Almond blossoms cover the ground like freshly fallen snow. Jagged rocks give way to the aquamarine ocean. Birdsong echoes through the forest.
Oh, and somewhere in the distance there’s me, huffing and puffing underneath the weight of my oversized backpack. This is my first multi-day hike ever. I’t seems I’ve packed too many things – but could you imagine four days without red lipstick and a cute jumper?
Of course you could! What on earth was I thinking? But I’m here, I’ve made my bed and now I have to lie in it. Hmmm, naps. I’d love one right about now.
The path under my feet is steep and rocky, well-worn by those that came before me. These ancient footpaths can wreak havoc on your ankles, but they cut through some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely day trip Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana has you covered.
I’ve received tonnes of questions about my hike along the GR221 path this February on my Instagram and Facebook, so here are all my answers in one neat package. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of the GR221 and generally have no idea what I’m on about. Sit back and let me explain…
Serra de Tramuntana Info
Serra de Tramuntana
Serra de Tramuntana is the name of a mountain range in northwest Mallorca. It covers 1100 sq km, with the highest peaks concentrated in its centre. It was awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 2011 for its physical and cultural significance, shaped by millennia of agriculture in an inhospitable terrain.
Thousands of hikers visit Mallorca to hike the Serra de Tramuntana every year, and it’s easy to see why. The views are just spectacular! You can easily come here for a short day-trip or walk the whole damn thing.
GR221 Dry Stone Path
Whichever option you choose, you’ll most likely be taking the GR221 dry stone path. This long-distance route takes you from hilltop villages to historic monasteries, across mountain peaks and past glimmering water reservoirs.
The trail is based on a network of ancient footpaths which are gradually being restored by the local government. When it’s finished it will consist of 271 km, distributed amongst eight stages of the main route and nine variants.
At the moment it comprises of 167 km which are open to the public and signposted, 85 km of which correspond to the main itinerary and 82 km to the variants. Four full stages are open, linking Deià to Pollença, as well as the section between Banyalbufar and Esporles.
So don’t worry, even the most ardent hikers will find something to do! You can find the full official guide to the GR221 here for free.
When to Visit
One of the best times to visit is February or March. The almond trees are in full bloom, the weather is warm but not too hot. But you can visit Mallorca year round. I’d avoid the hot summer months because a) hiking in the heat is no fun and b) it’s the busiest time of year, but that’s just my personal preference.
The Tramuntana range is much wetter than the rest of the island, recording more than triple the average rainfall. It’s also colder because of its high altitude with occasional snowfall in the winter. With that said, you can still expect balmy days and lots of sunshine during your visit.
If you’re opting for a multi-day hike like I did, you’ll need a place to stay every night. Luckily the Consell de Mallorca (the local council) has taken care of that, building mountain refuges at the end of each section. I can’t speak for the whole route, having only done four days’ worth of hiking, but all the shelters I stayed in were fantastic – clean, cheap, equipped with WiFi and happy to provide a hearty breakfast or dinner.
The food in the mountain refuges is basic but delicious. As a vegetarian I was a little nervous about the selection, but the staff made a real effort to cater to my diet. If you are vegan, however, I would recommend bringing enough food for the whole hike as you might struggle to find suitable options. Keep in mind that you’ll be able to find restaurants and shops in pretty much every town.
You can make the trek as easy or as difficult as you’d like. I like a challenge so I ended up choosing three relatively difficult routes, as well as one easy one. It’s completely up to you whether you follow this whole itinerary, choose your favourite day or extend your vacation to include the whole Serra de Tramuntana range which takes about eight days to walk.
Put on your hiking shoes and let’s get started…
Day 1: Valldemossa to Deià
We’re starting our hike in Valldemossa, a quaint village once described by Frédéric Chopin as the most beautiful place in the world. That’s right – it received the 19th century equivalent of a five star TripAdvisor review from a renowned composer.
I’d recommend getting there early and having a leisurely start to your day. Enjoy a coffee and a coca de patata, a sweet doughy pastry the village is famous for. If you’re visiting on a Sunday don’t miss the town market where you can find more local delicacies as well as charming antiques.
But I digress – we’re here to do some hiking. Let me tell you the bad news first. This is the first and only part of our hike that isn’t technically part of the GR221. While that’s not an issue it does mean that it’s not as well signposted or maintained.
The sky was extremely cloudy on the day I walked this route but even with good visibility some of the signs would be quite difficult to find. Moreover, the way down to Deià from the summit isn’t particularly pleasant. Aside from the lack of clear signposting the forest path isn’t well kept and leaves you feeling like you’ve been stumbling downhill for eternity. Well, not quite as dramatic but you catch my drift.
With that said, this isn’t a bad hike. The views on a clear day are stunning. The air is fresh. There are wild goats and sheep everywhere. But even more importantly than that, both Valldemossa and Deià are places you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Mallorca.
I find myself particularly charmed by Deià and its windy narrow streets. English poet Robert Graves fell in love with it too and is buried under a great cypress tree next to the village’s church. You can learn more about his life in La Casa de Robert Graves, a museum you can explore on a lazy afternoon.
“I found everything I wanted as a writer,” he wrote of Deià once, “the sun, sea, mountains, spring water, shady trees, no politics and a few civilised luxuries such as electric light and a bus service to Palma, the capital.” Although the town has changed dramatically since his time, with expensive restaurants and luxury hotels lining its one and only main street, there’s still a sense of calm in the air.
This is no place for mindless opulence. The wealthy come here, but I don’t feel out of place with my giant green backpack and hiking boots. Before we head to dinner my boyfriend and I share a large plate of tapas and look up at the mountains whence we came. We’ve earned this.
Accommodation: Refugi Can Boi
Distance: 8km · 5 miles
Time average: 5 hours
Ascent: 520 m · 1,706 ft
Descent: 800 m · 2,625 ft
Day 2: Deià to Sóller
The walk from Deià to Sóller is a welcome change of pace. If you’re not much of a hiker this would be the perfect day trip for you – you get all the gorgeous views minus the sore legs.
After weaving your way through the narrow streets of Deià you will connect onto a rocky path that will take you through fields full of goats, leafy forests and lemon groves. I don’t want to give too much away but if you’d like to see more check out the vlog at the end of this section (and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel)!
Sóller boasts one of the prettiest town squares in Mallorca. You can sit right in its centre, enjoying a large plate tapas while overlooking the Sant Bartomeu church. Every now and then, a bright orange tramway drives past making you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.
This famous tramway, the Tranvía de Sóller, still has original cars from 1913 and links the town to Port de Sóller. There you will find sandy beaches, seaside restaurants and two lighthouses. The picturesque resort is a far cry from the craziness of Magaluf in the south of the island, attracting a slightly older and more affluent crowd.
You can either take the tram back to Sóller (6 € one way) or hop on the 211 bus (1.50 €). Whatever you do, get back early. Tomorrow’s hike is the hardest of the four and an early start is crucial – as is sturdy footwear and lots of snacks. Besides, the view from Hostal Nadal is pretty breathtaking and you’ll want to enjoy it while it’s still light outside…
Accommodation: Hostal Nadal, Sóller
Distance: 6.5 km · 4 miles
Time average: 3 hours
Ascent: 220 m · 722 ft
Descent: 170 m · 558 ft
Day 3: Sóller to Tossals Verds
Phew! Let me preface this by saying that this is one difficult ass hike. As you may remember, I decided that I just had to bring my red lipstick and a cute jumper as I made my way across Mallorca’s mountains. Did I mention that I actually brought a bag of makeup brushes? I’m sorry I’m vain, please don’t hate me.
I’m only confessing all this is because I spent the majority of the day muttering under my breath about what an idiotic decision that had been. If you don’t want to end up like me, think long and hard about how much you want to carry as you scramble upward for four kilometres with no break.
Don’t worry though – you’ll be rewarded for your effort with stunning views of Cuber reservoir once you make it over the summit. It’s not all smooth sailing from there but the journey gets a whole lot easier once you reach it.
There are two routes leading to Tossals Verds. There’s the slightly longer but easier one, following the aqueduct around the mountain. The shorter path takes you uphill and through Pas Llis where you have to cling to a chain attached to the mountain. I ended up choosing the easier route because my legs were turning into Jello, but I would love to try the other walk next time. It’s definitely the more adventurous option!
The Tossals Verds refuge is set in a beautiful valley, surrounded by almond and lemon trees. It’s so beautiful that it makes you forget just how exhausted you are. Instead of napping buy a beer at reception, take off your hiking boots and relax outside until dinner time.
If it’s unoccupied and within your price range, definitely book the refuge’s private double room. It’s on the first floor and overlooks a lemon grove and a group of adorable donkeys. It’s pretty much the most idyllic view to wake up to I can imagine – and not having to share the bathroom is a perk worth the extra moolah in my book.
Accommodation: Tossals Verds refuge
Distance: 21 km · 13 miles
Time average: 7 hours
Ascent: 970 m · 3,182 ft
Descent: 550 m · 1,804 ft
Day 4: Tossals Verds to Lluc
If you want to see some of Mallorca’s most epic views and are willing to put in the footwork, this is the hike for you. The journey from Tossals Verds to Lluc may be strenuous but it’s also the most photogenic of these four – and that’s saying something. Besides, the hike would not have been quite as hard had I not destroyed my legs during the three previous days. Difficult, no doubt, but perfectly manageable.
During the first part of the hike you have to retrace your steps from the day before, all the way back to Sa Font des Noguer – a small clearing with a well you can use to refill your water bottle. From there on it’s all new though.
The steady climb to Coll des Prat that follows is exhausting but you will be rewarded with incredible views of Puig Major, the island’s highest but inaccessible peak. This is the perfect place for a light lunch and a quick Instagram session… #hikinglife #blessed
After that you’ll be bobbing up and down for about an hour, surrounded by stunning views, tumbledown snow pits and sheep, sheep, sheep. Once you make your way over the second summit you will continue down the mountain for the rest of the journey. It takes a little longer than I would have liked but the destination is well worth it.
What’s so special about Lluc? It’s home to a 13th century monastery that’s one of Mallorca’s most popular tourist destinations. You can even spend the night inside, a rare opportunity I naturally had to investigate. While the rooms aren’t particularly unique they have a distinct Mallorcan feel – all dark wood, crisp white bedding and gilded ceilings.
Even more interesting are the vistas. Our standard double room had a view of the courtyard which didn’t sound quite as appealing as looking out at the mountains, but as soon as I saw it I felt uncharacteristically tranquil.
Don’t even get me started on the food! The Sa Fonda restaurant inside the monastery serves all kinds of local delicacies, although sadly for me few were vegetarian. But it’s well worth a visit just for its imposing marble columns. Restaurant Ca s’Amitger just outside the sanctuary’s grounds offers more plant-based options, with my favourite being the sopa mallorquina (bread and cabbage stew) and tumbet (local version of ratatouille).
Once you’re done with your hike, you can take the bus from Lluc to Inca and then a train from there to Palma. The bus only runs a few times a day so do your research lest you be stranded in the monastery. Although there are definitely worse places to be – if you still have some energy left there are lots of short walks you can do in the area.
I hope you found this Serra de Tramuntana hiking guide useful! If you have any questions, please leave them in a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.