Sóller, Mallorca, Spain

Even on an island as small as Mallorca, there are locations tourists overlook. It would be a push to call Sóller undiscovered, but it remains sufficiently off the beaten path, and sufficiently impressive a destination to bother you with.

Sóller’s situation on the mountainous north side of the island makes it an excellent base for nearby activities, hiking, mountaineering, cycling or more low-key escapism. The town itself is very small but has an annexed mini-resort/port on the coast which is a short tram ride or a half an hour walk depending on your preference.

What’s the fuss about?  Palma is a fine city worth a day or two at least of your time. Sóller deserves an equal amount of attention for equal and yet opposite reasons. In the summer season a heritage narrow gauge railway takes you from the island’s capital through the mountain passes into Sóller itself. These are no tiddly mountains either, but the full monté (you see what I did there?). Neck-stretching, perspective-altering. The town is based in the valley, meaning even right in the centre itself the mountains dominate your eyeline, making the place feel detached from the rest of Majorca, a secret hideaway. Due to the perpetually warm climate, you can visit in January and the fields and the trees surrounding the town will still be blooming with flowers, filled with groves of oranges and lemons.

The town itself is a typical pre-motor car Catholic village design with narrow streets and paths barely able to accommodate people in single file, with a market square and ever-dominant church in the centre. The tram to Port de Sóller runs right through to the centre meaning every hour or so you get to spectate on the leisurely, bordering on inert tram service squeaking and rattling to the terminal behind the church.

The surroundings hold plenty of interest, with botanical gardens on the outskirts of town, walks up to characterful hilltop villages such as Fornalutx and Biniaraix within easy reach, or in Summer season you can take the bus out to the peaks and reservoirs and involve yourself in some serious hiking. There are nearby monasteries and famous historical small towns to visit. Port de Sóller is a nice enough village based around a lightbulb shaped bay, a natural harbour again with a picturesque mountainous backdrop. The water is extremely calm by the time it meets the shoreline, lapping against the beach. Warmth, relaxation and calm.

Bet it’s quiet at night… Yes, out of season Sóller is a small town and quite inactive. However, there were two destinations that were busy in the centre, a bar in the central square popular with the young crowd and a smart tapas/pintxos place called Ca’n Pintxo combining exquisite mini-bites with wine and local craft beer Sullerica, made with olives. Their IPA was really something, and my friend enjoyed the wit ale too, though I not so much. Perfectly possible to have an enjoyable evening even in January. No going to bed at 8am around here. Some of the staff may give you that ‘I want to go home’ look, mind!

How to get there? Fairly straightforward actually. From Palma de Mallorca’s main train terminal. There are also regular buses.