This winding trip will showcase many of the highlights of western Mallorca. Here you can forget about the island´s reputation for high-rise resorts and nightclubs, and instead feast your eyes on unblemished mountain landscapes, turquoise seas, idyllic villages and farmland.
Setting off from Andratx
Andratx is a resort on the southwestern side of the island, and a popular destination for the rich and famous. Take a moment to check out the ruins of the Trappist monastery or the local ajuntament (Town Hall), which is housed in the medieval Castell de Son Mas, boasting an original tower fortified with battlements.
Around Andratx the landscape is rocky without being steep, but as you set off in your Drivalia Car Rental along the Ma-10 towards Estellencs there´s a steep climb as you enter the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca´s largest mountain range. The road twists and turns through deciduous and pine woodland, and en route you´ll likely pass teams of cyclists struggling up the climbs.
After pushing into the mountains for a few kilometres, the road turns west, and this is when you´ll get the first spectacular views of the Mediterranean framed by the lower hills of the Tramuntana. At this point you can take the chance to continue west on a rugged side-road, heading to a scenic lookout like Mirador des Fabioler, which takes in the island of Sa Dragonera.
Approach to Estellencs
Before long the Ma-10 begins to run parallel to the sea in a northeasterly direction. If you look inland you´ll have views of some of the highest peaks in the Tramuntana range, which are taller than the likes of Ben Nevis or Snowdonia. On the coastal side are steep cliffs or pine-covered hills with sharp drops down to the sea. On this part of the island beaches are uncommon beyond the occasional rocky cove. It´s a little forbidding but undeniably beautiful. At Cala de Ses Ortigues, intrepid walkers can step down to the water´s edge, where jagged limestone outcrops poke above the waves.
Continue your car rental drive and you´ll pass olive groves, vineyards and occasional herds of livestock. The neat terracing of the hillsides is especially characteristic of Mallorca´s west coast. One of the many interesting features of the cliff tops here are the historic stone towers at regular intervals. A classic example can be found at S´Algueret. These watchtowers were built to spot possible Barbary raids in the early modern age.
Surrounded by terraced hillsides, with almond, citrus and olive orchards, the town of Estellencs is about as remote as you can get in Mallorca; because it´s only reachable via winding mountain roads only the most committed tourists ever get here. The population is little more than 300, but there´s plenty to warrant a stop and a walk. The stone streets are charming, there are several bars and restaurants, and there are also freshwater fountain springs to see down by the water at Cala Estellencs, the town´s small beach.
The Ma-10 continues to twist and turn on the way to Banyalbufar, and there will be lots of opportunities to stop for photos. The odd isolated palatial mansion will sit atop a cliff, and in the sea below there might be a lone yacht, but apart from that there´s very little human encroachment here. The mountainsides are marbled with exposed limestone, which peeks between the thick blanket of pines.
This village was founded on the local wine industry, which was blighted in the 19th century by phylloxera, although Mallorca´s wine industry is now undergoing a 21st-century renaissance. Much of the farming infrastructure here, like the impressive aqueducts and other stone structures were constructed to capture or channel water for wine growing.
Have lunch at one of a number of fine restaurants, where the cuisine reflects the landscapes in its authenticity and unpretentiousness. It´s the place to enjoy Spanish classic like suckling pig, paella or gazpacho.
You can begin this drive within 40 minutes of the Drivalia car rental depot at Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI).