Discover Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca is a city steeped in rich history, with visible vestiges from the Islamic and Roman eras. The old town, with its silent, shaded alleyways and traditional old shops, provides a natural, beautiful contrast to the pace of a vital, cosmopolitan Mediterranean city, loved by those who live in it and unforgettable for anyone who comes to visit it.
If you are spending just one day in Palma, you should take advantage right from the early morning by having breakfast at the original C’an Joan de S’Aigua in Calle Sans, 10. This establishment, which was founded in the year 1700, is one of the city’s great classics and as well as its ensaimadas and cuartos, it offers exquisite artisanal ice cream at any time of day. Located in Sa Gerreria, upon leaving you can take a walk around this district and explore its narrow stone streets, where you may suddenly be surprised by a classical Mallorcan patio, an ancient palace or an old-fashioned, traditional shop.
Your walk will lead you to Plaza de Santa Eulália, with its majestic church (Palma de Mallorca is a city of churches), and just 30 metres away from it Plaza de Cort, one of the city’s most emblematic squares, where the Ayuntamiento or City Council offices are, as well as a spectacular, ancient olive tree which is probably the most-photographed specimen of all Mallorca.
Continuing along the street called Palau Reial, you will pass what was the former Círculo Mallorquín, an impressive building that was the venue for the balls and parties of Palma’s nobles during the first half of the 20th century, and is now the seat of the Balearic parliament.
Right beside this building, you can see the Palau March, which was the residence of the Juan March Ordinas, an entrepreneur and financier who was once the richest man in the world. The palace can be visited.
From here, if you look up, you will encounter the two greatest historical constructions par excellence of the city of Palma: the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca and the Almudaina Palace.
Construction of Palma Cathedral began in 1229, after the island was conquered by King Jaime I of Aragon, on the site of the former mosque of Medina Mayurca. The cathedral was built in honour of Santa María, who had purportedly saved the king and his army from a shipwreck caused by the storm that raged on the way to Mallorca. Gothic in style, it took almost 400 years to complete.
As for the Almudaina Palace, this former fortress rebuilt in the year 1309 by King Jaime II was successively the seat of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Mallorca, the Crown of Aragon and Spain. Nowadays the king and queen still hold audiences inside it when they are on official visits to the island.
At the base of the Almudaina Palace, after viewing the whole Bay of Palma from its walls, you can go down through the Jardines del Rey, or king’s gardens, which lead you out onto the city’s most mythical avenue, Paseo del Borne. Flanked by its tall, ancient plane trees, it is here, in the Borne, between the Plaza Rey Juan Carlos Tortuga (popularly known as the Plaza de las Tortugas) and Plaza Reina María Cristina, that the life of the city has run its course over the last two centuries. And today, Paseo del Borne contains some of the most exclusive stores in Palma de Mallorca: Louis Vuitton, Carolina Herrera, Hugo Boss, Relojería Alemana, Nicolás Joyeros…
In the Plaza de las Tortugas, Bar Bosch is the perfect place for stopping and taking some refreshment on the busy terrace, in the form of a “langosta” (the typical Mallorcan bread, known as llonguet, served hot with tomato smeared on it and topped with cheese).
After regaining your strength, you can continue your walk along Calle Unión and Plaza Weyler or Plaza del Mercado, the former Jewish market during the 15th and 16th centuries, now a popular area of shops, cafés and restaurants. This will lead you to Plaza Mayor, from where you can walk up Calle San Miguel, a busy, narrow pedestrian street with numerous boutiques. In this street you should stop at the Fundación March, one of the best museums in the city; the church of San Miguel, one of Palma’s oldest churches; and the Mercado del Olivar, the city’s main market, with its traditional stalls selling meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, alongside the old-fashioned cafés and stands where you can taste oysters, seafood and sushi which have become all the rage of late.
Upon leaving the Mercado del Olivar, go down Calle Olmos, a pedestrian street but not too attractive given the low quality of the shops, which will lead you to La Rambla with its flower stalls and meandering on down you will come to Calle Jaime III, Palma’s main shopping street, now somewhat “threatened” by the nearby Paseo del Borne. Loewe, Cartier, Mascaró, Camper, Lottusse and even one of the city’s two El Corte Inglés department stores are based in this road.
Crossing over Sa Riera, the bed of the old river that cut through part of the town of old, you will come to one of Palma’s most characteristic districts: Santa Catalina. Almost any of the restaurants in the broad pedestrian street Calle Fábrica (look at the menu first) may be a good option for eating, preferably on one of the terraces.
After dessert, and wandering around the bohemian streets of Santa Catalina, a decidedly pleasant stroll is to be had down to the Paseo Marítimo, where you can walk amongst the fishing boats and yachts.
Without going too far away, but going up Avenida Argentina again, Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art awaits with an interesting permanent collection (works by Picasso, Miró, Barceló, etc.), displayed inside an installation that is a work of art in itself, Palma’s old city wall.
When you leave Es Baluard, you can wander on up through the neighbourhood of Sant Pere, a former fishermen’s quarter which still retains its old seafaring flavour. From the lower part, Plaza Atarazanas, you can take a relaxing walk along Paseo de Sagrera, opposite the fishing boats, until reaching another of Palma’s most typical districts, La Lonja. Actually, the neighbourhood takes its name from the building called La Lonja, an impressive Gothic construction built by Guillermo Sagrera from 1420 to 1452. Temporary art exhibitions are now held in this former Merchants’ Guild headquarters.
An evening walk through the streets and alleys of La Lonja is highly recommended before you enter one of the numerous restaurants in the area for dinner, of which we can recommend Forn and KOA.
And if you still have the energy to extend the night after dinner, one good option is to visit some of Palma’s cocktail bars. We recommend the Brass Club, the Gibson, the Ginbo or the Atlántico, and also the Blue Jazz, where you can listen to live music, in the penthouse of the Hotel Saratoga.
To dance until dawn, the best options are Pacha, Tito’s or Garito Café, in the Paseo Marítimo.