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Ultimate guide to walking in the Balearics

Ultimate guide to walking in the Balearics

Not many archipelagos have a genre of music named after them, but the Balearic beat has evolved from this Spanish archipelago’s music scene, embracing an eclectic, melodic and electronic beat. Although this genre of music is associated mostly with the club scene in Ibiza, it reflects the blissful Balearic vibe that you get on all the islands, making you want to dance until the sun rises, and recover on a beautiful beach until sunset. When you’re walking in the Balearics, you can feel the rhythm in a way that works for you, appreciating sunrise from a monastery in the heart of Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana, or the vast skies along the Camí dels Cavalls coastal trail in Menorca. Tune into the Balearic beat, with some of our top tips on where and when to go. 

It doesn’t get much grander than on the Archduke’s Trail in Mallorca.

Where are the Balearic Islands?

The archipelago is made up of four main islands, namely Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, located in the Balearic Sea, the name given to the part of the Mediterranean that separates the Balearics from the Spanish mainland. Think a few hours east of Valencia or south of Barcelona, and you come to one of these island idylls. The Balearics are not to be confused with the Canary Islands which, unlike the Balearics, are volcanic and a few thousand kilometres further west and south, just 100km off the coast of Morocco. For walking in the Balearics, our tours take you to the islands of Menorca and Mallorca, where the landscapes proffer a mega-mix of mountain and coastal trails, dunes and wetlands. 

Highlights of walking in Mallorca 

Mallorca is not only the largest of the Balearics, at 3,640km², it’s also the most mountainous, with the Serra de Tramuntana range creating a strong spine along its north coast. This beautiful belt is studded with natural and cultural heritage gems and is the focal point for our walking tours on Mallorca. The capital city of Palma is not only the island’s capital, and a fine one too overlooking the Mediterranean, with a Gothic cathedral standing proudly amidst all the beauty, but it is also the capital of all the Balearics. 

Serra de Tramuntana 

Mallorca’s mountain range is called the Serra de Tramuntana and, unlike its neighbouring much flatter islands, it’s home to at least eleven peaks over 1,000m. It stretches for 90km along the coast from Andratx in the southwest to Cap de Formentor in the far north and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site Cultural Landscape in 2011. UNESCO celebrates the age-old traditions of remote, elevated farming on an island with few resources, in particular for its creative use of dry stone walls, footpaths, canals and water mills. Many of these can be seen on the island’s GR221 trail, locally known as La Ruta de Pedra en Sec, or dry stone route. The Serra de Tramuntana are also home to a wide array of birdlife, including Bonelli’s eagle, osprey and griffon vultures. Mallorca is also the last island home in the world to black vultures. 

Cúber Lake to Lluc Monastery trek

The fact that it’s almost heart shaped is apt, given that Cúber Lake is heart stoppingly beautiful, in the heart of Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana’s highest peaks. It’s the starting point for a trek to the 13th-century Lluc Monastery, Santuari de Lluc, considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites on the island. And it really is a spectacular walk amongst high peaks with views across the range’s rich valleys, on the waymarked GR221 trail, and just one of many highlights on our walking holiday in the Serra Tramuntana. The good news is that you get to slumber at this ethereal retreat not only for the night after the trek, but for one other too.  

Cúber Lake. A sapphire heart in Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana.

Archduke’s Trail

The Archduke’s Trail, or Camí de s’Arxiduc, is named after the Austrian aristocrat who mapped out this route in the 19th century and then kindly created a trail here. It follows a route through the Serra Tramuntana from the hillside town and oak forests of Valldemossa to Deià, a former artists’ colony perched on a cliff. It’s considered to be one of the most magnificent dry stone paths on the island where highlights include the ancient forest of Pla des Pouet which leads up to Pico El Teix (1,263m). Explore parts of the Archduke’s Trail on both our eight day and six day walking holidays in Mallorca. 

Highlights of walking in Menorca

If you’re a worshipper of coastal walking, Menorca is like manna from hiking heaven. It’s also the greenest of the Balearics, thanks to its north-eastern location which brings more rain and wind, but also no shortage of sunshine. Stretching for 53km east to west, its most elevated point is El Toro, at 358m. So, the Balearic beat here is most definitely the sound of the waves, made obvious by the word cala or bay appearing just about every day on our Menorca walking holiday

Cami de Cavalls

This is a 185km trail that encircles the island’s coast, and was built in the 13th century by King James II and his occupying forces, to give access for his knights and horses to protect the island. Which is why it’s also called the Horseman’s Trail. The local community have strived to turn this into something a lot more positive, and worked together to create a public right of way. Highlights along the way include S’Albufera des Grau Nature Park, the rugged Cap de Favàritx and lighthouse and a magnificent collection of ravines, interspersed with traditional beach villages such as Cala Galdana.

Sunset over Cap de Favaritx lighthouse on the Cami de Cavalls in Menorca.

S’Albufera des Grau Natural Park

A heavenly hangout not just for hikers, but also migratory birds, turtles and tortoises, meaning that S’Albufera des Grau Natural Park was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993. Located in the north-east, near the town of Es Grau, you get to walk through its wetlands, marshes, sand dunes and, as already mentioned, the Cami de Cavalls coastal trail. You definitely want to put your binoculars in your backpack for this one, and keep an eye out for herons, flamingos, ospreys, coots and cormorants. 

Mahón

Your walking holiday in Menorca starts and finishes in the island’s capital of Mahón (known locally as Maó), a natural harbour and ancient walled port, where migratory species range from yachties to foodies, art collectors to beach bar hipsters. The city’s architecture reveals the many international influences over the years, ranging from the elegant Georgian houses and public buildings from 18th-century British rule to the Arch de San Roque, the only remains of the city’s ancient city walls.

Ciutadella

On our Menorca walking holiday, you spend two nights in Ciutadella, located on the island’s westernmost point. This is an ancient port town with no shortage of elegant architecture, as it was the former capital before British rule. It has also retained some of its ancient heritage, such as the Taula and Talaiot megaliths, as well as the medieval streets in Plaza de Es Born, with the Born obelisk taking centre stage at 22m high. It marks the resistance of local people to the Turks who went on to destroy the city in 1558. Today, thankfully, it’s a Menorcan marvel, proud of its own culture and beauty. No better place to start exploring this culture than at the daily market in Plaza del Mercat, or the Friday and Saturday markets in Plaza de Es Born. 

Ciutadella is a lot. Layers and layers of history and happenings on Menorca’s westernmost tip.

Best time to go walking in the Balearics

Best time to go to Mallorca

The best time for walking in Mallorca is, basically, when it’s not too hot, as Mallorcan temperatures are the highest of all the islands, with average maximum temperatures of 31.5C in August, which is why many of our holidays don’t run during that time. Our Mallorca holidays are available as early as February, however, and as late as October. In February, average temperatures top at 15.5C and, in October they head as high as 23.9C. So you can ward off those winter blues with some Mallorcan blue skies and seas. In March and April, wild flowers start to open up along the Tramuntana trails, such as the delicate Balearic cyclamen, foxgloves and the scarlet pimpernel, a delicate orange flower that closes up when rain is expected. Which isn’t often. 

We do have one walking holiday in Mallorca that is available all the way through from February to November, but the others take a break in July and August due to the extreme heat. Autumn is also divine for taking on the Tramuntana, with an average temperature of 27C in September, dipping to a sultry 19C in November, although you may get more rain showers, but it’s drier than in Menorca and you get five hours of sunshine per day in November, compared with eight hours in September on both islands. 

You can combine sunshine and vines in September at the Festa des Vermar, or grape harvest festival in Mallorca, which takes place over two weeks in Binissalem during the last two weeks of September. Although you don’t walk through it on our walking holidays, you might want to time your trip to go there for a day trip at the end, as it’s only 28km from Palma.

Hiking in late spring in Mallorca is just about perfection. Not too hot, not too shabby.

Best time to go to Menorca

The best time for walking in Menorca is between April and July, and then throughout September and October, avoiding peak season and peak temperatures. In April, average maximum temperatures are 18C, going up to 26C in September and dipping to 22C in October. As it’s a smaller island, there are fewer accommodations that work perfectly with our carefully-crafted itineraries, and also it does get more rainfall than Mallorca in spring and autumn, although this is still minimal. We also don’t have holidays available over the midsummer period of 23 and 24 June, when the island celebrates the Fiestas of Sant Joan de Ciutadella and everything is booked out. Nature has its own festivities in spring, however, so if you travel in April and May, the coastal trails will be peppered with daisies, marigolds, wild roses and flowering garlic. 

Easter in the Balearics

As with all of Spain, Easter is taken pretty seriously in the Balearics and so, if it falls when we have availability, be prepared to join the festivities. Semana Santa or Holy Week, is a time for processions, libations and plenty of passion all over the islands. 

Wildflowers and wild trails along Menorca’s Camí de Cavalls.

How do I get to the Balearic Islands?

There are international airports on both Mallorca and Menorca, but Mallorca has many more airlines serving it as it’s the largest Balearic island. If you want to travel by ferry from mainland Spain, and combine one of our Catalonia walking holidays with a Balearic one, there are ferries to Mallorca and Menorca from Barcelona. You can also get a ferry from Valencia, although there aren’t as many services. If you want to combine a walking holiday in Menorca with one in Mallorca, you can take a ferry between the two and it takes just over an hour. 


If islands are your thing, we have many more adventures on offer, as you can see in our blog Island walking holidays or our Ultimate guide to walking in Spain’s Canary Islands. For more archipelagic joy, check out Reasons to go walking in Madeira.