Another Pearl in the Mediterranean Sea

With approximately 800,000 residents and roughly 8 million visitors per year, Mallorca is a popular tourist destination, especially with Germans and Brits. We flew from Paris to Mallorca, and we thought maybe we had flown to Vegas. The Palma airport is quite large for an island of its size, and a crazy amount of people filled the airport at 10pm.  The town was absolutely jamming. It is August in Europe where popular spots will get quite crowded (it is one of the reasons all the locals leave on their own vacations during this time).

IMG_3496

Mallorca is a lovely island off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean with something for everyone with over 2,500 restaurants, 41 marinas, 400 km of hiking trails, beautiful beaches and  lots of cycling. The main city of Palma is a bustling spot with much to see – beautiful buildings, ancient castles and chateaus, churches as well as many parks and ramblas.

IMG_3499.JPG

IMG_3715.JPG

IMG_3741.JPG

IMG_3737IMG_3740IMG_3523IMG_3498

 

If you go, here are a few of our favorite spots:

  • Mercat d’Olivar– a fabulous market offering a plethora of local specialties-anchovies, fresh produce, olives, lamb, eggs, bread, wine, cheese, sausage, ham- and a few restaurants and tapas bars. Both locals and tourists swarm the stalls all day long but it is worth dealing with the crowds to get some tasty goods.

IMG_3506.JPG

IMG_3516.JPG

IMG_3517.JPG

IMG_3514.JPG

IMG_3238

  • Banyalbufar– a seaside village in the Sierra de Tramuntana in the north west of the island of Mallorca.
  • Deia– another beautiful seaside village in the Sierra de Tramuntana that for its size has gotten a little over run, not in terms of development.  The village is stunning but the amount of cars that descent on this little village every day in peak season is high for a village its size- so high a make shift stop light had to meter one way traffic thru the village core.

IMG_3705.JPG

IMG_3707.JPG

  • Soller– a village in the northwest of the island which is very popular with day trippers.  There is a train that goes from Palma to Soller dropping a lot of day visitors on this lovely village.  When we return to Palma, we would likely spend some time staying in Soller.  It has some great beaches, great day trips via sea and land, great hikes and good restaurants. We did a really fantastic hike from here (check out the details).

IMG_3679.JPG

IMG_3541.JPG

  • Valldemossa– a hill town villages situation in the Tramuntana range only 17 km from Palma.

IMG_3706IMG_3694

And visiting the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma( more commonly referred to as La Seu) that dominates Palma’s skyline is a must.

IMG_3730.JPG

IMG_3723.JPG

We really enjoyed our apartment in old town Palma (our first time out of hotel rooms in over 2 months) walking and running along the promenade and heading to the market to prepare some non-restaurant food.  The city has many harbors and beaches all within walking distance of the old town.  You can also rent scooters and cars to check out some of the other beaches around the island.  It is easy driving and getting around.  Nothing is too far- distance from north to south on the island is only 100 km and east to west distance is about 70 km.

IMG_3726IMG_3714IMG_3524IMG_3526

 

Majorca Hike: Cala Tuent to Puerto Sóller

“The mountains are calling. I must go” – John Muir

When we planned a couple weeks on an island in the Mediterranean, we were thinking more about the beach and the beautiful, crystal-clear waters. But after a few days in the city and near the sea, the mountains were calling!

IMG_3634

 

Majorca is an island off the coast of Spain that is a very popular summer spot with European tourists. It is most known for its shopping and nightlife.  However, it also happens to be where the professional cycling team, Team Sky, does some winter training, and so it is also popular with cyclists.  But its mountain range, the Serra de Tramuntana that dramatically cascades down to the sea on the Western part of the island, offers some incredibly scenic walking trails.

 

IMG_3625IMG_3672IMG_3678

After a few days in the capital of Palma with the hordes of tourists, a walk in the mountains with relative solitude was just what we were after.  We chose a route between Cala Tuent and Puerto de Sóller which are both on the northwest coast of Majorca and only about 30 km from Palma. We were day tripping from Palma. So while the 211 bus and the Ferrocarril de Sóller (first train is at 10am) offer good options to get to the Sóller area, we opted to pick up a rental car to give us some flexibility on both ends of the hike. (Travel tip: we reserved a small commercial truck with Enterprise on the Palma port and as expected, they replaced it with a standard car when we picked it up – saving us over 75% the cost of a standard rental.)

IMG_3534IMG_3535

We were aiming for a 10 am sailing on a water taxi with Barcos Zules from Puerto de Sóller to Cala Tuent so that we could walk the 10 miles back on the Balitx path. It was tight but we made the boat by 10 minutes.

IMG_3606IMG_3611

After squeezing out of the harbor, we followed the coast for about 45 minutes, stopping to check out a couple bays and caves along the way.

IMG_3550IMG_3556IMG_3563IMG_3566IMG_3582IMG_3585IMG_3589IMG_3594

We were delivered to the Cala Tuent beach – which is a nice quiet bay at the base of the mountains (if you are looking for something to eat, there is a restaurant about 200 meters up the trail from the South side of the beach).

IMG_3600IMG_3601IMG_3603IMG_3610IMG_3612

For the first couple hours of hiking the path gains a bit of elevation and also meanders along the cliffs, providing fantastic views of the bays below. The views above and below are spectacular.

IMG_3621IMG_3628IMG_3635IMG_3640IMG_3641

A couple hours in, you climb two saddles and then drop into a gorgeous valley filled with  olive trees and goat farms. You lose most of your shade for the remainder of the hike so it can get hot. It was 35C the day we traversed this spot so we were glad we brought 3 liters of water. (Note: water is not easily accessible on the trail so bring plenty before you hop on the boat – 2 liters per person is a good min for a moderately hot day; more for hotter days).

IMG_3644

IMG_3648IMG_3650IMG_3651IMG_3654IMG_3656IMG_3657IMG_3658

IMG_3660
Olive Trees – hundreds of years old
IMG_3664IMG_3665IMG_3675

After an hour of wandering through the olive trees, you will reach another saddle and the last high point for this direction.  As you start to descend, you will get killer views of Puerto de Sóller.  You will see plenty of signs on the path for trails to the Port or to the town of Sóller – both about 60-90 minutes down the path.

IMG_3676
Puerto de Soller
IMG_3681IMG_3688IMG_3684

While we found the trail well marked for 80% of the way, we lost the signs as we exited onto a road where we should have been only 20-30 minutes from the end. We had a 50/50 choice in direction and chose incorrectly and ended heading down a busy road for a few more kilometers (if you end up there, take a right back towards the north). But we found a restaurant to grab a couple cold beers and called a taxi to get a ride back to the Port.

IMG_3539IMG_3540IMG_3542IMG_3546

Palma is a fun city (stay tuned), but if you find yourself in Majorca, you need to get out and see the mountains – they are incredible!