Warning: the drive to Cap de Formentor is not for the faint of heart…
But it sure is beautiful. What is Cap de Formentor you may be asking? It’s the most northern point of the Spanish island of Mallorca. The Formentor peninsula jets out into the sea, where the cap, or cape, comprises the eastern end. It has some of Mallorca’s most dramatic scenery, where the end of the Tramuntana mountain range meets the sea, and where – as the locals say – the four winds converge.
My family and I love to drive around new places, and we especially loved driving around Mallorca, as I highlighted in my post on Western Mallorca. It’s some of the most stunning landscape to behold. We were told that in order to experience Mallorca in its most rugged state, we had to drive the road to Cap de Formentor, where a lighthouse on a cliff greets you at the end. And so we did.
But I’ll say it again. The drive to Cap de Formentor is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it can be scary. The main road (Ma-2210) winds in and around plunging limestone cliffs, where drop-offs are literally jaw-dropping. Someone with vertigo such as myself should not be driving. So I didn’t. My cool as a cucumber driver husband did. But even he got squirmy in parts.
Before I get to the juicy details of our hairy ascent to the lighthouse, which lies 210 meters above sea level, let me give you some back-drop and context for the road that takes you there, as well as things to see along the way (or way back). The main road runs 13.5 km from Port de Pollenca to Cap de Formentor. It was built by the same Italian engineer who designed the hair-pin, snake-like road to Sa Colabra – Antonio Parietti. The idea behind his designs was that wherever the cliffs seemed too steep and too plunging to drive, he would curve the road. And curvy it is!
View after view of Mallorca’s most craggy coastline abound, and there are a few notable sites along the way to the lighthouse (the furthest point you can drive on the cape) worth mentioning; whether or not you visit them on the way over or way back is up to you. I personally think it’s best to go to the lighthouse first thing in the morning, because come mid-afternoon (which is when we went) the traffic can be very bad. Our timing was not good, and I’ll explain that more in detail below.
You might also enjoy: Taken with Deia: Guide to Mallorca’s Most precious Mountain Village
One of the first major viewpoints the road brings you to is Mirador des Colomer. This is a must-see, and actually, I would say to do it on the way over as it gives you a good idea of what is to come – the views are breathtaking. This look-out point is perched on a cliff 300 meters above sea level and is no joke. I, with my vertigo, had to walk slowly and carefully out to one of its stone decks, where I wanted to take photos. We were so high up that I wouldn’t get next to the railing, for it’s a straight shot down to the ocean from there. I swiftly took some photos and got out of there! But it’s absolutely worth a visit, as I’m sure you can see in the photos here.
Note: this is a very touristy spot with loads of buses, but for a reason. It’s one of the best viewpoints on the island.
Not too far from Mirador des Colomer is Playa de Formentor, a beautiful beach set in a scenic cove, and surrounded by the Tramuntana mountains as well as pine forests. I can still smell the waft of pine in the air! It’s a long, sandy beach, but very narrow, so during August it was quite crowded. Nonetheless, the water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature, which had my girls begging to stay. They played in the sea while we read our books on the beach, all the while watching all the action in the bay and cove behind – lots of boats were pulling up to catch the serene views of the mountains all around, just like us. It’s a full-service beach with a couple of restaurants, bathrooms and water sport rentals. Note: there is a parking fee of about 10 euro for the parking lot.
Also worth noting is the Formentor hotel, nearby. We did not visit it, but it’s famous for being where the rich and famous stay, ever since it was built in the early 1930’s.
You might also enjoy: Barcelona Day Trip: A Visit to Mesmerizing Montserrat
Our favorite beach on the peninsula, however, was Cala Figuera, further along the road. This was a real highlight of our trip. I remember us driving and rounding a bend and suddenly seeing way down below the most electric blue water I had ever seen. I made my husband pull over immediately, and ran across the street to take a closer look. That’s what I loved about the driving – being able to see things I wouldn’t have otherwise, and having the freedom to pull over and see it on our own terms.
We were so in awe of the beach that we decided to continue on to the lighthouse so that we’d have as much time as we wanted later to explore it. Whether or not you visit it on the way over or way back, know that there is a parking lot (no fee) and hiking trail down to the cove. It’s rather steep and strenuous in parts, so bring sneakers. There is not a lot of shade so make sure to have water as well. For us, the hiking part was half the fun, and we were rewarded with one of the most spectacular beaches and coves on the island. I still day-dream about Cala Figuera.
Along the road there are various turn-offs where you can pull over to see the views of the rocks overlooking the Mediterranean. Some we stopped at and some we didn’t. We eventually made our way to the final ascent to the Cap de Formentor Lighthouse, and what a setting. And what a drive! This is the wild and rugged Mallorca people talk about, the end of the world as some describe it – at least in feeling. The lighthouse is on a cliff at the northern end of the island, and if you’re not careful, you might just fall off! Kidding, not kidding…it sure did feel like with one false move we might have taken the plunge!
The road to the lighthouse curves in and out of steep cliffs, and takes you up, up, up. It is vertigo’s worst nightmare, made even more difficult by the fact that the heavy traffic I talked about earlier kept us at a standstill for much of the time. We were there in the afternoon, which was mistake #1. Go in the morning! And we missed the one spot where we could turn around, which was mistake #2.
So here we were, at a standstill on a hairpin turn way up high, with the railing right next to us, and the sea below. It was terrifying! No way could I have been in the driver seat, as I could barely function in the passenger seat. And never mind that we had two girls with us! This was where my husband started to lose it a bit..but he kept his calm. We spent about a half hour like this on a couple different turns and finally made it to the lighthouse parking. I can’t describe the sense of relief I had.
You might also enjoy: The Best of Barcelona with Kids
But were we rewarded with breathtaking views in the end? Most definitely. The views from the lighthouse are spectacular. Some say on a good day you can see Menorca, though we did not. The velvety blue Mediterranean went on seemingly forever, and it really did feel like the edge of the world. Like the Mirador des Colomer viewpoint, I gingerly walked along the outside of the lighthouse, as beyond the railing was a vast open sea of blue. It was stunning, but nerve-wracking. To calm myself, I got a snack at the cafeteria inside. So there is food and water awaiting you at the end, should you need to refuel, but note it is cash only.
In the end, I had no regrets about the drive to Cap de Formentor (though then again I wasn’t the one behind the wheel!). Yes it was scary at points, but it was a part of the island I feel should not be missed. Looking out over the sea from such a vantage point felt majestic and something, I realized, we had to earn.
A couple more photos..
What incredible views – and the colours are amazing, that deep deep blue and the bright turquoise. Definitely something I would love to do (although I shall also pack my husband as official driver, I would not like to attempt hairpin bends like that). #farawayfiles
The colors of the blues were incredible. I like looking at them on gloomy winter days such as today..
Thanks for taking me back to Mallorca and Formentor! We loved Cala Figuera too! To me, it is still one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to! #FarawayFiles
Seriously – the most insanely beautiful beach!
Even if the curves are gut-wrenching, I bet you were stopping ever few feet to snap these STUNNING pictures! How interesting though that the designer on purposely made the roads curvy on right on the edge! He must have had an adrenaline rush to build it! #FarawayFiles
Haha – can’t imagine being the designer!!
I love those photos, it looks absolutely stunning! I don’t think I’d be able to make that drive though- yikes! #FarawayFiles
Maybe with a driver you could!
Mallorca is growing on me 🙂
What a fun coincidence – I was just talking with some friends today about maybe going to Mallorca this summer. 😀 #FarawayFiles
Oh this really is stunning, Corey. And I would certainly not be the designated driver on those particular roads! But I would definitely take this trip – and hike to that gorgeous beach. I do agree that a rental car is a great way of exploring when you’re somewhere new. #FarawayFiles
I could never have driven those hair pin turns myself – reminded me a bit of the Amalfi Coast where we definitely did not drive but hired a driver!
My husband would definitely be the driver if we ever attempted this particular route. The views are spectacular and I’m sure it was absolutely worth a little bit of terror. #FarawayFiles
It most definitely was 🙂
We’ve been looking into where to have our next walking holiday and I’m very tempted by Western Mallorca, partly because of your posts. Will let you know if we do decide to go!
I think I would freak out having to drive this road – so glad you had a calm husband to do it for you!
Haha! I don’t know how he made some of those turns, frankly. I had to close my eyes for some of them. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my posts – thank you so much!
The journey sounds hairy but you were rewarded for you bravery with some breathtaking views. Have you ever travelled the Amalfi Coast? I did it on a bus and that was bad enough! Wilbur #farawayfiles
Too funny – I just replied to someone else’s comment saying that the drive reminded me of the Amalfi Coast – and no I did not drive there! We hired drivers. There was no way I was getting in a car with either one of us behind the wheel! Somehow we got up the courage in Mallorca.
I dream of swimming in water like this, and those views! WOW! I get what you mean about earning it, and with roads like that you definitely did! Maybe I can take a nap and then just magically wake up there… #farawayfiles
Hilary, I had to close my eyes for some of it. And I was mentally exhausted by the end of the day!
I can relate!
Absolutely stunning photos, beautiful blue water looks divine. I would definitely have to rely on my husbands driving skill. #farawayfiles.
The water was ridiculous. I had never seen water like that, including the caribbean.
My goodness, I felt like I was in the car with you! We went up to Formentor a few years back. Although didn’t go to the lighthouse. We must have gone slightly out of season because it was quiet – as was the beach. Funnily enough I expressed a wish to go back with the girls when we go to Mallorca this year on my travel wish list post. Not so sure they’ll like the journey! Thanks for hosting #citytripping
I saw that! I hope you make it there!! So beautiful. I know Mallorca has a reputation in the U.K. but we adored it.
This looks so beautiful! Worth the drive but I wouldn’t want to drive it myself…leave that to the the Hubby and I can just enjoy the scenery #farawayfiles
Exactly what I did ;).
It looks so beautiful! I hate to drive on holiday simply because I feel like I miss out because I am concentrating on the road! You saw such amazing scenery and such blue, clear water. Stunning!
That’s why I made my husband do it!
It’s all so blue and refreshing, makes me want to dive right in now! Spain is my favourite country but I’ve never been to any of the islands – time to change that soon I think! #farawayfiles
I felt the same way – did my junior semester abroad in Spain, visited it two more times later and still until this summer had never been to one of its islands. It was time to change that!
I’m so looking forward to our trip to Majorca at Easter (booked after I read one of your posts). Will definitely have to drive this route! #farawayfiles
It’s a beautiful route and well worth it – but you’ve been forwarned!
Beautiful! Sounds like a silly question but it looks very deserted – is there accommodation out on the northern cap? It would be amazing to wake up to those views! Thanks for hosting #farawayfiles
I can’t say 100 % but I don’t think there is. Not by the lighthosue at least. There’s the Hotel Formentor by the Formentor beach though, before you get out to the real tip.
The color of the water is amazing! I am taking my first trip to Spain in September but only have time to visit Barcelona. Something tells me it won’t be my last trip to Spain!
Spain is an amazing country – I’ve seen a lot of it and can’t get enough!
What amazing views. The colour of the water is just beautiful. We’d definitely do this drive although i’m not sure i’d want to be driving! #FarawayFiles
I couldn’t handle it, but I definitely enjoyed looking out at it!
Wow incredible, you really did earn those views and the visit to the cafeteria at the top!
Yes though I was a bit too nauseous from nerves to eat!
Wow incredible, you really did earn those views and the visit to the cafeteria at the top! #farawayfiles
Yes we did!!
Woah that road does look terrifying! As someone who also has a healthy fear of heights, my hubby would also have to do the driving. The views do make it worth the risk though. Thank goodness for guard rails right? #farawayfiles
Yes though at times there were some gaps which really had me on the verge!
The deep blue of the water is simply stunning! Incredible!
It was almost too blue to believe. Transport me there now!
Sorry to learn about your vertigo 🙁 I presume your kids were OK with the winding roads? Your photos of the rugged coastline and blue waters are absolutely inviting. Makes me crave for some sunshine as we are experiencing rains almost every day here in Kuala Lumpur 😉 #FarawayFiles
I’m not sure how I’d fare in constant rainy weather – my brother lives in Seattle and I don’t envy him!
Ohhh Mallorca is just so beautiful! I’ve only been once, but we stayed on the west coast and I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was. I wish I’d had time to explore more of the island, the drive/walk looks absolutely stunning. The colour of the water!!
I’m with you on the freedom of driving sightseeing, I love being able to just pull over when I want to take a closer look at something, too.
We stayed in Western Mallorca too. This was just a day trip. We loved the western part of the island – just so stunning!!
It’s beautiful, but it’s properly giving me the heebie jeebies. We drove the Road to Hana in Maui and that was white knuckle enough for me. I say we, but really my boyfriend drove and I peeked out of one eye every now and then.
So we were watching Grand Tour the other night and they were in Mallorca driving around cliffs as well, but I don’t think it was Cap de Formentor, it didn’t look hairy enough! #FarawayFiles
Haha – who knows. There are many hair-raising drives in this world. The Amalfi coast had me on the edge of my seat!
Some great pics, we also love Mallorca and it’s the only Baleric where we didn’t go back with the kids – just yet! So pinning for later, thanks for the inspiration, my boys would love the drive and similar to you very likely I’ll just get butterflies in my stomach…#farawayfiles
Trust me, I would love to go back sans kids!
I’m not surprised you got vertigo at the top! But wowwweeee! What views! The blue colours are just so striking and vibrant. This looks like one heck of a road! That scenery is out of this world. Beautiful! #farawayfiles
It was so stunning that even though I was experiencing vertigo I kept saying “keep going”! It was too beautiful to turn around.
Thanks for sharing this is really very nice post, I glad to read your article, Whether you choose to stay in the lively area of Magaluf, the classy surroundings of Palma, or somewhere more remote, there is inevitably something for everyone.
Mallorca is so beautiful – thanks for reading!
Where did you begin your drive from? Is it too far do you think to drive from Deià to Cap de Formentor in one go?
We drove from Deia! Definitely doable – it just all depends on how much you want to do on the cape..