Where to go, what to see, how to dine and – perhaps most importantly – where to find the best souvenirs in Palma de Mallorca, the Majorcan capital …
What to See, Eat and Do in the Majorcan Capital
With an average summer temperature of 27-30°C, it’s no surprise that Palma de Mallorca is a popular spot for a weekend break away from it all. Add to that a flight time of just under 2.5 hours and an airport no more than 15 minutes from the city centre, and a long weekend in Palma becomes even more appealing. With a backdrop that includes an array of historic and architectural landmarks, Gothic masterpieces, modernist art nouveau buildings and a lively yacht filled harbour, Palma is most certainly a treat for the senses. And just in case you need more convincing, let’s not forget the gastronomy and the all-important shopping, after all, no holiday is complete without a side order of self-indulgence.
When to Visit
With hot summers and very mild winters, there is never a bad time to visit Palma and it being a vibrant capital city, there is always a buzz in the air unlike many dedicated resorts which can be underwhelming during the gloomier months. Visit during the summer and you could tie in a city break in Palma with a few days by the beach in Cala d’Or, Port de Soller or Andratx. April is a lovely time to escape the Irish ‘springtime’ and soak up some warmth with an average temperature of 19.5°C. The Palma International Boat Show usually takes place over the last weekend in April which also adds a frisson of excitement into the city regardless of whether you are a boat enthusiast. While September sees slightly cooler temperatures and a quieter time for tourists.
Where to Stay
Hotel Ca’n Cirera
The recently opened Hotel Ca’n Cirera is perfectly positioned in the Gothic quarter of the old town, right beside Palma’s famous Cathedral. The hotel is a lesson in restraint, the owners allowing the sheer beauty and history of the building to be the focal point. Rooms are airy with comfy beds and huge bathrooms clad in natural stone and marble. There is a charming garden terrace that serves breakfast and afternoon refreshments with produce directly from the owner’s farm just outside the city. Double rooms from €170; book here.
Hotel Posada Terra Santa
Located in a building that dates back to 1575, Posada Terra Santa is an intimate Renaissance palace with a smattering of Gothic remnants which has been transformed into an oasis of calm, splendour and comfort, all accomplished in classic Mediterranean style. With indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and a wellness centre all within a stone’s throw of the best Palma has to offer, the Posada Terra Santa is a wise choice for a weekend break. Or perhaps a week. Double rooms from €260; book here.
Hostal De Cuba
In the lively Santa Catalina neighbourhood, Hostal de Cuba is a 4-star hotel that is also home to Palma’s famous Sky Bar, which boasts breathtaking panoramic views over the Bay of Palma and the famous Cathedral towering over the city. With stunning Art Nouveau architecture, the Hostal de Cuba is lively and fun without overwhelming and enjoying cocktails on the roof to the backdrop of live music is a special experience indeed. Double rooms from €130; book here.
Where to Eat
As expected, the city of Palma is crammed with eateries and tapas bars, many of which are good and some of which are excellent. As is often the case in capital cities, wandering away from the thronged thoroughfares will often result in finding hidden gems. The rule of thumb? If it’s filled with locals, it might well be worth checking out. These places certainly are.
Located on a small side street off the main drag, Bar España is always busy. Always. Tourists and locals sit side by side in a small bar that churns out authentic tapas as fast as humanly possible, in an effort to keep up with the demand. Sit at the bar to graze on ‘bar top appetisers’ which during our last visit included giant slices of tortilla, Gilda, Russian salad and olives. Hot food is ordered separately and looking back now I am impressed with the barman’s ability to document everything we ate and drank over the course of the evening. Our meal cost €40 for two including copious glasses of wine and we left sated and very happy indeed. Book a table here.
De Tokio A Lima, Can Alomar Hotel
Overlooking the chic shopping area of Paseo del Borne, De Tokio A Lima is located on the rooftop of the stunning Can Alomar Hotel. You won’t find many tapas on the menu but you will be treated to ethereal shrimp fritters with orange dressing, rocoto and lime or glazed Iberian pork with sweet-sour sauce and papaya salad. Needless to say the cocktails are a delight and the lemon meringue with lemons from nearly Sollér was simply stunning. On the more lavish side, enjoying a meal overlooking the twinkling lights of the city is a very much an upscale treat… Book a table here.
Perhaps the most famous tapas bar in Palma, El Camino is certainly worthy of the hype. We arrived just as they opened their doors for lunch service to find a queue had already formed so booking ahead to avoid disappointment is imperative, as it’s a small room with mainly allocated bar seating. We enjoyed courgette flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese, chicory, pear and blue cheese salad, more tortilla and perfectly cooked scallops. The atmosphere is buzzy and engaging and the décor is enough to make me want to plan a return visit. Book a table here.
What to Take Home
The island of Majorca is famous for many things but its most famous export is perhaps the fiery Sobrasada which is made on the island. It’s a spreadable sausage, similar to Italian ‘Nduja and a trip to the daily food market in Santa Catalina is the place to stock up.
If, like me, you enjoy taking a bottle of something unique home to add to your drinks cabinet, then a local almond liqueur is ideal. On this trip I brought home a bottle of Perellon Majorcan almond cream liqueur but there are a variety available. Spanish vermouth is also a good choice for those all-important aperitivo hours that will hopefully occur over the summer months when memories of warm nights in Palma are just that, a memory. Make sure to stop off at Mimbrería Vidal, a basket shop that was founded in 1955, located on one of the old town’s side streets. You’ll find wicker baskets and bags in every shape and size – some small enough to squeeze into your 10kg baggage allowance!
Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly direct from Dublin to Palma from April – October.
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