Palma is the capital of the Balearic Island of Mallorca and located in the south of the island, on the bay of Palma. There are many reasons to love Palma: a beautiful old town with impressive architecture and the so typical narrow streets, a long promenade, and an excellent gastronomic offer - from traditional Spanish restaurants to hip cafés. No matter if you come to Palma only for a day trip or a city trip of several days with overnight stay, both will be worth it. The city center of Palma is not that big and the most important sights can be explored on foot within one day. But even with a stay of several days, you will certainly not get bored in Mallorca’s capital.
**Here we present you the top things to see and do in Palma. **
The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma in Palma (also called La Seu) is THE landmark of the island capital and for good reason. The impressive building, which was influenced by different architectural styles, is almost 110 meters long and 33 meters wide. This is why, it is not so easy to find the best angle in order to fully admire the cathedral and/or to take a picture of it.
Entrance: 8 Euro for adults and 4 Euro for kids
INSIDER TIP: On November 11 and February 2 of each year, the cathedral magically enchants with a very special light spectacle, also known as the "Magic Eight" or "milagro de la luz" in Spanish. On these days the sun shines through the colorful round glass windows of the east facade in a specific way so that the image of the colorful rosette is projected onto the opposite west facade, directly under the rosette on this side. In order not to miss this play of light, you should get up early in the morning and hope that no clouds are blocking the sun. The miracle is only visible for a short moment. On these two special days of the year, the entrance to Palma's cathedral is even free.
The Palacio Real de La Almudaina is located right next to the cathedral and is still one of the residences of the royal family. The Alcazar originally was the residence of the Muslim rulers, but was then rebuilt in the 14th century and became the seat of the Mallorcan monarchs. Nowadays, some parts of the palace can be visited.
Entrance: 7 Euros für adults, 4 Euros reduced
The Arab Baths (Banys Arab) are another highlight in Palma's old town and are situated in a beautiful small garden, not far from the cathedral. The atmosphere here is magical and makes you feel like you have arrived in a quiet oasis. The baths date back to the 11th century and are some of the few legacies of Arabic architecture in Palma. In the ancient bathrooms there are screens that play videos in different languages with interesting background information.
Entrance: 2 Euros
The old town of Palma is characterised by a stylistic combination of Spanish and Arabic influences. Narrow alleys, some of which are connected only by stairs and some with unique patios.
As typical for Spanish cities, there are a lot of big and small squares where the life takes place and there is always something going on. Here are the most beautiful plazas and streets in Palma's old town:
The Plaça Major is the most famous and also most impressive plaza of Palma and it is practically the centre of the city. It is a rectangular large plaza surrounded by a facade of houses. It is almost impossible not to come across the Plaça Major while strolling through the city. In the high season, tourists, street vendors who advertise their souvenirs, artists, musicians and waiters who invite you to their restaurants are all busy here. In the evening, it usually gets very quiet and peaceful here.
INSIDER TIPP: Cafe Arabay on the edge of Plaça Major has incredibly good coffee and is the perfect place for a short break. If you want to know more about cosy cafés in Palma, click here.
Plaça de Cort is the city hall square and only 3 minutes walk from Plaça Major. Highlight here is a huge old olive tree, which is estimated to be 500 to 600 years old. The legendary tree is one of the most popular and most photographed attractions of Palma and is without question the most famous olive tree on the island.
Calle Sant Miguel is a pedestrian street and extends from the Plaza Mayor up to the main street Avenidas. During the high season, there is always an unbelievable amount of people during the day on the Calle Sant Miguel, as it is right in the city centre and the perfect shopping street. The street is full of shops (from big chains like Mango and Zara) to boutiques and souvenir stores. There are also plenty of ice cream shops! 😊 No wonder that Calle Sant Miguel is so popular with tourists in Palma.
La Rambla is another road that should not be missed. Flower stands that sell colourful bouquets, fresh flowers and plants are decorating this avenue. At the sideways there are some bars and cafés. Also from here, a short detour the narrow and romantic side alleyways is worthwhile.
The Passeig del Born is the most elegant promenade in Palma. In the middle of the avenue there is a wide pedestrian area, surrounded on both sides by large trees and stone benches where you can observe the hustle and bustle of the city. No wonder that some luxury shops have just settled here but also stores like Zara Home, Zara and H&M. Furthermore, there are countless cafés and restaurants. If you are still not satisfied with your shopping, you can explore further shops in Jaume III from the Passeig del Born.
**INSIDER TIP: ** In winter the Passeig del Born (among other large squares) is decorated with beautiful lights. The switching on of the Christmas lights (in 2019 it was 28.11.) is celebrated every year with a small event.
Sa Llotja is a beautiful, picturesque building and is only separated from the sea and the port by the main road. The historic building can easily be mistaken for a church because of its design. Originally built in the 15th century by the famous Mallorcan architect Guillem Sagrera, La Llotja served as a maritime trade centre, with Mallorcan merchants bargaining for their goods. Today La Llotja is an artistic and cultural centre. While there are temporary art exhibitions in the building, it is possible to enter the building for free and admire it from the inside. Otherwise it is closed.
If you stay several days in Palma and/or already know all the other sights of Palma, you should visit Castell de Bellver. The castle is located a little bit away from the centre of Palma (about 3 km to the west) but can be easily reached by several bus lines (50, 3,20,46). This fortress was built in the Gothic style in the 14th century under order of the Mallorcan King Jaime II. It is one of the few castles in Europe that has a round ground plan. Today the building houses the Historical Museum of Mallorca. As this gothic fortress was built on a hill, it offers a wonderful view of Palma's city centre, the harbour, the Traumuntana mountains and the sea. This explains the name of the castle - it originates from the ancient Catalan and "bell veer" means "beautiful view".
Entrance fee: 4 EUR for adults, 2 EUR reduced, 2,50 EUR for residents of Palma. On Sundays the entrance is free.
More information about tickets, opening hours and how to get there can be found on the website of Castell de Bellver.
All ship and yacht fans should walk to one of the ports of Palma. The Puerto de Palma de Mallorca is the largest port of the Balearic Islands. Cruises, luxurious yachts, sailing boats and smaller motor boats dock here. Another port, where mainly smaller boats anchor, is located at the beginning of the quarter Portixols.
Have you ever been to Palma? What did you like best about it? Leave us a comment below.