Part 1: Palma de Mallorca (1.5 Days)
Where to stay?
After landing in Palma in the early evening hours, we made our way directly to our hotel. Taxi fares are set and displayed in the official taxi station. We paid about €20 to get to the city center, and stayed at Hotel Almudaina. Conveniently located in a central location just outside the old, you have the benefit of being close to everything but without the nightmarish traffic of the old city. The old city, cathedral, shopping area and waterfront – are all just minutes away by foot. Let’s not forget the great breakfast and rooftop terrace with fantastic panoramic views of the city.
For dinner, we sampled some reasonably priced and fresh tapas at Restaurante Taste, just around the corner from the hotel and headed for an evening stroll in the old city. The cathedral is magnificently lit at night and definitely worth a visit.
The following day was our only full day in Palma, which is more than enough to gather in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the city. Stroll down Passeig del Born, shaded by the boulevard of trees and lined up with fantastic Gaudi-like facades. It’s a great shopping street and will also lead you to the waterfront and the cathedral.
The cathedral is definitely a must (8€) though I would advise arriving early as it is packed with visitors. Even if you’re an avid cathedral visitor, this one will still blow your mind. It’s difficult to comprehend how humans built a structure like this centuries ago (even though it did take a few centuries to complete). Be sure to also walk around the exterior to catch the magnificent entrances meticulously decorated with remarkable and delicate gothic designs. The most exquisite is Portal del Mirador on the southern facade, overlooking the bay.
An obvious next stop is the Palau de l’Almudaina just opposite the cathedral, a Moorish palace which later served Mallorcan royalty. As the crowds moved in, we decided to skip this tourist attraction and simply enjoy strolling around old Palma. Getting lost in the old city is part of the fun so don’t stress too much over it. Eventually, you’ll find your way.
Nestled between the cathedral and the bay is the Parc del Mar with its famous fountain. It’s a great place to snap some photos of the cathedral and the palace. En route to the park, you’ll also walk along the remnants of the old fort walls that once surrounded the area.
After snapping a few photos, we headed back up to the old city and past the Arab Baths (Banys Arabs), which are apparently one of the better preserved in Spain to Iglesia de Santa Eulalia and the Basilica de Sant Francesc – two of the city’s other famous churches. Other highlights include Placa Sant Jeroni with its lovely church, Placa Major with its bustling center and various eating options, and simply strolling around the more major streets in the old city with their tourist catering shops.
As far as eating, aside from tapas at Restaurante Taste, other notable places we tried are tapas at Bar Bosch (not bad but they ran out of most of the menu) and some superb sweets at Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo. This historical cafe, serves up superb ice creams and pastries at ridiculously low prices. Try the almond ice cream and the famous Ensaimada, don’t give up if you get lost as this place is hard to pin down in the narrow alleys.
The only thing we would really do different in Palma is go to the Mercado del Olivar, which was not open on a Sunday. It’s meant to be a covered market attracting many merchants from across the island.