Mallorca’s North West Side: Sant Elm, Sa Dragonera & an Evening in Palma
My stomach problems of yesterday had disappeared and I felt as good as new on this gorgeous late May morning. An early highlight of the day was the breakfast on our large balcony in the Torrenova Aparthotel complex. Although the hotel itself is somewhat outdated and not particularly fancy, our view over the Mediterranean was simply precious.
View from the mountains of Calvia
By 10 am we had driven from the touristy coastal areas into the quiet mountain town of Calvia which stretches along the foothills of the Tramuntana mountain region. In the middle of town we stopped at the local church, Sant Joan Baptista, a late 19th century church that was built on earlier foundations from the 13th century. Calvia itself is not a very large tourist destination, but an authentic Mediterranean town where locals go about their daily business.
The parish church of Calvia
Side streets through rolling hills and olive groves then took us to Andratx, a quaint rural town in the shadow of the Puig Galatzo mountain. We explored the town’s church and the adjoining castle where we enjoyed a spectular view of the coastline in the distance. Andratx and the surrounding area are generally very expensive territory and many Northern Europeans own villas and holiday homes in the area.
Courtyard of the castle of Andratx
Our next destination was Mallorca’s westernmost settlement: Sant Elm, a picturesque seaside fishing village with a nice sandy beach. Despite various newer tourist developments, the town has retained a lot of its old charm. Various restaurants and bars overlook the bay. Further along you get a better view of Sa Dragonera, a narrow rocky island whose jagged mountain peaks are reminiscent of a dragon’s back. The island is uninhabited and has been turned into a protected nature reserve.
A view of Sa Dragonera from the harbour of Sant Elm
Tourists can visit the island by taking a ferry from Sant Elm, and many go to Sa Dragonera to do hiking. The island itself does not have any accommodation or hospitality establishments. Another local destination, called Sa Trapa, is a former mill and displays historical farm equipment. The Sant Elm area is extremely popular with hikers who enjoy the spectacular views over the northwestern tip of Mallorca.
Nice views in Sant Elm
We continued our tour back through Andratx and up into the mountains. The contrast between the busy coastline of Mallorca and the quiet mountain regions is amazing, and we only encountered a few lonely mountain bikers on the twisting mountain roads. We stopped in Galilea, a pretty mountain village perched along the slopes of the Puig Galatzo. The town church dates back to the early 1800s, and a nice-looking restaurant sits on the square right next to the church. The peaceful streets and cobble-stoned plazas give you the illusion of being far removed from the modern world.
A view over Galilea
Just a few kilometers further east is the village of Puigpunyent which is located on the eastern slope of the Tramuntana mountains. Puigpunyent is less than 15 km away from the capital of Palma de Mallorca but feels like an entirely different world. Located in a bow-shaped valley, the pace is slow, and locals and tourists alike enjoy their leisurely relaxation time on the outdoor patios of this quaint village.
Impressive staircase at the Grand Hotel Son Net
We drove up on a hill in the middle of town as we noticed a huge mansion on top that had been turned into an upscale hospitality establishment called the Gran Hotel Son Net. 31 luxurious bedrooms and suites, two gourmet restaurants, a swimming pool and a wellness centre pamper the guests of this exclusive establishment. I love Spanish architecture, and this stately building from 1672 is a great example of Mallorcan manor houses. It was converted into a luxury hotel and opened in 1998. But the history of this location goes back much further: a house has been located on this site for more than 1000 years.
Gorgeous bar area inside historic Son Net
As an ardent architecture and history buff, I went inside to check out the main floor and admired the solid stone construction with its rounded archways and the tasteful décor and furniture. Great views opened up from the patio over the surrounding valley and a gorgeous swimming pool. One of the highlights of this historic building is the authentic olive oil press that is the centerpiece of the appropriately named Oleum Restaurant. We had stumbled across a beautiful place, it was just a shame we did not have enough time to stay around and have a drink in this inspiring environment of this first-class facility.
Ancient olive oil press inside the Grand Hotel Son Net
Instead we had to turn around and get back to our apartment in Palmanova where my travel partner Gary packed his suitcase as his plane was leaving today. In the late afternoon we drove into Palma and I dropped Gary off for his flight back to Austria. Now I had three more days left to explore Mallorca by myself.
Mallorca has beautiful flowers