Porto Cristo; the charming port of Manacor
Weather in Porto Cristo
Porto Cristo, also called Puerto de Manacor, is a coastal town in eastern Mallorca whose first constructions date back to the second half of the 13th century. For centuries it remained as a small fishing port taking advantage of the protection provided by the natural port. The current town was built in 1888, from those times the old town with narrow streets remains. From the 50s it began to develop as a tourist destination, driven by the growing commercial exploitation of the nearby Caves of Drach, explored at the end of the 19th century.
It is currently a first-rate tourist destination, ideal for families but where all kinds of visitors can see their expectations of rest or fun satisfied
In addition to the Caves of Drach and of Hams, it has a magnificent beach and a varied gastronomic offer. Hotels range from modest hostels to luxurious five-star hotels. Its location in the center of the Levantine coast of Mallorca makes it a good point from which to discover everything that this part of the island has to offer.
How to get to Porto Cristo
Porto Cristo is located just 12 km from the town of Manacor, and 65 from Palma, the capital.
How to get to Porto Cristo by car
The entire route to Manacor and Porto Cristo is perfectly signposted.
- From Palma we will take the Ma-15 to Manacor, and from there we will follow the indications to Porto Cristo
- If we are further north, in the Artá area, we can take the Ma-4023, which passes through Son Servera and borders Cala Millor
- From the south, we can head towards Portocolom and then take the Ma-4014, which will take us directly to Porto Cristo
How to get to Porto Cristo by public transport
If we opt for public transport 500 m from the beach is the bus station.
- Line 401 will allow us to get there from Palma
- In Manacor there are connections with other parts of the island
How to get to Porto Cristo by boat
As we have mentioned, Porto Cristo has a magnificent marina, but it is also possible to anchor in front of the beach. The sandy bottom is between 4 and 5 m, and the best place to anchor is parallel to the cliffs on the left side of the beach.
5 Essential visits in Porto Cristo
Whether we are staying in Porto Cristo or just passing through there are a number of places that we should not miss
Caves of Drach
The main tourist attraction in the vicinity of Porto Cristo are the world-famous Caves of Drach
Although known since ancient times, they were explored and mapped in the late 19th century. Tourist visits began to take place in the 20s and 30s, when electric lighting was installed and they were prepared for visits. After the stoppage of the civil war and the postwar period in the 1950s, the activity was resumed. The visitable area are four interconnected caves that descend 25 m into the depths of the earth and extend for 2.4 km. They contain one of the largest underground lakes in the world, Lake Martel. As part of the visit, a small concert of classical music is offered every hour during which the musicians play their instruments in boats that cross the lake.
Caves of Hams
These caves are named after the peculiar rock formations in the shape of a hook (in catalan, hams)
They were discovered in 1905 and opened to the public in 1910. They are the first caves in Spain open to the general public, and already then they had an advanced electrical installation.
Although smaller and somewhat less spectacular than Caves of Drach, they have a complement of multimedia projections in some of their galleries. In its underground lake, the Sea of Venice, a classical music concert is also offered for its visitors.
Torre dels Falcons
This watchtower originally dates back to the late 13th or early 14th century. It was built in 1577 to control the coast and warn of the incursions of Berber pirates
In 1769 it was armed, becoming then a defense tower that protected the access to the cove of Porto Cristo and its port. Abandoned at the end of the 19th century, it suffered severe damage during the civil war. It was rebuilt by its owners in 1960.
From this tower, whose full name is Torre del Serral dels Falcons, although some call it Torre de Cala Manacor, you can enjoy magnificent views of this part of the Mallorcan coastline.
Basilica of Sa Carrotja
At the end of the 5th century, this early Christian basilica was built on these lands, one of the few of which any remains have been preserved in Mallorca
It consisted of three rooms and was 23 m long and 10 m wide. In its surroundings, remains of tombs were found, some of them with mosaics. It was discovered in 1908, but with the growth of the urban nucleus it was destroyed and is currently under buildings and streets. During public works at the end of the 90s, part of the site was excavated and the baptismal font was restored, which is visible through a safety glass.
These caves are located on the beach of Porto Cristo itself, at the end of the walk that runs through it
Inhabited in prehistoric times, in modern times (early nineteenth century) they were used as a refuge for fishermen. In the middle of that century some of them were enabled as dwellings and were inhabited until 1888. These are small caves and their name comes from the characteristic whitish color of the rock in which they are excavated.
5 good restaurants
Porto Cristo has become in recent years a reference tourist destination in Mallorca
As part of this development, it has a gastronomic offer of the most varied, both in type of cuisine and in price. Thus, we can find from cafes and family restaurants with tourist menus to restaurants with international chefs.
The restaurant run by Roland Schulte belongs to that category of international restaurant with local ingredients
Based on fresh seasonal products, he prepares creative and delicious dishes that fuse cuisines from all over the world. The place is elegant as well as cozy. It is open even in low season.
This seasonal restaurant specializes in tapas made with fresh ingredients and offering a surprising mix of flavors
It has dishes of very varied prices in order to reach all budgets. It is a very cozy little place, with excellent service, but it does not accept reservations. We can have a drink at the bar while we wait for a table to be left free.
Quince Restaurante & Cantina
As its name suggests, here we can both enjoy a delicious meal and have a drink while we delight in the views from its terrace
The food includes dishes from different international cuisines: Mediterranean, European, Asian and American. Always with local ingredients and with vegetarian and vegan options. It is a traditional and cozy place with a friendly and attentive service. The prices are affordable, especially considering the quality of the ingredients and their preparation.
This restaurant runs away from luxuries: rustic chairs and tables and paper tablecloths. The secret of your success is the quality of your product
Fish and seafood of the day, made with simplicity but taking full advantage of its quality and freshness. As it is not on the first line, it is usually a place more frequented by local residents than by tourists. Still, it is convenient to make a reservation. Reasonable prices in keeping with quality and attentive and friendly service round out the experience.
One-course menu restaurant, with four options, plus dessert and drink for only 8€. What more could you want?
Homemade food, own homemade desserts, and friendly and efficient treatment. Undoubtedly one of the best options for visitors who are not looking for sophistication but only good food. It also has a menu, it accepts reservations, and outside of lunch hours we can come for breakfast, have a coffee or a soft drink.
Porto Cristo is a town of respectable size and has shops of all kinds: food, furniture, appliances …
Whether we are passing through or if we are going to stay here we will have no problems finding practically anything that we need. But it also has some shops that are special for some reason, and those are more that visitors will be looking for. This is just a small selection.
This bakery and food store specializes in local products and also made without gluten
It offers take away food and they also have a home cook service.
Near the beach and the marina we will find this souvenir shop where we can find a great selection of typical Majorcan products
The traditional siurells; Lafiore blown glass pieces; pearls from Majorica, the traditional jewelry factory located in Manacor; And a long etcetera. Here we can find gifts or souvenirs for all tastes and budgets, attended with the utmost kindness.
3 Marias Café and shop
Near the previous one we find this fusion of cafeteria and craft store
Here we can taste an excellent coffee and homemade desserts in its cozy lounge or in a charming patio. But we can also buy ceramic products, jewelry pieces or different decorative objects. All this attended with the utmost kindness by its owners.
Forn de Can Monserrat
This traditional oven is the ideal place to buy the typical Mallorcan ensaimadas, but also other specialties, both sweet and savory
Here we can buy different types of Majorcan cocas and also products such as empanadas, cocarrois, rubiols, etc. Excellent quality of the products and friendly treatment are the characteristics of this bakery.
Real pearls are a luxury object comparable to any precious stone, but in 1890 the German engineer Eduard Friedrich Hugo Heusch patented a method of producing pearls artificially made but with organic materials. After a stay in Paris, finally in 1902 he established his factory in Manacor, giving rise to Perlas Majorica
Since then Mallorcan pearls have enjoyed a great reputation worldwide, being practically indistinguishable from natural ones, but with greater durability. Although the patent expired in 1948 and other manufacturers began producing similar pearls, Majorica pearls remain the world benchmark for quality and design.
In Porto Cristo, next to the Caves of Drach, there is a store of this firm where we can see its extensive catalog. It also has a multimedia exhibition where we can learn about part of the industrial and creative process from the beginning of the manufacture of each pearl to its assembly into the final jewel. The store is located in a privileged location above the marina, and in addition to visiting the store and the exhibition, we can enjoy panoramic views from the terrace of its cafeteria.
5 good places to stay
In Porto Cristo we can find a wide variety of tourist establishments, of all kinds and prices
We will mainly find three and four star hotels, but there are also small family hostels and luxury hotels. Apart from these there are a multitude of apartments, chalets and villas for holiday rental.
This is just a small selection of establishments of different types and categories.
Sol i vida
This four-star adults-only hotel is somewhat away from the urban center of Porto Cristo, for greater tranquility and enjoyment of its surroundings
Its modern and cozy rooms are designed for the maximum comfort of its guests. The hotel has a bar-restaurant and terrace, as well as a swimming pool. It is adapted for people with mobility problems. The staff can help guide us when organizing our activities outside the hotel and for some procedures, such as car rental or hiring certain activities and visits.
This four-star hotel is in an unbeatable location in front of Porto Cristo beach and very close to the marina and the historic center
It is an adults-only hotel with a gym, heated pool, sauna, Turkish bath and massage parlor. It also has a cafeteria, buffet restaurant and a la carte restaurant. It is open all year. With cycling fans in mind, there is a garage for bicycles, and there is also the possibility of renting one here.
If we prefer a more rural environment but with all the luxuries, the Son Mas hotel will be perfect
Regarding the hotel, it has 16 junior suites, an outdoor and heated swimming pool, a SPA area, a gym, a sauna and a massage room. Regarding the environment, we will find ourselves in a farm of more than 300,000 m2 with large gardens and fields populated with almond and holm oaks where the animals graze.
Apartamentos Porto Drach
If we are looking for some independence in our accommodation, the best option is to opt for an apartment, with its independent kitchen and its private terrace
And one of the best apartment complexes we can find is Porto Drach. Next to the beach and the marina, near the center, it is an unbeatable location to spend our holidays and discover from here everything that the east and northeast of Mallorca can offer us.
Hiking and cycling
Like any location in Mallorca, Porto Cristo offers us varied options to discover its surroundings
From here we can visit more or less nearby coves, or discover small hidden gems in the interior of Mallorca.
- Route 1: Porto Cristo to s’Illot and Cala Morlanda. A short coastal drive to the nearby town of s’Illot and its beach
- Route 2: Nearby coves. Another coastal route, this time to Cala Mendia, passing through Cala Murta and Cala Anguila
- Route 3: Round trip to Son Servera passing through Punta de n’Amer
- Route 4: Up to Cala Mesquida and back, passing through the wonderful Costa de los Pinos and Canyamel beach
The history of Porto Cristo as a town is very recent, just over a hundred years old, but its surroundings are known to have been populated since ancient times.
Prehistory and Roman domination
In s’Illot, just 5 km from Porto Cristo, there is a Talayotic town whose settlement dates back at least to the Bronze Age (1100 BC). Inhabited for a thousand years, it is probable that the first contacts between natives and foreign merchants took place in these lands.
Already under Roman domination it is known that Porto Cristo was inhabited. The Llebrons torrent, which flows into the current port, is known to have been navigable by small boats more than a kilometer inland. During the refurbishment works of the access to the Hams Caves remains of what could have been the docks of the ancient Roman port were discovered.
The multitude of ceramic remains found in the area, both on land and in the sea, support the theory of a commercial port where Porto Cristo now stands. A sunken Roman wreck off the beach, called Ses Llumetes because of the oil lamps it carried, would reinforce this theory.
After the fall of Rome as a power the human presence continued in these lands. At the beginning of the 20th century, the remains of the early Christian basilicas of Sa Carrotja (in Porto Cristo itself) and Son Peretó (between Manacor and Sant Llorenç) were discovered. Both date from the end of the 5th century. Unfortunately that of Sa Carrotja was practically destroyed and only remains of the baptismal font remain.
The following relevant news about Porto Cristo is the one that would give it its name, in 1260. Contrary to what many people believe, Porto does not refer to a port but to transport (from the Latin portare). According to tradition, a ship carrying an image of Christ and the Virgin was surprised by a storm, and the crew made a promise to deposit the images in the nearest church if they reached land safely. They landed in the current Porto Cristo, and the images are in the church of the Virgen de los Dolores de Manacor.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of pirates and corsairs throughout the Mediterranean. In 1577 the Torre dels Falcons was built on the remains of a small medieval fortress, which communicated with the nearby towers through bonfires or smoke signals. In 1769 it was armed, becoming a defense tower to protect the small fishing port and prevent the landing of pirates, but it was abandoned in 1794.
From the 1830s some fishing families began to settle in the caves known as Ses Coves Blanques. Finally, the current town was born in 1888 with the name of Colonia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen.
In that same decade, the Caves of Drach were explored for the first time, beginning the first guided tours for select groups of visitors. In 1905 the nearby Caves of Hams were discovered, which were opened to the general public in 1910, being the first caves in Spain to be exploited commercially.
Porto Cristo began an incipient expansion. In the 30s of the 20th century, tourism began to develop in the area, but the civil war and the subsequent postwar period stopped its development. Porto Cristo was precisely the scene of the only land battle in Mallorca during the civil war. Republican forces landed on its coasts with the aim of recovering Mallorca, but they had to withdraw and re-embark after a few weeks.
In the 50’s, tourist activity in the area resumed, and between the 60’s and 80’s the so-called tourist boom takes place. Porto Cristo considerably increased its size, population and hotel offer, and in the 90’s it consolidated itself as a top-level tourist destination.
It currently has a varied and quality tourist offer in terms of accommodation, gastronomy and recreational activities. Its visitors have a wide range of activities, and a place from which to discover the wonders of the eastern coast of Mallorca.