After having been living almost 14 years on Mallorca – and most of that time in the lovely city of Palma de Mallorca (the capital of the Balearic Islands), I think I know enough by now on what to recommend (or not) to visitors coming to Mallorca. Sometimes you travel with a lot of time to stroll around and discover all the little corners of our city, but more oftenly, you are more short of time because you want to get most out of your holiday, in a limited amount of time. Therefore I decided to sum up the (according to my personal opinion) top 5 things to do in Palma de Mallorca when you visit the city.
Number 1: Book a guided bicycle tour in Palma
Ok, this one might not come as a surprise to you, but honestly, it’s THE BEST WAY to get to know the city and its little hidden corners as well as most famous historical sites and landmarks – all in a very limited time (our bike tours are 3,5hrs including breaks) which is super helpful for your planning because you can squeeze in a guided bike tour on your first or last morning just when you arrive from the airport, or just before heading towards the airport if you have saved discovering Palma for the last day on your holiday. If you travel with luggage we will safely store it at our shop so that you can relax during your tour. Didn’t have time to eat much before the tour? No worries!! Book one of our tapas tours and you’ll get it all in one tour; biking, sightseeing and yummy tapas. It’s a winner!
Number 2: Visit (enter) the cathedral “La Seu” in Palma
Okay, now this is a tourist trap you might tell me. Well let it be one of the absolutely most visited places in Mallorca and that yes, you will have to queue to get in (normally not more than 10 minutes though) with tourists and visitors from all over the world, but hey, there is a reason for that! And the reason is simply that this magnificent cathedral of St.Mary (Santa Maria) is absolutely stunning! It’s already stunning from the outside, but to get the whole idea of this almost 800 year old Roman Gothic cathedral you will definitely also have to see it from the inside, you will be amazed for sure. There are many peculiarities with the cathedral of “La Seu” in Palma, firstly its HUGE (121m long, 40m wide and 44m tall) and the fact that it’s located very next to cities medieval walls (almost on top of them) and so close to the sea (the sea used to come all the way to the old walls) gives it a very special status being the only cathedral in the whole world situated that close to the sea. The fact that the cathedral took approximately 372 years to build, has also contributed to a reflection of different styles both on the interior and on the exterior part of the church, be sure to check out all its details. On the inside I recommend you to sit down for a while on one of the benches and just breathe in the majesty of this building. Pay attention to the light finding its way through the rose window and be sure to not miss the little side chapel (Capilla del Santísimo) on the right side of the mail altar where the Majorcan artist Miguel Barceló installed a very special piece of modern art between 2001 and 2006.
Number 3: Let yourself get lost in the old town of Palma
This is a recommendation that might seem a bit scary to some people who like to be in control and know exactly where you are all the time. But it’s time to live a little! The medieval neighbourhoods of Es Born, La Lonja, Monti-sion, Cort etc etc are all situated very next to each other and they offer the visitor a marvellous opportunity to just stroll around and literally get lost on its small narrow streets. I say getting lost because the streets are small, narrow, not straight and it’s simply more stressful to always be watching your gps or map, instead of just going with the flow and walking around. Make sure to peak in on old patios, perhaps enter a church or a convent, enjoy a coffee in a little coffee house or bar or pop in to an art shop that you happen to pass by. The good news is that Palmas old medieval town is all surrounded by what we call “the avenues”, this is a big 6-filed avenue that you surely won’t miss, so it really doesn’t matter in which direction you go, you will always end up at a bigger square (“plaza”), by a church with its name on it or on the avenues (both last options are then easy to locate on a map or gps).
Number 4: Have a walk (through the forest) up to Castell de Bellver
Once you’re a bit more familiar with the city, it’s sights and perhaps are getting a bit tired of being surrounded with people and asphalt, I recommend you to do a small “side excursion” to the Gothic Castle of Bellver that is also hosting the historical museum of Palma city and dates back to the 14th century. This castle is one of the few circular castles in Europe and is beautifully located on a hill 3km from Palma centre. Just where the big road up to Castle de Bellver starts (Carrer de Castell de Bellver), there is also a little walking path on your left hand side (ruta de senderismo del gran castell) that leads you up beautifully through the forest and all the way up to the castle. Once up I recommend you to enjoy the amazing views over Palma city, harbour and bay before entering the museum. If you want a variation when coming down, instead of following the path you came up, go down the stairs that are located just below the viewpoint in front of the castle. The stairs will lead you pass the little chapel of Sant Alonso Rodríguez and down again to the El Terreno neighbourhood. If you keep on walking down all the time you will shortly be back at the seafront avenue in Palma (Avenida Gabriel Roca) very next to the sea.
Number 5: Enjoy a refreshing drink on the terrace of Es Baluard
On purpose I left this tip as the last one, as I consider it the perfect one for rounding up your day visit to the city of Palma. Es Baluard “Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma” is located on the perimeter of the bastion of Sant Pere, which forms part of the Renaissance walled enclosure that surrounded the city of Palma until the early 20th century. Beautifully located it offers an interesting mix of modern architecture in combination with the old medieval walls of Palma, all this with the sea and the nautical club of Palma in front and the river of Sa Riera on the side. The museum (also worth it a visit if you have got some spare time) has got a terrace facing south-west and it’s a kind of little oasis in the middle of the centre of Palma that invites you to sit down, and watch the movement of the Palm trees, the sea and to enjoy the sunny climate the Mallorca normally offers to its visitors.