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The beautiful Balearics

Mallorca and Menorca have long been popular with tourists, but if you think it’s just bucket ‘n’ spade delights, think again. Mallorca’s capital, Palma de Mallorca, has a fascinating history, and the island’s varied landscape includes rugged mountains and a rural interior little-touched by tourism. Boutique hotels, delicious paella, and peaceful villages show there’s much more than the islands' beaches. The likes of Magaluf still supply cheap thrills, but in quiet corners of Menorca or Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountains, it all seems ages away.

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Famous One of the most picturesque villages in Spain

One of the most picturesque villages in Spain Editors' Note

A couple of kilometres east of Sóller, in the foothills of some of Mallorca’s highest mountains, lies Fornalutx, once voted the prettiest village in all Spain. It’s quite a responsibility, and one that the town burghers take seriously: there are strict planning and parking laws.

With that sort of billing, the reality is a minor letdown (though there area handful of lovely places to stay).

The village itself is tiny, with a small central square with a fountain and a set of steps where the residents celebrate the festival of Reyes Magos on 6 January by giving every child in the village a present. Beyond climbing the steps and having a drink in a café to recover, there’s not actually anything to do here, and it’s a well-worn stop-off on the tourist trail, so you’ll have plenty of company.

From Fornalutx, it’s about a 20-minute walk or a short drive to the even tinier, but equally pretty, hamlet of Biniaraix. There’s a memorable walk from Biniaraix up the vertiginous barranc above the village by way of a cobbled path to the rounded, iron cross-topped peak of L'Ofre (1,090 metres/3,576 feet).

Fornalutx, West Mallorca, Mallorca