1. Visit some of its wonderful monuments
Palma is a wonderful city in which to just wander around, but it also has a number of monuments that you should be sure to visit.
The gothic Cathedral (picture, right) with its stained-glass windows is the best known landmark of the city. The cathedral dominates the waterfront and backs onto the oldest part of the city where churches of medieval, gothic and baroque periods are found along with Renaissance style buildings (like the City Hall) and stately homes with beautiful patios.
The maze of streets at the back of the cathedral leads to the beautiful Banys Àrabs, the old Moorish bath house which is worth a visit.
The Palau de l’Almudaina stands opposite the cathedral entrance. L’Almudaina used to be the palace of the Moorish governors and later of the Mallorcan Kings.
The Castell de Bellver (the Castle of Bellver) is a beautiful well-preserved fortress dating back to the 14th century. It is located west of the city centre, on the top of a wooded hill and has spectacular views over Palma Bay.
2. Take a tour around old Palma
The Conselleria de Turisme (the Council of Tourism of the Balearic Government) runs four guided tours through the old quarter of Palma: Palma and the sea, the Jewish Quarter, The “las Capuchinas” Conventand Modernist Palma.
In addition, the Ajuntament (city Council) offers a tour around some of Palma’s most impressive patios. The patios – the courtyards of the stately homes of the old quarter (image, right) – were central to city life during the 16th and 18th centuries.
Both the Ruta dels patis (courtyard route) and the four Govern itineraries offered are a fascinating, beautiful way of walking back through the history of Palma.
3. Join the fiesta
Apart from the festivities shared with the rest of Spain such as Holy Week or Christmas, Mallorca has its own. Although each festival is different, they all have music, dancing, traditional costume and, in many cases, bonfires or fireworks.
On the 19th January, Palma celebrates the Revetlla de Sant Sebastià (the patron saint of Palma) by lighting foguerons (bonfires), grilling meat on them and then going from square to square listening to and dancing with the different bands playing (pictured, above).
Sa Rua (carnival) takes place in February with big fancy dress parades along the main streets of Palma.
Sant Joan, on 23rd June, celebrates the coming of summer with bonfires on the beach or fireworks and dimonis (people dressed up as the devil) in the city.
Both Port de Sóller and Pollença have mock battles between Moors and Christians to commemorate the victory of Mallorcans over the Moor pirates who attacked these towns in the 16th Century.
4. Visit its museums and art galleries
Palma has a good selection of museums and art galleries which exhibit works by both international and local artists from all periods.
Some of the museums and art galleries worth visiting are:
The Museu d’Art Espanyol Contemporani (Spanish Contemporary Art museum), has works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, and other 20th century Spanish artists.
Es Baluard is located in the southwest corner of the old Reniassance city wall. With a spectacular view over Palma Bay, Palma’s newest museum houses works by Cezanne, Picasso, Miró and Barceló, among others, along with temporary exhibitions.
The Museu de Mallorca (Mallorca Museum) is an impressive museum relating the history of Palma through the ages and displays wonderful archeological findings.
5. Join in the nightlife
Many of the late-night bars of Palma are situated along the Avinguda Gabriel Roca (also known as the Passeig Marítim). On that same road, Pachá and Titos‘s (two of the most popular and crowded clubs in the city) are found.
6. Eat out!
Many of Palma’s most popular cafés, restaurants and tapas bars are located around the city centre, especially in the side streets of the Passeig des Born and the Avinguda d’Antoni Maura.
However, to try typical Mallorcan dishes in an authentic Spanish atmosphere, why not visitGénova, a little village just 15 minutes away from the centre of Palma with many popular Mallorcan restaurants to choose from.
7. Head for the coast
Mallorca offers a wide variety of beaches: sandy beaches such asEs Trenc on the south coast of the island or the Formentorbeach in the north; small coves on the rocky northen coast likeCala Deià or resorts like S’Arenalonly 10 kilometres away from Palma.
8. Go sailing… or diving, or surfing or water-skiing
Mallorca’s coastline offers countless opportunities for leisure and sport. The warm climate of the island, with an annual average of 300 days of sunshine and an average temperature of 27C in the summer and 10C in the winter, makes it a perfect place for sailing, windsurfing, diving, water skiing and any water sport one would like to try.
The bay of Palma hosts prestigious sailing regattas such as the Copa del Rey and the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofía.
9. Step out into the countryside
Apart from the beaches, Mallorca offers some beautiful one-day excursions to those looking for a day away from Palma. One of the most popular routes follows the imposing mountain range along the island’s west coast, the Serra de Tramuntana. With its peaks, sea cliffs, valleys of olive and orange groves and beautiful ancient villages likeValldemossa and Deià, the Serra de Tramuntana is an unmissable landmark.
A good way to see the area is to take the old train (see picture, right) from Palma to Sóller (28 kms). The views from the train are spectacular.
10. Potter round the local markets
Nearly all towns on the island have weekly markets where animals, Mallorcan food, products, artcrafts, etc. are found.
One of the most popular markets is the one held on Sundays from 8am to 2pm in Santa Maria(15 km from Palma). Alcúdia (50 km) and Sa Pobla (40 km) also have their markets on Sunday mornings.
Sineu (30 km) has a wonderful market on Wednesdays.