A tiny town with a lot of clout, Calvià is the seat of the island’s most popular municipality. Calvià is close to Palma, a world class city, and a world away from its madness. It is what my grandmother would’ve called a “funny old place," a small out-of-time town that happens to be the governmental seat for the second most populous and popular municipality on the island. This is an expensive but great place for expats who want to feel taken care of by the local government.
It is much lesser known than its busy coastal neighbours like Santa Ponça, Costa de la Calma and Peguera yet more residential. It has a distinct traditional charm that is so completely opposite of many of the more recently developed towns who function under its jurisdiction. In a word, Calvia is an anomaly - one of the most pleasant kind. Get to know this little oasis in the foothills.
Getting there #
Located to the east of Palma in the island’s famous (or infamous, some may say!) southwest, Calvia is easy enough to get to. By car, the trip is a scant 20-25 minutes and a taxi will set you back roughly €45. It’s mostly motorway and is fast if the traffic is light. Take the Ma19 out of the airport to the Ma-20. Follow Ma-20 to the Ma-1 toward Andratx until exit 13 and then follow the Ma-1015 up to Calvia.
The bus is a slightly more complicated affair, taking more than 2 hours, but is an inexpensive option. The 547 Aeroport-Arribades bus takes you into Palma to the Estació Intermodal. From there, you pick up the 111which drops you at the town hall in Calvia.
Founded in 1289 with a scant 80 people, the history of Calvia is based heavily in its land. Specifically, in land that is not terribly fertile in an exceptionally arid part of the island - not the most conducive environment for farming, it turns out, though the people tried despite the hardship. The 18th century saw a massive drought, causing a terrible famine which in turn brought on illnesses and a certain isolation of the population. Within a century, many inhabitants upped stakes and left the island full stop.
The 20thcentury brought a massive boom to the region with the advent of tourism, which of course created another set of issues. Overdevelopment gripped the once pristine coastline and the town of Calvia, as administrative seat for the region, took decades to get it under control.
Today, you can say that Calvia has finally come into its own. The town has managed to retain an old-fashioned air, despite its prominent role and reputation as the wealthiest municipality in all of Spain!
Local Sights #
The church of San Juan Bautista is a prominent site in the town and originally dates back to 1248, though almost none of that structure is evident in today’s version. The last renovation was made in 1867, giving us the mix of architectural styles we see today. Neo-Romanesque and neoclassical elements combine with a massive neo-Gothic window and twin belfry towers flanking the façade have created an imposing, though slightly offbeat focal point for the town.
The mostly 17thcentury architecture is another good reason to spend time in Calvia. The sense that you’re in another time is a rush, even if you’re not a big history buff.
The tiny hamlet of Es Capellà, 3 kilometres from Calvia, boasts a number of large rural estates. If one is so inclined, it is possible to walk from town to town making for a nice country stroll in a place where time seems to stand still. The village itself sits under the gaze of Puig de Galatzó, adding to the already lovely scenery.
AFFORDABLE MALLORCA TIP: For a day excursion, check out the tiny mountain village of Galilea, about 14 kilometres from Calvia, known for its bell-wearing goats and international flavour, attracting artists and those who want to get away from it all. Reasonably priced homes are a big draw, as well as the picturesque setting.
Food & Drink #
Bar Rositas Calvia
Ideal place, great service and banoffee pie! What more could one ask?
Address: Carrer Major / Calvia Vila 39, 07184 Calvia, telephone +34 662 204 859
Bar Sa Societat
This local café has many fans. Quality food in a no-frills setting and lovely wait staff. The artisanal beer is raved about.
Address: Carrer Major 2, 07184 Calvia, telephone +34 971 138 369
Mesón Ca’n Torrat
The owner and his three sons alone are worth the trip, and the food is the icing on the cake! Great for cyclists or fans of cycling.
Address: Carrer Major 29/31, 07184 Calvià
Shopping and Market #
Market day is Monday in Calvia and there are more than sixty stalls selling arts and crafts, clothes and a variety of freshly grown produce. The town also has supermarkets, bakeries and pharmacies, the usual fare for many towns on the island. For more selection, there is a shopping mall in Magaluf (La Vila Centro Comercial), and Palma is a short drive away.
Sports & Recreation #
As Calvia is nestled in the foothills of the Tramuntana and the Serra de Na Burguesa mountain ranges, hiking and cycling are high on the list of things to do for the active visitor. This is such a good area for cycling that the Challenge Vuelta Ciclista a Mallorca, a series of pre-season pro cycling races held annually, finishes its final day in Calvia, where the winner is awarded the Trofeo de Calvia.
Additionally, there are no less than five golf courses in short driving distance, as well as the many beaches of the southwest coast offering a variety of water sports for every taste and level.
Fiestas & Annual Highlights #
The Festival of San Juan Bautista, the town’s patron saint, has been held every June since the 1950’s and honours the town elders. All neighbours over 75 years of age are invited to partake in free almond ice cream and ensaimadas.
Festival of Sant Jaume in July is the biggie for Calvia. Cultural and spiritual activities abound over a week-long series of celebrations where the main objective is to unite the townspeople and have some fun.
Artists and musicians from around the world met in Calvià in June. Over 20-hours of live music, food trucks and market plus a "chill-out zone" and more. This is the summer at its finest here.
How Would You Like Living Here? #
Easy access to Palma and some of the island’s most popular resorts, as well as having a huge expat population make Calvia a great choice for those who want to be near the excitement without having to live and breathe it 24/7. Due to the number of expats, there are a significant number of choices when it comes to international schooling for those who choose that route, making it also a great place for families.
Many of the properties available in the town centre are converted estate homes that are now flats or townhomes. Prices for places in town are not rock bottom but are fairly safe bets when it comes to resale, as the area is desirable. A flat in town will go for €350,000 and up, whilst rural estates touch €1 million and up. You’ll get views, sometimes distant sea ones, for this price, but it's not within our range of "affordable".
Charm factor #
Calvia is a world apart, retaining a traditional feel despite being in a populous and popular, some would even say “hectic”, area. It’s a nice place for families and convenient for amenities. If you like being above the fray, but having direct access to it, this is the place for you!
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By Stephanie Horsman
2 June, 2023