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Tren de Sóller

27 November 2015

Spain is perhaps not as well-known as other European countries for its railways, though it does have some real gems. One of them has been running continuously since 1912, without fail. It's known as the 'Orange Express', because the line was initially funded by the local orange and lemon trade, and was important as a means to connect the orange grove rich landscape of Sollér with Palma.

This narrow gauge 914mm line carries striking all-wood carriages from Palma to Sóller, on a route that spans 27.3km. The journey enjoys huge contrasts as the carriages leave the quaint yet busy streets of Palma and head north for Sóller. The ever-changing scenery furnishes the route with olive groves and a mountainous backdrop. The train alights at Bunyola, a municipality that is located in the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.

As the train leaves Bunyola and reaches the Sierra de Alfabia mountains it begins its passage through a number of tunnels, the longest at nearly 3km long - Túnel Major took three years to carve. The special 12.15pm service, known as the panoramic train stops for incredible views of the whole Sóller Valley. The viewing point, Mirador Pujol d'en Banya lies between the tunnel and the Cinc-ponts viaduct. After stopping at the viewing area the train continues on to Sóller's attractive train station.

Although originally used as a means to expand trade from this citrus-rich region, the train now carries almost exclusively tourists, who wish to enjoy the scenery of a train that connects towns and villages along its route. Making it an excellent choice if you fancy visiting some more traditional, and off the beaten track urban centres. An interesting fact about this region's citrus trade, is that, after the discovery of Vitamin C at the end of the 19th century, its health benefits became widely sought after. Therefore, the oranges and lemons of Sóller became increasingly valuable.