A Little Guide to Sóller, Mallorca
My husband and I love a European city break, but I've realised in the rush to do and see as much as you can in three or four days it's not always that relaxing. We decided to book a springtime European getaway with a focus on slowing down and relaxing. Ideally we wanted somewhere beautiful and rural, but neither my husband or I drive which poses a bit of a problem. Sóller in Mallorca was the perfect solution, as this small town is surrounded by stunning countryside, yet it’s easily accessible by bus and train.
We flew into Palma and then got the antique train through the mountains straight to Sóller. I had read reviews on Trip Advisor urging me to get there early and be prepared to fight for a seat. As we were travelling out of season and mid week there was no queue at all and our carriage was almost empty. The beautiful antique train takes a scenic route through the mountains, passing olive groves and fields of sheep. A single ticket is €18, so it’s not cheap but it’s a beautiful journey. It’s also worth checking out the train station in Sóller, which includes a free permanent collection of works by Miro and Picasso. Possibly the most cultural train station I’ve ever been to.
Sóller is a gorgeous little town, fairly untouched by modernisation. The main shopping street is still full of independent boutiques, butchers, greengrocers and many, many ice cream shops. The main plaza is particularly picturesque as it features a huge church, orange trees, outdoor restaurants and cafes and an antique tram which winding through it all. The antique tram runs regularly between Sóller town and Port de Sóller carrying waving tourists. We stayed in a hotel in the centre of town then walked and cycled in the surrounding areas. Our favourite restaurant was Bar Molino, a family run place on the edge of own. It doesn't look like much but it is the place to find authentic flavours, friendly service and big portions.
On our second day we hired bikes and planned to cycle to Port de Sóller via the scenic route. The scenic road actually involved cycling up a mountain. We zig-zagged up the mountain for over an hour, at every corner hoping we were at the top, and when we finally made it to way we thought was the top my husband got a massive puncture and we had to walk the bikes all the way down the mountain to the bike shop. You’ve got to laugh. The tire was replaced and we decided just to take the main road and cycled to the port in less than 10 minutes. We had a lovely lunch on the sea front, I did some painting and we explored the area on our bikes.
I developed a bit of an obsession with oranges whilst in Sóller: I probably drank about a gallon of freshly squeezed orange juice and came home with a memory card full of pictures of orange trees. To fuel this obsession further we paid a visit to Ecovinyassa, an organic orange farm in the Sóller valley that offers tours. We spent an hour wandering around the orange groves and learning about different varieties of oranges and organic farming methods, and just generally taking in the beauty and tranquillity of the scenery. The tour finishes with a jug of orange juice and a snack of bread with fresh tomatoes.
There are lots of beautiful walks in the surrounding area. Our hotel gave us a map of hiking trails, and we did a few of the shorter ones, walking to Biniraix and Fornalutx. The walk to Fornalutx via Binibasi is particularly lovely. The scenery is so magical, I'm not sure that photos really do it justice. There are miles of orange and lemon trees in every direction, remote stone villages dotted along the mountains, wildflowers growing along the edge of every road and blue mountains rising in the distance, with a delicious smell of orange blossom, jasmine and woodsmoke everywhere you go.
Another day we decided to get the bus to Deia. The timetable said it would only take 25 minutes, but it took more like 40 as it wound its way through the mountains, slowing to a crawl every time we passed another car. There were a few hair raising moments as we squeezed past another bus along a cliff edge. Deia is a mysterious, quiet town, once home to the writer Robert Graves, and the setting for the BBC drama The Night Manager. The bus dropped us in the town and then we decided to walk down to the sea, which as it turns out is quite a challenging 30 minute walk following the path of the river until it meets the sea. I don't mind clambering over styles or small streams, but it's something to bear in mind if you're planning at visit. We had a drink in a picturesque restaurant jutting right out into the sea (it was used in The Night Manager). It was the most expensive orange juice I'd had all week but it was worth it for the breathtaking views. We sat and watched braver folk than us swim in the crystal clear turquoise waters.
The Can Prunera
On our last day the weather was a little cooler so we explored Soller town a bit more in the morning. We visited the Can Prunera, a stunning art nouveau townhouse that is home to a collection of modern art. The rooms are beautiful, and the way the furniture and artefacts are arranged you feel like the owners have just stepped out for a minute. It’s easy to imagine these elegant people of the Fin de Siecle catching the wooden tram down to the port, or strolling in the main Plaza.
Mallorca is such a gem of an island, and so much more than just a party destination or somewhere for a bit of sun and sand. I feel like we have only just scratched the surface of the wonders that Mallorca has to offer, and we are keen to go back. I would recomend it to anyone; pack a book and some comfy walking shoes and prepare to relax.