After a long UK winter we all need a dose of early summer sunshine and a quick trip to Mallorca does the trick.
But I am not talking about the hectic beach resorts around Palma, I prefer the bustling town of Soller that nestles in a valley beneath the Tramantana Mountains on Mallorca’s tranquil west coast. The area is famous for its citrus groves of oranges and lemons and the heady scent of the orange blossom enhanced by the warm sun and soft breeze will hit you as soon as you arrive
Getting there couldn’t be easier as there are numerous flights from the UK into Palma. Although your first instinct will be to hire a car, why not let the train take the strain? Palma Airport has an efficient airport bus service into the city, Line 1 running about every 15 minutes. The bus stops outside the railway station, and costs just 2.50 euros. The Soller train is one of the main tourist attractions on the island so is always busy. The journey takes just over an hour, across the plains outside Palma before winding its way through tunnels and over viaducts into the valley beyond the mountains. The first glimpses of Soller are stunning and on certain departures the train will stop at a purpose built viewing station so you can capture the scene on camera, or just drink in the panorama.
On arrival, if you have chosen to stay in one of the town centre hotels you will be just a stroll away from the station, if not – the taxi rank is right outside.
Take time to sit in the main square – Placa Constitucio – and enjoy a leisurely café con leche or a plate of tapas under the trees whilst watching the children play around the fountain. Every so often the beautifully maintained tram trundles over the cobbles and through the middle of the square on its way to the Port of Soller. The 3-mile journey takes about 20 minutes; passing perilously close to houses, back gardens and allotments. As the perfectly shaped bay opens up in front of you the tram hugs the shoreline to its eventual stop beside the recently enlarged marina. Puerto Soller has a very different atmosphere to the town; this is a holiday resort with hotels, sandy beach, bars, restaurants and a bustling marina. But compared to other holiday resorts on Mallorca it is still pretty low key which gives it such charm. You will find boat trips to nearby Sa Calobra and if you are lucky be able to watch the fishermen land their catch.
For walkers a pleasant excursion is to walk to the port from Soller through the hills at the back of the town. The walk takes about 2 hours and there is a place to stop on the way for fresh orange juice. Arrive in Puerto Soller for lunch and then take the tram back. When you arrive back into town you will find that the tram conveniently stops outside an ice cream parlour where they sell the locally made orange ice cream – delicious!
Another energetic day out is to take the local bus into the picturesque town of Deia. Home to the rich and famous, Deia boasts one of the most sought after hotels on Mallorca, La Residencia. Carry on walking to the small cove at the bottom of the hill, it is a rocky inlet but here you will find a popular restaurant C’as Patro March. Renowned for seafood but also for its position perched on the rocks above the sea. Book ahead or try and arrive early, as this is a very popular spot. The walk back to Soller is quite strenuous but very beautiful, through olive groves, and along shady pathways. The trail often passes near to the railway track; you will hear the train long before you see it as it ducks in and out of the tunnels.
Walking out of Soller to the tiny hamlet of Biniaraix and onto the village of Fornalutx provides more stunning scenery that changes around every bend. An added incentive is the thought of a delicious lunch at the popular Es Turo Restaurant in Fornalutx.
After a short break in Soller I guarantee you will find you are already planning to return.
Where to stay:
My favourite is a small boutique B&B Casa Bougainvillea.
Owned by Nina & Matt from the UK, this little gem is centrally located with comfortable rooms and a pretty courtyard garden to relax in after a day of walking and sightseeing. PG tips on demand for those of us who like a nice cuppa!