Soaking up Mallorca’s sun and sights in a BMW 430i Convertible
Among sunseekers, Mallorca is famed for its sunny climate and crystal-clear waters, but the largest of Spain’s beautiful Balearic Islands is also rich with history. Spinning around the island in a BMW 430i—convertible, naturally—I seek equal measures of culture and comfort.
I start my tour in the ancient capital city of Palma, which was founded by the Romans, destroyed by the Vandals, and beautifully built up by the Moors. I explore the head-spinning Old Town on foot, starting at La Seu, a golden sandstone cathedral that was begun in the 13th century on the site of a Moorish mosque. Then I cross the street to the Palau Reial de l’Almudaina, a 14th-century fortress that hosted the courts of the monarchs of Mallorca, Aragón, and Spain.
After bites of pan con tomate and tortilla española on the shaded patio at Cafè Can Balaguer, it’s time to hit the road. I put the BMW’s top down and head north out of the city, into the island’s interior. After an hour—much of it on an impossibly twisty mountain road—I reach yet another historic landmark, the Santuari de Lluc. The most important pilgrimage site on the island, this mountain-ringed monastery dates to the 13th century, when a shepherd and a monk are said to have encountered the image of Our Lady of Lluc here.
From here, I backtrack and make a little pilgrimage of my own, to Binissalem, a small municipality that’s the center of Mallorca’s wine country. The first vineyards here were planted by the Romans, and while Bodegas José L. Ferrer hasn’t been around quite that long, the winery can boast 91 years of operations. I stop in for a taste of the Crianza, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, callet, syrah, and the signature local grape, mantonegro.
From here, it takes a little under half an hour to reach Finca Serena Mallorca, a 100-acre hilltop estate surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. I go for a stroll through the gardens and lavender fields, then tuck into a gastronomic dinner on the terrace at Restaurant Jacaranda, a locavore place run by two-Michelin-starred chef Óscar Velasco. After sea urchin custard, spider crab ravioli, and Mallorcan black pork in red pepper adobo, I’m ready to say buenas noches.
The next morning, I’m ready for some pampering. I head south, toward the low-lying salt flats of Ses Salines and the only natural thermal day spa in the Balearics, Fontsanta Hotel Thermal Spa & Wellness. The springs here were discovered by the Romans and have been preserved for public use since 1869, and after a dip in the thermal pool and hot tub, followed by a blast of cold in the ice fountain, I can see why.
Navigating around packs of Lycra-clad cyclists, I continue my cruise northwest, toward the Cuevas dels Hams, a series of caves where I take in spectacular natural formations and wild artificial lighting—and, most important of all, get a brief respite from the glaring Mediterranean sun. For a little more cooling off, I stop in Porto Cristo, where I have cherry ice cream from Cafeteria Chambi and then spend a few minutes watching yachts bob on the turquoise water of the bay. I think I could spend the rest of the afternoon doing this—and, in fact, that’s exactly what I do.
For its second-generation 4 Series Convertible, BMW exchanged the old folding-metal roof for a thickly insulated fabric one. This change trimmed the roof’s weight by 40 percent, aiding the car’s performance and economy and enhancing its stylish profile. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine powers the Bimmer from zero to 60 in a respectable 5.9 seconds—not that you’ll want to put the pedal to the metal when you’re cruising the winding roads of Mallorca, as I did in a 430i secured from the rental car company Sixt. Slow down and smell the almond blossoms; that’s why you got a convertible, right?
From $53,300, bmw.com
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