Palma de Mallorca is one of the most liveable cities in Europe. And the island's capital also offers some highlights for your holiday. First and foremost, shopping, sightseeing under palm trees and old town streets to fall in love with and get lost in. The nightlife is also very varied with clubs and bars.
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Discover Mallorca - the island capital Palma
For many, Palma is the "eternal beauty", an island capital of format and flair, one of the best addresses for life by the sea. And the gateway to the island. It's exciting in Palma, for locals and people from all over the world. Anyone who visits Palma might immediately fall for the charm of "Barcelona's little sister". Venerable architecture, romantic alleys, spacious and sun-drenched squares, shady arcades and all that with sea and beach in front. With its location in the Bay of Palma, the island's capital is blessed and is not without reason one of the most liveable cities in Europe.
A day in Palma means getting immersed in history, discovering the little secrets, being surprised. Everyone gets their money's worth here, whether they are looking for distraction, cultural offerings, sports activities, a visit to the beach, shopping or culinary highlights. The best way to arrive is to settle down with a café con leche in one of the picturesque squares, watch the colourful hustle and bustle and enjoy the sun. Take a city tour from the cathedral up through the alleys and stop at beautiful courtyards, galleries or small boutiques. Stop by for a city stroll and discover trendy neighbourhoods and hear where and how the heart of the island beats!
More than 600,000 people live in Palma - that's about half of the entire island population. In addition, especially in the high season, there are the many visitors who often stroll through the capital and its alleyways for a day trip, wanting to discover as much as possible. Given the size and diversity of this city, this is not at all easy. The administrative area of Palma stretches for around 30 kilometres along the Bay of Palma - from Magaluf to S'Arenal - as well as 30 other municipal districts and suburbs. Life pulsates in Palma and those who want to have a good day here either drift around or make a plan beforehand of what they want to see. Palma is also famous and well-known for its shopping streets. Plus endless culinary delights, sightseeing under palm trees and beach feeling close to the old town.
Palma de Mallorca - 4 Highlights
Tip 1: Cathedral La Seu
The building of this imposing cathedral, which stands on the ruins of a former mosque, began in the early Middle Ages. But not only as a symbol of the religious change after the reconquest by Europeans, but also as a landmark for the whole city, this gigantic building is now enthroned, which can be seen far from the sea, but also from the heights of Castell Bellver.
Tip 2: Mercat d’Olivar
As the centre of all culinary delights, Palma's indoor market is always ready with the freshest ingredients, a huge selection of fruit, vegetables, fish and meat and all kinds of tasting opportunities, including in the local eateries that sit here virtually at the source. A place to visit, especially for gourmet and delicatessen lovers of Mallorca's local produce.
Tip 3: Old town with shopping and culture
Culture and shopping enthusiasts beware: the old town of Palma with its charming district "La Lonja" invites you to stroll and shop. Discover stylish little shops in the alleys of the old town, famous brands on the Passeig de Born or buy typical souvenirs of your Mallorca holiday in small boutiques. You can take a break in charming old town cafés.
Tip 4: Platja de Palma
The almost 4.5km long beach between Palma and Can Pastilla offers much more in the way of activities than battle drinking. During the day you will find numerous opportunities for water sports all along the beach, in the evening more and more gourmet restaurants offer excellent dining with a sea view.
The neighbourhoods of Palma - always different
For some years now, one of the most popular districts in Palma has been the former fishermen's quarter of Santa Catalina. An international community has developed around the food market of the same name, revitalising the small village and turning it into a trendy meeting place. Numerous bars, restaurants and shops have changed the image of the small streets. Santa Catalina lies to the west of the cathedral and is easy to reach on foot
Friends of imposing architecture will naturally head for Calatrava (also known as Dalt Murada), where countless old townhouses with enchanting courtyards tell the story of the centuries. The cathedral quarter is also very popular as a residential area. The way into the alleys of the old town (Casco Antiguo) or down to the beach are equally short from here. The San Nicolás district is really luxurious: in imposing avenues full of large trees, marble mosaic tiles, park benches and filigree glass fronts on dominant city villas of the most varied, but all impressive architectural styles. Here you will experience Palma's most expensive shopping mile on the Passeig de Born: here Louis Vuitton and Carolina Herrera line up with Tous, Cartier and Rolex.
Son Vida, one of the most exclusive areas, is particularly luxurious and has a view of the mountains. The neighbourhood with the most visitors is La Lonja, the oldest fishermen's quarter in the middle of the old town, named after the sea trade exchange, which is one of the sights of Palma with its magnificent architecture and history. Here, especially in the evenings, many visitors let themselves be carried away by the colourful nightlife and really good restaurants. In the narrow streets of La Lonja, you wander between La Seu Cathedral, past the palaces of the burgeoisie, small and large churches and medieval buildings
Portixol is often referred to as the Sant Tropez of the Balearic Islands. The small harbour district on the way to Can Pastilla has become a popular residential quarter and charming meeting place. Visitors love the bustle on the promenade and the sunsets. Lively by day and night, the Paseo Maritimo stretches for 3 kilometres along the harbour and marinas in Palma, with some of the main hotels and bars. To the east is Playa de Palma, which represents much of what visitors and locals love about Mallorca.
Walking trough Palma
If you come to Palma, you don't have to look far: an enormous number of sights are located here in a small area, which makes a tour of the city so easy and so beautiful. Whether churches, museums, galleries, architecture, there is something on every route through this city. For the first round through Palma, we recommend a slightly longer city walk starting from the cathedral. It is a good landmark and an opulent welcome with a beautiful front garden - the Parc de Mar. Right next to the church is the royal palace Palau de l'Almudaina, at least a good photo stop, gladly recommended for a tour. Or continue directly to the Arab baths, the Banys Arab.
From the coastal side, the route continues upwards into the old town and through the maze of alleyways to the Placa de Cort with Palma's town hall and further along the popular shopping street to the Placa Major, the most important square in the centre of the city, to the large market hall Mercat de l'Olivar. A visit there is always worthwhile. The way back is via the Rambla, also called Palma's flower mile, until you reach the Passeig des Born on the left, the city's most exclusive boulevard, and stroll through the Jaime III arcades. Cross the Sa Riera canal on Passeig Mallorca to reach the Baluard Museum, a showpiece of modern and contemporary art. From there, you can see the sea again and reach the cathedral again via the Paseo Maritimo.
Shopping in Palma
The fact that more and more people are enthusiastic about a short holiday in Palma has to do with the charm of the city, but also with the shopping opportunities, which are downright paradisiacal for an island capital. Whether in the small alleys of the old town, the posh boutiques on the large boulevards or in the city's shopping centres - everyone can find a thousand things here. You can find a detailed description of shopping in Palma on our topic page. We also recommend the Port Pi shopping centre in Palma - a shopping palace with 140 shops.
You could spend another whole day in the vastness of the Alexandre Rosselló shopping centre. Over wide areas and various floors, you will find a special form of shopping that is more reminiscent of airports and trade fairs: many small stands, openly connected to each other, to larger areas for individual shops, with many displays and small shelves. Here, it is above all chain shops that come up trumps and can offer their most exclusive selection. Gucci, Bulgari and Tous are just a few examples. A stroll through the old town of Palma de Mallorca is less concentrated, but a much more romantic experience. Hundreds of shopping opportunities are to be found in dozens of small alleys and large shopping avenues, and the flying traders complement the range of offers around the old town.
Historical facts from the capital
Palma is a mature city - more than 2000 years old. The Romans conquered the Mediterranean island in 123 BC, subjugating the predominant Talayotic culture that had lived on the island since 5000 BC. It was one of the first official acts to found and develop Palmaria Palmensis, as the city was then called. In fact, the bastion in the large bay of Palma quickly became a hub of stable growth. This era ended with the decline of the Roman Empire, after which the city first fell victim to the Vandals and was eventually left to its own devices over the next few eras.
Until the Arabs conquered the island in 903 AD and gave Palma the name Medina Mayurga. The Arab-Islamic era, which lasted about 300 years, was a time of great prosperity, especially for the capital and trade. But the Moors also brought some wealth to the island before the House of Aragon finally seized power in 1229 AD and conquered Palma on 31 December of the same year. In gratitude for the successful conquest, construction of the city's landmark began shortly afterwards: La Seu Cathedral.
The new stability had a positive effect on the growth of the city - the population levelled off at around 40,000 at that time and remained largely constant until 1877. After that, the city continued to grow and expand. Slowly at first, but with the onset of tourism after the Second World War, the number of residents increased by leaps and bounds. Much growth also came from immigration, especially Latin Americans, Moroccans and Germans. Today, almost ¼ of the inhabitants in Palma are foreigners, ¼ are Spaniards who were not born in Mallorca and just under half are native Mallorcans.
Palma de Mallorca: 7 Tips for Excursions
1. La Seu Cathedral - The La Seu Cathedral, Catalan for "bishop's seat", is a must-see on a sightseeing tour in Mallorca. The magnificent building is Palma's landmark and a beautiful example of the Gothic architectural style. The cathedral is almost 120 metres long and has 67-metre-high towers. King Jaume I laid the foundation stone for the cathedral as early as 1230, but the place of worship was not completed until the 17th century. In the 19th century, the architect Antoni Gaudí once again lent a hand. You should visit the cathedral in the morning and in the evening. In the morning, the incidence of light from the large rose windows is particularly impressive. In the evening, the illuminated building is absolutely worth seeing. Avoid long queues by ordering your ticket online.
2. Catamaran Tour - In the bay of Palma de Mallorca! View the impressive marina, "La Seu", the royal palace La Almudaina, as well as Castell Bellver from the sea. Catamaran cruising at sunset is also particularly popular.
3. Mercat d'Olivar - The culinary heart of Palma is certainly the Mercat d'Olivar, which invites you to discover and marvel. There is hardly any other place where the diversity of the island and the richness of its products can be seen as well as here. Between the fish, meat, fruit and vegetable stalls, visitors immediately feel like wielding a wooden spoon themselves. Nowhere else is there such a wide range of fish and seafood on offer, and at the same time there are numerous places where the fresh produce can be used for culinary purposes and tasted. Try a paella cooking course!
4. City-Sightseeing - Take a tour with the city sightseeing bus. There is a lot to see in the island metropolis and one day is hardly enough to explore all the romantic squares, enchanted alleys and numerous sights on your own. On a trip with the City Sightseeing Bus you can sit back, relax and enjoy the sun on the deck while you get to know the most important sights. The day ticket allows you to easily get off at the most interesting places and visit them - then you can comfortably get back on the next bus and continue the exciting journey of discovery!
5. Palma Jump - This indoor trampoline park, founded in 2016, brings variety into your holiday routine and is a good alternative to sun and sea, especially on bad weather days. Here, sports such as basketball or football are creatively combined with jumping and invite not only the little ones to really let off steam. For those who would like to experience this crazy park without children, the offer is worthwhile on Friday evenings: from 9 p.m. onwards, the grown-ups alone get their money's worth to music and dim lighting.
6. Climbing park - nan exciting activity for your travel group, family or friends? Then the adventurous climbing park and high ropes course on Mallorca near the island's capital is the place for you! Experience this cool climbing park with lots of obstacles and rope slides!
7. Shopping - Palma is a true shopper's paradise. Whether international fashion chains, charming little boutiques, souvenir, delicatessen or wine shops. Probably the best-known shopping streets are Placa del Borne, Avenida Jaime III and Calle San Miguel. From high-priced designer shops to authentic local shops, everything is represented here. In between, there are numerous small squares and cafés for a rest from shopping and enjoying. Shopping trips are particularly worthwhile during the sales in autumn and January. Real bargains can be made here and shopping is much more relaxed than in the high season. Try a guided shopping tour through Palma!
Stories from Palma
Behind the scenes: Palma's Patios
Palma is also known as the city of patios. Behind thick doors and walls, and often only a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of the alleys, lie enchanting courtyards. They literally swallow up every sound from the street and the city. Like little oases of peace. For the Mallorcans, the patio used to be a calling card. For anyone who was a bit respectable and had achieved a certain status, the patio was the reception hall. The room that visitors entered first. Many courtyards were ornately designed, often with fountains in the middle, baroque columns, decorative elements or curved staircases, other patios stand out puristically. Anyone wandering through Palma should take time for these hidden treasures: for example, for the largest patio in Palma Can Berga, for the Oleza Palace and Can Vivot. Other patios worth seeing can be found in Estudio General, Can Alemany, Can Caulleles. In total there are about 50 of these patios.
To help you reach your getaways, here comes a special tip: the traffic
The capital of Mallorca is a pulsating city, and this also applies to the traffic. If you are planning an excursion to Palma, you would be well advised to do without your car. In many streets of the old town, only residents are allowed to drive. Cameras record every wrong-way driver and provide a nasty surprise after your holiday.
Parking offences also cost much more than you are used to at home. Parking is allowed in the blue zones, but only for 1.5 hours. What remains are the multi-storey car parks along the city centre, but even here you have to reckon with high parking fees and a lot of traffic, especially of course in the summer months. Nevertheless, you should not miss out on a trip to Palma. If you want to spare your nerves, a bus ride or a guided tour is a good idea. Rent a bike, e-bike, a trendy trike or be picked up exclusively in your own transfer from Palma airport!