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Things to do in Palma de Mallorca

Palma top attractions

The Balearics’ only real city is something to write home about: its Gothic cathedral and sensational restaurant and bar scene will leave you gagging for more.

  1. Marvel at Palma Cathedral
  2. Discover the Mallorcan Primitives
  3. Wander the Old Town
  4. Pick a hotel
  5. Visit the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Cala Major
  6. Eat, eat, eat
  7. Explore the Museu de Mallorca
  8. Hit the beach
  9. See the Palau de l’Almudaina

Palma is a bustling city, where historic mansions and the magnificent Gothic cathedral serve as a backdrop to an alluring café and restaurant scene. Hipster hangouts? Check. Chic restaurants? Check. Everything in between? You bet. There’s plenty of awesome things to do in Palma, and many visitors spend their entire holiday here, daytripping out to the rest of the island - an easy proposition as it’s only a couple of hours’ drive across Mallorca.

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1. Marvel at Palma Cathedral

There’s not much argument as to where to start a tour of Palma - it's got to be the Cathedral. One of Spain’s finest Gothic churches, its honey-coloured buttresses dominate the waterfront from the crest of hills. The building - started in the thirteenth century - was a whopping five hundred years in the making.

Best for: Awesome architecture

Don’t miss: The Museu de la Catedral holds an eclectic range of ecclesiastical knick-knacks.

2. Discover the Mallorcan Primitives

If you’ve no idea who the Mallorcan Primitives were, it’s time to find out. Not Primitive Mallorcans, they were rather a school of medieval artists who produced a brigade of fine devotional paintings in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Their strikingly naïve artworks feature bold colours and cartoon-like details. Both the Museu de la Catedral and the Museu Diocesà hold superlative Primitive collections - and there are yet more in the Museu de Mallorca.

Best for: An art attack

Don’t miss: The city’s largest collection of Mallorcan Primitive art is in the Museu Diocesà. 

3. Wander the Old Town

The Old Town has never looked better. In recent years it’s been given a gorgeous face-lift that’s restored its architectural delights to their one-time glory. This is - hands down - the most fascinating part of the city, its narrow lanes and labyrinthine alleys flanked by a handsome medley of Gothic churches and Renaissance mansions. Wandering the Old Town is one of the best things to do in Palma, with a raft of inviting shops, hotels, restaurants, cafés and bars.

Best for: Following your nose

Don’t miss: It’s worth seeking out the district’s two finest churches - the Església de Santa Eulalia and Basílica de Sant Francesc.

4. Pick a hotel

Palma has the island’s finest selection of hotels, from modernist-chic to fine old townhouses. The Old Town is the most enticing part of the city and it’s here you’ll find the most distinctive places housed in handsomely converted Renaissance mansions. The Palacio Can Marqués is among the best - if you’re looking for Palma holiday packages, book here if you can. 

Best for: An atmospheric place to rest your head

Don’t miss: The Palacio Can Marques is a traditional 18th century residence featuring luxurious vaulted ceilings and alabaster columns. 

5. Visit the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Cala Major

Joan Miró hunkered down in Mallorca partly to avoid the attention of General Franco, creating some of his finest paintings here during his long exile. If you’re still wondering what to do in Palma, head out of the city on a daytrip to visit the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, where the painter lived and worked for much of the 50s, 60s and 70s. You’ll find a great selection of Miró’s work, a man once described by André Breton as ‘the most Surrealist of us all’. 

Best for: Anyone mad about Miró

Don’t miss: At the Son Boter, a traditional Mallorcan farmhouse bought by Miró in 1959, you can see his doodles on the walls.  

6. Eat, eat, eat

Prepare to say goodbye to that beach body you worked so hard for. At night, scores of can’t-say-no-to restaurants offer the best of Spanish, Catalan and Mallorcan cuisine, while the city’s cafés and tapas bars buzz with chatter. 

Best for: Foodies of all persuasions  

Don’t miss: Try tumbet - a local dish akin to a pepper, potato, pumpkin and aubergine stew with tomato purée.

7. Explore the Museu de Mallorca

The expansive Museu de Mallorca occupies Can Aiamas - a rambling Renaissance mansion - filled with a medley of Mallorcan artefacts. The collection is arranged chronologically from the Catalan conquest of 1229 to the Spanish Civil War. There’s a separate section, in a basement, devoted to prehistory, the Romans and the Moors. Bring a Mallorcan mate with you if you can - labelling is patchy throughout.

Best for: Culture vultures

Don’t miss: Highlights include the Mallorcan Primitive paintings on the first floor and the Modernista fittings up above.

8. Hit the beach

Probably the most self-conscious beach in Mallorca, Platja de Palma is also one of the island’s longest and most impressive. It’s awash with preening pecs and abs, slowly roasting on a 4km-long band of fine white sand that stretches around the Bay of Palma. It’s also a busy pick-up place, the spot for a touch of verbal foreplay before the night-time drinking begins. It’s fine if you like that sort of thing - though older visitors tend to look marooned.

Best for: Beach boys and girls

Don’t miss: Walk along the wide, pleasant walkway lined with palms that runs behind the beach.  

9. See the Palau de l’Almudaina

Right next door to the cathedral, this palace was originally the hidey-hole of the Moorish governors, and has been an important royal residence ever since. Today, much modified, it is the repository of an engaging assortment of municipal baubles. When royalty or some other bigwig is in residence, parts of the palace are cordoned off. Be sure to check out the classical fifteenth and sixteenth-century tapestries in the Salón de Consejos.

Best for: Gilded history

Don’t miss: One of the best tapestries is the Roman Triumph, a blood-curdling war scene.

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