Four Scenic Drives in Mallorca

STE’s Holiday Editor, Tony Taylor, reports on his experiences driving a hire car around Mallorca.

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Mallorca -Mirador del Mal Pas
Mirador del Mal Pas – Views are magnificent

My wife and I had not been to Mallorca for 25 years. We had young children at that time, so spent holidays in hotels with a pool and near a beach! Consequently, despite having visited many times, we had never seen much of the island.

Earlier this year we stayed for two weeks at a Holiday Property Bond apartment in Camp de Mar, west of the capital Palma, with the intention both of relaxing and exploring the island in a hire car.

STE’s Photo Editor, John Esser, also visited Mallorca this year. His article Mallorca – A Picture Perfect Holiday Destination concentrated on photography, mine looks at the pleasures and practicalities of touring the island by car.

Cala Sant Vicenc
Cala Sant Vicenc – A quiet resort

I describe below four one day drives starting each time from Camp de Mar. Each drive was planned so as to allow plenty of time to explore places and enjoy the great scenery along the way. Most of the roads we drove on were in very good condition, including the motorways emanating from Palma, and we had no experience of aggressive or speeding drivers.

Scenic Drive 1 – Pollensa and the North East

A one hour drive up the Ma13 and a turn off took us to the little town of Pollensa, 50 miles from Camp de Mar. There was a free car park at the entrance to the town and from there it was an easy level walk to the Placa Mayor, the pleasant main square with its cafés and church.

Estellencs – ‘Typical’ Spanish village

After a short drive along a winding road, we arrived at Cala Sant Vicenc. This is a quiet resort with two pretty bays, but some short steep footpaths. We partly retraced our drive to visit the larger and busier resort of Port de Pollensa. The busy car park near the harbour was well placed for visiting the long sea-front promenade.

From here we took the very twisty road towards Cap de Formentor, stopping at the first viewing point, Mirador del Mal Pas. Apparently this road can get very busy, not surprising as the views of the cliffs, hills and down to Port de Pollensa are magnificent.

The final stop on this day tour was Alcudia, about a 30 minutes from the mirador. Alcudia is a walled town with narrow streets. The walks along the walls and ramparts and the main narrow old shopping street were easy and interesting. Our return route was straight back on the Ma13 motorway via Palma.

Scenic Drive 2 – West Coast to Valldemosa

From Camp de Mar we drove to the West Coast along a minor twisty road via Andratx and Arracia. Our destination was Sant Elm, a small, modern, pretty village with one main pedestrian street full of cafés and views to Island of Illa Dragonera.

The coast road along the ridge of Serra de Tramuntana, the mountain range on the west of Mallorca, is particularly scenic. We stopped at a couple of excellent miradors, before arriving at Estellencs, only 18 miles from our apartment, but over 30 minutes of driving. Bends and many cyclists resulted in a slow drive. Parking here was easy, with a free car park on the left at the end of the village.

Banyalbufar – A taste of old Mallorca

We always enjoy exploring ‘typical’ Spanish villages away from the tourist areas. Estellencs had narrow streets with many old buildings. We found a café with a terrace with views over the fields to the sea.

Our next stop was at Banyalbufar – a taste of old Mallorca – before reaching Valldemossa at lunchtime. There are two pay car parks, but these were surprisingly busy considering it was out of season. The big attraction in Valldemossa is the Monastery (€7 entry charge for over 65s). We spent a couple of hours in this interesting building and the adjacent Palace of King Sancho.

The 40 minute return drive was via a good single carriageway to Palma, and then on to Camp de Mar.

Scenic Drive 3 – Manacor, Arta and the East Coast

The Ma15 dual carriageway runs about 40 miles more or less due east from Palma to Manacor. We chose not to stop at the glassworks at Agaida, nor the leather shop and Perlas Orquida factory near Montuiri, but broke our journey by turning off to Puig de Sant Miquel. This old monastery on the hilltop has a restaurant (open from 10 am in summer months) with panoramic views over the plain.

Pretty coastal town of Deia

A visit to a pearl factory in Manacor, was disappointing as pearl jewellery was not being made on Saturday. The drive continued to the little town of Arta, which had a pleasant pedestrian street lined with cafés and shops leading to the centre, Placa Espanya. The long climb up the steps led to Santuari de Sant Salvador, a shrine at the top of the town with great panoramic views.

The Ma15 reaches the East Coast at Cala Ratjada, where we parked on the roadside on the edge of this modern conurbation, before walking through an unattractive built up area to the pretty harbour. This day’s tour ended with a visit to Cala Bona and Cala Millor, where we had stayed many years before. This was disappointing, as it is now so built up, although the sea front promenade at Cala Bona provided a pleasant walk.

Scenic Drive 4 – Valldemosa to Sóller

This drive extended our tour up the West Coast and Serra de Tramuntana (Scenic Drive 2). We took the quick direct route, via Palma, to Valldemosa, before continuing our drive along the good but twisty road to the pretty coastal town of Deia. There was plenty of parking on the left hand side as we arrived, with a roadside wooden walkway to the village past lovely views of terraces, villages and the sea.

Ancient tram to Port de Soller
Ancient tram to Port de Sóller

The slow drive then continued to Sóller, where we caught the ancient tram to Port de Sóller (€6 each way). This was a pretty 15 minute ride through orange/lemon groves. Port de Sóller bay was scenic, with mountains as backdrop, but very busy.

After returning by tram to Sóller, we relaxed in the the town square before taking the easy Ma11 road back to Palma. This has a tunnel (€5) through the mountains avoiding the hairpin bends of the old road.

We broke the return journey at Jardins d’Alfubia (€6.50 entrance fee), located just by the end of the tunnel. We found these famous gardens rather disappointing, compensated for by the interesting hacienda.

For advice on hiring a car, see: Auto Europe vs Economy Car Hire vs Holiday Autos. See also our review and recommendation on Care Hire Excess Insurance.