Palma port. © Toni Gómez
Sailing boats in Palma
Lonja de Palma – Palma Market
Breakwater in Palma
The capital of the island of Majorca is located in the bay of the same name and enjoys an excellent climate all year round (with an average annual temperature of 17.9° C). Known for its sun and beach tourism, it also has an attractive historic quarter. The Cathedral, the Almudaina Palace, the Lonja fish market and Plaza Mayor are some of the sites that are well worth visiting. The most beautiful monuments are surrounded by fishing boats, pine forests and palm trees. The landscape of the island is full of coves, beaches and cliffs on the coast, and inland you will find typical towns and mountain ranges up to 1,500 metres high. The variety of the landscape and culture invites visitors to explore every corner of Majorca and to find out more about the gastronomy of the island.
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Palma Para ti
A journey through art and history
The city of Palma was once coveted by Romans, Moors and Berber pirates. It was King Jaume I who put an end to the Moorish reign in the Mediterranean island (13th century), and who built the most important constructions in Palma.
The old quarter of the city stands inside the 18th-century walls which served to repel pirates and corsairs. Visitors will find old churches, palaces and noble mansions with charming courtyards (there are over 40 dotted around the centre of Palma).
The Cathedral of Palma (Sa Seu) is built in a spectacular location on the bay and next to the fishing harbour. It is an elegant Gothic cathedral, and it is harmoniously built, despite being so large. It was commissioned by King Jaume I, to be built on the site of the old Mayurqa Mosque. The cathedral has very high vaults; although what surprises the most is an impressive rose window and the peculiar wrought iron baldaquin, by the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí.
Opposite Sa Seu is the Almudaina Palace. The former Moorish palace and residence of the monarchs of Majorca is currently used as a museum. Its appearance as a Moorish fortress contrasts with the rich ornamentation of the flamboyant Gothic Chapel of Santa Ana that can be found inside.
Situated near the Paseo Sagrera is Sa Llotja. This old fish market, which is used for exhibitions today, is one of the best examples of civil Gothic architecture in Spain. Its Solomonic columns and cross vaults are quite unusual for a secular construction. Together with the Lonja, we find the Consolat (Consulate) de Mar where the regional government has its headquarters, under Renaissance arches.
Following Paseo Sagrera Avenue you come to the Es Baluard Museum of Modern Art. Its collection comprises works representative of the most significant international tendencies from the end of the 19th century to the present day. Here you can see works by artists such as Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso, Tàpies, Kiefer and Barceló, amongst others. Other places well worth a visit include the city's museums, such as the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation or the March Foundation, whose collections feature works by Miró, Dalí and Juan Gris; they also host major temporary exhibitions.
Our journey can continue through Paseo des Born. It is one of the main arteries of the city, dividing the monumental historic quarter from the fishing, popular districts of Sant Joan and Puig de Sant Pere.
If you take Unió street, from the square Plaza Rei Joan Carles, our next stop would be the Caixa Foundation. The old Grand Hotel, a modernist building, now houses an important cultural centre. Across the street, in El Forn des Teatre Bakery, a peculiar Art Deco building, you can try the delicious "ensaimadas" (a flaky, spiral-shaped bun) and the famous "gató" (almond cake), the best of the whole city.
Further down you will find Plaza Mayor, a square with great modernist influence. From this point on, the great avenues and boulevards that make up the new suburbs of Palma de Majorca unfold: the modern city.
To return to the coast from Plaza Mayor, you can go across the historic quarter and visit Plaza de Cort, the City Hall, the Palace of Vivot and the church of Santa Eulària. The City Hall, also known as "Cort", is a Baroque structure built on top of an old sixteenth-century hospital. On the other hand, the church—the first Christian structure erected in Palma— is a great example of the Catalan Gothic period. Other mansions in the area include the neo-Mudejar Can Corbella, Can Forteza Rey and the Modernist building "El Águila".
Another way is to walk through the old Jewish quarter and the district of Sa Calatrava. Along this journey you will see the Gothic temple of Sant Francesc and, at the heart of "Call" (the Jewish quarter), the Baroque church of Montisió, which sits on top of an old synagogue. Reaching the Promenade, you will see the Arab public baths, a reminder of the rule of the Caliphate of Cordoba over these lands.
n this area you can also visit the Museum of Majorca. This ancient palatial-residence houses a magnificent collection that includes prehistoric, Roman, Muslim and medieval artefacts.
Two kilometres away from Palma's city centre is the Castle of Bellver. The castle is located on top of the wooded hill that dominates the bay. Its unusual, circular floor plan and the delicate arches inside lend it an ornamental, rather that defensive, appearance. The precinct is the current home of the Municipal Museum of History.
The destination for golf and nautical sports
Palma's pleasant year-round temperatures are an invitation to enjoy a range of open-air sporting activities, and particularly golf and nautical sports. Golf lovers have at their disposal five courses (all with 18 holes) perfectly equipped and located in beautiful settings.
Palma is also a veritable paradise for lovers of the seaside, thanks to its five beaches, 8 bathing areas and 9 yacht clubs and marinas, which are ideal for those who want to explore the city from the coast and for activities such as sailing or sports fishing. Proof of the premium quality of these facilities are the competitions which are held in the city's waters, including the King's Cup Regatta or the Almirante Conde de Barcelona Trophy.
Then again, if you're looking for thrills you can try your hand at a whole range of activities - especially in summer - including windsurfing, kite-surfing, wakeboard, skate, and watch breakdance and capoeira displays right on the beach. There are also numerous sports facilities all around the city to enable everyone to experience Majorca in the most active possible way. Another fun way to explore Palma de Mallorca is along its bike lanes.
Fans of cycle-touring and hiking will find these are the perfect means of getting around the island, thanks to the network of signposted routes. From Palma, a route round the island of Majorca provides the opportunity to see many different landscapes. The Sierra de Tramuntana mountains are over 1,400 metres high, with important towns like Valldemossa, Sóller or Deià. This steep mountain range slopes down to the Mediterranean and creates unique places such as Cala de Deià cove, Port de Sóller or Cala Sa Calobra cove. Beyond Andratx we find the Sa Dragonera Nature Reserve. In the northeastern part of the island you will find the Alcúdia and Pollença bays, and the Formentor peninsula - important tourist locations where the pine forests reach the beach. Alcúdia still has the walls, the old Roman town of Pollentia, and an amphitheatre. The Albufera Nature Reserve is also nearby - it is one of the five reserves that exist in the Balearic Islands. From Palma, towards the eastern part of the island, Calarajada, we find towns like Manacor, Artá and Capdepera. And of course, visitors should not miss a trip to the Archipiélago de Cabrera national park, overlooking the southern coast of Majorca and part of the Palma municipal district.
Example of the Mediterranean diet
The culinary offer in the Balearic Islands remains true to the principles of Mediterranean cuisine. Designation of Origin products such as sobrasada, Mahón cheese and Binissalem-Mallorca wine, as well as traditional recipes from the area, can be tasted in Palma. Tumblet (a vegetable stew with potatoes, fried peppers and aubergines in tomato purée), fish with rice and pa amb oli (a slice of bread with oil and tomato) are not to be missed. Game meat, fish, seafood, fruit and vegetables are the proof of the gastronomic variety of the isles. And for dessert, the best thing to have is an ensaimada, and one of the liquors from the area (palo, gin or herbs).
The best way to get a feel of the most typical cuisine of Palma is to visit any of its old cafés and traditional bakeries. There are also over 1,000 restaurants in the city, which as well as the most typical dishes, also offer a wide range of cuisines from all over the world, and creations by internationally-renowned chefs. The most popular restaurants are to be found in several areas: the old part of town, on the seafront promenade, Paseo del Born, Santa Catalina, Es Molinar...
And here's a tip: if you want to buy typical products like sobrasadas, cheese, almonds, cakes and pastries and suchlike, the best idea is to visit one of the charming typical markets like the El Olivar market.
For young people
The nightlife goes on and on…
The Balearic Islands are internationally famous for their fantastic nightlife, and Palma is an outstanding example of this. There a numerous outdoor cafés, pubs and bars all around the city which make ideal places for enjoying a drink, and large discos where you can dance to the beat of some of the best-known DJs on the music scene. Many of these nightspots are located on the seafront promenade, and you're more than likely to bump into one of the numerous celebrities who choose the island as their holiday destination.
Palma also offers a whole range of options to enjoy before "going out on the town”: from a lively evening in the old part of town or in areas near the beach, or a visit to the casino or taking in a show –either musical dancing and acrobatics– while you dine in a typical Majorcan courtyard decorated for the occasion.
All year round you'll find festivals, concerts, plays, dance performances and exhibitions in the major museums such as Es Baluard, where you can enjoy the most traditional culture through to the very latest trends. A highlight of the classical music programme is the Winter Festival. But Palma is also home to jazz (with the Jazz Voyeur Festival), opera (the season in the Teatro Principal is highly recommended) and contemporary music, with festivals such as the Alternatilla Multidisciplinary festival.
The most typical festivities in the city, such as the fiestas of Revetla de Sant Antoni, Sant Sebastià and Sant Joan, offer performances for everyone and street parades where you'll find it hard to resist the temptation to join in the high sprits and friendly atmosphere.
A city to enjoy with the whole family
In Palma, you're guaranteed to find fun and entertainment for everyone in the family. This Mediterranean city has five beaches and eight bathing areas, practically all with calm waters and scrupulously monitored, and where thanks to the mild temperatures, swimming is always a pleasure. Families will also enjoy visiting the Palma Aquarium located on the Playa de Palma beach, with its gardens and interactive aquariums.
Another different and fun way of discovering Palma with younger children is by renting a bicycle or a segway from any of the companies specialising in these services. And as the grand finale to the holiday, what better than spending a day in the nearby El Arenal water park?
And as for culture, there are a range of festivals to suit a public of all ages (such as the International Puppet Theatre festival), as well as museums such as Caixa Forum which organises numerous educational activities.
Traditional and exclusive atmosphere
Palma is always a great place for a day's shopping. And that's because this Mediterranean city offers the charms of exclusive shopping areas in combination with traditional small establishments which are perfect for discovering the craftsmanship handed down over hundreds of years, or to pick up a few typical products. There is a guide translated into six languages (Catalan, Spanish, German, English, French and Italian) with suggestions for four shopping routes around the city.
If you are after top labels and treats from the ultimate in fashionable boutiques, the best idea is to take a stroll around the Plaza Weyler square, Calle Unió, Plaza Joan Carles I and Avenida Jaume III, where shopping is a philosophy of life. You will also find jewellers offering the quality of Majorca's pearls, numerous home décor shops, and art galleries where you can pick up a special souvenir of the city.
A more traditional atmosphere can be found in the streets around the old quarter like the Paseo por la Artesanía ("Artisans' Avenue"), and the Plaza Llorenç Bisbal and Plaza Mayor squares (with its typical open-air market). Here visitors can buy hand-made products in leather, glass, iron, wood... It's also a unique opportunity to see master craftsmen as they work. There are guided tours which offer an original glimpse of Palma's historic commercial activity.
Other useful information
Opening times. Most of the shops and shopping centres are open from 10am-8pm, and on several Sundays throughout the year.
Sales. The winter sales generally begin in the second week of January and go on until the end of February, and the summer sales begin on 1 July and run until the end of August.
How to pay. Most people pay in cash or with a credit card, for which you always need to show your passport or identity card.