On a recent long weekend to Palma, the biggest and most important things on our itinerary was to relax and enjoy the sunshine. But the traveller in me is never content with just sitting by the pool. I don’t think you can ever claim to have truly ‘been’ somewhere if you haven’t actually explored the surrounding areas, and sampled some of the local cuisines. Here are my Top 10 suggestions on what to do in Palma de Mallorca if you’re short on time.
Explore the Cathedral
If you can only do one thing in the city, then a visit to Palma Cathedral – known as La Seu – should be it. This gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral was built on the site of an Arab mosque. It was restored at the turn of the 20th century, then Antoni Gaudí became involved with the project – and his influence is apparent to this day. Overlooking the harbour, it lies in the oldest part of the city and is dedicated to San Sebastian, Palma’s patron saint.
This gem of a wine and tapas bar is located inside an old renovated building within the historical La Lonja quarter of the city. The concept is simple. There are 48 different wines to try by the glass – a little sample or full tipple. Your party is given a special card and, with this card, you go up to the machines and make your selection. Needless to say, it’s a lot of fun trying out several different wines, from local to further afield. And the tapas here is phenomenal. Try the sizzling prawns – so delicious we ordered them twice. Needless to say, we didn’t leave Wineing for about five hours!
At the heart of Santa Catalina is the food market, which has many stalls for fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, meat and ham as well as a couple of tapas bars if you want to sample some of the produce while you shop. It’s a fantastic place to go on a Saturday morning as you can enjoy the market and then wander around this vibrant area, browse the eclectic mix of shops and take your pick of fantastic bars and restaurants.
A traditional Majorcan breakfast, the island’s equivalent of a croissant – these delicious pastries filled with cream, or chocolate, custard, or lemon curd are fantastic to be eaten at any time of day, although grab some quick as the queues for these can be immense especially if you head to popular bakeries who specialise in them – including C’an Joan de Saigo, who have been serving up ensaimadas since its opening in 1700 in the heart of the old town.
If you take a leisurely stroll around 15 minutes out of the centre of town you’ll discover the Portixol area; and a small cluster of excellent restaurants around a small beach. In a prime spot at the far end, the Tapas Club offers really great cocktails including their signature mojitos and really, really good tapas including Spanish mussels and Pinchos. Grab a spot on a table outside, soak up the sunshine and enjoy.
Es Baluard is housed in a former military fortress – and features one of the largest cisterns from the 17th century, known as ‘The Aljub’. This fresh water reservoir was used to supply the Sant Pere quarter, as well as the ships that used to dock in the harbour. The art collection consists of Balearic and Mediterranean contemporary art from artists including Picasso and Cezanne.
The exhibition spaces extend out on to wonderful outside terraces with fantastic views of the city. There’s even a restaurant on one of them, too, so you can enjoy some art, sip wine, and take in the whole bay of Palma without leaving the premises.
Lounge about at Las Terrazas Beach Club
If you drive 10 minutes out of Palma, you’ll leave the hot city behind and instead savour sea breezes and sand between your toes. Las Terrazas Beach Club has stunning views overlooking a small beach and rocky cove, a popular restaurant and a stylish lounge terrace, as well as a spa. This was the perfect place for us to while away a few hungover hours, sipping cocktails – again, wolfing down some fried food, watching the sun set and listening to the ambient sounds of the resident DJ. Ahh, bliss…
Because of Palma’s relatively small size, shoppers will be able to cover a lot of ground on foot and in a relatively short space of time. The main shopping areas are centered around Avinguda Jaime III and Passeig d’es Born, and it’s on these elegant avenues that you will find most of the designer boutiques, jewellery shops and department stores. As well as browsing the goods on offer, it’s also a nice way to see the city.
Parc de la Mar is built around a man-made resevoir and is a popular weekend and summer spot, with several cafes, a mural donated by Joan Miro and an art gallery in the vaults of the old city walls. Sit beneath the palm trees and enjoy the view of the Cathedral. The park also hosts a number of open-air events, film screenings, concerts and festivals throughout the year. We just enjoyed the view and the peaceful atmosphere.
La Bóveda – one of the city’s icons – is a traditional bar and restaurant and is very popular with both locals and tourists. Located in the Sa Llotja area near the harbour, you won’t go wrong with any of the dishes, but the mussels, prawns, clams, as well as patatas bravas and vegetables fried in batter are all super tasty. Plus grazing on their more-ish tortilla and sharing plates of cheese and ham will be hard to resist. Their house wine is also great value and an enjoyable tipple.