Mallorca is one of the most popular destinations in Spain. It is famous for its beaches and resorts, and it gets millions of visitors per year. However, most people are not aware that Mallorca has another side. Along the northwestern coast of the island runs the Serra de Tramuntana mountains.
Mallorca has a very long history, dating back to ancient times. There is evidence of settlements dating back to 6,000 BC, with evidence that both the Carthaginians and Romans at established colonies on the island.
The Serra de Tramuntana mountains along the northwest coast of the island have always been sparsely settled due to its rugged landscape and steep cliffs. This landscape has forced the inhabitants of the area to adapt and overcome the challenges of the land by building unique systems for water collection and terraced farming.
The area was designated a world heritage site for its small scale works designed to overcome the limitations imposed by their physical environment.
What to See and Do
The core of the world heritage site is centered around highway MA-10 which goes from the town of Andratx in the south to the town of Port de c in the north. The entire length of the road is approximately 125km and will take you approximately 3 hours to drive its entire length, not including any stops or side trips.
The highway will take you through winding mountain roads, so expect to travel slowly.
Assuming you are based in Palma where most of the hotels are located, you can easily get to Andratx via major highways, as well as quickly return to Palma from Port de Pollençac via the interior of the island.
There are many locations to stop along the route to take in the breathtaking scenery. However, given the narrow nature of the roads, you cannot stop just anywhere. Most of the road, especially once you are deep in the mountains, has no shoulder and you cannot pull your car over to park.
The entire area is a playground for photographers. Here are some tips to get the most from your photos:
- Pay attention to the time of day. The length of the cost you will be traveling on faces northwest. Your best light will probably come in the late afternoon before sunset. You can still get good light in the morning, but the coast will have more direct illumination later in the day.
- Stop frequently. As mentioned above, you can’t really stop just anywhere along MA-10. The road is too narrow for much of the route, so even if you see something photogenic, you can’t necessarily stop there. When there are places along the road where you can pull over, take advantage of it.
- Take some side roads. While MA-10 is the main route through the World Heritage Site, there are roads that will take. you off the main road into the mountains or towards the sea. Don’t be shy in taking them, especially if you see something of interest.
- Be Careful. The cliffs along the shore are very high and steep. Many of them can easily erode. Don’t get too close to the edge when trying to get a shot.
Where to Eat
You will have no problem finding places to eat. If anything, you will have problems narrowing down your choices to just one.
Most of the cuisine in Mallorca will be typical Spanish fare. However, there are some dishes which are unique to the island which you should try. These include:
- Ensaïmada. A very light and flaky pastry.
- Coca de Trempó. It is a cross between a small pizza and a pintxos you would find in northern Spain.
- Sobrasada. A local pork sausage.
- Pica Pica. Squid stew with tomato sauce.
- Cocarrois. Very similar to an empanada.
- Botifarron. A local blood sausage made with liver.
Where to stay
Given that tourism is by far the largest industry on the Mallorca, there are many dozens of options for lodging at every price point all over the island.
Within the Serra de Tramuntana area, there are fewer hotels as it doesn’t attract as many tourists. Nonetheless, there are places to stay. They tend to be smaller, more boutique properties that are not located on a beach.
If you wish to stay in mountains, look for properties in the following communities:
- Port de Sóller
Staying in the Serra de Tramuntana area also gives you the opportunity to do home-stays and farm-stays (agroturismo).
How to get there
Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI), is the main airport on the island and is located east of the city Palma. Note that if you rent a car at the airport to drive the Serra de Tramuntana, you will have to drive across or around the city.
There are regular daily flights to Palma. During the high tourist season, there are flights from all over Europe. In the winter, most of the regular flights will be from mainland Spain. The shortest regular year-around flights will be from Barcelona.
Flight time from Barcelona to Palma is under one hour.
Most visitors to Mallorca might be able to get by without a car if they are staying at a resort. However, if you wish to explore the world heritage site, a vehicle is almost mandatory.
There are several car rental counters at the Palma Airport. You can also rent a car at several locations within the city of Palma itself. If you only wish to rent a car for a day trip, this will probably be your best option if you are staying in Palma.
There are car and passenger ferries that travel to Mallorca on a regular basis. The two ports for ferries are Alcúdia in the north and Palma in the south.
Crossing time from both Barcelona and Valencia is approximately 8 hours.
There are also several ferries that travel between the Balearic Islands. These allow you to travel from Mallorca to Formentera, Ibiza, and Menorca.
Mallorca is a popular tourist destination. Expect costs to vary seasonally depending on the number of tourists.
I visited in December and I found it to be very affordable. Hotel rooms were affordable and easy to get, even though not all hotels were open this time of year. Expect rates to rise dramatically in the summer.
You will find prices for food to be more reasonable in the towns along highway MA-10 as they get few tourists and mostly cater to locals.
Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Mallorca’s climate is very mild year around.
Expect high temperatures around 30C (86F) in the summer, with lows of 7C (45F) in the winter. Temperatures on Mallorca almost never dip below freezing, nor does it ever get stifling hot in the summer.