They couldn't be more different: the tourist magnet Palma de Mallorca and the small town of Sóller in the Tramuntana mountains. Here the island metropolis with more than 400.000 inhabitants and there Sóller, a place where time seems to have stood still.
The city of around 14.000 people is located on the northwest coast of Mallorca. Sóller is equally suitable for hikers, cyclists, sailors and day tourists. Sóller is an extremely attractive destination with some buildings worth seeing, inviting streets and alleys as well as neat little shops. A few kilometers further is in the district Port de Soller the large, busy marina.
Soller - Landscape
Port de Sóller - Harbour
We visit Sóller with the Tren de Sóller
The town is easy to get to from Palma: by rental car, bus and the historic Tren de Sóller train. Our recommendation applies, how could it be otherwise, to the latter variant: arriving on the historic railway, which has been running since 1912. Olives, almonds and citrus fruits were cultivated in Sóller and the surrounding area before the tourism boom; the trains were originally used to transport agricultural products. We do not know when the switch from goods transport to the transport of people took place on a large scale.
Ready to go - Tren de Sóller
The 27 kilometer route leads from Palma's Plaça d'Espanya to the train station in Sóller. After passing through the suburbs of Palma, the electrically powered trains mainly drive through agricultural land. In total, they pass 13 tunnels and a short viaduct during the journey. During the journey, they climb about 230 meters in altitude. Multiple breakpoints require stops. The train makes another scheduled stop at the Mirador Pujol d'en Banya above Sóller, so that travelers can take a leisurely look at the city of Sóller and the valley of the same name. The journey of the Tren de Sóller ends in the town center. If you like, you can get on the historic tram that goes to Port de Sóller in front of the train station. However, we recommend taking a tour of the enchanting place before heading to the port.
Sóller – a small town straight out of a picture book
The small town of Sóller, at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains, thrived on citrus cultivation. The oranges and lemons were mainly shipped to France from the neighboring Port de Sóller. The prosperity based on the cultivation of the fruit manifested itself in stately houses, which still characterize the cityscape and inspire visitors.
Sóller train station
Sóller's train station was set up in a former manor house. In the station stands a ceramic column created by artist friends Miró and Picasso. The station provides information about Picasso's ceramic works in an exhibition. The subjects are mythological scenes, female figures and classic bullfighting scenes. Miró's work is presented in another room with more than 30 engravings.
Sóller train station
Plaça de sa Constitucio
Sóller's central square, the Plaça de sa Constitució, is lined with numerous bars, cafés and restaurants and is well worth seeing.
Plaça de sa Constitució - Sant Bartomeu with the town hall
Plaça de sa Constitució - Façade of the Town Hall
The representative town hall, decorated with flags, and the church of Sant Bartomeu are also located on “Constitution Square”. The church has been transformed over the centuries from a village church into a handsome place of worship. Of course it is part of our sightseeing program.
Church of Sant Bartomeu - the altar
Carrer de sa Lluna
Rarely does one see such a tranquil street as Carrer de sa Luna. It is Sóller's main shopping street. There are no chain stores and we don't miss them. Instead, small shops of all kinds court the favor of their regular customers and tourists. On offer are mainly local and traditional products.
Port de Soller
We think we've seen enough of Sóller. Now we are drawn to the former fishing district of Port de Sóller on the bay of the same name. We took the Tren de Sóller to get there. And we can reach Sóller's port with a historic tram. We are just as enthusiastic about the means of transport as about the train. The operating company uses trains that were originally developed at the beginning of the 20th century to connect the two places. But it did not stop. Trains that were previously used in Lisbon, Bilbao or La Coruna did their duty. It's a lot of fun to ride the old, partially open tracks.
Port de Sóller - historic tram
There are eleven stations between the two end stops. Also, for safety reasons, the trams run very slowly. The ride turns out to be extremely leisurely. There is a lot to see before the train reaches its final stop next to the Marina of Port de Sóller. The district turns out to be a typical Mediterranean place with small shops and many bars, cafes and restaurants. You can see it at first glance, Port de Sóller is a place for excursions and tourists.
What to do in Port de Sóller?
Don't expect too many sights in a community like this. A visitor's must-do list might include the Maritime Museum, located in the 13th-century and later deconsecrated Church of Santa Catalina de Alexandria.
Far del Cap Gros Lighthouse
A destination for hikers is the Far del Cap Gros lighthouse, towering on the opposite (west) side of the bay. The location of the lighthouse offers excellent views of the town, harbor and sea.
In the 16th century, Sóller - like other Mallorcan coastal towns - was repeatedly attacked by pirates. Watchtowers were erected along Mallorca's coast to protect against raids by privateers. The Torre Picada guards the harbor of Port de Sóller. The well-preserved tower stands on a cliff for strategic reasons. A walk of about half an hour leads from the port up to the tower. Although the Torre Picada cannot be visited, it is still worth the hike: the location of the watchtower allows views of the Tramuntana mountains and the bay.
The port is also recommended as a starting point for boat tours in the area. One provider is Barcos Azules. The shipping company offers excursion boat trips from February to November.
Port de Soller - Marina
As day visitors with limited time, we limit ourselves to a tour along the sea promenade and in the immediate vicinity. Before we take the tram for the return trip, we have a bite to eat on the terrace of a well-kept restaurant, taste some local wine and enjoy the hustle and bustle in the marina. And of course we look forward to returning to Sóller by tram and continuing to Palma on the old-fashioned Tren de Sóller.
Port de Soller - Promenade
Port de Soller - Restaurant