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Careening Through the Serra de Tramuntana – Amazing Road Trip!

Are you up for some crazy adventure while you are on the island of Mallorca? Rent a car and drive the famous Sa Calobra through the Serra de Tramuntana National Park. It’s unforgettable!

“One of the most dangerous roads in Spain…” Call us crazy, but these few words in our Lonely Planet Guide on Spain were enough to convince us that Sa Calobra, a stretch of 13 kilometers set in the scenic mountains of western Mallorca, was a worthy destination.

Knowing full well we were going to rent a car and explore as much of the island as we could, we couldn’t pass up the idea of driving Mallorca’s most famous road. The fact that it leads down to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island was just a bonus.

Mallorca’s Wild Ride on Sa Calobra

A peaceful town square in Mallorca.

Northwestern Mallorca is covered by a small mountain range and national park called the Serra de Tramuntana.  It is a wild, hard-to-tame environment filled with craggy rocks, deep river gorges, and steep inclines, making it a difficult area to cultivate and eek a living from.

The Serra de Tramuntana is full of curves and switchbacks.

The industrious islanders found a way, terraced their crop fields, raised goats, built towns on the hillsides, and conquered the harsh terrain. Due to this industrious task and having made the area livable for over 1000 years, UNESCO inscribed the area as a world heritage site in 2011.

Mallorca is so idyllic with sheep and goat and cows and more.

The mountains, with their spotty clumps of tough grass and stunted trees, make me think of an old man waking up with a five-day stubble on his chin. The rocks and soil are dry, almost white from the limestone, and give the entire region a washed-out look.  

However, once you get up close, you can see the trails of goats, the vibrant colors of the short desert-like flowers, and the towns are sleepy but colorful with their terra cotta roof tiles nestled into the valleys.

Bicyclists love training in Mallorca, because of the varied terrain.

We drove along route 10 until almost the end of the road where Sa Calobra begins. From the top, it takes you down through 26 hairpin turns, dropping 800 meters. For the short 13 kilometers to the coast, you are not only careening, like a rock star head-bobbing all the way down, you have the added obstacles of dodging bicycle after bicycle.

Lighthouse on Mallorca.

Apparently, this is a training ground for bicycle teams, and while the rest of Europe is still gripped with the end of winter, the temperatures are just right to start training. What better road to get fit than one that is all up and down and turn after turn? It was great fun in a car, and I imagine it’s even more so on a bike. There were plenty of bike tours doing the route as well.

Donkeys on a hillside.

At the very end of the road, there are two choices that lead to beaches and lunch. The more popular road is to the right.  We took that option to begin with, and couldn’t believe our eyes when we reached this gargantuan parking lot filled with tour buses, cars, bicycles, and people everywhere.

The goats are really not afraid of heights or people as this one demonstrates.

We promptly turned around, went left, and found a quiet, almost empty beach in a tiny cove. There was only street parking, and not much of that, a small fisherman’s hut, and not much more. It was a perfect way to spend an hour near the water.

While we explored the Serra de Tramuntana, we stayed a few nights in the Santuari de Lluc, a well-known monastery where both pilgrims and tourists stay. It hosts a restaurant as well as everything from dorm rooms to doubles. It’s not a luxurious stay, but it’s quiet and convenient, and if you are lucky enough you might get to hear the choir sing.

Mallorca has many bays.

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Are you drawn to curvy roads?  Would you bike or drive Sa Calobra?

Looking for a scenic road trip? How about the Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca?

Kristin Henning

Sunday 13th of December 2015

I just stumbled on this and enjoyed the description, especially because we were just talking to a guy from Mallorca when we were in Munich. (He was on his last day of work at the Eurostar hotel there, and anxious to get back to his native land!) Looks gorgeous, and I didn't realize it was a UNESCO site.

Corinne Vail

Monday 14th of December 2015

Kris, It is, and you should definitely go. I think spring is the best time. It's a little chilly for the party crowds but great for touring.


Sunday 20th of September 2015

Hi Corinne. I've driven the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia a few times, and that is pretty windy with more than a few hairpin curves. Your road looks like is has even a few more twists and turns. I'm not sure I'd be happy navigating around all the bicycles, but for that scenery I'd probably give it a go! Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

Corinne Vail

Monday 21st of September 2015

Nancie, I'm not sure I've done Cabot Trail, but I'll put it on my list!


Sunday 20th of September 2015

Very nice road trip, Corinne. I don't like windy roads, they make me sick, but sometimes you have to put up with that in order to get someplace nice.

Corinne Vail

Monday 21st of September 2015

Anda, The drive was stunning, and yes the end of the road was nice too, but for me it was all about the drive!


Saturday 19th of September 2015

I am not drawn to curvy and high roads but I think I can survive 13 kilometers. We have done over 100 miles of sharp curves (my husband driving) and it wasn't fun. But, have to admit the scenery was spectacular.

Corinne Vail

Sunday 20th of September 2015

Ruth, Which road was that? Sounds like my kind of road trip!

Elaine J. Masters

Saturday 19th of September 2015

Looks like an incredible adventure. Can't say I'd do the bike ride but that road would be worth driving.

Corinne Vail

Saturday 19th of September 2015

Elaine, It was a great ride! Beautiful!