© Ilona Antina Photography
© J. Rains
© Kai Pilger
© J. Rains
© J. Rains
© J. Rains
© J. Rains
© J. Rains
© J. Rains
© J. Rains
Port de Soller is a picturesque little village situated in a large horseshoe bay on the west coast of Mallorca. The seaside retreat was, until recently, one of the island's best-kept secrets.
Its isolated location at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana meant that, before the Soller tunnel opened in the 1990s, it was a difficult place to get to. As a result, unlike many other seaside destinations on the island which were subject to some overdevelopment in the 70s and 80s, Port de Soller came through this era unscathed. The traditional charm remains firmly intact and has helped create a more sophisticated holiday destination. Surrounded by the Tramuntana mountains, Port de Soller is one of the few towns that can claim both magnificent mountain scenery and breathtaking sea views on the island. Being on the west coast, it also affords some of the best sunsets in Mallorca.
The bay is bordered by a sandy beach, lined by a pedestrianised promenade where visitors flock to admire the port's unwavering beauty. Here resides an endless stretch of cafes, restaurants and shops with the odd hotel in between. Remaining true to its traditional fishing harbour roots, seafood restaurants are in abundance. At the same time, there are several contemporary places popping up in the area, including top-notch restaurants and trendy cocktail bars. This has coincided with the world-renowned Jumeirah Group opening a super-luxury hotel on the hills above Port de Soller, a 5-star hotel which prides itself as being one of the most luxurious places to stay in Europe, let alone Mallorca. As a result, the town has undergone a bit of facelift in the last few years, with the seafront being tastefully redeveloped and the tram line that runs to Soller re-routed.
Port de Soller has all the ingredients to make the perfect place for a vacation. And, to top it off, just down the road resides the delightful inland town of Soller which continues to embrace Mallorca’s heritage. Rustic stone architecture, a popular Saturday market and wonderful art galleries are amongst its highlights. It’s connected to Port de Soller by a vintage tram which takes its passengers on a picturesque journey among lemon and olive groves.
History & Culture in Port de Soller
Port de Soller was originally a small fishing village servicing the main town of Soller, located a few miles inland to protect its residents from sea-faring invaders. The port started to expand 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 more and more boutique hotels and quality places to eat opening in the area.
Sights & Attractions in Port de Soller
The Soller Marine Museum is a small maritime museum taking residence in an ancient monastery. This is an opportunity to discover how Port de Soller, due to its isolated situation, has stronger links to the sea than many other towns and villages in Mallorca. In the past, it was easier to transport things via boat rather than travelling across the mountains which has made this town particularly obsessed with all things sailing.
The churches of Sant Ramon de Penyafort and Santa Caterina are two important historical landmarks in the village. Those keen to venture a little further, walk to the 17th century Torre Picada which was once a watchtower. From this point, you will get some of the best views of Port de Soller and its surrounding scenic countryside. More museums and art galleries can be found in the neighbouring town of Soller. A particularly famous one is the Ca’n Prunera Museum, an art nouveau mansion.
Beaches in Port de Soller
Port de Soller is one of the only places to offer a sandy beach along the entire north-west coast. There are actually two beaches within the horseshoe bay. Es Traves is the longest and closest to the working port but Playa d'en Repic is the nicest and quietest. Both beaches are fairly narrow, at around 10 metres in depth, and the sea is calm and shallow thanks to the sheltered bay. The original sand was quite muddy but it has been supplemented by gravelly sand from the surrounding area to make it more appealing to its users. To make the most of the beach, hire sun loungers and parasols or, to experience some more exclusive views of the port, rente a canoe or pedalo from the beach and take to the water.
Events in Port de Soller
Port de Soller, being a historic town, participates in many traditional events throughout the year. The main one is Es Firó which takes place in the second week of May. At the end of the week, on the Festa de Nostra Senyora de la Victòria, it features the reenactment of a battle between the invading pirates (the Moors), and the Christian folk of Soller. The locals are particularly passionate about this event, with residents of all ages taking part. Expect Christian and pirate fancy dress, face painting, wooden sword fighting and the sound of gunshots and cannons going off throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Sóller’s patron saint’s day, Saint Bartholomew, falls on the 24th of August each year. Like many of the town's celebrations around the island, the eve of the saint's day, the ‘Night of Fire’ is full of street parties and fire shows, followed by a bank holiday. The Verge del Carmen Fiesta on August 15th features a procession of boats in the bay. Sant Joan is celebrated throughout Mallorca on the 24th June followed by Sant Pere on June 29th, both of these festivals are a time for locals to celebrate with friends and families.
In recent years, new traditions have been born in Port de Soller. The Annual Classical Music Festival of Port de Soller takes place in the Santa Catalina Monastery and attracts some top international musicians in September and October.
Things to Do in Port de Soller
Port de Soller definitely encourages a slow-paced way of life. It’s the kind of place you just want to kick back and relax with your favourite drink whilst admiring the stunning views and watching the world go by. So the cafes, restaurants and bars are popular throughout the day and into the evening. However, you don’t have to travel too far to get a completely different experience! Being located at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains makes Port de Soller an ideal base for those keen to explore the mountains by foot or on a bike. Other popular outdoor activities include canyoning and coasteering in the mountain range. Tramuntana Tours are just one of the many companies in the area with the scope to fulfil all your needs when it comes to hiring equipment for these types of activities and more.
There is an assortment of hiking routes available for all levels of ability within close proximity of Port de Soller. A climb of less than an hour from the port brings you to Cap Gros lighthouse, famous for its panoramic views of the bay. Alternatively, the mule track between Soller and Deia might appeal to the more experienced hiker, where you will be rewarded with rock gardens and olive groves. Walks further afield into the Tramuntana mountains are also plentiful. To get the most of the area we recommend hiring a guide or joining an organised hike. Try local companies on the island like Mallorca Hiking.
The Serra de Tramuntana has become a bit of a hot spot for cycling in recent years and Port de Soller receives its fair share of cyclists. There are some good loops starting from the port, but also some steep climbs like the legendary Sa Calobra within easy reach. One thing is for sure, hill climbs are aplenty in this area, it’s definitely not something for the faint-hearted!
Sailing up this northwestern coastline is the best way to explore the Serra Tramuntana mountain range and should be on your to-do list if you are in the area. Port de Soller is the starting point for several boat trips along the coast with companies such as Bonnie Lass Charters, including cave exploration or champagne-popping sunset trips.
It’s possible to charter your own private yacht from Port de Soller, ideal for those seeking a more exclusive sailing experience around the Mallorcan coastline. You can have it for a day or longer with trusted companies like Mezzo Magic, giving you the chance to explore the many hidden coves along the coastline at your own pace.
The north west of Mallorca is particularly popular in the scuba diving world, from beginners to technical and instructor level courses there is something for every ability with the various diving companies like Soller Divers Diving Centre available. For those who like to keep above water, kayaking, paddle boarding and pedaloes are available to hire from the beach.
Being a small village, shopping in Port de Soller is pretty limited. You will find local produce in many of the shops opposite the promenade. The marmalades, conserves and ice cream made from Soller oranges and lemons are a must-try, alongside the extra virgin olive oil and local charcuterie. If you are keen to indulge in a little retail therapy, there are a few little boutiques, shoe shops and some tourist souvenir shops within the small town. Or perhaps a traditional Mallorcan market is on your agenda? In which case, do travel to the inland mountain town of Soller for their weekly market, which takes place every Saturday.
The tram & vintage train ride
The town's tram is a tourist attraction in itself. It travels from Port de Soller to the inland village of Soller through the valley. Its passengers can admire the olive, lemon and orange groves on the way. From Soller, you can take the vintage train to Mallorca’s capital, Palma. Whilst the train is an experience in itself, the views out over the mountains and the valleys through orange and lemon groves are simply divine. This is a popular attraction throughout the year but you will find the carriages quieter and a more comfortable temperature outside the summer season.
Dining in Port de Soller
Port de Soller's promenade is lined with plenty of family-friendly restaurants serving up Mallorcan cuisine, fresh fish, pizza, pasta and more. One of the best-rated in the area is Sa Barca, a typical Mallorcan restaurant sitting in the centre of the promenade. Another popular restaurant for locals and tourists alike is Restaurante Es Passeig, which sits on the promenade behind Repic Beach and serves modern and creative Mediterranean dishes. Agapanto is almost an institution in Port de Soller. Lying at the end of Repic Beach, it serves refined local cuisine and the twinkling lights of the town viewed from its terrace in the evening make it one of the most romantic settings for dinner.
Randemar, in the middle of the promenade, offers more of a chill-out cool vibe, with a bright and 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 recurrently popular Kingfisher Restaurant. Fresh fish dominates its menu and it calls its food 'honest cuisine', 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 boasts spectacular sunset views. Come for a cocktail on the terrace and watch the sun go down. For something a bit more upmarket, the Jumeirah Hotel is a little further along and has an impressive selection of bars and restaurants with the most amazing views, just be sure to book in advance.
Villas in Port de Soller
Villas and fincas can be a good option for large groups or families seeking a more private experience. Rustic, blonde-stone, finca-style buildings are a recurring theme in this area and they are largely popular. But there are also modern villa offerings available if this is something your heart desires.
Hotels in Port de Soller
There is a wide range of hotels on offer in Port de Soller, from budget-friendly abodes to 21st-century luxury 5* hotels. However, it should be duly noted that this area proudly presents some of the best boutique hotels on the island.
Hotel Es Port is a fine choice for those wishing to experience a 17th-century mansion set in beautiful gardens and only a stone’s throw away from the sea. All mods and cons, a spa, outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts are available here. Esplendido Hotel is a majestic looking hotel in a prime location, right on the beach promenade. It offers retro-styled bedrooms in a boutique hotel environment. A more contemporary experience awaits you at Hotel Aimia, which has a spa and fitness room, and where most of the bedrooms have sea views. And last but certainly not least, the modern Hotel Boutique Minister is a 4-star boutique hotel attractive for its sleek, yet quirky décor, located right on the seafront.
The famous Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa positions itself as one of the most luxurious hotels on the island. A state-of-the-art building with everything the modern jet-setter could ask for, from the latest technology through to gourmet excellence and unspoiled views of the sparkly Mediterranean sea below.
Set back from the harbour lies Soller Garden which offers individual bungalows set in tropical gardens which may appeal to families on a budget. The Aparthotel Soller Beach offers a more modern experience and is centrally located.