The dramatic mountains skirting the length of Mallorca’s northern coast are known as the Serra de Tramuntana. Running almost 90 kilometres and with numerous peaks over a kilometre high, the whole range has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its historical, cultural, and environmental importance. Whether you choose to drive, hike or cycle, there are countless incredible sights to see and places to visit along the way – we’ve picked just 11 reasons why the Tramuntana Mountains should be on your bucket list.
It goes without saying that a mountain range this huge is going to provide some incredible views, but it’s hard to imagine just how spectacular they are until you see them with your own eyes. From the Moorish terraced hillsides dropping down to the sea in Banyalbufar, to clifftop viewing points like the Mirador de Ricardo Roca and the Mirador Es Colomer that will take your breath away. At the Mirador De Ses Barques you can enjoy a drink or a meal on the restaurant deck, with views down the mountain to the Port of Soller in the distance – particularly worth doing while the sun sets over the sea.
At 460 metres above sea level, Galilea is the island’s highest village. A tiny and blissfully quiet place, there is little more to it than some houses, a 17th-century church, and a couple of restaurants, but the main reason that people brave the slightly terrifying drive is the views. The village church has a courtyard out front with panoramic views down across the hills to the sea in the far distance. If you’re not in any rush, the best way to take in the stunning vista is over a beer and some tapas at the Cafe Sa Plaça De Galilea, opposite the church. This tiny bar might not look like much from the outside but out back there is a vertiginous terrace with picture-perfect views (and their tapas are pretty good too).
La Torre de Verger is an ancient watchtower, perched precariously on the edge of a cliff near the village of Banyalbufar, on the west coast. Originally used to keep lookout for pirates, the tower was part of a network of similar towers across the island, with around twenty along the coastline of the Tramuntana. Now in a state of ruin, the tower is a popular spot for photography and to watch the sunset over this particularly dramatic stretch of coastline. If you don’t have any issue with heights, you can climb a little ladder to the top of the tower for an even better view.
At the western end of the Tramuntana, is La Reserva Puig de Galatzó, a nature reserve and adventure park deep in the forest. You can hike the pathways through the ancient woodland, see local animals and birds of prey, and then cool off with a dip in the clear pools and waterfalls. The adventure park contains Mallorca’s longest zip wire, as well as Tibetan-style suspension bridges high in the trees, and climbing walls. If you get hungry after all that activity, not only is there a restaurant, but a barbecue area where you can cook your own food.
No trip into the Tramuntana would be complete without a visiting Deià, the stunning village high in the mountains with spectacular sea views. The English poet Robert Graves made Deià his home in the 1930s, and drew many other famous faces to the area over the years, with the village becoming known as a haven for bohemian, creative types. The village is one of the prettiest on the island, and these days has become a playground for the rich and famous thanks to soaring property prices and the presence of the five-star luxury hotel, La Residencia. The nearest ‘beach’ (Cala Deià) is a picturesque rocky cove with two fish restaurants perched on the rocks, one of which, Ca’s Patro March, starred in the popular BBC television series, The Night Manager.
Mallorca is a paradise for walkers, with one of the highlights being the epic 135 kilometre (84 mile) ‘dry stone route’ running from Port D’Andratx in the southwest to Pollensa in the northwest, all through the Tramuntana range. The route is based on a network of ancient pathways and is split into eight stages – some parts are easier walking and better sign-posted than others, and many parts are better done with the help of a guide. If you feel up to the challenge of walking the whole 135 kilometres, there are refuges at various points along the route, where walkers can re-fuel and spend the night.
Mallorca is a top holiday destination for cyclists of all levels, but it is also where many professional cycling teams come to train over the winter months. This is partly due to the mild and mainly sunny weather, cyclist-friendly hotels, and good quality roads, but for many it’s all about the challenge and drama of the mountainous terrain. Cyclists come to Mallorca specifically to tackle routes such as the famous Sa Calobra (or Colls Dels Reis) which involves a dramatic descent down into to the village of Sa Calobra first, before making your way back up the 10km ascent with its incredible 26 hairpin bends. One of the most unusual roads in Europe, and with spectacular views every step of the way, it is most certainly something to tick off your bucket list if cycling is your thing. The stunning ride to the Cap de Formentor, the most northerly point of the island, with yet more hairpin bends, is also a popular one.
It may seem surprising to think that any area with terrain like the Tramuntana mountain range could be suitable for producing wine, but in fact there are numerous wineries in the region, and the famous terraces around Banyalbufar were traditionally used for growing vines. The Malvasia grape variety was brought to the island from Italy in the 15th century and has continued to be used in wine production in this area. Bodegas such as Son Puig, and Son Vives offer tours and tastings.
The Lluc Monastery or Santuari de Lluc, was historically an important place of pilgrimage and is still a key religious site on the island. High in the mountains, and surrounded by forest the sanctuary is quite hidden from the world. Legend has it that Lluc was the son of a local farmer who found a wooden figurine of the Virgin Mary in the woods, but after giving it to the local church it kept mysteriously re-appearing back where he had found it, and so eventually the sanctuary was built in that very place. These days, as well as the chapel, there is a shop, restaurant, and a museum, and you can stay in accommodation formed from the old monk’s cells.
Hidden in the forest, not far from the LLuc Monastery, is Es Guix Restaurant, a must-visit if you are in the area. The interior of the restaurant is rustic and cosy, but really it is all about the shady terrace overlooking a fresh water pool, hewn out of the rocks, with a small waterfall cascading down one side . Not only is the food fantastic, but after lunch you can take a refreshing dip in the water, and enjoy drinks on the poolside terrace in the dappled sunshine. The setting of this restaurant is absolutely magical, and although a little out of the way, it is well worth the drive. Reservations are essential.
All along the mountain range there are picturesque villages, with beautiful architecture, and stunning views, and a drive, hike, or cycle, in the Tramuntana creates the perfect opportunity to visit some (or all) of them. Villages like Estellencs and Banyalbufar give the impression that the houses are cascading down the mountainside towards the sea, and offer stunning views, while the ancient town of Valldemossa, which was famously the one-time home of Chopin, has a maze of stunning, narrow, plant-lined streets to wander around (and lots of great places to eat). Fornalutz, high up in the mountains, and overlooking the Soller Valley, is picture-postcard material and has made it on to the list of prettiest villages in Spain. At the far eastern end of the range, lies Pollença, with its pretty streets and historic Calvari steps (all 365 of them) leading up to the hilltop Calvario chapel, passing many beautifully rustic houses along the way.