Chug your way back in time on a scenic train tour through dramatic mountains, picturesque villages and flowering orange and lemon groves.
Majorca (Mallorca in Spanish and Catalan) has multiple charms and one is the spectacular 27-km tourist-train trip from Palma to Sóller. A famous attraction, the little old train with its wooden carriages has been rattling and rumbling its way through the awe-inspiring Tramuntana mountains and past small country stations with names such as Son Sardina, Son Reus, Caubet and Bunyola since 1912. The land and mountainscape are exquisite – in spring brought alive by the vibrant colour and intoxicating perfume of orange blossoms.
The northwestern side of Majorca is gorgeous, and vertiginously striking. Driving on the narrow mountain roads with their hairpin bends can be a hair-raising experience; the option of letting the Sóller train take the strain to negotiate the sometimes terrifying terrain has never seemed more attractive. The vintage carriages on the old narrow-gauge line – the only one of this kind in the world – are enchanting with their mahogany panels and brass handles, and enhance the feeling of going back in time.
Sóller itself is an attractive old town. Below the main town lies Puerto de Sóller, linked since 1913 to the town above by a tram – another vintage attraction for visitors today as in it they trundle 5 km down through luxuriant orange, lemon and almond groves.
Having wandered around the port, you can extend your day out by taking a bus from the jetty to visit the picturesque village of Deià, where the poet Robert Graves is buried, or Valldemossa where Frederick Chopin and his lover, the novelist George Sand, wintered in 1838-39, staying in abandoned monks’ cells in Sa Cartuja, a beautiful old Carthusian monastery. A train enthusiast’s delight, the Sóller railway is also a wonderful excuse to travel for travel’s sake – and perhaps never more so than in spring when the orange trees blossom.