Porto Cristo Majorca Mallorca Travel Destinations Spain

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A proper, working town, rather than a purpose built resort, Porto Cristo has fewer crowds and more atmosphere than many conurbations on Majorca's east coast.

It is one of the oldest settlements on the island, with prehistoric sites outside town and Roman ones basilica and remnants of the port inside. By medieval times Porto Cristo was the port for the inland town of Manacor, but no buildings from that period remain.

The name Porto Cristo ('Port of Christ') has two competing explanations. One holds that two oxen carrying an icon towards Palma refused to travel any further than this point, so the icon remained and the town was named in its honour; the other says that a fishing boat with a crucifix aboard was washed ashore here in the 13th century.

Tourists washed ashore in Porto Cristo tend to come for peace and Majorcan authenticity. For some the town may lack night time sparkle, in which case Cala Millor is a car or taxi ride away. However, Porto Cristo does offer some excellent seafood restaurants, plus bars and clubs that have a more Spanish and local feel than many on the east coast. Check out Es Carrero street for liveliness.

The small beach offers the usual treats, and has sufficient parasols and loungers to keep sun worshippers happy; and if you are in town on a Sunday, you should sample the action at the market. But there is not much here by way of dedicated tourist entertainment; it's a place to wander.

Porto Cristo's main tourist attraction lies 15 minutes' walk away. The Coves del Drac (Dragon's Caves, tel +34 971 82 07 53) are subterranean chambers penetrating two kilometres into the limestone. Entry is by guided tour only and the highlight is the 177 metre long Martel Lake (named after the Frenchman who charted the caves in the late 19th century), the largest subterranean lake in the world. The entry fee includes a surreal classical concert by the lake before you return to the surface to buy souvenirs. It is very commercialised, and there is an aquarium nearby.

The other local caves are the Coves d'es Hams (the name means fish hooks tel +34 971 82 09 88) on the road towards Manacor. More subterranean delights, more bizarre music, but less impressive overall.