Palma offers a vibrant city experience with the advantage of a seafront. Often by-passed until recently, Palma is now becoming a popular city break and base for those wanting a taste of the real Mallorca.
The historical centre, the Old Town, is compact and pleasant with pedestrianised narrow streets making it easy to amble round and take in the sights. On a par with other Spanish cities, it offers an excellent mix of hotels, culture, history, gastronomy, shopping and nightlife.
Places of Interest
The main landmark is the majestic 14th century Sa Seu Gothic cathedral with its imposing buttresses of soft yellow sandstone overlooking the impressive bay. The cathedral’s interior offers a combination of classic Gothic architecture with a 20th century touch of modernista by architect Gaudi.
Behind the imposing cathedral and the Palau de l’Almudaina, the narrow Old Town streets wind to reveal peaceful courtyards, pretty squares and Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic architecture. Places to visit amongst this maze are the Museu de Mallorca, Banys Arabs and Basilica de Sant Francesc.
North beyond the Old Town streets, twentieth century buildings are sprinkled with decorative Modernista architecture. This Spanish Art Nouveau is most impressive in Placa Weyler where you can find the Gran Hotel (now gleamingly restored as an art gallery, café/bar and bookshop), the colourful façade of Forn des Teatre pastry shop and the restored front of the cool boutique Purification Garcia. Perching above the city is the 14th century Castell de Bellver. Surrounded by pine trees this beautifully preserved 700 year old hill top castle offers spectacular views over the bay.
Just out of Palma, in Cala Mayor is the Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro. For the final 27 years of his life the famous artist and sculptor Joan Miro worked from this studio. His studio is preserved here & is set alongside the impressive modern building that houses over 6000 pieces of his work.
Seafront & Beaches
For those wanting to relax by the sea there is the long promenade right along the seafront where locals walk, jog or roller blade. This is the place to admire the impressive marinas where the rich leave their super-yachts, or a way out to explore the islands coastline by chartering a lesser version. Great places to hang out and enjoy the seafront are Cafe La Varadero, Bar Darsena or the Portixol Restaurant.
The city does have a sandy beach (with a cool beach bar & restaurant), and buses head out of town to the long sandy beach at Playa de Palma or to the coves at nearby Illetes or Puerto Portals.
Restaurants & Cafes
There is a large and varied selection of places to eat, and you can never stray too far without having to negotiate the tables and chairs dotted outside the city’s eateries. The Llotja district is a good place to start, as too are the side streets off Passeig d’es Born and Avinguda d’Antoni Maura.
Galleries & Exhibitions
For a cultural experience, head to the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum Es Baluard, a 21st century building sympathetically integrated into a 16th century bastion. The gallery has a wide range of events, a restaurant with great terraces (and sea view) and an auditorium.