Discover Balearic Islands
Exploring the Dry-Stone Route (GR221) in Mallorca
Whilst many people may not necessarily think of Mallorca as a walking destination, the GR221 or Dry-Stone route certainly sets out to prove this theory wrong!
What is it?
The Dry-Stone Route (Ruta de Pedra en Sec) is an official GR route which links up 168km of signposted trails dry stonework terraces where olive trees have been growing for centuries, mountain villages, pine and oak forests. The dry-stone building technique has been used in Mallorca for centuries and has been used to build footpaths, walls, roads and terraces.
What part of the route does Macs itinerary follow?
Macs Adventure's Tramuntana Trails itinerary misses out the first stage of the route from Port d'Andratx to Coma d'en Vidal as it isn't as well signposted and begins in Esporles, before heading to the artists town of Deia via the pretty village of Valldemossa. It then continues to Soller. From Soller, the official route heads through the village of Biniaraix before finishing at the refuge of Tossals Verd near the Cuber Reservoir. However, as there is only refuge accommodation there, Macs route includes return transfers between there and Soller to give you 2 nights in more comfortable accommodation in Soller. You are then taken back to Cuber to enjoy a stage deep through the mountains from Cuber to Lluc Sanctuary. An easier final stage on the Macs itinerary leads from Lluc to Pollenca.
How tough is it?
Macs do grade this itinerary as moderate-strenuous so it is more suited to experienced walkers looking to take on a bit more of a challenge! Macs have taken some of the challenge away by planning the overnight stops around places where you can stay in small hotels and guesthouses rather than the traditional mountain refugios normally used on this route, but you can still expect to climb a fair bit with around 910m being the highest ascent on one day. We do not recommend this walk for anybody who suffers from vertigo as there are some sections where there are steep drop-offs.
Handicraft Traditions of the Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands have a long diverse, history of different inhabitants, and many old trades from different cultures still exist in the islands today. Here are some of the handicraft traditions you may expect to find whilst visiting the Balearic Islands!
Fabrics and Embroidery
Extremely detailed and fine embroideries are found in most Mallorcan homes and is quite different to the type found in mainland Spain due to its intricacies. Hemp has also been grown on Mallorca for many years and you will find many hemp products being sold at local markets.
Due to the requirement to build boats for fishing and trading, there is a long history of woodworking in Mallorca. However, woodworkers have diversified today to create beautifully crafted products from olive wood such as bowls, utensils and decorations.
Brought to Mallorca when the Phoenicians visited back in the 2nd century BC. There are several glass-blowing factories where you can witness master craftsmen turn out beautiful products such as plates, vases and bowls.
The Siurell and Ceramics
The craft of pottery in Mallorca has many Roman and Moorish influences and brightly coloured ceramics are a common sight at handicraft stalls throughout the islands. The Siurell is one of the most iconic products - a small earthenware figure which doubles up as a whistle and is painted in bright colours, very popular with children.
Hippy Markets of Ibiza and Formentera
The islands of Ibiza and Formentera have been strongly influenced by the hippy movement, with artisans, painters and designers flocking to the islands in the 1960's. Due to this there are now several very famous "hippie" markets on the islands including the Las Dalias Hippy Market in Sant Carles de Peralta and the Flea Market in Sant Francesc in Formentera.
The Prettiest Towns & Villages of the Balearics
Valldemossa, Mallorca - with its idyllic location in the middle of the Tramuntana mountains, Valldemossa is one Mallorcan village you can't miss. It's honey-coloured stone-built houses sit amongst green forests and narrow cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops. It has motivated artists and composers alike, one of which was Chopin, who lived there from 1838-39. Visit the Carthusian monastery or enjoy sweet treats such as ’coca de patata’ (a sweet potato cake) from one of the traditional family bakeries.
Deià, Mallorca - another village which has inspired artists, Deia was most famously home to English poet and novelist Robert Graves and is also said to be where other famous musicians have spent some time including the Beatles and David Bowie. It has a very laid-back vibe, with lots of quirky little art galleries, chic restaurants and bars, and amazing views of the turquoise sea and surrounding mountains.
Sóller, Mallorca - with its stunning location in the "valley of oranges", this charming little old town is a world away from some of the bustling coastal towns Mallorca is known for. Enjoy it's charming little square lined with restaurants and lovely architecture or pop on the old-fashioned wooden tram to Port de Soller. Soller is also linked to the capital Palma via the "orange express" narrow-gauge train.
Pollença, Mallorca - One of the more "touristy" towns of the Tramuntana, but still very beautiful and worth visiting! Similar to Valldemossa, Deia and Soller it consists of honey-coloured stone buildings and the bustling Placa Major is a great place to sit and watch the world go by!
Palma, Mallorca - So Palma isn't really a town or village, it's rather a city, and the capital of Mallorca. However, we thought it was worth mentioning here as it's such an elegant and cosmopolitan place that it's well worth exploring! Visit the beautiful La Seu cathedral and Almudaina Palace, and then perhaps have a stroll round many of the chic boutiques before enjoying dinner in an elegant restaurant.
Fornalutx, Mallorca - the main appeal of Fornalutx lies in its location with a beautiful mountain backdrop (it has views of Puig Major, Mallorca's largest mountain) and surronding orange and olive groves. The Cami de s’Alzina Fumadora is a very rewarding cobbled bridle path which winds its way steeply up between olive and orange trees.
Sant Joan de Labritja, Ibiza - another Balearic village which is a world away from the more bustling and famous Ibizan party towns! It's quiet main street consists of white-washed traditional houses and cobbled streets, and a local artisan market is held in the square every Sunday.
Es Calo, Formentera - to be honest, the whole of Formentera is like some undiscovered island paradise, but Es Calo is particularly charming. It is set in a natural horseshoe-shaped harbour where the water is crystal-clear.
Ciutadella, Menorca - another one which is more of a city rather than a town or village, but again too nice not to include! It's historical centre is well worth exploring with its palaces, cathedral and busy squares full of shops and restaurants.