Set in a lush valley of orange groves between the mountains and the sea, Soller is popular with day trippers who arrive on the vintage train from Palma and seem to do little but sit outside the cafes in Placa Constitucid soaking up the atmosphere and the sun. With several tapas bars, a fine selection of pastry-shops, local ice-cream and freshly squeezed orange juice, there is little temptation to move on.
Soller lies a couple of miles inland from its port, Port de Soller. There is a vintage tram that runs from the town to the port for those who don't have a car. Soller hosts many fairs and festivals throughout the year - ones of note include the Apropa’t A L’Art (art weekend) and the Moros y Cristianos Fira & Firo in May.
A final word of advice: if you are planning a day trip, come here by train from Palma, rather than car. There is a road tunnel on the Palma road (with a pretty steep toll, €4.70 each way April 2012) through the mountain if you do drive. The alternative is to drive up the Coll de Soller, with its 57 hairpin bends, one of the most twisty drives in Mallorca (although views from the top are pretty good!). It's also very popular with cyclists who are not allowed through the tunnel and who seem to enjoiy the thigh-busting climb! The train journey is a delight, and passes through wonderfully scenic countryside. The train has real character and is an attraction in itself, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
Soller plays host to a great selection of festivals throughout the year. The biggest and best fiesta in the Soller calendar is the Moros y Cristianos Fira & Firo which takes place in the second week of May. It commemorates a battle that took place in 1561 between pirates and the local townspeople. The festivities include dances and concerts, with the battle re-enactment taking place on the beaches on Port de Soller, which really is the piece de resistance! Everyone dresses up as Moors or in traditional Mallorcan costume and there is much celebrating.
June sees two major fiestas - on the 23rd is a celebration of Sant Joan (midsummers eve) with bonfires and dancing, and on 29th is the fiesta of Sant Pere - patron saint of fishermen. An international folk dancing festival takes place every two years in July, and August sees festivities in Biniaraix (15th). The fiesta of Sant Bartomeu takes place during the week of 24th August.
A classical music festival takes place in the Port de Soller during September and October.
Check our events calendar & the local press when you are in town to see what else is going on during your stay.
History of Soller
Soller has been inhabited by humans since Talayotic times (from 5200 BC), and remains from this era include bronze statues (two of which can be seen in the Museu de Mallorca). The location of Soller deep in the Tramuntana mountains meant that the town was isolated from the rest of Mallorca and missed out on much of the Roman occupation.
Pirates and othe sea-faring invaders were always a danger to the inhabitants of Soller, which is why the main town is situated a couple of miles inland from the sea. During the 16th century, Soller suffered repeated attacks from Moorish pirates from Algeria. The pirates were after treasures, and the women & children. One particular battle in 1561 saw a famous victory for the Sollerics when they repelled 1600 pirates in both Soller and at the Port de Soller. This victory is celebrated every year at the Moros y Cristianos Fira & Firo in May, where everyone gets dressed up as Moors or Christians and the battle is re-enacted on the beaches in the Port.
During the 19th century, Soller became a major exporter of olives and citrus fruits. The French Revolution had seen a great deal of French immigration to Soller, and it was these migrants who utilised their links back in France to build trade relations. With trade came wealth and the creation of impressive manor houses and public buildings, giving Soller an air of grandeur rarely seen in other Mallorcan towns.
In 1865, a deathly plague struck the orange groves in the valley. Exports declined, public finances wre ravaged and many people left to seek their fortunes back in France or South America. The fruit farms gradually recovered and received a boost when scientists discovered the benefits of vitamin C to human health, which created great demand for oranges and lemons.
It was not until 1912 when the rail link to Palma was built that Soller finally began to trade with the rest of Majorca. The tram line that links Soller to Port de Soller was built in 1914 to help with the transportation of oranges for export. The most recent improvement to the transportation to the rest of Mallorca was the construction of the Soller Tunnel - a three kilometre road underneath the mountains - in 1997.
Hotels in Soller
Soller, Majorca, has a fantastic range of hotels to suit all budgets, some which are regular winners in TripAdvisor's Travellers Choice Awards. The plushest of them all is the Gran Hotel Soller - a five star luxury hotel in the centre of Soller. With a spa and a critically acclaimed restaurant, it also has a fine collection of art throughout the interior.
The elegant and highly recommended Hotel l'Avenida offers probably the most contemporary boutique hotel experience in Soller. It has Modernist touches throughout, and the bedroom feature super comfy beds and funky bathrooms. Relax by the pool with a cocktail or take a two minute stroll into the centre of Soller.
Ca's Curial is a wonderful finca (old farmhouse) that has been lovingly restored to provide spacious bedrooms decorated in a ructic Mallorcan style. Situated on the outskirts of Soller (but only a five minute walk into town), the hotel offers a swimming pool, gardens and a full dining service. Also on the outskirts of Soller is the pretty Can Quatre. Another converted finca, it offers stylish bedrooms and a friendly welcome.
A relaxed and charming option in the centre of Soller is the Ca'n Roses which offers tasteful rooms, a swimming pool, and Bali-style day beds in the gardens. A more quirky option is Can Coll, which has bright and fresh rooms, a swimming pool and an extensive wine cellar.
A more traditional town hotel is the Hotel Salvia. Set in one of the glorius 19th century manor houses in the heart of Soller, the hotel nevertheless has breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. With six bedrooms & a penthouse suite, a pool and pretty gardens, the Salvia is consistently highly rated on Trip Advisor. For a super-central hotel that overlooks the main square, try the Hotel La Vila - the lower prices reflect the smaller room size.
If you'd like to stay up in the hills asurrounding Soller, you couldn't make a better choice than Ca's Xorc. The incredible setting affords views of both the sea and the mountains. This rural retreat has 12 romantic bedrooms decorated in a tradtional Mallorcan style. The hotel also boasts a highly acclaimed restaurant.
Another out of town alternative is the agrotourisme finca Ca N'Ai, which can be found just off the road from Soller to Port de Soller.
Despite the many excellent places to stay in Soller, the town is somewhat lacking in top restaurants. You may find that eating in some of the hotel restaurants listed above is your best bet, or even nipping down to the Port de Soller where you will find a greater selection of restaurants.
Of course, there are plenty of places on the main square to grab a casual snack, and if you are willing to explore some of the side streets, you can come across some great value eateries. Ca'n BoQueta (Gran Via 43, +34 971 638 398) is a recent addition to the Soller dining scene and has received high praise from customers for it's locally sourced and well executed cuisine. Look out for the excellently priced set lunch menu. The Malaysian restaurant Kopitiam also gets great reviews for its tasty dishes and friendly service.
One of the most famous restaurants in Mallorca is Bens d'Avall, which is about seven kilometres outside Soller. It has a most striking position on a cliff overlooking the sea in a very isolated spot, so you'll need a car or take a taxi. Book in advance.
Soller grew rich on oranges and the results can be seen in its extravagant modernist architecture. The impressive church of Sant Bartomeu dominates the town square and was first built in the 13th century. A baroque structure was added in the late 17th century and the modernist facade was created in 1904 by the architect Joan Rubid (an ex pupil of Gaudi). The church also has a 1912 arched tower suspended above the rose window, with spires like huge needles pointing into the air. The same architect designed the equally impressive Banco Central Hispano next door.
The old town is typically Mediterranean, with narrow winding alley ways. Don't expect to find many bijou boutiques on these streets, it's all rather residential. The main square (Placa Espana) has plenty of cafes (try to get a fresh orange juice), and the area comes alive on Saturdays when the local market takes place.
A stroll to the cemetery above the station, flanked by cypress trees and filled with potted plants, gives a clue to Soller's history. Several of the epitaphs are in French, revealing the significant French community of the town, descendants of those who came to make their fortune by exporting oranges.
Notable buildings in Soller include La Posada de Ca´n Prohom (18th century civil baroque residence), La Casa de la Luna (15th century building) and La Posada de Montcaire (18th century Neoclassical residential palace). A walk along Cristofol Colom will reveal the modernist house Ca'n Nou, and many of the most lavish manor houses - built with 'orange money' - are situated on the Gran Via avenue. The road Calle Isabel II also has a selection of Modernist and traditional Mallorcan town houses.
Soller has three museums worth visiting. The Natural Science Museum, in a turn-of-the-century manor house is found on the road to Palma. The museum promotes mallorca's botony, geology and zoology, and has a collection of fossils. The botanical garden forms part of the museum and is highly recommended. It contains a wonderful selection of flora from the Balearic and Canary Islands.
The Museu del Casal de Cultura is an 18th-century manor house in the town centre, filled with antiques and relics of old Soller.
One of the most exciting places to visit is the art gallery, Can Prunera. It is newly opened, and features a permanent Modernist art collection with works by national and international artists such as Picasso, Miró, Matisse, Basquiat, Rusiñol, Magritte, Leger and Chillida. The building in which the collection is houses is itself an architectural gem (built 1909-11) - the modernist facade, beautiful stairwell, murals and glassware are stunning.
Many people come to Soller to enjoy "The Great Outdoors". The surrounding countryside is so beautiful, it's almost a crime not to be outside to enjoy it! Hiking is a major draw for visitors who are spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking trails. You can choose from coastal walks to heading deep into the Tramuntana mountain range.
The trails are well maintained and sign-posted. The famous 'dry stone wall' trail runs from Andratx in the south to Pollenca in the north of Mallorca, and is over 50km in length. Mountain refuges dot the trail so hikers have place places to stay en-route. Alternatively, use a local hiking guide such as Mallorca Hiking or Tramuntana Tours who can arrange all sorts of ways to discover the area.
Both road cycling and mountain biking are extremely popular ways of exploring the mountains around Soller. A guide for mountain biking is particularly recommended as much of the land in the area is privately owned. The roads from Soller up into the Tramuntana range provide great challenges for the road cycling enthusiast, with plenty of bends, ascents & descents. you can hire bikes and get information on cycling routes from Tramuntana Tours.
Tennis is a popular activity in Soller and there are public tennis courts at the Paddle & Tennis Club in the Argeles area of Soller (no website!). Shopping is not a major deal in Soller - there are a few gift shops and some lovely delicatessens.
Of course, being so close to the coast there are a heap of nautical activities to enjoy too. Boat trips up and down the coast start in Port de Soller and are a wonderful way to view the coastline with it's majestic and dramatic scenery. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can charter a boat with or without a captain. It is also possible to SCUBA dive in the waters up and down the coast.
Port de Soller also has a couple of beaches if you prefer to take it easy, and the promenade is lined with cafes for refreshments. The beaches are quite small and narrow and do tend to be busy during the summer months. The sand is a little bit gravelly, but the sea is calm and shallow and fun to play in. Sun loungers and canoes are available for hire.
Soller has a number of satellite villages which are worth having a look at. Fornalutx has been voted the prettiest village in Spain and lies a couple of kilometres up the valley from Soller. En-route, you also have the chance to pass through Biniaraix, a tiny and sleepy hamlet.