The Tramuntana Lifestyle
From Sóller, head out into Mallorca’s magnificent mountain region for vibrant history, food and sport.
by Cathy Hawker
In the central square of Sóller, lined with tall townhouses and shaded by plane trees, a sleepy Saturday is sparking into life. Saturday is market day, a day to be out and about, making new friends over a morning café con leche before marvelling at the fresh seafood and perfectly placed pyramids of olives. Customers pile plump tomatoes and spicy sobrasada into their bags, carrying them home for a laid-back weekend lunch. Welcome to authentic Mallorca: rustic, timeless and endlessly inviting.
Sóller in northwest Mallorca, along with Port Sóller 3 kms away, is one of the island’s best-loved towns. It sits in a secluded valley of the Serra de Tramuntana, the UNESCO World Heritage mountain range that runs across the north of the island towards the southwest, taking in charming small villages, ancient watchtowers, nature reserves and forests. Cyclists challenge themselves on the narrow roads, navigating hairpin bends, while hikers catch wonderful panoramic views along the drystone paths on this wild and rural setting.
The magnificent Serra de Tramuntana were an effective natural barrier to the north of the island for centuries and the farmers who grew oranges, figs and olives in the mountains’ rich soil traded more easily with France than with the south of Mallorca. In 1912, a tunnel was carved through, allowing a narrow gauge railway to connect Sóller and Palma in the south – a connection that remains today – but it wasn’t until the end of the 20 th Century that a road tunnel was built, putting Sóller and the natural unspoilt beauty of the north within 40 minutes of the capital.
The fields of oranges that first bought wealth to Sóller and their glorious scent are still in place, joining olive groves and vineyards carefully terraced up the mountain slopes. And while the area remains delightfully off-radar and rustic, it has steadily grown in popularity with an international fanbase of families from the UK and across Europe.
They come for the warm welcome and the multicultural community. Excellent local schools in Sóller and nearby Fornalutx are adept at integrating new arrivals whatever their first language while Sóller Tennis Club, with its red clay tennis courts, four paddle courts and 25 metre swimming pool is a vibrant hub for English and Spanish speaking children and adults. Pull up a chair at the restaurant, soak up the mountain views and you are guaranteed to meet new friends. Sóller is a true year-round town with a vibrant community who love the active, outdoor life.
What makes a perfect Serra de Tramuntana day? In Sóller itself there are pottery workshops, yoga classes and hiking routes. Popular day trips include a visit to pretty-as-a-picture Deía, a protected mountain village with an artistic heritage and a celebrity roll-call of residents or to Biniaraix or Valldemossa where stone houses with traditional green shutters add to the atmospheric charm.
A beach day is always a good idea on Mallorca and for a winning ‘feet in the sand” lunch, Patiki Beach in Port Sóller is a place to bookmark. Under the skilful eye of chef Grace Berrow, the farm to table menu and enticing cocktail list has set the pace since opening in 2019. Patiki is a chiringuito with added Spanish swagger, somewhere to kick back on the beach or watch the sunset ignite the Tramuntana peaks over a jug of sangria, dipping into taste-packed dishes of home-grown produce. Toasted almonds, roasted peppers, marinated sardines and soft goat’s cheese all feature on the highly seasonal menu.
Finish the day back in Sóller’s central square, where the elegant façade of Baroque Sant Bartomeu, designed by a pupil of Gaudí, is one example of the town’s many Modernist buildings. A Parisian architectural influence remains too in the town’s magnificent townhouses, a reminder of the vibrant 19 th Century citrus trade. Sóller has always been a little off the beaten path, its fame spread by word of mouth and it remains a magnificent hybrid of old and new, both cosmopolitan and authentically Spanish, local and warmly welcoming.
¡Que tengan un buen día en Sóller!