Spectacular coastal and mountain scenery, pretty historic towns and a good selection of Michelin star restaurants to boot! The stunning Tramuntana mountains are not just a magnet for walking and cycling afficados but also to a well-heeled artistic bohemian crowd who draw inspiration from the dramatic landscapes and enjoy the tasteful cafes, shops, galleries and restaurants.
This is Mallorca at its most spectacular - starting from the Port D'Andratx, the area is bordered by the coast to the North and the main Palma - Inca road to the South. The Northwest is dominated by the Tramuntana mountain range and its breathtaking scenery, and is home to some of the most historical and picturesque towns on the island. The amazing windy coastal road stretches the full length of the North coast, climbing high to reveal dramatic sea views and dropping lower into the picture postcard villages of Estellencs, Banyalbufar and Deia. The area is surprisingly accessible from Palma (20 minutes drive) and can be reached via Valldemossa or Soller - both historical popular towns.
The southern foothills of the Tramuntana mountains are part of the Raiguer region famous for its winemaking; Ancient towns and villages are dotted around this area and provide a good base for those wishing to explore.
Port de Andratx is a pleasant harbour town. It’s quite well heeled, as it’s a favourite with 'yachties' and the wealthy that live in the cliff defying houses of Cala Llamp and surrounding peninsulas. It's good selection of waterfront restaurants and bars makes it an enjoyable place for a leisurely lunch or to watch the sun go down.
Estellencs and Banyalbufar are peaceful villages in the Tramuntana mountains that spill down the mountainside to the sea and stony beach coves. Both have an untouched, enchanting feel with cobbled streets and yellow stone houses. Both villages have a smattering of decent bars and restaurants in which to enjoy the evenings.
Valldemossa is set at the top of a picturesque valley. The highlight here is the royal monastery – the Reial Cartoixa made famous by George Sand and Frederic Chopin. Due to its close proximity to Palma, Valldemossa does attract the day trippers however the town still retains its charm and is featured on many postcards.
Deia is a magical place inhabited by artists, writers and the wealthy. The writer Robert Graves is famed for living here. The village sits strikingly on a hillside between the rising mountains and the sea. It has a laid back bohemian feel with a selection of good restaurants and bars. Just a 20 minute walk from the village is a pebbled beach cove with a charming bar which provides a good place to swim and relax in a dramatic setting. The beach can be also reached by car via a windy lane down the hillside.
Set at the end of the scenic mountain steam train ride from Palma, Soller is a small, elegant and arty town. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery with mountains on all sides, the centre is a mix of picturesque narrow cobbled streets and a large leafy square. The square is a great place to enjoy a relaxing coffee, admire Gaudi's imposing church and watch the ancient tram rattle down to the nearby Port.
Just a couple of kilometres away the Port de Soller can be reached by a quaint tram. This is a low-key seaside resort, with a small sandy beach and plenty of boats to take you up the coast to visit pretty Cala Tuent and the breathtaking Torrent de Pareis. The trip to these remote attractions is becoming very popular and it's possibly best to go in spring or autumn.
Close to Soller are the picture postcard villages of Fornalutx and Biniaraix, immaculate ancient villages set in a dramatic landscape. Both villages sit under the Tramuntana mountains highest peak, the Puig de Mayor, and provide an excellent base for hikers.
Inland and further north, the most holy place on the island - the monastery of Lluc - nestles high in the mountains. The monastery is popular with day trippers but an air of spiritual calm still manages to prevail.
Sitting beneath the Tramuntana mountain foothills are several ancient towns and villages worthy of note. This is the Raiguer region famed for its wine making and leather goods. The sleepy town of Binissalem with it's impressive main square is the hub of the winemaking industry and home to the Jose Ferrer bodega.
Nestled right into the foothills is the attractive, unassuming town of Alaro. Here the charming main square is the centre of any activity. The statuesque church sits at one end whilst cafe terraces at the other end provide a perfect place to enjoy the slow pace of life.
Just beyond Alaro is the picturesque Vall D'Orient where the tiny ancient hamlet of Orient perches above olive and almond groves and due to its own micro climate is home to Mallorca's only apple orchards.
Further East and continuing along the foothills are many ancient villages. Selva and Caimari are worth a visit. Both villages are small and traditional yet have a small artistic community that has brought with it some tasteful cafes and restaurants. This region is famous for it's olive groves and has an olive oil festival every November.
Due to the mountainous nature of the region, sandy beaches are not in abundance. For sand head to Port de Soller or the small sandy beaches at Cala Tuent or Torrent de Pareis which enjoy breathtaking settings. Visit the latter by boat or by car and be prepared for an arduous trek to reach it. For charming shingle coves try Deia, Banyalbufar and Estellencs.
The walking possibilities in Northwest Mallorca are endless. Whether you're looking for a sea inspired coastal walk, a gentle country meander, or a hike up one of the dramatic mountain peaks, the Northwest’s main mountain range, the Tramuntana Mountains, has it all. It's often described as a walkers’ paradise because of the attractive and varied scenery, the wonderful climate (walking is possible year-round bar July and August) and the relative seclusion of many of the walking paths.
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Mallorca is one of the most popular cycle destinations in Europe. The Northwest region is usually reserved for the lycra clad serious cycling sort, where an 8km climb with a 600m elevation creates a level of excitment and not fear! The roads are smooth and quiet with a great variety of routes, and are often home to many professional cycling teams throughout the winter. Support on the island is second to none, with hire and maintainance readily available. The iconic ride in the Northwest, and on the island, is Sa Calobra, which has 26 hairpins, 10km of climbing at 7% gradient.
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