If you’re visiting Mallorca for the day during your cruise holiday, there’s much more to this island than beaches and sunbathing. Palma is a city with a fascinating past. A multitude of historic empires have held claims to the island throughout its colourful history, and each one has left an indelible mark on Palma, from ancient Roman ruins to Moorish baths which still stand today.
But aside from history, the city also has a vibrant and eclectic culture. From flavourful cuisine to modern art, there’s plenty to see and do when you spend a day in Palma.
How to Get Around
Made up of cobbled, winding streets; Palma de Mallorca is absolutely ripe for exploration on foot. Ancient treasures emerge around corners as the culture and history of the beautiful Canarian city unfolds in front of your eyes.
Public transport through the centre is not so strong, so walking is the best way around the city. And if you’re not much of a walker, there are plenty of bars and restaurants in which to rest your weary legs.
Palma de Mallorca’s Must-See Sights
Here are five of our favourite places to visit during a trip to Palma de Mallorca.
Cathedral of Santa Maria (La Seu)
La Seu, like much of the city, is built on the remnants of what came before. The site previously housed an Arab mosque, but today an intricately constructed Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral stands in its place. By day you can admire the ornately carved archways, turrets and alcoves, while at night the building is beautifully illuminated, casting its surroundings into shadow.
This circular castle is one of only a few in Europe. The Gothic building was constructed in the 14th Century for King James II. Used as a military prison from the 18th to mid-20th centuries, today tourists flock to the castle in their thousands to admire its unique construction and the impressive views over Palma.
Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum
Located in Palma’s harbour-side fortifications, this modern art gallery displays works by prominent Spanish modern artists. Get a taste for Canarian art and culture in this expansive gallery, which features paintings, drawings, sculptures and more.
Placa de Cort
Palma’s central square is flanked by Baroque style architecture typical of the city. The square is most famed for its ancient and gnarled olive tree – the Cort Olive – which looks as though it’s been there for millennia. In reality, it was dug up and transplanted from Pollensa in 1999 as a symbol of peace.
Passeig des Born
Palma’s famous leafy esplanade, where the locals head for an evening stroll. Sit out under a parasol with a coffee or a beer, and watch the world pass by. The Born is one of the wider avenues that leads to smaller, winding cobbled streets. Explore the area to find some hidden gems.
If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, head to Palma’s old town, where winding cobbled streets house eclectic independent boutiques and shops. The streets leading away from the Placa Major – Carrer de Sant Miquel and Carrer de Colom – are a good place to start. Mallorca is famed for its pearls and its leather footwear, so keep an eye out for these. The Placa Major also holds a weekly artisan market, where you’ll find plenty of affordable local crafts and produce.
Where to Eat in Palma de Mallorca
Mallorcan cuisine is unmistakeably Mediterranean, and is steeped in local tradition. Unpretentious peasant fare makes for delicious and laid back cuisine, heavily featuring local produce such as fish and seafood, sun-drenched lemons, and of course, generous use of garlic and olive oil.
There are two main areas in Palma where you will find the majority of great restaurants. La Lonja is closest to the town centre, while Santa Catalina offers more hip and modern dining experience.
Mercat de Santa Catalina
Home to a historic food market selling a vibrant array of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish, more recently the market has opened a variety of restaurants to allow tourists the experience of eating within the bustling market hall.
The main square of Palma is the heart and soul of the Old Town, and home to plenty of cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy drinks and tapas while participating in a spot of people watching.
One of three restaurants in Palma run by British Michelin star chef Marc Fosh. The restaurant itself is situated in the 17th-century Refectory of the Covenant de la Missio. Dishes feature traditional Mediterranean fare with a twist, such as watermelon gazpacho with Soller prawns and smoked pimento jelly.