‘Road tripping Mallorca, Europe’s paradise island’
January 1, 1970
by Coco Dee
“Drive a little slower,
Don’t matter where we’re going to go now
Drive a little slower,
Not ready to go home.”
– Jason Mraz
Mallorca is a well known summer location, especially for Europeans. From all over, tourists will come to spend their vacations on this Spanish island. They choose the city where they want to spend their vacation, and maybe visit Palma once or twice. Mallorca has much more to offer than just that, you don’t know what you are missing! I discovered that Mallorca is beyond beautiful and that the island has a mixture of mountains, fields, a clear blue sea and pretty beaches.
Mallorca is the largest island of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The other larger islands of the Balearics are, Menorca, the smallest one and probably the most popular one, Ibiza. The archipelago is a part of Spain and has Palma the Mallorca as its capital.
Cala Esmeralda in Cala d’Or
‘Boat, Bus, Car. How to find your way around the island’
The summer of 2016, I was working on the island Mallorca for seven months. I lived in a small town called Cala d’Or on the South East coast of Mallorca. Cala d’Or is an excellent place to spend your vacation. It has beautiful bays with clear blue water, the town offers enough restaurants and bars and it is an hour drive from Palma. If you are living for seven months in Cala d’Or though, or any of the other small places for that matter, it can be, let’s say, a bit boring. I knew the island had to have so much more to offer than what I saw in Cala d’Or. I just needed to find it.
There are many ways to discover more of the island. One is to rent a boat and sail the coast in search for more island treasures. Downside is that it can be expensive and for the larger boats you need to be licensed. Not to mention the time pressure. Water transportation just takes more time. Which isn’t a bad thing!
Second is to take the bus, busses will take you from one city to the next. It certainly is a cheap way of traveling the island, as long as you have the time. Because when I say the bus will take you from one city to the next, I mean every city along the road! Again, time pressure on my side, I only have one day off a week!
As a third option we have the bicycle or scooter, which is nice if you want to stay closeby. I highly recommend this option! This way you can go where a car can not reach. You will be able to manoeuvre your way through the Mallorcan landscape. Which is nice, you will be having a great adventure. But I didn’t want to stay closeby, I wanted to go as far as the island would allow me to. Taxi’s are way too expensive for long distance, so why not drive myself!
My final and best option is to rent a car. It is not too expensive considering you will have your four-wheeled-beauty the entire day, depending on your choice of course. Myself, I am a princess when it comes to cars, I spend a bit more on cars, especially when I am driving it all day.
So there we have it, I am going on a roadtrip!
Inland landscape Mallorca
The island is easy to cross by car and very fun. Mallorca has a divers landscape, with roads that vary from highways to small country paths, from curvy mountain roads to long dark tunnels. It is certain to say you won’t be bored. You can get your navigation to lead you through a more exciting path than only main roads. Then, sometimes, you will end up in the middle of nowhere. Which is a good thing. Then stop the car, get out and enjoy what is around you. Wether it is a beautiful coastline, where the only thing you hear is the wind and the water or when you go further inland and you find yourself between lemon trees and farms.
‘Plan, Pack, Organize. Where to go, what to see’
There are two things you can do, just drive and you will explore along the way or find out more information about a few places and organize a bit. Just a little bit, otherwise, where is the fun?
To make it easier and more visual, here is my Mallorcan map with notes that guided me through my trips.
Copyright: Danielle van den Berg
So now I have my information, my choice of transportation, I just need to grap my things and go! I collected all my Mallorcan roads experience and converted it into three routes for you. I went to some of the places multiple times and I have definitely my favourites. These I have put into the next three routes, mixed with a bit of logic navigation.
Before you go, do NOT forget:
- Charger (so you can connect to the car)
- Swimsuit and towels
- Cardigan or jacket (I love my convertibles)
- Other drinks and food (in case you are in the middle of nowhere, have a picknick)
- Music on your phone (offline)
‘Neutral, Drive, Park. Let’s have an adventure!’
Route 1: From South to North | Alcúdia and Cape Formentor
Cala d’Or – Porto Colom – Porto Cristo – Artà – Alcúdia – Port d’ Alcúdia – Cap Formentor
Distance: 115 km / 71.4 miles
Car: Mercedes A-Class
Highlights: Caves of Drach in Porto Cristo | National park and marine reserve in Artà | Centre of Alcúdia | Lighthouse at Cap Formentor
Eat: Restaurante Jardí in Port d’ Alcúdia
Sleep: Hotel Agroturismo Son Siurana in Alcúdia (farmhouse mansion) | Villa Vertent in Pollença (B&B)
My starting point is Cala d’Or, my summer base. From here I drive through Porto Colom to Porto Cristo. Porto Colom is a nice short stop if you like to. In Porto Cristo I am searching for the Caves of Drach. Don’t go here while it is high season, the overload on tourists will kill your mood. The Caves of Drach have a large underground lake, Lake Martel. After listening to the classical music, I go back to my special roadtrip-playlist in my car. Heading for Alcúdia now! Before reaching Alcúdia, you can decide on making a short stop in Artà. Here you can find a national park and marine reserve.
Alcúdia has a car free centre. I park the car just outside of the city walls and continue by foot. Alcúdia has a beautiful old city centre, where you can wander around between small shops and restaurants. Port d’ Alcúdia is a 10-minute-walk from the city centre. It has a long, curvy beach with plenty seafood restaurant on the boulevard. From here it is not far to Cap Formentor. Cap Formentor has high clives and amazing views. On a clear day you might see the island Menorca. As you reach the lighthouse, more stunning views will reach your eye.
Route 2 : What the Sea has to Offer | Palma and Port d’Andratx
Alcúdia – Inca – Marratx – Palma – Port d’Andratx
Distance: 98 km / 60.8 miles
Car: BMW 4 series M line convertible
Highlights: Food market Mercat de l’Olivar in Palma | Thursday’s market in Inca | Sunset in Port d’Andratx
Eat: Mercat de l’Olivar in Palma | La Taperia in Palma
Sleep: Hostel Fleming in Palma (boutique) | Annette Rosenkilde (live-a-board cruising and charter vessel)
A little bird told me something about a food market in Palma, with pincho’s and fresh oysters. You don’t know this yet, but I am a big, huge, food lover. If I would document the reason why I visit places and travel countries, it would be all about food and wine, always. Back to the little bird. This time the goal was not the trip itself, it was me getting oysters in Palma’s food market.
Palma’s food market is called Mercat de l’Olivar and is located in the heart of the centre (Plaça de l’Olivar, 4, 07002 Palma). The food market is indoors and is divided into two areas, one where the fish is displayed and the other area with everything else. It is not only a market where they sell their products, there is room for eating and drinking as well. *Now, imagine me jumping up and down*. In the fishy area I found the oysters. And sushi. And pincho’s with tuna tartar. In the other part of Mercat de l’Olivar, you can taste Jamon d’Iberico with a glass of wine, cheeses, candied nuts and a lot more, before purchasing. I like being in Palma, I like the city, add the Mercat de l’Olivar, and I love the place. To end the day, it is time to drive to Port d’Andratx. Be in time for the sunset, which you can watch from one of the terraces right next to the marina. Have a cocktail, sit back and relax! No more driving as this is the last stop of route 2.
Road through the Sierra de Tramuntana
Route 3 : Mountain Madness | Sierra de Tramuntana
Palma – Valdemossa – Deià – Sóller – Sa Calobra – Port de Sóller
Distance: 116 km / 72 miles
Car: BMW Mini Cooper convertible
Highlights: Fairytale village Valdemossa | World Heritage Sa Calobra | Death roads Sierra de Tramuntana | Port de Sóller sunset view
Eat: Randemar in Port de Sóller | Bens d’Avall in Sóller
Sleep: The Pinkpepper Tree in Lloseta (home hotel) | Cas Sant Hotel in Sóller (romantique hotel with garden and mountain views)
When you want to go from Palma to eventually Port de Sóller, you will go through the Sierra de Tramuntana, the mountain part of the island. Places like Valdemossa are found within this mountain area and they look like fairytale villages hidden in a magic forrest. Do not only go from A to B, but have a look at all the places you cross along the way. They are worth it. Departing from Palma, the first place to stop is Valdemossa. To reach Valdemossa you will already drive on curvy roads in the mountains. This I find really fun to do, just be careful when people are crossing your path. And maybe the passengers in your car from being sick. Sometimes the roads give you an opportunity to pull over and admire the view. I don’t need to tell you, that you should, do I?
Valdemossa is a short stop, because there isn’t much to do other than walk around, take a look at the views and maybe visit the church. There are a few shops and terraces where you can have a drink or ice cream. After that it is time to go again.
You can choose your path depending on your schedule and what’s on your mind. You can first go to Sóller, the village up in the hills. It is nice to have a drink here or you can go to Sa Calobra first. Sa Calobra is part of the Unesco World Heritage and people go here for a swim. When you reach Sa Calobra, the last part will be on foot, as cars are not allowed. Once you are there you are standing at the foot of huge cliffs on a pebble beach. Between two cliffs the sea is wild and rough, but allows you to swim there.
Curvy roads through the Sierra de Tramuntana
After your dip in the sea, it is time to head back to Sóller or Port de Sóller, depending on your choice. Port de Sóller is a beautiful place with a large marina and a boulevard with nice restaurants and bars. This place offers fun activities like kayaking (Tramuntana Tours) and boat tours to Sa Calobra. Staying here for the night? Go to Bens d’Avall, a restaurant in the mountains with a breathtaking view. Here I ended my roadtrip and watched the sun disappearing into the sea, while treating myself on a glass of wine.
Note from the author: The ‘Eat’ and ‘Sleep’ suggestions are nearly extraordinairy, amazing or unique options experienced by/in the eyes of the author. They vary in price.