Part 3: Formentor Peninsula & Pollença (1.5 days)
Binibona to Formentor
Our next stop was the northwestern part of the Island culminating with the Formentor Peninsula, which is really where the Tramuntana Mountains splash down to the sea. From Binibona, we took the main interior highway to save time but you can also continue on the scenic Ma-10 for some more mountain views and also visit the Lluc Monastery. Once you pass Pollença, just follow signs to Cap de Formentor and the lighthouse. You’ll eventually find yourself driving on the scenic Pm-221 road which is once again windy, but definitely not as challenging as the Ma-10.
Once you pass the military base, you will not miss the sign to the lookout point. It’s definitely a must stop with beautiful panoramic views, the bluest of waters and breathtaking cliffs. We were tipped by locals that it’s not worth it to complete the journey all the way to the end of the peninsula, finally reaching the lighthouse. This road is quite touristy and can get congested. We were advised to hit the famous beach which is located pretty much as you come down from the lookout point. This is the ‘hotel zone’ and there is no way to avoid the 10€ parking fee.
The beach is a narrow strip of sand sheltered by pine trees in the rear and in some areas, the concrete of seaside restaurants and cafes. It’s not as intrusive as you think but since we’re talking about a small beach, it can get very crowded. There is even a pier nearby which caters to the daytrippers from Port de Pollença. The waters are great for swimming but snorkeling was not great when we visited. The tip we got was not a great one it turns out. Skip this beach altogether and continue driving towards the lighthouse. Along the way, you will find cars parked on the sides, a good indicator for the small coves which we were always on the hunt for. At about 3pm, we started making our way from the beach to Pollença, our resting place for the night.
Formentor to Pollença
About a 25-minute drive from the Formentor beach, you’ll reach Pollença, a charming little town and a good base for the night, especially if you want to avoid the crowded beach towns and touristy Alcudia. We checked into L´Hostal- Hotel D´Interior after a challenging drive in the narrow and one-way streets of the town. The town is quite small so just find parking on the modern streets and walk to your hotel. The hotel is situated in the heart of town, meters from Placa Major, the town’s main square. Rooms are very reasonably priced, clean and comfortable. It is the sister hotel of Hotel Juma, a long establishment in the town and also where you’ll have breakfast. Much of the action happens in and around Placa Major with its 13th-century cathedral, tapas bars, ice cream parlors, narrow streets and souvenir shops. You will also find a lot of art galleries and crafts. The town really comes to life at night and Placa Major is the place to be, though be aware of overpriced tapas bars.
A must in Pollença is climbing the 365 cobbled stairs to the top of the sacred hill and reaching the Calvary chapel. This climb is used by pilgrims during Good Friday and during the rest of the year, provides excellent views down to the town and across to the surrounding hills and nearby Port de Pollença.
Pollença to Cala san Vincente
We got a great tip from the hotel staff in Pollença to visit Cala san Vincente despite the literature mentioning it is overcrowded. We headed there early the next morning, a short 15-minute drive from town and were not disappointed. The sleepy beach town is nestled on the shore and surrounded by the hills. There are numerous hotels and I can imagine this place getting crowded during the day but head there early and you won’t be disappointed. Once you reach the main beach, the one with the soft sand, continue driving a bit and park the car. You can either spend time at this beach which is quite well organized and caters to families or walk to the next cove, a narrow strip of rocks covered by dry seaweed and dotted with numerous wooden fishing boats. It might not seem like your dream beach, but you might have it all to yourself. Set your towel down on one of the boats or even the rocks as we did and enjoy superb snorkeling in crystal clear waters with the towering Formentor cliffs to the north. We snorkeled from this secret cove to the main beach, took a shower, grabbed our stuff and headed to our next stop.
Cala san Vincente to Sineu
Not many visitors venture inland in heir Mallorca travel holiday and tend to stick to the coast. The island’s interior is also home to lush agricultural land and Sineu is the location of a major market which takes place on Wednesday. If you like markets, you’ll enjoy this one. The town is transformed on Wednesdays as merchants from across the region set up shop selling anything from fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, crafts, honey, meats all the way to clothing, ceramics and livestock such as various birds, calves, and pigs- quite a sight! Parking is not a problem and in our usual fashion, we stocked up for our traditional midday picnic and headed to our next destination.
Sineu to Petra
There is not much reason to make the 20-minute ride to Petra unless you’re a wine lover. Petra is the home of the Miquel Oliver Winery, famous for its Muscat wine. We visited this sleepy town just for this reason and got a wonderful tour of the cellar and wine making facility. The vines are grown elsewhere on the island and are shipped to this location. You can taste most of the wines such as Merlot, Muscat and Rose. Prices surprisingly start at 6€ for a good Muscat so make sure there’s room in your luggage.
Petra to Arta
To finish off this busy day that had started in Pollença, we headed for the beaches passed Arta. We drove straight through the town en route to the secluded beach of Cala Estreta and its neighboring coves. Once you get to Arta, follow signs to Cala Radaja on the Ma-15 and once you get to the Petronor gas station, turn left, following the sign for Cala Mitjana. After driving on a very rural road in the hills for about 20 minutes, you’ll reach a fork in the road. Right will take you to Cala Mitjana, a large cove that has paved parking and a small beach bar. However, continue straight on the difficult dirt road which will slope downward, eventually leading to Cala Estreta.
This is a gorgeous open cove beach with bright soft sand and clear blue waters. To your left, a small old fort perched on the hill and to your right, a footpath leading up the hill to the neighboring Cala Mitjana with impressive sea views. We arrived here at about 5pm and wish we had more time for this spectacular place. Bring plenty of water and food if you don’t want to walk across to the beach bar in the neighboring beach.
A lovely boutique hotel
In Arta, we stayed at Hotel Forn Nou, a fantastic boutique style hotel in the center of the old town. The narrow streets are hard to navigate but there is no shortage of parking. Arta is a lovely little medieval town and a decent place to spend the night. There isn’t a whole lot to do at night except enjoying some Sangria and Tapas in the main square. The town’s main attraction involves climbing 180 stairs up to the majestic Sanctuary of Sant Salvador, an old 14th century walled sanctuary atop a hill overlooking the town and its surrounding area. Start your journey at the impressive Church of Transfiguració in the center of town for this well worth short journey.
- Don’t settle for the main beach at Formentor, continue driving towards the lighthouse to find the more secluded beaches.
- There are some fantastic beaches in the northeast part of Mallorca. We only got to spend a few hours at Cala Estreta and wish we had more time.
- Just outside of Arta is the Ermitage de Betlem which is suppose to be lovely to visit and stroll around.
- In the vicinity of the hermitage lies The Peninsula de Levante National Park. We actually ended up here by mistake en route to the beach and it looked amazing, totally remote. The ranger told us there are nice 3-4 hikes you can do which will lead you to secluded coves.