From the outside, Mallorca isn't a destination readily associated with culture, but down the years many famous artists, authors and musicians have spent time here. For starters, Joan Miró worked here for many years, Chopin famously wintered in Valledemossa in 1838 while Robert Graves spent much of his life living and working on the island. The truth is that you could easily spend your holiday on Mallorca wheeling across the countryside in your car rental from one superb cultural attraction to the next.
The Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is a landmark and attraction all in one. It partly located in a 16th-century fort, found just to the west of the old-town. This marked the western boundary of the city's renaissance walls, and on a visit you'll be able to peek out across Palma from the old defences that make up the roof here. The main structure of the museum is thoroughly modern, and alongside ever-changing temporary exhibitions are collections of paintings and sculpture by the likes of Cezanne, Gauguin, Picasso, Miró and Magritte, as well as a host of more recent contemporary artists. The museum's terrace bar is also a fabulous spot to look out over the city on a summer evening.
Two smaller, but no less interesting attractions are the Juan March and La Caixa Foundations. The former is set on Sant Miquel in the heart of the old town, and is the private collection of a wealthy banker, a patron of 20th-century Spanish art. There are around 70 pieces here, by Salvador Dalí, Picasso and Joan Miró, among others. A ten-minute walk from here, on Plaça del Mercat is La Caixa Foundation, which is set within the Grand Hotel, a spectacular Catalan modernist building dating to the turn of the 20th century. There's something different every few months here, next to a permanent display of paintings by the vaunted post-impressionist painter, Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa.
Less than 30 minutes’ drive in your Drivalia hire car from Palma, this town on the southwestern side of Mallorca features what is billed as one of Europe's largest centres for contemporary art, the CCA . It's essentially a combined gallery and studio that was established in 2001 and is devoted to the enjoyment and creation of contemporary painting, graphic art, sculpture, video art and other forms. It also has a close relationship with the region around it, hosting concerts and wine-tasting sessions by local producers. The scenery here, at the southern foothills of the mountains, is also lovely, and can be admired over a meal at the centre's restaurant.
This mountain town just in from the northwest coast is also around half an hour’s drive from Palma. Here on Carrer de Sa Lluna in the centre of the town is Can Prunera. It's another extravagant Catalan modernist house with a spiral staircase and intricate leadlight windows, and decorated with period furniture. As with many of these belle époque structures, the building alone is worth the visit, but there's also a permanent set of works by Magritte, Matisse, Léger, Picasso and Miró, as well as galleries devoted to Balearic artists. Can Prunera's gardens are sumptuous, and serve as a venue for evening concerts in the summer.
A few minutes by sinuous upland road from Sóller is the hillside village of Deià, climbing up steeply from a small rocky cove. It features the island's most important literary attraction. The English poet and author Robert Graves first settled here in 1929, and for the rest of his life his stay was only interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in the '30s. Several of his works were set in the village, and his atmospheric home and garden have been preserved. On a visit you'll find memorabilia and audiovisual presentations about his life on Mallorca.
You can get to these attractions within 40 minutes of the Drivalia car rental depot in Palma de Mallorca (PMI).