One of the most frustrating aspects about travelling abroad is that you rarely get a sense of the ‘realness’ of the places you visit. If you are staying in a tourist resort, you would be lucky to stumble across the bars, restaurants and hangouts that the locals frequent, unless you really went searching for them.
One way to get around this problem is to hire a car and set out your own itinerary. Whether you want to find the most beautiful hidden gem of a beach, a street full of chic boutique shops (with no tourist tat in sight!) or the finest eatery in town, you can do so with the help of a rented vehicle and an up-to-date map.
Try it on the Balearic Island of Mallorca, where popular seaside resorts are interspersed with pretty little whitewashed villages and lush green countryside. You can hire a car from Mallorca airport and try one of the most picturesque routes on the island – that of Andratx to Valldemossa. Click here to arrange your hire car.
Hit the road, Jack!
The region of Andratx lies in the south-west of the island, about 30km west of the capital Palma de Mallorca, and covers an area of about 80sq km. It contains a gorgeous coastline lapped by crystal-clear waters, elegant marinas and opulent homes owned by wealthy residents. The eponymous town of Andratx was originally constructed to guard against pirate attacks and its defences can still be seen in the upper part of the settlement. Make sure you have a good look around the town first, particularly at the Santa Maria church, which looks rather like a fortress.
There are three routes you can take to get to the beautiful village of Valldemossa from here. The first is the quickest, lasting around 40 minutes, and takes you through the suburbs of the capital. Get onto the Ma-1 from Puerto Andratx, heading south-east towards the sunny beach resort of Palma Nova, then go north-east towards Palma de Mallorca. The route will take you around the ring road then north towards your destination.
However, if you would prefer to take the scenic course, travel along the C-710 autoway that hugs the west coast of the island. You can stop for a coffee in the little resort of Estellencs, which is backed by the Sierra Tramuntana mountain range and offers peaceful stone streets, quirky fountain springs and a lovely cove with a port.
Drive on past the terraced agricultural plots designed to make the most of the island’s rainfall towards Banyalbufar, then head inland until you reach Valldemosa.
The third route uses the PMV-1016 to pass villages like Sa Garriga and S’Esgleieta on the way to Valldemosa. It is an entirely inland journey, so you won’t get the chance to take pictures of the sea on your way.
Once you get to Valldemosa, which remains relatively untouched by tourism, spend some time wandering through the streets. Each of the houses is built in the same light stone and all are bedecked with vibrant flowers. Visit a couple of the local art galleries and make sure you stop off at a traditional family bakery to sample the coca de patata (‘potato cake’) delicacy.