The Spanish island of Mallorca, with its magical coves and aquamarine water, is one of the most stunning islands in the world.
When my family and I were planning our trip to Mallorca, we said, “we want the dramatic Mallorca…the rugged seashore, cliffs plunging into the water, views that will leave us breathless”. An acquaintance of ours who was born and raised on the Balearic island said to us “then you must head to the mountains in the West. That’s the most beautiful part of Mallorca”. And so we did. And so she was right.
You see, most of what we came across in our research said – for family travel – to head to the east coast, where there are long, flat sandy beaches, which are perfect for kids. This part of Mallorca is generally built up with many hotels and resorts, all offering kid-friendly amenities. For many people, that’s exactly what they want, especially those with young kids. For us, however, if we were going to come all this way (we’re American after all, and it’s not a quick flight as it is for many Europeans), we wanted the dreamy and dramatic Mallorca we’ve read about in books, seen in movies. We wanted the movies!
We’re so glad we took our friend’s advice, for the western, mountainous part of Mallorca was everything we envisioned, and more. Here are 5 reasons why we loved it:
The Dramatic Scenery
Western Mallorca is marked by the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, which famously meets the Mediterranean Sea with its crashing limestone cliffs and craggly coastline. If you want the drama factor in your every day vistas and cruising around, the mountains is where it is at. The scenery is absolutely sublime. Lemon trees, olive groves, fields of flowers, and the greenest of trees can all be seen throughout the region, truly making it one of the prettiest parts of the island.
The Mountain Towns
I have always been a fan of mountain towns, and the low-key vibe they seem to have. But I also love the sea and all things beachy. So for me, staying in the mountains in Mallorca was perfection – it has that magic combination of where mountain-meets-sea. We decided to stay in the village of Deia, a picturesque, artsy town set in the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean. We loved Deia: it’s beautiful, fun to walk around, has excellent restaurants, and very friendly people. I’ll be writing more about Deia in an upcoming post, so look out for it.
Other beautiful towns in Western Mallorca, which are popular to visit, are Valldemossa, Soller and Fornalutz. Because these towns either have hilly terrain or are nestled in a valley, they never felt over-crowded or too touristy. I’ve been told that this is another great reason to visit Western Mallorca – that the towns in general are less touristy than those on the rest of the island. The mountains lend themselves a bit of a remote feeling, even in the high summer season. That’s not to say the towns aren’t filled with tourists, but just not as many.
For us, it was essential that we rented a car. This is the best way to see the island, as there is so much beautiful scenery to take in. Driving around Western Mallorca is visually arresting. I at times (in the passenger seat) would leave my phone on video mode out the window for long stretches because I didn’t want to miss a single part of the drive.
My family loves a good road trip, whether it’s an hour or 5 hours. Western Mallorca is all about the road trip. It’s literally view after view of the Mediterranean seaboard from up above. Though it’s not for the faint of heart! Hair-pin turns and massive drop offs characterize a fair portion of the roads in western Mallorca. It may not be for everyone, but it’s the best way to see this amazing island in all its dramatic glory.
There were three main road trips we took, two of which I’ll highlight here. The third, Cap de Formentor, is technically in the North and will be saved for another post.
Valldemossa to Soller on Ma -10
This is the road we took to get to Deia from the airport, and it did not disappoint. What struck me most about the views was just how blue the water was, and how green and lush the trees were. The bright green against the royal blue was simply mesmerizing. Some of the turns were sketchy, but in terms of what more was to come, it was pretty mild. Many of Mallorca’s most scenic mountain villages are on this drive, making for fun exploring.
Soller to Sa Calobra on Ma – 10 and Ma – 2141
Driving along the sea and up into the mountains to get to the turn-off to Sa Calobra offers stunning views of both the Mediterranean and the mountains. About 6 km north of Soller is the incredible vista at Mirador de Ses Barques, where you have views overlooking the port of Soller. There is a restaurant here, and it was a good place to stop and get a drink for our girls.
From there we headed deeper into the mountains, where we eventually came to the turn off (Ma – 2141) for the notorious road to Sa Calobra, a tiny village and cove in the north western part of Mallorca. A 12 km serpentine road filled with sharp, descending hair-pin turns, this is one of the craziest roads we’ve ever taken. Just look at the photos! But the adventure and views it offered was like no other, a road trip not to be forgotten. We went early in the morning, so the traffic was not bad, and we stopped at several vista points along the way. We parked in a lot at the bottom (about a $7 fee), so we could spend the day at the beach (more on that below).
Tip: Do not drive this in the afternoon, as traffic will be backed up for miles.
The Coves and Beaches
Mallorca in general is known for its beautiful coves all over the island. We particularly found this to be true in the west. The thing about the coves in the mountains is that due to the terrain, you either have to hike down or drive down these loopy roads to get to them. Getting there is half the fun.
The cove at our hotel, Es Moli, for starters required driving down a twisty road and once you’re there, taking several staircases down to get to the water. May sound like a lot of work, but it’s that much more of an experience because of it. The beach at Sa Calobra (which as we know, requires a heck of a drive to get there) is one of the most dramatic beaches on the island. You have to take a path through a tunnel – which was cut through huge masses of rock – to get there and once you’re there you’re surrounded by huge cliffs on either side of the beach. Loads of tourists visit this beach, but for a reason. It’s visually stunning.
There is Cala Tuent and Cala Deia, among many more, and all have their own distinctive flavor. They all have beautiful crystal clear aquamarine water just begging to be jumped into. These beaches tend to be rocky, and not sandy, but for us, the experience of visiting them, and the scenery we were rewarded with, made them a total highlight of our trip.
The Laid-Back Feel
I suppose one could say all of Mallorca – all of Spain! – is laid-back but this was especially true in the mountains. Unlike some other areas of the island where it’s all party, party, party, the mountains had a serenity and a calmness to them. There was nothing more relaxing than opening our windows every morning to the smell of fresh mountain air, green-shutter houses nestled high above us in the distance, lemon trees lurking, and the blue of the Mediterranean sea down below. It was as peaceful as could be.
It should be noted that for many people, their top reasons for staying in Western Mallorca would be the hiking and biking. The hilly terrain, coupled with gorgeous views, makes for phenomenal hiking and biking. We did a little hiking, but because it was very hot (in August), we kept it limited with the kids. Mallorca has been one of our absolute favorite family vacations yet…I wished we lived a little closer.
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