Palma City Guide - Ideas on what to see and do

Palma de Mallorca is a Holiday4 favourite, and in this article, we provide a quick introduction to one of Spanis's most historic and celebrated cities. We hope it helps when choosing your next city break adventure.

Mallorca Hotel Pool

What to see and do in Palma - Tips and Ideas

Palma is Mallorca's capital, it's elegant, sophisticated and full of rich Gothic and Baroque architecture. The city is dominated by La Seu, an enormous Gothic cathedral located in the old town, close to the city's waterfront and elegant tree-lined bay. You'll find plenty to keep you occupied in Palma, with its numerous boutique hotels, colourful markets, designer shops, trendy bars and stylish restaurants, all of which lend a modern cosmopolitan air to the capital.

Dating back to the 13th century, La Seu is a majestic sight both night and day; the cathedral splays a labyrinth of ancient narrow streets that radiate out into the city's historic Barri Gotic (Gothic quarter), it's here where you'll find the magnificent and centuries-old baronial houses with their luxuriant central courtyards and splashing fountains.

We recommend starting your sightseeing journey at the cathedral, then simply wander along the ancient cobbled-stone walkways, passing through colourful medieval squares and palm tree gardens - cooled by (even more) ornate and soothing fountains.

If you fancing a few days relaxing on the beach, compare the island's best west coast resorts to find your ideal spot.

If you stop at one of Palma's many Cafés, try a local favourite - gelato de Almendra (almond ice-cream). You'll find cakes and pastries are often taken with a morning coffee, try a traditional Mallorcan Ensaimada (a sweet and simply rolled pastry dusted with sugar). Top Tip: Try the traditional homemade almond ice cream and pastries at Ca'n Joan de s'Aigo.

  • Head to the Cathedral and visit the 'La Lonja' area, a popular part of Palma's old town both day & night, great for bars, restaurants and clubs.
  • Window shop along the Paseo del Borne (Golden Mile) - Palma's most luxurious shopping street.
  • Stroll the Via VeríIt - a delightful lane home to stylish interior design shops and art galleries.
  • Try the food market at Santa Catalina, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood - with local artisan food and trendy bars.
  • Keep track of your route on a tourist map - as you walk the relaxing maze of narrow cobbled a streets of the old town.
Royal Palace of La Almudaina

Visit the Castell de Bellver

Set on a hill just west of Palma is Castell de Bellver (Bellver Castle). The circular castle was built in 1309 and was used for many years as a summer residence for Mallorcan kings. More recently, it was used as a prison, nowadays the castle houses Palma's Museum of municipal history. One of the castle's main draws is its spectacular 360-degree views over the Bay of Palma and beyond (Bellver means 'lovely view' in Catalan).

Top Tip: Take a taxi up to the castle and enjoy (a leisurely) 3km walk back to the city through calm and cooling pinewoods. Alternatively, combine a visit to Bellver Castle with a city circular, open-top bus tour.

Visit the Royal Palace of La Almudaina

In an elevated old part of the city overlooking the Bay of Palma stands the once-mighty and impressive Royal Palace of La Almudaina, which has settlements dating back to Roman times. The Gothic-styled Palace was constructed in the early 14th century (between 1305 and 1314) for James II and served as the court of the kings of Mallorca in the first half of that century. Today, La Almudaina is the official residence of His Majesty the King when he visits Mallorca.

Visitors can wander through several rooms to admire their history, including numerous period pieces, antiques, impressive furniture, paintings, sculpture and tapestries. Noteworthy areas include the Main Hall (one of the Almudaina's most significant rooms).

The Royal Palace of La Almudaina ( Almudaina is Arabic for 'fortress') has been the official residence of the King and Queen during their stays in Mallorca since the 14th century (and along with the Cathedral), makes a significant landmark and showpiece for the artistic styles that have prevailed through the island's history.

The main building was erected during James II's reign and has been utilized for official ceremonies, major celebrations and receiving ambassadors ever since. The Palace is well worth a visit, you can book entry tickets by visiting the official Royal Palace of La Almudaina website.

When is the best time of year to visit Palma?

The best time to visit Palma is early and late summer when the temperature is pleasant, the city buzz is lively and nearby resorts and beaches are less crowded.

Where to find the best bars and restaurants in Palma?

There are many dining options and a varied entertainment scene in Palma, with restaurant prices remaining reasonable compared to capital cities on the mainland. The buzz is to be found in the old town, so head to La Lonja and the Carrer de Apuntadors, a long and narrow ancient stone lane packed with traditional and classy restaurants, plus numerous stylish wine bars. The Carrer de Apuntadors starts close to Plaça de la Reina near La Seu cathedral.

Alternatively, head slightly further west to the trendier and more vibrant neighbourhood of Santa Catalina - here you'll find a good mix of local and international eateries, plus award-winning owner/chef restaurants. Our favourite choice of restaurants includes Asian fusion food at De Tokio a Lima (from Tokyo to Lima), serving an exciting Japanese & Peruvian-themed menu. The restaurant is at the Hotel Can Alomar on the prestigious Paseo del Borne.

For something more arty (and romantic), try La Malvasia, located in the delightful shady square of Plaza del Mercat - with its excellent cuisine and great selection of wines from Mallorca and the classic wine regions of mainland Spain. If you're wanting something slightly different, try the laid-back and award-winning Ocho Kitchen - known for its speciality mix of Nordic and Mediterranean influences. Ocho is located 100 meters from the seafront, in the heart of Palma's old town district.