Port de Sóller: an idyllic bay steeped in history

Port de Sóller is both a protected harbour and an idyllic bay, with its almost circular form. This coastal village in the north-west of Majorca is a great spot for dining, strolling, swimming – depending on the weather and what you feel like. Along the smart seaside promenade, shops line up with hotels and yacht charter companies, bars and restaurants. If you come here, first of all you must try the freshly caught, almost sweet-tasting, red “gambas de Sóller” (Sóller deep-sea shrimp) that melt in the mouth. Then, you should also savour the delicious oranges – the second famous gastronomic delight of Sóller and Port de Sóller.

Admirably defended

There are a few fishing boats that still dock here. And there are the recreational craft that moor in the marina while visitors soak up that certain je ne sais quoi that Port de Sóller offers. In the 16th century, this little gem also attracted plundering pirates with the emblem of the Saracens, who came ashore on the beach at Port de Sóller hoping to find rich booty. In a nutshell, they hadn’t reckoned with the Sollerics – the inhabitants of Sóller – who put up such a resistance that the invaders were actually defeated and fled.

Into battle!

This victory of the Christians over the Moors is still riotously celebrated today. The battle is re-enacted at the Es Firó local festival in May. You can imagine what goes on when the hostile “Saracens” with darkly painted faces come ashore and are confronted with the furious, determined defenders. One big mass of tumult and clamour! Anyhow, this keeps the history alive. You can learn more about the maritime history of the place in the Museu de la Mar; part of this museum is housed in the former monastery of Santa Caterina d’Alexandria above the bay.

Sip sundowners in a classy bar

The five-star Jumeirah Port Sóller Hotel clings to a cliff like an eagle’s nest and is the place to stay if you want pure luxury. But you don’t necessarily have to lay your head on the soft pillows of the deluxe hotel to be able to come and go. Luckily, the bar in this elegant building is open to the public, serving cool drinks way up high, where you have far-reaching views over sea and mountains. Sunset is the most beautiful time. Well, this is not called the Sunset Lounge for nothing…

Double the beach atmosphere

Port de Sóller has two beaches – Platja des Través and Platja d’en Repic – and they are facing each other. Platja de Traves is the beach “right in the middle of the action”, bordering the seaside promenade. The Sóller tram rattles past every now and then, right behind your beach towel it seems. On the other hand, Platja d’en Repic is on the other side of the bay and it’s somewhat more peaceful.

All roads lead to Rome

Speaking of trams, this nostalgic form of transport connects Port de Sóller with Sóller, picking up passengers who’ve come from the direction of Palma on the historic train known as the “Red Lightning”. You can of course get to Sóller and to its harbour by car also. One way is to navigate the twisting, serpentine road from Bunyola to the mountain pass Coll de Sóller at 497 metres, with an uphill gradient of up to 17 per cent. The road then runs downhill again with numerous curves and hairpin bends. Less thrilling but more convenient is the drive through a tunnel about three kilometres long, which separates Sóller and Port de Sóller from the rest of the Majorcan terrain – and perhaps that is exactly what makes these places so special…