much more than beautiful beaches

Sarah Freeman on 25 March 2023
I just got back from a fabulous 4 days in Palma.

Mallorca is a popular Mediterranean island for beach holidays, but if you’re looking for a city break that is rich in culture, has an amazing food scene and is compact enough to explore in a long weekend...the island’s capital is perfect!

We stayed in the old historic centre at the 5* Nivia Boutique Hotel just off the Passeig Des Born which is similar to Barcelona’s Ramblas (although Palma also has its own Ramblas too!) and is the main promenade flanked at one end by the fountain, lined by shops and scattered with outdoor dining options.

A great way to get your bearings is to book the Hop On Hop Off Tour, with 18 stops when all are operating, it operates a wide circuit around the city and allows you to jump off when you want to visit a particular point of interest. I used the bus to get to Castell de Bellver which is perched on a hill about 3 miles from the city. Built in 1300 this royal residence and fortress, later became a prison. It’s a Gothic circular design, features an interesting museum and offers amazing 360 views.

Two more iconic buildings are the Le Seu (Palma Cathedral) and Palau de L’Almudaina, standing next to one another and overlooking the bay of Palma, these imposing buildings date back to the 14th century. The cathedral dominates the skyline and you can clearly see Gaudi’s influence. One of the most impressive sights are the giant stained glass “rose” windows which cast beautiful rainbow reflections across the interior. The palace once an Islamic fort with its beautiful interior courtyard, imposing Gothic Hall and quaint chapel is still used today by the Royal Family to host state receptions.

If you love architecture, don’t miss Can Casayas and Pension Menorquina, a charming pair of buildings designed by Francesc Roca i Simo or Can Roca, which was one of the first Modernista buildings to use ceramic decoration on its façade.

One of the nice things about the city is the number of pedestrianised shopping areas, so starting in Plaza d’Espanya, head down Calle Sant Miquel to Placa Major and from here walk in any direction to enjoy local boutiques and stores selling traditional goods - for popular El Corte Ingles and high street shops it’s an easy 10 minute walk over to Avenida Jaime III.

After all that exploring, make sure to enjoy tapas in one of the hundreds of local restaurants and finish off your meal with an ensaimada, a typical Mallorcan pastry.

Missing the beach? Don’t worry, stroll east along the seafront promenade and you’ll arrive at the city’s urban beach with beach clubs at either end!