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Travel back in time on the Soller vintage train

Visit Soller on a train dating back to 1912

Featured in: | Jose Rains, Mallorca Reporter | Published
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The Soller Vintage Train has been luring tourists for years. The beautiful wooden carriages first travelled from Palma to Sóller, in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, on 16th April 1912. It was no small feat, as the tracks had to cross the Alfàbia mountain range en route to the booming town, famous for its orange groves.

Eager to check out the famous route, I made my way to Plaça Espanya, Palma’s main transport hub, on a spring morning to catch the first train of the day at 10:10. Having been informed that the train to Sóller departs from a separate building to the left of the main train station, I didn’t have any trouble finding where to go. However, for those in doubt, the sign ‘Ferrocarril de Sóller’ above the entrance should make it easy enough to spot.

At the kiosk inside, it's possible to buy tickets for both the Soller train and the tram ride that travels between Soller and Port de Soller. The combi ticket price is 32€ return and useful if you're planning on making a day of it and seeing all there is to see. It's also worth noting that you must let the ticket office know which time you're going to take the return train, so make sure you have your day planned in advance. Walking through the station, I observed the facilities catered well for tourists. The bathrooms here are modern and very clean and there’s a café, so you can pick up any refreshments for the journey too.

Across the track, the train was waiting and tourists were already hopping on board ready for departure. It was only 09:55 but I followed in their footsteps. Sitting down 15 minutes before departure, I thought I was super early but, lo and behold, the carriage was half full when I climbed aboard. The train dates back to 1912 but the beautiful leather and wooden benches were immaculately kept.

Sitting down, I looked back across the track and noticed that the station was very much keeping in line with the vintage theme. A beautiful building and evidently picture worthy as most people had their cameras out taking pictures of the attractive piece of architecture. By 10:10, my carriage was almost full, the windows were open and ready for some fresh Mallorcan countryside air to seep in. Shortly after, the engine started up and we were on the move. Rattle rattle, squeak squeak, toot! Our train was an authentic old train all right… Passing through the back streets of Palma, we all soaked up the surroundings. It felt quite strange running alongside some modern cars on the road.

Within 10 minutes, we had left the high rise buildings behind and started to venture into rural Mallorca. As soon as we moved away from the city, we could already see the Serra de Tramuntana on the horizon ahead. Travelling further inland, the left-hand side of the train enjoyed views of the mountains while the right-hand side received the island's flat rural plains. I was on the right-hand side so soaked up the complete contrast in colours, from the vibrant greens of the trees, bushes and plants to the rusty reds of the soil. The only thing that disrupted our view was the odd barren train station at various points.

Approaching the mountains, we were in for some even more spectacular scenery. For me, a highlight was the quirky rock formations as we reached the foot of the mountains on the left-hand side but it just seemed to get better and better. Shortly after this, we stopped off at the little village of Bunyola where we were greeted by a perfectly pretty little station constructed from the blonde stone famously used to create the mountain villages combined with traditional Mallorcan green shutters. Here, more people managed to board the already busy train, again, cameras at the ready! 

As we travelled onwards, we spotted some local sheep on the right-hand side of the train before reaching the mountains, where a series of tunnels began. After the longest tunnel (which must have been about 7 minutes of darkness) we were greeted with some of the most breathtaking scenery. This point of the journey was arguably the most scenic stretch we had encountered on the trip. We were overlooking a lush green valley flooded with pine trees rolling down below us. Before long, we took our first peek at Soller in the valley below, the train slowed up and we came to a standstill on what looked like a platform. We were informed that we had 5 minutes to get off the train and take some photos of the impressive backdrop behind the platform. This was one of the biggest photo opportunities of the whole trip. 

Back on board, and travelling down into the valley, we caught our first glimpse at the town's celebrated oranges and lemons against the rustic blonde stone of the buildings and the rich green flora and fauna. Soller’s natural beauty was on full display. As we came into the town, just over an hour after we left Palma, we saw a crowd of people gathered on the platform ready to board our train. I swiftly disembarked and walked down the steps towards the tram stop.

Coffee in the main square is an absolute must on a trip to Soller, so take a left on the platform at the refreshment shack and pass the tram stop towards the square. Within the square, the church of Saint Bartholomew stands, a large Gothic-style building which is one of the town’s most prominent pieces of architecture. Although there are plenty more things to see here

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After a coffee, I decided to make my way to Port de Sóller. I stood in the shade at the tram stop along with a huge crowd of people, just a stone’s throw away from the train station. Coming from the square, a handsome tram made its entrance with a toot-toot signalling for pedestrians to clear its path. We climbed on board the various wooden carriages where I stood at the front near the driver so I could see ahead.

We set off through the streets of Soller and it seemed like we were the town's biggest tourist attraction. People sitting in cafés were pulling out their phones to take pictures, whilst others stopped in the streets in awe. Before long, we took to a more discreet route, a trail behind some back gardens where we could enjoy a whole host of colourful flowers as well as orange and lemon trees. 15 minutes passed and we approached the port. On the left-hand side, the twinkling blue sea with some stunning yachts anchored out in the water and, on the right, we could catch a preview of the mish-mash of hotels and restaurants that lined the promenade. We travelled right to the other side of the bay, giving us the perfect snapshot of what we could go and take a look at when we disembarked the tram.

Port de Soller is a pretty traditional fishing port which hosts a selection of good seafood restaurants and some lovely little boutique and souvenir shops. Here, I would recommend trying some ice cream made from the local oranges and lemons available at one of the many ice cream shops. If you want to make the most of the Mediterranean sunshine, there’s also a lovely beach with sun loungers and watersport activities like pedaloes, paddle boarding and kayaking available.

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It was easy enough to navigate myself back to the tram stop and train station. There are just a few trains per day travelling to and from Soller but the tram service is more regular giving you more flexibility with timing. It’s possible to start this day trip in Palma or Port de Soller and is a great day visit a different part of the island whilst exploring some of Mallorca’s most beautiful scenery.

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