Just in from the west coast of Mallorca, Sóller is a quaint old town encircled by mountains. Eco-tourism, on Mallorca? For many people Mallorca isn’t readily associated with outdoor activities and natural scenery, but the west coast of the island is rugged and rustic in equal measure. The town of Sóller sits in a bowl of pine-clad mountains that are more inviting than intimidating. And for keen walkers and bike-riders they’re a real invitation to get out and start exploring. A popular walk is the coastal trail southwest to the village of Deiá. The coastline here is all cliffs and headlands, with no sign of the crowded tourist beaches that Mallorca is best known for. This trail winds through citrus and olive groves, and all the way you’ll be accompanied by the refreshing fragrance of pine needles. Crumbling old stone walls flank long stretches of the path, and on the way you can stop at a cafe housed in a converted finca—a stately Spanish farmhouse. For something a little more challenging you could head east into the Tramuntana Mountains, the highest peak of which is Puig Major. At 1,445 metres it’s taller than Ben Nevis. Take a tour of the town Sóller is loved for its rural feel. There’s a weekly village market here every Saturday and plenty of charming old sights to see around the town. The street plan is from Islamic times and the buildings in the older part of Sóller date to between the 1500s and 1700s. Be sure to see the Church of Sant Bartomeu, designed by Catalan architect Joan Rubió who was a student of the great Antoni Gaudí.
If this building whetted your appetite for modernist architecture then you can drop in on the Can Prunera Museum of Modernism, a grand home boasting sumptuous turn-of-the-century fitting and furniture.
Tram to Port de Sóller
There’s a heritage tram running between Sóller and its elegant harbour. Mallorca’s western coastine is mostly impenetrable, but this is a beautiful, sheltered enclave of serenity. There’s a narrow beach backed and bookended by steep hills, and along the waterfront are chic seafood restaurants and laid-back bars.
As you can tell, Mallorca’s west coast isn’t your typical sun and sand destination. But still, from Sóller you can get to Sa Calobra, one of the best beaches on the island. You could drive there along the twisting mountain road, or take another scenic route and board a boat departing Port de Sóller.
The beach appears on many of Mallorca’s brochures, and is completely free of any kind of development. It’s a pristine, shallow cove between two tall cliffs and sitting in front of stark, jagged hills. The cove’s transparent waters are a popular mooring spot for private yachts, lending the scene a sophisticated air.
Ferrocarril de Sóller
While avoiding the holiday clichés on Mallorca’s spectacular west coast, you won’t be disconnected from civilisation either. The Ferrocarril de Sóller is a railway that was built in the early-20th Century and connects Sóller with Palma, Mallorca’s capital. There are five trains to Palma a day during the summer, and while the destination is exciting, the journey itself is a big part of the attraction.
The electric train traverses some of the steepest parts of the Tramuntana Mountain range. You’ll be able to step outside halfway through the trip to take photos of the majestic upland scenery.
At the end of the 27-kilometre ride you’ll be free to see the best of Palma, a modern urban centre known for its shopping, restaurants and atmospheric old town.
Get to Sóller in half an hour from the Drivalia Car Rental depot at Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI).
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