From swanky sunset cocktails to world-class golf courses and Gaudi Gothic architecture; it’s no wonder the Spanish royal family have spent many a summer in Palma de Mallorca.
Arranged around a vast Gothic cathedral and the glinting Mediterranean sea, few cities can boast as attractive a setting as Palma. But the Balearics’ largest city is far more than just a looker. This is a vibrant, stylish, sophisticated city that bursts with life. Oh, and the weather’s not bad either. Average temperatures on the island of Mallorca (or Majorca) hit 31ºC in August! Get stuck in with our guide to the best of Palma.
Top 11 attractions and things to do in Palma de Mallorca 2019
1. Stir up controversy at Palma Cathedral
Gothic on the outside, modernist on the inside, Palma’s Sa Seu cathedral is a mash-up of architectural styles – and a real talking point. Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to improve the 14th-century cathedral’s interior in the early 20th century, adding a canopy inspired by the crown of thorns above the altar. Love it or hate it, it is a focal point amid the stained glass windows and typically Gothic vaulted nave. Approach from the waterfront esplanade to feel the full force of this lofty building’s impressive stature.
2. Tower above it all at Castell de Bellver
Miles of fragrant pine forest surround the circular Castell de Bellver, intoxicatingly leading down to the waters of Palma Bay. Bellver means “lovely view” in Catalan. In other words, a climb onto the roof here is rewarded with 360 degree panoramas over the foothills and forests to the sea and city beyond, as well as across the tower’s elegant round courtyard. Also, don’t miss the museum (closed on Mondays) for its Roman, Arab and Spanish artefacts.
Step away from the beach and see some of Spain’s most stunning castles and fortresses. These are 15 of the most beautiful castles in Spain.
3. Taste haute Balearic cuisine
The Majorcan capital is home to the best food in the Balearics, with innovative dishes served with aplomb at restaurants around the city. Although quality is generally high, there are rip-off joints serving substandard fare to be avoided. Dodge them with a visit to Michelin-starred Simply Fosh for British chef Marc Fosh’s seasonal, clean flavours. Hake fillet stuffed with local crab perhaps? Give Aromata a try for a pared down menu of traditional Majorcan dishes from local chef Andreu Genestra.
4. Find something Moor at the Arab Baths
Although the Moors transformed Palma around the 10th century, almost all of their work was destroyed during the subsequent invasion by King James I of Aragon and his armies in the 13th century. However, King James must have overlooked the Arab Baths, which still stand as a visual reminder of Palma’s rich past.
Don’t make the same mistake. Take the time to wind through the medieval streets and enter the cooling gardens and the Caldarium (main steam chamber) beyond. Here you’ll find elegant horseshoe arches standing atop a double marble floor – an early form of underfloor heating. The baths are open from 10am until 7pm.
You’d rather chill on the beach? Discover Spain’s top 10 perfect playas in pictures, including Majorca’s Cala de Sa Calobra.
5. Get a cultural hit at Es Baluard
Love art? La Palma is home to an impressive modern art collection at the Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani, and you shouldn’t miss a visit while on holiday in Palma de Mallorca. See Picasso’s unusual ceramics, other works by Balearic artists, such as Joan Miro and Miguel Barcelo, as well as a selection of masterpieces from more than 500 contemporary artists.
Situated on the Plaça Porta de Santa Catalina, in the heart of the city centre, you’ll find most buses stop nearby (including the number 50 tourist bus). The gallery is open Tue-Sat. 10am-8pm (Sunday until 3pm). Regular adult tickets cost €6. It’s a small price to pay for an afternoon discovering the brilliance of some of the art world’s biggest stars.
6. Royal Palace of La Almudaina
Founded by Arabic governors, and a later a symbol of the independent Majorca, this citadel still hosts the King of Spain during the occasional summer event. It is suitably grand, though, and like much of Majorca’s architecture, eclectic in style. A medieval courtyard and richly embroidered tapestries lie within. Outside, however, Moorish arches face the sea – and a surprising Modernist touch, in the form of Joan Miro’s Egg sculpture, sits in the adjacent S’Hort del Rei gardens.
7. Cuevas del Drach
Don’t miss the chance to take a day trip from Majorca to Porto Cristo, on the east coast of the island, to see one of Majorca’s best attractions – translated evocatively as the ‘Dragon Caves’. In fact, it’s at least several sights in one. Alien-like stalactites and stalagmites to explore, a boat ride on an underground lake and a violin concert beneath the stony ground to cap it all off.
8. Set sail for Cabrera
Many Spanish islands have an idyllic, uninhabited islet on which to conjure your most vivid romantic fantasies about lost treasure and/or mermaids. Cabrera is Majorca’s answer to this. Cabrera National Park actually forms several islands off the coast of Majorca. Shimmering depths of blue ocean surround deserted white shores that feel a million miles from the resorts of the south coast. But it’s only around 17 km from La Colonia de Sant Jordi, where you’ll board the boat.
There’s an activity to suit every taste here, from bird-watching to plunging into the deep pool of the Blue Grotto. Most boat tours will include at least one beach stop and you can rent snorkel gear to make the most of those crystal clear waters. Finally, it’s a good idea to take food or order a packed lunch from the boat crew, as facilities on shore are limited.
If you’re planning a holiday to Spain, we’ve picked out some of the top things to see in the country’s most popular locations – from Mallorca to Tenerife. Here’s our list of 10 must-see destinations in Spain.
9. Chill on Palma Beach
A city break destination with a beach holiday thrown in, Palma de Mallorca ticks all the boxes you could wish for. Ca’n Pere Antoni is but a few strides away from the cathedral, making for a spectacular and unusual seaside backdrop. In addition, the Blue Flag-awarded sands are perfect for a cooling dip after a day’s sightseeing around Palma.
Willing to stray further afield? Try Puerto Pollensa for a day out on the north-east coast; this beach is considered one of the island’s best and is also a good pick if you like your beach days more energetic, with windsurfing, boating and even scuba diving on offer here.
Discover 8 stunning beaches for summer 2019 – including Majorca’s Cala Llombards.
10. Discover Miro’s workshop
The Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Majorca is a collection of three buildings set in peaceful landscaped grounds, as much works of art as the paintings and sculpture they contain. Son Boter was an eighteenth century country farmhouse belonging to local artist Joan Miro. It is now adjoined by two much more modern buildings. One of them is the airy studio designed by the artist’s friend Josep Lluís Sert. All three now form part of a museum showing a brilliant insight into Miro’s life and work, with collections of drawings, prints, sculptures and canvases comprising his legacy to Majorca, and to the art world at large.
11. Visit Casal Solleric
A Baroque palace converted into an art museum thanks to a bequeath from its former owners, Mallorca’s Casal Solleric houses the island’s premier collection of contemporary art and photography. The building itself is another gem worth a few hours of wandering. It’s adorned with frescoes on the exterior and contains wrought iron staircases, marble columns and a gorgeous mezzanine within. It’s perfect for displaying temporary exhibits by Spanish artists like Tàpies, Pérez-Villalta and Plessi, as well as international names like Frida Kahlo.
For more stunning spots in Majorca and the Balearics, check out our article Love Islands: the most romantic island getaways in Europe.
11 things to do on your holiday to Majorca 2019
|1. Stir up controversy at Palma Cathedral|
|2. Tower above it all at Castell de Bellver|
|3. Taste haute Balearic cuisine|
|4. Find something Moor at the Arab Baths|
|5. Get a cultural hit at Es Baluard|
|6. Wander the Royal Palace of La Almudaina|
|7. Discover “Dragon’s Caves”, Cuevas del Drach|
|8. Set sail for Cabrera|
|9. Chill on Palma Beach|
|10. Check out Joan Miro’s workshop|
|11. Explore contemporary art and photography in Casal Solleric|
*Updated July 2019. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.