The many cycling routes on the Balearic Islands make them the perfect destination for both new and old cyclists. Every year, some of the world’s best professional cyclists ride along the islands’ ideal cycling routes to prepare before the big races, while amateurs and tourists simply enjoy taking in the sights and sounds while on the road.
When it comes to cycling in the Balearic Islands, you have two major options: Mallorca, which is the biggest island, and Menorca, a smaller island located east of Mallorca. There is a third island southwest of Mallorca, Ibiza, but Mallorca and Menorca are the prime cycling destinations.
The bigger of the two cycling hotspots, Mallorca has impressive coastlines and two mountain ranges connected by a network of roads that let cyclists choose whether they want a more scenic route closer to the sea or across mountain villages for more panoramic sights.
Some of the most notable stops include La Almudaina Palace, an old Arabian fortress that provides a great view of the bay and the village of Valldemosa in one of the island’s mountain ranges. Mallorca’s coastline has plenty of beach destinations, including Es Trenc, a white sand beach that also serves as the island’s major source of harvested sea salt.
For novice riders or those who plan to cycle with their family, one of the most recommended routes starts out from Cala Millor and ends in Porto Cristo. At barely under 15 miles, this brief coastline ride is one of the shorter cycling routes in Mallorca, but it’s packed with plenty of interesting stopovers to keep cyclists busy.
Those who want to view Central Mallorca’s beautiful landscape also have the option of taking a 21-mile route that starts off from Consell, away from the more popular starting point of Pollenca. While not as popular, this means you won’t get as many repeat stopovers if you plan on taking several routes during your stay in the island.
For more advanced cyclists or those who want more challenging roads, Mallorca has plenty of mountain routes and inclines to push their cycling skills to the limit. With an average gradient of 7%, with some parts of the route going as steep as 12%, conquering the grueling 57-mile trip up from Pollenca to Sa Calobra will reward you with a breathtaking view of the Tramuntana Mountains.
For those who want something “in-between”, there is an alternate route to Sa Calobra, this time starting from Port de Soller. Although you will have to deal with steep inclines in the last 2 kilometers on the way up, most of the route has a lower average incline of 5.9%.
While not as big as Mallorca, Menorca’s gentle hills and quiet country lanes make it a must-see destination for cyclists. The smaller of the two cyclist paradises, Menorca may seem like it’s mostly for casual riders, but it is home to the annual “Ruta de Los Faros” or Tour of the Lighthouses, a cycling event that stretches for over 128-miles along the coastline and passes by each of the island’s iconic lighthouses.
Thanks to the island’s small size and almost nonexistent traffic, planning a route greatly differs from one group of cyclists to another. The island’s network of paved roads passes through old churches and quiet villages, but a common option is a route passing through the towns of Alaior and Ferreres, as well as the Megaliths put up by Menorca’s first settlers.
More serious cyclists can take on parts of the coastline route used during Ruta de Los Faros or even complete the entire round trip. There is also the ride up to Monte Toro, which also makes up the last part of the yearly cycling event.
Another major reason to visit Menorca is the world famous Cami de Cavalls, a centuries-old network of dirt paths that sprawls over the entire island. Although most of the trail can be traveled by a road bike, a hybrid or mountain bike will make the trip much easier
The Cami de Cavalls offer a diverse set of sceneries that can be tailored to each cyclist. One can ride along parts of the trail with gentle slopes and relatively flat stretches of dirt and to get a good view of the ocean or travel further inland to see ravines and cliffs teeming with plants unique to Menorca.
There are plenty of reasons why the Balearic Islands should be in any traveling cyclist’s top places to visit. Whether you’re looking for the coastline, cliffs, or countryside riding, this stunning tourist destination gives you endless possibilities and rides to remember for ages.
Robert Parker is the co-founder of Cyclist Challenge. The website Cyclist Challenge is geared towards sharing cycling tips, guides, cycle and kit reviews, recommendations for cycling destinations and more.