Mention Majorca and many people picture lively, built up resorts such as Santa Ponsa and Magaluf. There is however a very different side to Majorca. One of rugged mountains, historic towns and villages and breathtaking scenery. We recently visited the north west of the island and discovered beaches which wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean and mountain roads with more twists and turns than any road in Ireland. These eight are what we consider the must sees in the area. There are others such as Cap de Formentor and Sa Calobra, which apparently has one of the most spectacular roads in the world down to it of constant hairpin bends and even a 360 degree loop!
Driving time from Palma to all of these locations should be no more than 45 minutes to an hour. Puerto Pollensa to Soller (via the tunnel) took about 50 minutes. If you however take the mountain road instead via Lluc you could probably add nearly half an hour onto that time, depending upon the number of cyclists you encounter!
1 Formentor beach
One of the most stunning beaches in Majorca, Playa de Formentor, makes you feel like you have been transported to the Caribbean. The beach is long but very narrow and does get VERY busy in peak season … you will get to know the people next to you on the beach very well if you’re lying on a towel! Sunbeds are available for hire, which even come complete with a small safe but you pay €30 for two beds and a parasol! You can drive to it … parking is quite expensive however at €12 for the day. Or €0.04 cents per minute which seemed a strange pricing structure. There is a boat from nearby Puerto Pollensa during peak season costing €15 return per adult. The cheapest way to get to it is on the local bus service 353 from Puerto Pollensa for €3.10 return per adult. The road is rather narrow with numerous hairpin bends and steep drops but the scenery is stunning. There is a popular viewpoint about halfway with views towards Cap de Formentor. Try to visit it, even if only for a short time, as it really is a special place. There are a couple of rather good, if slightly expensive, restaurants at the beach but it’s a small price to pay to feel like you’re in St Lucia!
Set in a lush valley of orange groves between the Tramuntana Mountains and the sea lies the small town of Soller. We drove through the mountains to reach it but many people arrive in Soller on the old wooden train from Palma, which is a spectacular journey through the mountains. Many of the visitors travel on by vintage tram to Port de Soller only a couple of miles away. Soller is well worth spending some time in however. There is a lot of history around the town and the main square Placa Constitucid is the perfect place for a spot of people watching at one of the many cafés. The vintage tram runs right through the square which also makes for an interesting sight. Due to its location, Soller was isolated from the rest of the island until 1912 and suffered attacks by Moorish pirates in the 16th century. In 1997, the 3km Soller tunnel was opened, which meant that drivers no longer had to navigate the mountain road and it’s 57 hairpin bends. There is a toll of €5.10 per car each way to use the tunnel.
If you want to feel like you’re in Soller for two minutes, then click here!
The small village of Deia on the west coast of the island is undoubtedly one of the prettiest villages in all of Majorca. It has long been a magnet for writers and artists, most notably the writer Robert Graves, who lived there for many years. It is possible to visit the house where Robert Graves lived as well as his grave in the churchyard behind the monastery. Over the years, the rich and famous have visited Deia ranging from Holywood actors to Princess Diana. What it lacks in size it makes up for in quaintness with it’s beautifully kept rustic houses rising up the hillside below the monastery. The monastery at the highest point of the village offers beautiful views over the village and out to the Mediterranean Sea. There are a number of excellent restaurants along the main road through the village with shady flower covered terraces to escape the sun. Parking is at a premium in the village so best to get there as early as possible if you’re planning to visit.
4 Port de Pollença (Puerto Pollensa)
Puerto Pollensa in the far north west corner of Majorca is a popular resort with a long sandy beach, marinas and the famous Pine Walk. The seafront is lined with attractive restaurants and the beach never feels crowded, even in peak season. If you’re looking for a resort with lots of nightlife and partying then you’ll be in the wrong place in Puerto Pollensa. A late night there means 11pm and this makes it very popular with young families and the more mature holiday maker. It is however also a very sporty town especially with cyclists and sailers. There are a number of lovely places to visit within a short drive, such as Formentor and Pollensa which are mentioned in this article.
5 Mountain road to Soller
The mountain road from Pollensa to Soller via Lluc isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s one of those roads where you rarely seem to get out of second gear as there are so many twists and turns and usually a cyclist ahead of you too! There are a number of steep drops at the side of the road and we certainly wouldn’t advise you to drive along it in the dark! It is nonetheless a spectacular road with a few viewpoints along the way. The road to Sa Calobra, which was mentioned in the introduction, is reached via this road. Our favourite viewpoint was at a small restaurant shortly before driving down into Soller, which offered spectacular views of Port de Soller and the Mediterranean.
Just over five miles inland from Puerto Pollensa is the small town of Pollensa. It offers numerous narrow streets, which wind around little squares. The main square Plaça Major is home to the impressive 18th Century Nostra Senyora Del Angels church. The square contains a variety of tempting restaurants and it is also the setting for a local market every Sunday. The towns streets contain a variety of small shops selling local crafts, jewellery and shoes etc … Martha kindly gave a shoe shop some business! Perhaps the town’s best known attraction is the Calvari steps, which are 365 steps up to the Calvari church. The views from the top are well worth the exertion and there is even a small cafe open in peak season, adjacent to the church. The square at the base of the steps contains further cafés and we enjoyed some delicious apple and walnut cake there before the climb! There is a regular bus service to Pollensa from Puerto Pollensa costing just €3 return per adult.
7 Port de Soller (Puerto Soller)
About two miles from Soller, Port de Soller is situated in a beautiful horseshoe shaped bay with a backdrop of mountains. It almost feels more like somewhere on the Italian or French Riviera than a Spanish town, with a variety of sandstone and terracotta hotels and houses climbing up the tree covered mountain sides. If you should be planning to stay here and mobility is an issue, then check exactly where you’ll be staying as it can be very hilly. Port de Soller also has a busy harbour and marina with local fishing boats along with some multi million pound super yachts. There are a number of boat trips available for seeing the coastline or for diving etc. the resort can get quite busy during the day with so many day trippers arriving by tram from Soller but in the evening whenever they have all left it is a very special place to sit back and enjoy the sunset.
8 Vintage train from Palma to Soller
As we mentioned in the paragraphs about Soller and Port de Soller, a novel way to travel to them is by the vintage wooden train from Palma. Opened in 1912, the same vintage carriages are still in use. It makes for a fun, if rather expensive, journey through spectacular mountain scenery and through long tunnels carved through the mountains. From Soller, you can then take the vintage tram to Port de Soller, which runs right along the attractive promenade. The price for a return ticket from Palma to Port de Soller is €30. Well worth doing once for the experience and if you have children they will love it! The station in Palma is not actually in the main station on Plaza de España but in a separate small station across the road to the left if you’re facing the main entrance.
Have you ever been to North West Majorca and if so, which of these was your favourite? If we have forgotten any highlights, please do let us know in the comments!