Palma de Mallorca is the capital of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic islands, a small group of islands in the western Mediterranean. The Balearics, of which Mallorca and Ibiza are the most famous, are a popular summer holiday destination for many Europeans, many of whom have second homes there. Palma is a historic seaside city with a stunning historic centre. Approaching from the sea, the first thing most visitors will see is the magnificent Cathedral of Palma, La Seu, which proudly sits atop a hill overlooking the Old Town. A stroll around the compact old town is the best way to see Palma’s many historic monuments, admire the gorgeous architecture and experience the laidback Mallorcan lifestyle. Here are things to see in Palma de Mallorca on my suggested walking route through the old town.
Things to see in Palma old town – a walking route
Start your walk in the morning at the Plaça d’Espanya, stopping at the Mercat Olivar (market) and continue along the shopping street through to Calle Sant Miquel. I love this street, first of all, because it houses my favourite café where I had breakfast every day for a week: the Cappucino San Miquel.
Located in a renovated townhouse, this café is simply gorgeous. I highly recommend stopping here for a hearty breakfast in the lovely garden in the back. The Calle Sant Miquel is also home to a multitude of old chapels and churches, historic buildings with beautiful courtyards, and many boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
Plaza Mayor to Plaza Cort
The Calle Sant Miguel will lead you to the Plaza Mayor de Palma, the city’s central square. As with the many Plaza Mayors found throughout the Latin world, this square is a place to saunter, sit, see and be seen.
It’s a lovely square with many terraces and restaurants – a great spot to stop for an early sangria (you are on holiday after all! 😉 ) and to people-watch.
Just outside the Plaza Mayor, at the corner of Carrer Bolseria, look up to admire the colourfully-tiled façade of C’an Rei, with its quirky balconies. The influence of Gaudí, the famous Catalan architect, is unmistakable!
Plaça Cort and surroundings
Head down Calle Colom or Calle Jaume II towards the Plaça Cort, where Palma’s 17th century baroque-style Ajuntament (City Hall) is situated. This is the heart of Palma’s Old Town.
You’ll also notice an ancient-looking tree with its twisting bark – this olive tree is believed to be about 800 years old and is one of the city’s most popular icons. Take your time checking out the many shops in this atmospheric neighbourhood – I loved the ice-cream salons and the quaint shops selling all sorts of Mallorcan produce.
From Plaça Cort, you can opt to make a diversion to Plaça Mercat where you’ll find other gorgeous Modernist and Art Nouveau buildings with a touch of Gaudí.
There are various tapas restaurants in the Plaça Mercat area such as La Chica and Bocalto, which are great for a lunch stop.
Carrer Palau Reial
Further down the road on Carrer Palau Reial, stop for a moment at the stunning neo-Gothic Consell Insular building. Between here and the La Seu Cathedral are several fascinating museums and palaces such as the Fundacio Bartomeu March (which houses beautiful exhibitions and classical concerts) and the Palau de la Almudaina, a stunning medieval palace which is now the official residence of the King of Spain when he visits Mallorca.
Take your time exploring the many picturesque lanes with their ancient homes, trés chic boutiques and cozy cafés. The lanes are narrow but don’t forget to look up to truly admire these wonderfully preserved buildings. Between the Palace and the Cathedral, look out for a large Gothic arch called the Arc de la Drassana Reial, once the gateway to the royal docks.
La Seu Cathedral and beyond
The La Seu Cathedral is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a visit to Palma. It took almost four centuries to complete this magnificent building (in 1601). It’s neo-Gothic façade is astounding while inside, the almost ethereal light and space are simply breathtaking. Don’t forget to visit the adjacent cloisters and museum. Get a skip-the-line ticket for the Cathedral.
Across from the Cathedral, you’ll find the Parc de la Mar – a park and lagoon (designed to reflect the illuminated Cathedral in the evenings) and a gigantic mural by Joan Miró.
From here, head over to the Museo de Mallorca, the Lonja de Mallorca (a 15th century building with beautiful arches) and past the Cathedral to the Plaça de la Reina. This square marks the start of the Passeig des Born, Palma’s main boulevard since the 15th century. During the warmer months, this tree-lined street is packed with musicians and vendors.
Head back down towards the marina in a zig-zag fashion through the old streets between Carrer de la Mar and Carrer Sant Joan. It should be time for dinner by now and you’re in the perfect neighbourhood for a delightful Mallorcan meal. Check out La Caña, La Cantina Palma or Ombu for drinks and a delicious meal.
If you’re in for a leisurely evening stroll, walk along the Maritim boulevard, past the massive fortified walls of the Museu D’es Baluard and the Mallorcan windmills down the road. Look up to see the beautifully floodlit Belver Castle atop a nearby hill – this is a great spot to get a panoramic view of Palma and its harbour.
If you’re visiting Mallorca, I highly recommend spending a few days exploring the treasures that Palma has to offer – you’re most welcome to follow this walking route of Palma de Mallorca or join this guided tour. It truly is a lovely town.