The walk from Soller to Fornalutx is more like a longer stroll than an actual hike but it is a great way to experience the valley and villages along its path, the stunning scenery and the majestic Tramuntana Mountains.
We usually start our walk (it is something of an annual ritual to limber up for harder hikes) at the Placa de sa Constitucio in Soller. Jerome would always love to stop immediately for an ice cream at C’an Pau at the entrance of Calle de sa Lluna, which is by far the best place to have an ice cream anywhere that we know. We always also tell him he has to wait until we get back on the way home after some exercise, you would think after so many times he would have got the hint by now! We stroll along Calle Lluna, the shopping high street of Soller. The street is still lined with little shops, the perfect place to shop if you forgot to pack your swimsuit, need a dress for dinner or want to get some authentic Mallorcan souvenirs like espadrilles, woven baskets or olive oil and local orange marmalade. The local butcher, bakery and fruit and vegetable shops have also survived unlike in some other places on the island.
Even if you are just in Soller for a short visit you should take a stroll along Lluna, but bear in mind that most shops will be closed during siesta, from about 13:00 to around 16:30. Keep an eye out for the moon (luna) on one of the houses (tip it is on no. 50) and the old yellow post box at one of the Tabacos. This year we ignored most of the shops, my mum and I had already made plans to come and have a look on the following Saturday, when the town has a weekly market on the square and adjoining streets.
Once the shops ended we were mostly on our own, most tourists do not venture past this point. The street is still as narrow past the shops, in fact most roads in the centre of Soller are barely wide enough for two cars to pass. The beautiful stone houses with their signature green wooden shutters line both sides of the street out of town. Most of these houses are over 100 years old, and if you are lucky you might be able to get a peek into the inside. What most people do not realise is that the houses of Soller are built around gardens and each has its share of the plot or they contain little courtyards and roof terraces.
If you want to get an insight into one the houses in Soller you should visit C’an Prunera which you will pass on your way to Fornalutx if you follow this walk. Inside it is a stunning modernist villa, dating back to 1911 and houses a collection of art works by local artists including Miro and Picasso who both spent some time in Soller. The tiles and décor have been restored to their full splendour and I can recommend taking time to visit there.
Continuing our stroll, the constant row of town houses stops after a while and we found our selves on the outskirts of Soller. The sign indicating the village start is hidden amongst a large cactus next to one of the streams filled with water that comes rushing down the mountains after any rains. Still heading straight on we now passed gardens filled with seas of flowers, jasmine, bougainvillea and many other colourful blossoms.
The orange groves were also in fill bloom and the fragrant, sweet scent surrounded us. The orange blossoms are quite small in size and they look incredible next to the deep green leaves and ripe oranges. There are many orange groves in Soller, together with the olives grown on the higher slopes, they used to be the main income for the locals who would export the ripe fruits, over the sea to France from the port, as the valley was shut of to the rest of the island by the high mountains. To some ears the local dialect has many French links and sounds as a result. Mixed into the orange trees are some lemon trees as well, these flower all year long and always have new fruits among the braches.
At the start of Cami de Biniaraix we crossed a bridge over the mostly dry mountain stream instead of heading further straight on along Carrer d’Ozones and continued along the road past some houses and more orchards.
The road starts to incline slightly and once we entered the little village of Biniaraix, here, instead of walking along the road we turned left up some steps and through the little, cobbled alley towards the village centre. Jerome used the water fountain at the corner to refresh himself while we strolled on, past pretty flowerpots outside the houses and the two cafes at the tiny plaza. Further up the road we made right at the old public washhouse to the entry of the Barranc de Biniaraix, the start of one of the major hiking routes into the Tramuntana Mountains. There we stopped a little way up the track and sat down on the wall to have a snack from our backpack and a cool drink. The view over the valley towards Soller and up to the mountains from this spot is incredible.
Jerome seemed keen to move on quickly and we returned to the main road, but instead of walking back into Biniaraix we headed right just beyond the washhouse towards Fornalutx joining the road from the village centre that bares left after leaving the plaza. Strolling on again we passed many orange groves before we ending up at the road that connects Soller and Fornalutx. Unfortunately this is one of the less nice parts of the walk as the only way is to follow the road for a while and we had to step aside to let cars pass quite frequently. Shortly, we crossed another bridge, this time there was water running down the riverbed and lots of slimy green algea had formed under the sun’s rays. At an orange grove with a little chicken hut within we took the footpath up the hill into the village of Fornalutx.
If you do follow the walk keep an eye out for the intricately painted roof tiles, there are few houses that feature them on this stretch. The last part winds through tight alleys, too narrow for cars to drive along, until it eventually ends up at the town’s Placa Espanya.
We chose a table underneath a parasol in the Café Sa Placa at the far end, below the village church and next to a mini market. There we enjoyed a cup of café con leche, fresh orange juice and a slice of almond cake. If your hunger needs something more substantial and savoury try the Pa Amb Oli. Many people say Fornalutx is the prettiest village in Spain, and while it certainly has its charm with views and is worth a wander through the alleys, for us Lluc Alcari further long the coast hold’s this precious title.
For the way back to Soller we choose a different route out of the village on our now traditional walk, it runs along the hillside via the tiny village of Binibassi. Leaving the village towards the west, along Cami de Binibassi, we pass the local football pitch and playground. The road turns into a narrow hiking path once it has passed the pretty cemetery on the left. I always have a peek into the cemetery. I find the Mallorcan graves rather fascinating with the glazed, porcelain flowers and the photos of the deceased on the stones. On that day Jerome had run on ahead, looking for the small cave under a wall that we always pass on this walk. When he was younger he used to imagine that Totoro lived in it and we would keep an eye out for the Cat-bus… The path winds itself through olive and orange groves, it crosses a little stream, which was bursting with water when we were there in February, but had dried out since then.
Further on someone had put out two clay Easter bunnies to mark the upcoming Easter weekend. We walked through a wooden gate, which we encounter on many of our walks in the area and always normally close them as they keep the mountain sheep in the pastures. Following the track we slowly descended into Binibassi with views over the valley. Once we have reached the few houses that make up this tiny village Jerome always lets some leaves or small twigs float down the stream that surfaces at this point and runs besides the path before it disappears again into the cistern at the houses. In Binibassi we turn right and follow the path until it meets a tarmac road that leads into the outskirts of Soller.
Along the country road and opposite a small farm with sheep on its pasture, Jerome spotted the cat we had met during our last visit 2 months before. The cat immediately walked up to Jerome and let him stroke it, It had bright blue eyes and looked well cared for. Jerome has a passion for cats and whenever we encounter one he would love to take them home. I call him the cat whisperer as all cats seem to be drawn to him. Eventually I managed to tear him away from the cute animal and we strolled the last few hundred meters before entering the town of Soller again. There our path follows the signs into town and returns to Placa de Constitucio where Jerome traditionally finally gets his ice cream at C’an Pau. We usually sit on the wall of the little square, savouring our gelato, and watch the local children play around the fountain.
Although this walk is perfectly possible without a map and the paths are well sign posted throughout with arrows and signs, I would still advise you to get a walking map and guide with detailed routes and information to all the hiking in and around the Soller valley. It will save confusion at the junctions and make it easier to spot turnings. We use Walking Paradise Soller, which has the most detailed maps available, but there is a selection of similar ones in several languages.
This route is easily walkable with even younger children, it takes between 2-3 hours to walk the round tour of about 7km in total without breaks depending on your pace and ability. There are plenty of opportunities for stops at cafes, but it is always advisable to carry some water and snacks too. The hike does not require proper hiking boots, a pair of stout trainers would suffice.