Palma de Mallorca, or Palma, is the largest city on the island of Majorca (Mallorca) and the capital of the Balearic Islands.
A sophisticated city bursting with life, there is much to experience including a lovely harbor and waterfront, historical Moorish buildings and stunning white sand beaches within a short drive from the main city.
You can’t miss the imposing Gothic Cathedral Le Seu (Santa Maria Cathedral) built on top of the old city walls with crenelated turrets piercing the sky. You’ll be impressed by the chandelier by Gaudi that hangs over the altar. The cathedral looks most spectacular at night when it is illuminated and the lights reflect in the man-made lake below it. Adjacent is the Museum of the National Heritage housed in the Almudaina Palace that was the seat of Moorish rulers.
Take a break to people-watch along the Passeig des Born with fountains, boutiques, cafeterias and bars. The trees are covered in fairy lights during festive season but it is a bustling place to visit year round and a fantastic central location to stop for an ice cream, coffee or glass of wine.
The 14th century Castell de Bellver was used as a royal summer residence and later as a prison. It is one of the only examples of a circular castle in Europe and houses a small museum with pottery. Bellver means ‘lovely view’ in Catalan which is fitting as you can appreciate great views over Palma and the marina. Its best reached by car as public buses don’t stop nearby and you would have to walk up a steep hill to reach the castle.
Majorca has many splendid beaches with turquoise waters, so its perfect to discover by boat. Head to the marina and book yourself on a glass-bottomed boat trip or splash out on a sunset cruise where you can watch Palma de Mallorca light up at night as you sip champagne.
Shopping in Palma de Mallorca is excellent with options ranging from souvenirs at markets to high-end fashion boutiques. For souvenirs like hand-embroidered tablecloths head to the area east of the Passeig des Born, and for leather shoes and handbags you’ll find plenty of stores on Calle Sindicato. If you’re interested in buying some of Majorca’s famous man-made pearls, skip the city shops and drive half an hour to the factory shop in Manacor.
Don’t miss visiting a restaurant to sample some pa’amb oli (bread rubbed in olive oil, garlic and Ramallet tomato) or llom amb col (pork wrapped in cabbage with pine nuts and raisins). Finish your meal with a sliver of greixonera de brossat (a local cheese cake) and a strong coffee with a dash of brandy.
Find a window seat on board one of the wooden carriages of a vintage train for a scenic 27-kilometer trip from Palma de Mallorca to Sóller, crossing via the Sierra de Alfàbia mountains and passing through 13 tunnels and across many bridges. At Sóller, you can continue to the port via an electric tram where there are plenty of beachside restaurants to enjoy a meal of fresh seafood.
Deià is reached by driving 45 minutes from Palma de Mallorca where you will find this small village with honey-colored houses and quirky art galleries. English poet and novelist Robert Graves is laid to rest in the town cemetery, and his house ‘Ca N’Alluny’ has been converted to a museum with his furniture, books and his printing press.
Tourists with vertigo are best advised to skip driving 80 kilometers from Palma de Mallorca to Cap de Formentor. The road is narrow with hairpin bends above towering cliffs, but confident drivers will be rewarded with magnificent views over the sea from staggered lookout platforms and Far de Formentor Lighthouse.