Affordable Mallorca Tip: Not only on market days, a particular favourite with locals is Bar Maya, tucked away at the very mouth of the Market Place. You’d be hard pushed to find a better spot for lunch. For little under €20 you can expect to sample some of the most exquisite local meats and cheeses, all sourced and produced locally, perfect for sharing with your loved ones on those lazy Saturday afternoons.
Sports & Recreation #
For nature lovers, I recommend a visit to the wetland area of the S'Albufera Natural Reserve which is an ideal and world-renowned ground for birdwatching.
For residents, Alcudia has a beautiful indoor pool opened year-round. Read here to learn more >> Municipal Indoor Pools on Mallorca
Education and Learning #
Nuestra Señora de la Consolación- Catholic School
Mallorca is a predominantly Catholic country and therefore many schools are centred around the religion, meaning that chapel and prayer sessions take place during the school day. Here in Alcúdia, Nuestra Senora de la Consolacion is one of the most prestigious primary and secondary schools in the area, renowned for exquisite teaching, wonderful facilities and being at the heart of the community, located in the very centre of the town.
If Spanish is not your first language, there is always the natural worry that your child may struggle in a local school, especially as lessons are taught in both Catalan and Castellano. However, as a language teacher, I can assure you that children are like sponges when it comes to learning a language (even into their teens) and will pick it up incredibly quickly! In many ways I feel attending a local school gives children their best chance to integrate with the local community, and understand the culture and lifestyle here in Mallorca. Contact: +34 971 54 58 43
MySchool- International School
The north of the island has a large international community, with many expats gravitating to Alcúdia and nearby Puerto Pollensa. For many parents the choice to send their children to an international school seems like the best, as students follow the renowned British Curriculum and receive lessons in English and Spanish, and at certain academies (such as this one) German too, meaning all students leave being competently trilingual; add in compulsory Catalan, local dialect of Mallorquin and potentially other languages spoken in the home and we have an island full of linguists coming up!
Myschool is one of the more recent international schools to be set up here on the island, yet it’s fast becoming one of the most successful! With a well-established lower school, and ever growing secondary school, it's certainly a great option to consider when moving to the area with your little ones. Contact: https://mallorca.school/en/
The Paula Method - Language Academy
For those of you who have just moved into the area and fancy brushing up on your Spanish, or perhaps you’re Spanish needing to brush up on your English, the wonderful staff at The Paula Method offer classes in all languages with native teachers and caters for children and adults alike, classes running throughout the day and into the evening. Offering intensive courses (for those wanting to know the basics and fast) and summer schools there is something for everyone! Even if you’re just here for a few weeks and fancy learning a few phrases and basics, The Paula Method welcomes anyone and everyone Contact: +34 971 54 74 87
Fiestas & Annual Highlights #
Fiestas are prevalent in Alcúdia, with the local people finding many an excuse to let their hair down and party! Some of the most popular events include the Fiesta Romana (around July 22nd). This celebration of the Roman discovery of the Pollençan city sees the town come together in an army of white robes and togas, lining the streets as modern-day Spartans. With live musicians and DJs performing songs from across the decades, this street party caters for the young and the old. Food stalls surrounding the dance floor, saving those little ones who feel the pang of late-night hunger, and supporting those older ones who maybe had to one too many sangrias! The fiesta beings at midnight and continues at 6am, where (if you’ve lasted that long) you can watch the sunrise of the ancient ruins of the city, a sight not to be missed.
Later on in the year, in October, we see the Fira d’Alcúdia, the towns take on a typical ‘fair’. Although lots of similarities can be spotted, such as fairground rides, cuddly animals and hot dog stalls, Alcúdia really outdoes itself with its exquisite Medieval Market. The stalls are scattered throughout every inch of the Old Town, allowing you to sample meats, cheeses, wines, beers and breads inspired by the Medieval era. During this particular celebration, it is heart-warming to see how many of the stalls are monitored by local families, schools and businesses. You really do feel the presence of the community spirit here in Alcúdia. As with all Mallorquin celebrations we like to see them off with a bang, so be sure to witness another fantastic street party (although not quite so raucous) topped off with some fabulous fireworks!
Art & Culture #
Alcúdia has several museums and art galleries to spend a rainy day: Pollença Monographic Museum (Museu Monogràfic de Pollentia), the Yannik & Ben Jakober Art Foundation (Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober), the Can Fondo Art Gallery (Can Fondo Espai d'Art), the Sant Jaume's Church Parish Museum, the Library Foundation Can Torró (Fundació Biblioteca d'Alcúdia Can Torró).
For theatre lovers, it's worth checking what's on at the Roman theatre – in recent years, the archaeological site has been used to stage performances, and the events draw a steadily growing number of fans. Also, there is a local theatre, the Auditori d'Alcúdia, and one of the historic centres that always manages to draw a crowd, be it locals or tourists, is the bull ring. Bull-fighting was stopped at the Alcudia Ring after the summer of 2017 but events are now live again. For the record, none of us here at Affordable Mallorca support or endorse any events that use animals for fighting or aggressive entertainment.
The Ring is also home to a very different spectacle Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday throughout May-October (and various occasional dates throughout the year) - The Flamenco Show performed by Flamallorca. The 90-minute evening performance (35 minutes in the daytime), with interval of tapas of wine and olives, displays other styles of dance, combined with traditional live music- it really is a show not to miss! Daytime show prices start at €9.90 per person, and evening performances at €12.90 per person, and if you wish to add a BBQ dinner (evening shows only) then you can do so for €19.90 per person. Performances are held at 11am, 12h and 13h Tuesdays and Sundays, and at 19h Thursdays and Sundays. Head to www.flamallorca.com to book your tickets
Affordable Mallorca Tip: As well as visiting the show, anyone can tour around the bull ring throughout the year, they just ask for a donation of 2€ per person (which entitles you to a free soft drink or beer). Many locals drink at the bar throughout the year.
Living in Alcúdia #
The sense of community within Alcudia is exceptional. As a previous resident, I used to love the wonderful events occurring in the town square from schools holding bake sales, to full-blown markets and fiestas. This really is an exceptional community and a great place to live.
Finding property in Alcudia can be difficult. The appeal and charm means that the majority of its residents never want to leave unless they have to. However, it is not impossible and it is also relatively affordable. Purchase prices start at around €160,000 (based on a 2-3 bedroom apartment) and can reach up to €380,000 depending on desirability of location and the amenities within the property itself. Although these aren’t bargain prices, and neighbouring areas such as Sa Pobla can be far more reasonable, you do have to factor in the fact that Alcudia is a well-equipped town with strong transport links to Palma and a great community to join.
In terms of rentals prices start at €750 (2-3 bedroomed apartment) and reach up to €1,500. However, these are less readily available than properties to purchase, so you may prefer to expand your search down towards the Port area or across to Sa Pobla, in order to have a larger selection of properties at a better price.
One thing to keep in mind for year-round living, this area is damp and chilly in the winter. Many of the properties have been built and maintained as seasonal dwellings - - meaning, you might have a hard time staying warm and utility bills can be higher than other parts of the island.
If you want a short-trip and easy way to take your car, the ferry from this area, the Alcudia Toulon ferry route connects Mallorca with France. Currently there is just the one ferry company operating this ferry service, Corsica Ferries. The crossing operates up to 2 times each week with sailing durations from around 10 hours 30 minutes.
The Alcudia Ciutadella ferry route connects Mallorca with Menorca and is currently operated by 2 ferry companies. The Balearia service runs up to 4 times per day with a sailing duration of around 1 hour 14 minutes while the Trasmediterranea service runs up to 12 times per week with a duration from 1 hour 45 minutes.
Charm factor #
Alcúdia Town has well-maintained its Roman regality, yet at the same time it has a humble charm. The intricate buildings, neatly paved cobbled paths, and vivacious locals ensure that you want to lose yourself in these streets time and time again. This is a must-see when visiting and a great opportunity if you are thinking of settling down and like the quiet-life in the off-season.
- Writer's personal experience
By Ulla Rahn-Huber
21 February, 2020