With around 10,000 cacti, Botanicactus is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe. As well as over 1,000 different species of cacti, there is a large lake, a variety of other tropical plants and an area full of native Mallorcan plants. Started in the 1980s, the Ses Salines area was chosen for the garden as it has the least rainfall of anywhere on the island. Wandering around, it’s easy to forget that you are in Mallorca, feeling more akin to being in some strange desert or film set. The size and magnificence of the larger cacti (and the sheer abundance of them) is astounding and the gardens are well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Carretera Ses Salines a Santanyí, km 1, Ses Salines + 34 971 64 94 94
The Jardines de Alfabia, at the foot of the Tramuntana mountain range, were once the estate of the Moorish governor of Mallorca and are incredible landscaped gardens with a stunning 15th century house in their centre. The grounds have been updated over the centuries but the Moorish elements remain – mainly the many water features, such as the ancient cistern which collects rainwater for the gardens. One of the highlights is a long pergola covered in vines that has interspersed jets of water spray from stone hydras to dramatic effect (you can set this off at the push of a button). The water from these jets then trickles down through ancient channels onto the terraces of orange trees below (you can have a fresh squeezed juice from these very oranges in the cafe). The views of the mountains are spectacular, the historic manor house and stables are fascinating to look around and a wander around these lush, shady gardens on a hot day feels like you are in a real oasis. You can also catch the historic Tren de Sóller from either Soller or Palma and get off at the park’s entrance.
Buñola, Ma-11, Bunyola +34 971 61 31 23
The Jardi del Bisbe – or ‘Bishop’s Garden’ – is an oasis in the heart of Palma’s old town, in the form of a small botanical garden with an ornamental pond, palm trees and a vegetable patch. Very close to the famous cathedral, it’s free to enter, has many benches and is the perfect place to sit in the shade away from the tourist masses and contemplate your next move (or life itself if the fancy takes you). If you were thinking of enjoying a sandwich on one of these shady benches, it’s worth noting that in summer the garden is closed over the siesta period (between 1pm and 3pm).
The rich and fertile grounds of the Soller valley are a spectacular sight, especially fascinating to those interested in botany. The botanical gardens on the outskirts of Soller are concerned primarily with the conservation and study of rare local flora, also exhibiting many other Mediterranean species and maintaining an organic orchard. The gardens aren’t huge but are beautifully laid out, with the most incredible backdrop in the form of the jagged mountain range behind.
Ctra. Palma-Port de Sóller, Km 30,5, Sóller +34 971 63 40 14
La Granja is a large 17th century manor near to the small town of Esporles, which features a museum of Mallorca’s traditions and crafts. The house is set in extensive grounds with orchard terraces, botanical gardens, waterfalls and woodland with a rare Yew tree that is over a thousand years old. There are numerous farm animals as well as native Mallorquin black pigs, wild birds, natural springs gushing out of the hillside and a 1.2km sign-posted walk around the gardens. The museum presents demonstrations of traditional crafts and sampling sessions of local foods and there is an excellent terrace cafe with lovely views. Entrance is not particularly cheap but there is plenty to see and the price includes the museum, gardens and traditional food tasting.
Ctra Banyalbufar, Km 1.5, Esporles +34 971 61 00 32
Originally one of the houses of famously wealthy patrons of the arts, the March family, the house at Sa Torre Cega sits on a hill and overlooks Cala Ratjada. In the 1960s Bartolomé March took the controversial decision to add an eclectic collection of contemporary sculptures to the already famously beautiful gardens. A huge storm damaged much of the gardens in 2001, but they have been lovingly restored and are now open to the public (by appointment only). An appointment allows you a guided tour of the gardens and the interior of the house for a small fee.
Calle Juan March, 2, Es Pelats +34 971 71 11 22