As the largest of the Balearic Islands, Majorca (also spelled Mallorca) has something to offer everyone. Easily accessible from across Europe, Majorca is a favourite for families, couples and friends of all ages. You might think Majorca best for hanging by the pool or dancing all night, but I am here to tell you that the island also suits tram enthusiasts. That’s right, for a glimpse into Majorca’s past you can get the delightful Tranvía de Sóller, the Spanish heritage tramway.
What is it?
The tram runs from the coast up into the mountainous town of Sóller, sitting 30km north of Palma. It opened on the 4th October 1913, and has run a regular service ever since. It is just one of two first generation wooden tramways surviving in Spain and was the first electric tramline in Majorca. The line is 4868 m long, and trains run from 7am to midnight. That’s good going for a tram over a century old.
As well as carrying passengers the line was originally used to carry fresh food products and coal to the port for export. There are 12 trams now in operation but look out for motor engine 1, 2, or 3 if you want to ride in an original. Dating from 1912, these motors were ordered from Carde & Escoriaza based in Zaragoza, mainland Spain. The open-top trailers on the other hand, were acquired from Palma trams in 1954.
Why should I visit?
The heritage tramway is a popular tourist destination. It’s a great way to view the Majorcan countryside with spectacular scenic views and the benefit of cool air circulating through the trailers. The route is known locally as the ‘Orange Express’ because it meanders through picturesque orange groves to reach the harbour at Puerto de Soller. Children love the experience of travelling in an old-fashioned train, so it’s the perfect day to keep families entertained on holiday.
For those with more interest in the mechanics of the tramway, the line has 17 stations, most of them simple stops without a platform building. A key feature to look out for is the iron bridge over the Torrent Major stream, constructed by the company Maquinista Terrestre y Maritima.
Sounds great, let’s go!
You can pick up the old tram outside the train station in Soller and it takes 25 minutes to complete the journey down to the port. They run approximately every half hour with more in high season and fewer after 8pm. You pay on the tram itself and they only accept cash. It’s more expensive than other transport option at 5 Euros per person each way, but you’re paying for the experience rather than a way to get from A to B. Expect to queue in high season.