Mallorca was ahead of its time as a holiday destination, attracting northern Europeans to its shores for their summer holiday well before all inclusive overseas holidays had become common place. Today, however, these resort towns are somewhat tired and almost feel like a different country from the rest of the island, which boasts fantastic natural landscapes and a culture that is noticeable unique from mainland Spain.
Mallorca is quite a large island, measuring nearly 100km across at the widest point, and its landscape is characterised by the distinctive Tramuntana Mountains which run the entire length of the north-west coastline. It is here where the real beauty of Mallorca is found. Picture postcard villages, historic castles and spectacular beaches are common place and, combined with high quality roads, they make for a cycling holiday as interesting and enjoyable as anywhere in Europe.
At Cycle Fiesta we have a lot of experience of organising cycling holidays in Mallorca and here you can find some of our recommendations on how to get the most out of your stay on the island.
Best and Worst Towns to StayPerhaps more than with most destinations, it is important to choose wisely where you will be staying in Mallorca. There are two opposing sides to the island: on the one hand are the loud, sprawling, modern resort towns which provide cheap package holidays and all night entertainment. On the other hand there are peaceful, historic towns surrounded by fine natural scenery. While the former can be good fun, there is certainly a time and a place to visit such towns, and during a cycling holiday is not one of them!
Here we will look at some of the best areas to stay, and some places that are best avoided for cyclists.
Port Pollensa / Alcudia
At the northern tip of Mallorca you will find the most popular destinations for cyclists, in the towns of Port Pollensa and Alcudia. These are both situated on or close to the coast and on the edge of the Tramuntana Mountains. Their location allows you to choose between a flat or mountainous holiday and there are some marked cycle routes in the area.
Alcudia is the more historic town and is dominated by the 14th century walls which surround the old town. Port Pollensa is more modern, but has a better beach, sandwiched between the Formentor and Alcudia peninsulas.
During the winter many professional cyclists base themselves in the town, with occasional residents including Tour de France winners Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. While they often go into the mountains to train, there are also flat routes, for example, around the Albufera Natural Park - a popular site with bird watchers.
The main disadvantage of this area is that it is relatively far from the airport and so could involve a costly transfer.
Port SollerPort Soller is one of Mallorca's most charming towns. Set on a small bay, and surrounded by mountains on three sides, it is not a good choice if you are looking for a flat cycling holiday. However, for climbers it is an excellent location with routes to Puig Major, Coll de Soller and Sa Calobra all easily accessible.
The town is centred on the beach with extends the length of the village and provides one of the most picturesque spots on the island.
AlaróAlaro is a historic town on the southern edge of the Tramuntana Mountains. The buildings, restaurants and surroundings are all typically Mallorcan and give a real feel for the culture and traditions of the island.
While the mountains are easily accessible, including the Coll d'Orient and Coll de sa Batalla, Alaro is also an excellent choice for an easy cycling holiday. There are several flat and gently rolling routes around the town, following picturesque country lanes sandwiched between the traditional dry stone walls.
Southern TramuntanaThe southern part of the Tramuntana Mountains is not as popular with cyclists as further north, but it really should be. The scenery here is among the most spectacular and unspoilt in all of Spain, and it is the home of Mallorca's wine and olive oil industries. There are several small villages here with make fantastic places to stay and visit.
The most famous of these include Deia and Valldemossa, however, these can be prohibitively expensive as they are home to rock stars and entrepreneurs, rather than members of the pro-peloton! A little further along the coast, however, there are equally nice villages which are so far untouched by the likes of Mick Jagger and Richard Branson, making them better places to stay. These include the coastal villages of Banyalbufar and Estellencs, as well as the inland town of Puigpunyent.
This part of Mallorca should be included on a multi-centre cycling holiday, as there are not enough different routes to stay here for more than a few days.
The South CoastThe south coast either side of Palma should be avoided, albeit with a few exceptions. Towns such as Magaluf, Palmanova and s'Arenal cater more for people looking for bars, clubs and large hotel blocks. The roads around these towns are busy and not good for cycling, especially if you do not know exactly where you are going.
Portals Nous is an exception to this and has a more relaxed feel, although it is not as traditional or typically Mallorcan as much of the island. To the east of Palma, Playa de Palma is a possible location if you are looking for flatter routes, although it would be better to head further from the capital to towns such as Alcudia or Alaro.
The other exception is Palma itself. Although the capital is not great for cycling due to the high volume of traffic on many of the surrounding roads, it is a great place to visit at either the start or end of your holiday. The old town is one of the most historic in Spain and the cathedral, partly designed by Antoni Gaudí, is in a fantastic setting overlooking the marina.
Eastern MallorcaThe east of Mallorca is not all bad for cycling; indeed there are some interesting flat routes available around Ses Salines. However, overall, it simply doesn't stand up to what is on offer on the North and West of the island. The scenery is less spectacular, the villages are more modern and somewhat lacking in character and there are very few decent climbs for cyclists that like to challenge themselves.
The coast here is also very seasonal, so if you come in winter you will pass through several towns with little signs of life.
Can PicafortSituated not far from Alcudia is the town of Can Picafort. Between the two towns there is a conglomeration of large hotels, centered around fine beaches. Whilst some of these can serve as a good base for cycling, we advise staying as close to Alcudia as possible, rather than towards Can Picafort.
Can Picafort is a modern town which lacks the charm of Alcudia and is also significantly further away from the best cycling routes. The roads around Can Picafort are largely busy and you will have to use the busy MA-12 every day to get to the better areas. Heading north this is safe but boring, while heading south in the direction of Arta it is quite dangerous with cars going very quickly on a road with no real shoulder for cycling.