If you have read my previous post about things to know when first time in Mallorca, then you will realize this this is just a continuation by showing you a bit more of Mallorca’s capital Palma (also the capital of all Balearic islands).
Mallorca in general is an island which offers variety of things to see and activities to do, so it doesn’t keep you locked within hotel and its amenities only. So you might be situated in Palma, or if not, make sure you go and visit it.
Palma is a cultural and commercial center of Mallorca. Thanks to its seaport, it experienced a great economic growth throughout the history. I was having my holiday in Can Pastilla (10 km from Palma), so with a good transportation, I visited Palma a few times.
The city was more than I expected, not a typical seaside city, I must say it was pretty modern, stylish, crowded during the season (especially to get on the buses – which won’t stop if they are full)…. but very enjoyable. Due to its charm, and climate it left me an impression that I could live there for a few months. So explore Palma de Mallorca here with me.
*** ABOUT PALMA ***
Palma was founded by Romans, then conquered by Byzantians, Moors, and the influences of each can be felt and seen throughout the city. It became a tourist destination in the ’50s, and ever since became one of the most popular travel destinations.
Population of Palma is around 400,000 people. and its airport is the 3rd busiest in Spain, with around 25 million passengers landing yearly. I was watching and literally every 2 min one airplane lands onto Palma’s airport. It attracts both mass and elite tourists.
It offers a tremendous charm and elegance, a place with positive vibes and you will see now why.
*** PALMA’S HIGHLIGHTS ***
While I was walking along Palma’s center, I was amazed by its architecture and had to take a few photos of some buildings. Some of these buildings Gaudi’s students were working on. There were also some houses and building which were not that modern, and not remodeled, but I guess this is what keeps a real Majorcan spirit alive.
One of the main squares in the city is called Placa Espanya, which is the busiest point in the city. Most of the buses come to this point and the main railway is situated right there. The statue behind me on the right commemorating the liberation of Mallorca from the Moors in the 13th century.
Another famous square in Palma, but smaller is Placa Major. “This is heart and soul of the Old town“, as they say. There are lots of tapas restaurants, markets with arts and crafts and other touristy stuff… so it can get very busy during the day. I went there early to avoid big crowds.
For me the biggest charm was the Old town, intertwined with the narrow streets – full of ancient passages, historic monuments, cute cafes, galleries, boutiques shops etc. It is located around the main highlight of the city >>> magnificent Cathedral Le Seu, which dates since the Middle Ages. It had been built for 400 years and finished in 1600, and represents one of the biggest churches built in Gothic style. It is also called the Cathedral of light since its architects, back in time, planned a light spectacle event to occur twice a year – when the orientation of the building aligns with the rising sun in such a way that the light streams in through the enormous stained glass window at its eastern end. (http://www.mallorca-spotlight.com).
Park in front of the Cathedral is called Parc de la Mer, where concerts, open-air cinemas, events are being held. Next to Cathedral is L’Almudaina, a 13th-century palace with gardens. If you walk inside, you will find the old Arab quarter, with its labyrinth of narrow streets.
Palma’s seafront is also something that is the most beautiful to me in the whole town. There is a nice marina with luxurious yachts parked, and huge harbor for bigger ships. But there is a a nice promenade with palm trees called Paseo Maritimo, full of cafes, clubs, restaurants, beautiful to walk by or ride bicycles. There are even some arts displayed and some souvenirs to buy along the way.
Passeig des Born, is located between the Old Town lets’say and Santa Catalina (read about ti later), and it is a big avenue where you may find shops from Zara till Louis Vuitton. This street has so much life – it is all in shade from the high trees, and full of people (locals or tourists) taking a break here to rest or drink a coffee and enjoy themselves.
If you walk along Passeig des Born and reach a square Placa J. Charles I you can either head to the right toward another tree lined promenade called La Rambla – full of florists or the left to Avinguda Jaume III – with nice architecture and again lots of shops (one of the El Corte Ingles shops is here).
Walking left from Passeig des Born, there is an artistic area called La Lonja, which is a very an interesting area with markets for arts and crafts, souvenirs… And of course full of cafes, bars, restaurants etc. What else to expect in Spain but a lot of gastronomic offers round the city ;-).
Next to it is a trendy Santa Catalina, with narrow streets, lots of bars, restaurants, nightlife and windmills! It is very interesting that actually you can see a lot of windmills around Palma and other places in Mallorca, kept as historic heritage. Santa Catalina is actually an old fisherman’s area, which got very popular in the last couple of years.
Palma is best seen by walking around. But if you are not a fan of too much walking around, then another way to explore Palma is to take Palma City Sightseeing for 22 euros (one -day ticket) bus from for example Placa Espanya. This route includes all above tourist attractions, ferry and commercial ports…and is a nice overview of the city. You can hop-on hop-off wherever you want and visit one of the spots/attractions.
Also this is the only bus route that visits the Castell de Bellver. This castle is today a museum, but in general it has been existing for 700 years now and it is up in the hill, giving a spectacular view onto the city – that is why called Bellver ( Bella vista). It is round in shape and built in Gothic style. Interesting fact is that it was acting as a prison during the Spanish civil war, while till then it was a summer residence for the Majorcan monarchy, Kind Jaime II.
*** SHOPPING ***
Summer sales have started now in July and I love the discounts they are giving out here in Spain, especially since I am fan of Spanish brands like Zara, Massio Dutti, Desigual…
Shops are mainly open from 10h-20h. Only some small shops may have some siesta during the day (13h30-16h30 – when shops are closed), but the department stores are open till 21h, and they work even on Sundays.
El Corte Ingles is the most famous Spanish department store, which you need several days to check out entirely. It has it all from mid-income till high-end fashion brands, house stuff etc. During the sales season do take the El Corte Ingles’s shopping card and earn yourselves some bonus euros for spending ;-). The bigger on is on Avinguda D’Alexandre Rossello, and a bit smaller one is on Avinguda de Jaume III.
Furthermore, good area for shopping is the street called San Miguel, which stretches from Placa Espanya till Placa Mayor. It is quite a long walk with lots of small shops. It can be very busy, especially in the narrower parts. But so lively, full of music artists, ice cream shops etc.
I mentioned already above in the text the stylish and fancy avenue Passeig des Born, which is a great for shopping. Hige Zara, H&M and Massimo Dutti shops are there, but also some high-end fashion brands.
Aslo very near to it, if you continue walking, is Avinguda Jaume III with lots of smaller shops (mostly Spanish brands) as well. Don’t forget to eat some delicious ice cream during your walks as they are the best and they can refresh you when being too hot in the city!
I would need to mention to not forget to buy some delicious Majrocan or Spanish delicatecies, like some good Iberico Jamones, chorizos, fuets, cheeses… since Spain is famous for good food!
There are a lot of shops around called Mallorca delicatessen where you have sausages and cheese displayed to try (or just feed your stomach a bit :-)) I have written a lot about Spanish food in my other posts about my gastronomic experience in Madrid and Seville for food lovers.
If looking for some good cocktail bar in Palma, the most famous one is definitely Abaco cocktail bar. It is located in La Lonja, and has a very unique romantic interior -should be checked out. It is a bit pricey, but hey….it is Spain 🙂
This was a small preview of my thoughts on what are the main highlights sin the city, if you are not staying for too long time there. Of course, the city could be discovered and explored more in depth, but for first impression, I hope I gave you enough information.
Stay tuned for more Classy Explorer posts! 🙂