The municipal town of Fornalutx sits deep in the heart of the Sierra Tramuntana mountain range, approximately 40km or 25 miles, north-west of the capital Palma, and the Son Sant Joan International Airport.
Fornalutx, in the hills above Soller, calls itself the prettiest village in Spain and it is hard to disagree, unless you accept the claims of its neighbour Biniaraix.
It is a quiet little place at the top of the Soller valley and has wonderful mountain views. A number of walking trails are easily accessible from Fornalutx, making it a top spot for hikers and bikers.
There’s little local shop but for more substantial shopping, you’ll need to pop down the road to Soller, two kilometres away. It’s an easy walk down along charming lanes and through pretty citrus groves.
There are a number of terrace restaurants and bars where you can sit back and soak in the views of olive and orange groves climbing ever higher until they reach the pine-clad foothills of Puig Major.
Sights & Attractions in Fornalutx
Head to Soller for some cultural immersion, Fornalutx is more about enjoying Mother Nature!
Things to Do in Fornalutx
Fornalutx is popular with hikers thanks to the variety of well sign posted hikes in the area. The stunning countryside consists of mountains, citrus and olive groves, coastal views and pretty villages – surely a heaven for walkers! Cyclists also use Fornalutx as a base, there is plenty of challenging road cycling and there is possibility of mountain biking too (guide recommended). Horse riding and tennis are also catered for.
The video below is mostly about Sollér but there are several scenes are from Fornalutx.
Because of its appearance and enviable state of conservation, over the years Fornalutx has received several different prizes and awards. In 1983 it was awarded a Silver Plaque for the defence and maintenance of the village, by the Majorcan Tourist Board. The same year the Spanish General Secretary for Tourism awarded Fornalutx another prestigious prize for being one of the best preserved villages in the whole of Spain.
The history of Fornalutx starts over 1,000 years ago, when it was an Arab property – probably a farmstead. After the Catalan conquest of the island in the 13th Century, the population of the area started to grow and a church, which is still standing today, was completed in 1639. Fornalutx was part of the municipality of Soller until 1837, when it gained its independence.
The charm of Fornalutx lies in just how untouched and untainted it is by the modern world – the contrast with Palma and some of the other more developed areas of the island could not be greater. The stone streets and steps of the old centre are just wonderful, carefully adorned as they are with many pots and plants; the doorways of many of the ancient stone houses are left wide open by the locals – although, today, many of them are now second homes or holiday residences.
As you stroll around, be careful to take a look at the eves of the houses where you can see the famous painted tiles, known as ”Arab tiles”, which date from the period between the 14th and 19th Centuries. These little works of art are drawings in red on the white background of the roof tiles, which sit under the projecting roofs which extend out over the small houses. The drawings portray a jumble of different things – from plants and animals to people and religious imagery. However, the tiles are not simply decorative – they have symbolic meaning and are said to protect the occupants of the house from bad luck.
One of the most notable buildings in the village is the Town Hall, or ”Casa de la Vila”, which includes a defence tower dating from the 17th Century. The aforementioned Parish Church is also another of the village’s outstanding buildings and really should be seen. It has undergone many renovations since its original construction in the Gothic style, and is now perhaps more Baroque in appearance, with a single nave covered by a half-barrel-vault ceiling and lateral chapels.
The entire village is simply a delight, the streets are so winding and narrow that cars are seldom seen and all the houses are fine examples of traditional Majorcan mountain architecture.
As you walk around take a look up the mountains to see the lush vegetation on the mountain terraces and the orchards where the famous oranges are grown, reflecting the agricultural heritage of the area, which dominated the economy up until the latter half of the last Century.
Webcam Puerto Soller – click on the photo for live webcam!
A few kilometers down the road from Fornalutx you find Puerto Soller.
Port of Soller is a wonderful little village situated in one of Mallorca’s most beautiful horseshoe harbours on the west coast. Surrounded by the Tramuntana mountains, this town has the best of both worlds – magnificent mountain scenery and a sea view to boot.
It has not been over-developed in the past and this fact is being taken advantage of now by attempts to turn it into a sophisticated holiday destination. Add to this the proximity of the charming inland town of Soller (5 km away and accessible by vintage tram), and you have the almost perfect place for a vacation.
The bay is lined by a sandy beach with a pedestrianized promenade behind, where you will find cafes, restaurants and shops. Port de Soller still has an air of tradition about it, but there are now several more contemporary places to hang out and sip decent cocktails.
History & Culture in Port de Soller
As is the case throughout Mallorca, Port de Soller was originally just a place to moor fishing boats, with the main town of Soller being located a few miles inland to protect residents from sea-faring invaders. The Port started to grow in it’s own right in the 19th century when the export of citrus fruits grown in the area became big business.
Port de Soller missed out on the mass tourism developments of the mid 20th century because of its inaccessibility, being hemmed in by mountains. This changed in 1997 when the Soller tunnel was built which allowed a more direct route for visitors to reach this remote spot. Since then, the town has gone from strength to strength in terms of tourism, with a number of good boutique hotels and quality places to eat opening up.
Beaches in Port de Soller
Port de Soller has the only beach of any note along the entire north west coast – there are actually two – Es Traves is the longest but Playa d’en Repic is the nicest. Both beaches are fairly narrow (at around 10 metres) but the sea is calm and shallow. The original sand was quite muddy but it has been supplemented by gravelly sand from the surrounding area to make it more user-friendly. You can hire sun loungers and canoes on the beach.
Events in Port de Soller
Port de Soller has many events throughout the year. The main one is the Fira & Firo in the second week of May, which features the crazy mock battle between invading pirates and the good folk of Soller. Sant Joan on June 23rd and Sant Pere on June 29th are both big festivals. The Lady of Carmen festival on August 15th features a procession of boats in the bay.
There is no market in Port de Soller, so head up to the main town of Soller on a Saturday morning to experience one of Mallorca’s best markets.
Restaurants in Port de Soller
A popular restaurant on the promenade behind Repic Beach you’ll find Restaurante Es Passeig which serves creative and modern Mediterranean dishes. Agapanto is almost an institution in the Port de Soller. Lying at the end of Repic Beach, it serves refined local cuisine in pretty surroundings with great views of the port. Further out of the Port towards the southern lighthouse is Es Faro (Cap Gros de Moleta, +34 971 631 406). The views back to the bay are unsurpassed – try the local (enormous) prawns if your wallet can stretch that far.
Randemar, in the middle of the promenade, offers more of a chill-out cool vibe, with a bright & contemporary interior, and an Ibiza-esque cocktail terrace and bar. The food ranges from tapas to pizza and grilled local meats – vegetarians are also catered for.
Further along the promenade behind the harbour is the well-liked Kingfisher Restaurant. It calls it’s food ’honest cuisine’ and that’s always a sentiment that we like!
Nautilus is more of a bar/ bistro than a restaurant, but its situation high on the cliffs above the port affords wonderful sunset views. Come for a cocktail on the terrace and watch the sun go down.
The promenade is lined with plenty of other family-friendly restaurants, and all serve up reasonable Mallorcan cuisine, pizza & pastas. One of the best rated restaurants is Sa Barca, a typical Mallorcan restaurant in the centre of the promenade.
Things to Do in Port de Soller
Behind the beach lies a promenade and the tram line. The promenade is lined with cafes and are popular throughout the day to take refreshments and admire the views. The tram takes you along the beach front and then back up to Soller and is a tourist attraction in itself as well as being a handy mode of transport. Vintage cars from the turn of the 20th century are still in use. Our webcam of the Port de Soller sometimes catches the tram as it tootles by!
Shopping is fairly limited to touristy gift shops and convenience stores. The Port does not have a weekly market, but there is a great market every Saturday up in Soller (take the tram!). The Soller Marine Museum (Oratory of Santa Caterina d’Alexandria) relates information about the role of fishing and the sea to visitors.
The harbour lies in the northern part of the bay and is busy with every type of boat, from fishing vesels to luxury yachts and pleasure cruisers. Port de Soller is the starting point for several boat trips along the coast; the trip to the beauty spot of Sa Calobra is one of the few to run throughout the year. Sailing up or down the coast affords marvellous views of the Tramuntana mountain range and are highly recommended. There are many hidden coves along the coast line, great for snorkelling or diving, or for a spot of private sunbathing. Charter a yacht to get the most out of exploring the coast. Octopus Diving can help you out with diving equipment and excursions. You can also read about our day sailing on a boat from Port de Soller, and also an experience of yacht charter from Port de Soller.
Have a look at our experiences of sailing and beachy activities in our Sea & Beach Reviews.
Port de Soller is also a good base for walks and hiking. A climb of less than an hour brings you to Cap Gros lighthouse for panoramic views of the bay and the mountains behind; a longer path, through rock gardens and olive groves, connects with an old mule track from Deia to Soller. Walks further afield into the Tramuntana mountains are plentiful – to get the most of the area, hire a guide or join an organised hike. Try local companies Mallorca Hiking or Tramuntana Tours.
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 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, €4.95 each way April 2016) 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!
History & Culture in 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.
Events in Soller
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.
Restaurants in 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 are 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.
If you are cycling or driving, and take the road over the coll instead of the Palma-Soller tunnel, you will come across a highly rated restaurant D’alt des Coll. Dine on the fabulous panoramic terrace for amazing views down to Palma.
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.
Sights & Attractions in Soller
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 botany, 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.
Things to do in Soller
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 Tramuntana Tours or Mallorca Hiking 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.
Source: http://www.seemallorca.com. Mer information om Jägarexamen