Mallorca is one of Europe’s most visited holiday destinations, and 11 million arrivals in Palma International Airport per year testify to this (covid pandemic set aside).
The capital of the Mediterranean paradise and the Balearic Islands is called Palma, a city that on multiple occasions have been awarded best city in the world to live in. Palma was originally built by the Romans who conquered the island around 123 BC, which makes it one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean basin. To fully grasp and discover the magic of Palma you need Palma one of the oldest still existing cities in the Mediterranean basin.
But the Romans are certainly not the only ones who have occupied the Mediterranean paradise of Mallorca, also Moorish tribes took great part of building the city of Palma, in a time when most of present day Spain was called Al-Andalus. In other words, Palma is a city that has underwent tremendous transformations over the centuries, from being a simple outpost to becoming the best city in the world.
Needless to say, Palma has a lot to offer to a tourist: Attractions, points of interest, history, shopping and dining. But if you only have a day in Palma it can be rather difficult to grasp exactly what to see and what to do. So, to get the most of your stay here, there are a few must-see attractions in Palma to visit on your sightseeing tour, as well as some popular things to do in Palma.
Visit Palma’s cathedral, La Seu
Palma’s La Seu cathedral is known as one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. It was originally built on top of the former main Moorish mosque and took about three centuries to finish. Palma’s cathedral is famous for multiple reasons: The enormous dimensions, the Gothic style, the largest rose window in the world, the works of Antoni Gaudi and the water front location that has made it an icon of Palma.
Next to the massive cathedral you will find the Almudaina palace, or the royal palace. It is one of the oldest buildings in Palma, constructed by Moorish governors during medieval times. For centuries, Almudaina has been the seat of the royals when visiting Mallorca and is still used. Inside, enjoy the impressive exhibitions of artifacts collected throughout the centuries and feel the history happening around you.
Time for a refreshment, so we’ll head to the historical city center of Palma to find the oldest ice-cream bar, the Can s’Aigo.Here you will find a wide selection of tasteful home-made ice-creams and cakes that will go perfectly with a latte or americano.
Also found in the antique city center, is the Arabian baths, ancient hammams dating from Moorish times. It is a curious and interesting place with the most loving gardens belonging to it where you can enjoy beautiful Mediterranean flowers.
The Bellver castle has its name from the hilltop location overlooking the entire bay of Palma with the beautiful cathedral in the middle. The Bellver castle has been scene of many historical events since its construction in the 15th century. Bellver is unique because of its round shape and location, a very popular tourist attraction to visit, even with kids.
On your way back to the city center from the Bellver castle, take notice of the many Modernist architectural wonders on your way, such as the CaixaForum, the El Aguilá or the Pension Menorquina, they all add a fairy-tale like ambience to the small narrow streets and charming old buildings with their curious soft nature-inspired facades.
Time for shopping and lunch, so we will go to the most vibrant shopping streets in Palma, Passeig Born, Avenida Jaume II and the narrow streets leading to the main square of Placa Major in the center. This area of Palma city is where you will find all the high-end brands and fashion stores full of the newest trends from Spain, France and Italy, even at lower prices than what you would normally expect from a city like this.
For lunch it is recommended to try of of the local tapas bars in the city. There are many great bars to go for, but a good recommendation would be 13% on Carrer de Sant Fileu, or the Restaurante Casa Julio on Carrer de la Previsió.
Casal Solleric is one of Palma’s most stunning old mansions, which has been transformed into a curious combination of a museum and contemporary art exhibition space. Both upcoming and established artists exhibit their works in Casal Solleric, which is free to visit, in all the old rooms of the mansion that still have original furniture and items collected throughout times. Casal Solleric is too home to one of Palma’s magnificent courtyards, also seen in the Can Vivot and Can Bordils mansions.
A tip for a day visit to Palma would be to get a ticket to one of the hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses. This ticket will allow you to travel much faster between the various attractions and areas of Palma, which means more time for fun and discovering.