Marvellous Mallorca: Hiking the Ruta de Pedra en Sec

I just spent two weeks in Mallorca (Spain), with as main goal hiking the Ruta de Pedra en Sec (GR221), a long-distance trail that crosses the entire Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca’s beautiful mountain range. Eight days on the trail (plus one rest day in between), and sleeping most nights in “refugis” (mountain huts). But I also had some extra days to explore in and around Palma de Mallorca, including a visit to some amazing limestone caves and a bike ride along the bay of Palma. All-in-all a fantastic trip that was well worth it. Here are some brief impressions. Click any of the pics for a full-size view, or any of the links throughout the story for more images.

Even the flight from Vienna to Palma was already impressive, on a clear day with wonderful views. I could recognize many familiar sights, such as the Schneeberg near Vienna, Lake Bled in Slovenia, and Venice in Italy. I managed to get some decent shots from the airplane, even if it was just with my mobile phone. This certainly was a good start to the trip.

In Palma itself I had a day or two to just wander around. Getting lost in the old town of Palma is great, with its maze of narrow streets and hidden courtyards. But of course the main sight is the impressive cathedral, especially around sunset. I also took a little boat trip around the harbor, which provides nice views of the city with the mountains as backdrop. And the walk up the many steps to the Castell de Bellver, on a little hill just west of the city, is also worth it for the fine views it provides.

Palma's impressive cathedral just before sunset.
Palma’s impressive cathedral just before sunset.

One day I took a bus to Porto Cristo on the eastern side of Mallorca to visit the Cuevas del Drach, some beautiful limestone caves. I’ve seen many such caves all over the world, but I have to admit that this cave is one of the richest and most impressive ones I’ve ever seen! I just could not stop taking pictures

Just one of the many amazing views in the Cuevas del Drach.
Just one of the many amazing views in the Cuevas del Drach.

After I came back from the main hike (see below), I rented a bicycle and went for a ride along the Badia de Palma (the bay) all the way to S’Arenal and back. Not being used to long bike rides anymore, my butt was quite sore afterwards, but it was worth the suffering. A very pleasant ride with great views over the bay.

A view back to Palma across the bay, with the hills in the background.
A view back to Palma across the bay, with the hills in the background.

But the largest part of my trip was spent hiking along the Ruta de Pedra en Sec (GR221) through the Serra de Tramuntana, from Sant Elm in the south to Pollenca in the north. Eight days on the trail (plus one rest day in between), and spending most nights in “refugis” (mountain huts). This long-distance hiking trail is named after the many dry-stone (“pedra en sec”) walls and paths that can be found all over these mountains.

An example of the dry-stone walls along the hiking trail.
Some of the dry-stone walls along the hiking trail.

The trail combines beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Serra de Tramuntana all along the way.

A view of the sea and mountains along the trail.
A view of the sea and mountains along the trail.

It also passes through many little villages that are scattered throughout the valleys.

The pretty village of Valldemossa nestled in between the hills.
The pretty village of Valldemossa nestled in between the hills.

And it crosses over some of the higher cols and ridges, providing spectacular views.

A view of Puig Major in the distance, Mallorca's highest mountain.
A view of Puig Major in the distance, Mallorca’s highest mountain.

It’s hard to really capture the feeling of this place in just a few images. Every time you turn another corner, the views are different again…

A panoramic view of Puig Major. Click the pic for a full-size view.
A panoramic view of the Cuber reservoir and Puig Major. Click the pic for a full-size view.

If this has sufficiently whetted your appetite, you can view more images of each stage of this wonderful multi-day hike.

After this excellent two-week adventure trip, I had an evening flight back to Vienna, which provided a beautiful view over Palma just after sunset. An appropriate goodbye to a very special place: Marvellous Mallorca.

A view of Palma from the airplane, just after sunset.
A view of Palma from the airplane, just after sunset.