Palma Mallorca, a place where you can mix a charming city break with all the benefits of a summer holiday, this vibrant city with it’s boutique hotels, trendy art galleries, atmospheric bars and a food scene to rival the rest of Europe, should be right up there on your list to visit. Whether you’re after a short break, or a longer holiday there are so many things to keep you entertained right at your fingertips.
In recent years there’s been an influx in traditionally Spanish, boutique hotels popping up in the old town, and restaurants and bars to match. It’s definitely a trendy city, and combined with a marina where the rich moor their yachts, a distinct shopping scene, and a cultured offering of art galleries and museums, there’s enough to see and do to keep everyone happy, with many coming back year after year.
Here’s a list of 20 things to do in Palma Mallorca, that can all be done relatively easily. It’s not a big city, but if you enjoy an active holiday I’d encourage you to plan activities to fit in with your trip. If you prefer to relax and enjoy the sun, don’t worry, you can still see and enjoy nearly all of Palma by making the most of the evenings too.
Explore the Old Town
Narrow streets, archways that lead to beautiful Spanish interior courtyards, and little squares with gardens and tiny cafes, the Arab or Cathedral Quarter is a beautiful maze that you could spend hours wandering around.
It’s mainly locals around here, well away from the bustle of the Palma harbour and sea front, and stretches out behind Palma Cathedral. Get a glimpse of the Spanish way of life, admire the buildings and colourful shutters, and discover all sorts of little treasures as you wander around.
There’s plenty restaurants and bars, little squares that sometimes hold performances or events, and it’s a fabulous area to stay in if you’re looking for a real authentic Spanish stay.
Visit Palma Cathedral
It’s official name is Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca, but it’s often referred to as La Seu. Roman Catholic, gothic, and standing tall it overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, and is one of the most famous sights in Palma.
You can visit for a fee (around 8 euros for adults, and inside see the fabulous work of art up close, including additions made by Gaudi, the three naves and the rose window.
Wander the gardens of Palace de l’Almudaina
Next to Palma Cathedral the palace was once where those who ruled over Palma lived, and the gardens below called S’Hort del Rei gardens are a beautiful spot to wander among the palm trees, water fountains, and old archways. Watch the world go buy for a while as you listen to the Spanish guitarist playing nearby.
Visit Placa de la Llotja
The main square in Palma Old Town is instantly recognisable by the many restaurants and bars around the outside, all with seating areas for al fresco dining, and the street performers and entertainers.
Llonja de Mallorca is a big old gothic building on one side, which is free to enter and under the beautiful archways overhead there are often art displays or installations.
Join the queue for an ice cream
One of the most popular ice cream spots in Palma is right on Place de la Llotja. It’s called Riva Reno Gelataria, and if you see people wandering around the old town with an ice cream it’s more than likely from here. The queue is long and persistent but worth the wait.
Have some of the best Spanish tapas you’ll ever have
The options are endless especially in the old town, where every street you walk down is lined with many different little places perfect for traditional tapas. Some of my favourites for casual dining include Gaudeix, Wineing or Boveda, but for a more restaurant style fancier choice then you can’t beat Forne.
See my full post on where to eat in Palma for more details and suggestions.
Share a Spanish paella
The best Paella in Palma can be had at a restaurant called Caballito de Mar, an establishment famous for it’s seafood. The seafood paella for a minimum of two people is unbeatable, although I have also heard there’s some to rival it along the coast at Portixol.
Go wine tasting
There are a few places you could do this but I’ve only ever done it at a little bar in the Old Town called Wineing. They have a selection of largely local Mallorcan wine, but they do have some international cabinets too. I found them to be really cheap, with friendly staff, and popular both for the wine and the food.
If wine isn’t your thing there’s plenty cocktail bars too..
Abaco is probably the most famous, and most beautiful cocktail bar in Palma, with it’s quirky interior and fabulous outdoor courtyard. It’s not the cheapest, but you have to visit at least once.
Alternatively, try places like Bar Atlantico or Cafe la Lonjo, both in the old town and great for outside drinking, people watching and light snacks.
If you’re into clubbing, Tito’s is Palma’s oldest nightclub.
Find more details on all the bars mentioned above and a few others in Palma here.
Spend a day at a Beach club
I’ve not actually done this myself, as we just didn’t have enough days, but I did do the research before we went in case. There are plenty to choose from, and this article discusses many including Nikki Beach (which is in the less favourable location of Magaluf), Purobeach and Nassau Beach Club.
One which isn’t on that list, that I really liked the look of was called Anima Beach, Palma, which was both a restaurant and a beach club right by the sea. It looks gorgeous and the food gets really good reviews too.
Yacht spot in the harbour
A walk around the marina of Palma will leave you wishing you were a millionaire, with all the yachts moored up looking spectacular. There’s always plenty to see as it’s one of the most popular and sought after mooring spots for the rich.
Have fun on the water yourself with water sports, boat hire and catamarans
Even if you can’t quite make it onto a luxury yacht, there’s plenty of other options to get out onto the water. There are many different operators, so do your research before selecting one, but there’s everything from renting a small speed boat for a few hours, to sailing lessons, scuba diving, water sports, and chartering your own boat for the day.
This site is quite good for groups of all sizes, it’s like Air Bnb for boat hire.
Spend your money among the Palma shopping scene
Palma is amazing for shopping, with well known brands like Zara, H&M and Mango having a big presence there, but also there’s designer stores like Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and Mulberry. These can all be found on the main shopping street of Passeig des Born.
Among the streets of the Old Town you’ll find plenty of little boutiques, selling a whole range of clothing and homeware at various price points. Some of the most popular streets are Unió, Avinguda d’Alexandre Rossello and La Rambla.
The main square in the old town is Placa de la Llotja, and the main road that runs along the top of it often has a market on in the evening. It’s actually really good selling some lovely jewellery, art work and photography. Worth a wander through before you go for dinner.
Throughout the whole of Palma the independent little shops and boutiques are some of my favourite, selling hand made leather goods, crafts, gorgeous summer wear, basket bags, linens and flip flops. You could easily come back with another case full of things you’ve bought there!
Try the local produce
I don’t know about you but food just tastes nicer abroad when it’s fresh, and some of the food markets in Palma are the perfect place to get juicy fruit, delicious ham, garlic, chillis, oils and cheeses.
There’s a market every Saturday at Placa Major, or try the food hall San Juan Gastronomic Market daily. With 17 food stalls, a bar, a cafe and often with events on this old hall is a food experience different to any other. If you can’t make any of the markets, there are plenty of little delicatessens dotted around town.
Get cultured at the art galleries and museums
Palma is a bit of a culture hotspot, especially if you like a good mix of independent modern art galleries in contrast with the older more traditional style ones. In the heart of the Old Town there are many, which if you look inside are simplistic and sleek, but found in some of the oldest buildings in Palma. Gerhardt Braun Gallery 12 is a good one, and there’s a fabulous little tapas place just up the street too.
There’s also museums dotted about, including one named Museo Fundacion Juan March, which is located not far from Placa Major. A pretty small but significant collection of Spanish art lies inside what used to be an old former mansion, including works by Picasso himself. We passed by, and the inner courtyard typical of this area looks beautiful even in itself.
Castell de Bellver is an old castle that overlooks the city of Palma, so as well as being a museum holding some of the city’s history, it also offers panoramic views. There is a fee to enter unless you go on Sunday’s. Palace de l’Almudaina right next to the cathedral is also a museum inside too.
Stay in a Boutique hotel with rooftop pool
There’s been a surge in this style of hotel over recent years, with more people favouring them over the big chain hotels that can be found on the sea front. I know people who have stayed at Hotel Nakar, including some of my own family and they all report back that it’s beautiful.
We stayed at the Posada Terra Santa which I honestly couldn’t find any fault with. It was absolutely beautiful, transforming an ancient Spanish townhouse into a luxurious, boutique spot in the heart of the Old Town. With a rooftop terrace and pool overlooking the cathedral, a private spa in the basement, and modern rooms, it’s an escape from the city outside by day, but a brilliant local spot to base yourselves from for the evening.
You can find my full Posada Terra Santa review here.
Enjoy Palma’s Promenade – Paseo Maritimo
The promenade that runs right along the seafront from Palma, past the Cathedral, past Palace de l’Almudainathe and on to the village of Portixol and beyond is an activity in itself that offers so many different things to do.
Enjoy a walk or a jog along the pedestrianised walkway, or join many others cycling or rollerblade along the bike lane. There are plenty of bike and rollerblading rental spots in Palma, and many hotels offer this too.
Spot the many different types of boats that sail along this shoreline, from super yachts to tiny sailing boats, or stop and watch the world go by from one of the trendy bars and restaurants that line the coast.
Spend a day on the beach
The biggest benefit of a city break in Mallorca is of course the weather, and Palma is in prime spot right on the coast. If you fancy a day sunbathing and swimming in the sea, head to one of the nearest beaches.
Playa del Palma is one of the biggest stretching right along the coast, and has a number of beach clubs dotted along. If beach clubs aren’t for you then go along with your towel, or rent a sun lounger.
Portixol has a small beach that is very popular with the locals, and is surrounded by great cafes and restaurants away from the big holiday resorts.
Sip on sundowners under the sunset
The stunning sunsets of Palma turn the skies above the city and the coastline a rich golden orange. Grab a bottle of wine, a cocktail, or even take a picnic on the beach to witness them.
For a change from Palma city, take a taxi just 5 minutes along the coast to the old working fishing village of Portixol. Here you’ll find gorgeous little colourful fishermans houses, a marina and sailing club, piers you can fish from, a beach popular with the locals, and one of the most stunning boutique hotels with equally impressive restaurants.
Even if you aren’t staying here, it’s worth it for a visit for lunch and the afternoon, with plenty of other restaurants and bars dotted along the sea front too.
Read my full mini guide to Portixol here.
Overall Palma is an amazing city break, with all the benefits of a summer holiday thrown in too. The food scene in Palma old town is honestly one of my favourite’s in the world, the seafood and paella are second to none. You can enjoy many different types of break here, whether you’re there for a full week or more, or just a long weekend you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
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