La Seu Cathedral at sunset in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

Can’t-Miss Things to do in Palma de Mallorca, Spain

I know the Spanish island, Mallorca, and its capital, Palma, very well. I lived in Palma de Mallorca for two years and worked as an English teaching assistant at a local high school. Living abroad was the best time of my life, and I would have never thought a small island city off the coast of Spain’s mainland would have so much to offer.

Palma is a Mediterranean hotspot on the southern tip of Mallorca. It has a mix of international yacht workers and teachers, European vacationers, local Mallorquins, and Spaniards who have made their way over from the mainland. The international community in Palma is one of the most fun I’ve encountered. You’ll find it’s an easy place to socialize whether you’re traveling alone or with a group. 

The locals born and raised on the island are used to having tourists in Palma. They can be cold on first impression, but if they warm up to you, they are gracious and want to show you their city. The official local language in Palma is a dialect of Catalan called Mallorquin. Everyone will understand you speaking regular Spanish, but keep in mind the Mallorquin language is an important cultural aspect in Palma, so it’s nice to learn simple phrases like bon dia and adieu.

Whether you’re planning a move or just visiting, there are plenty of things to do in Palma de Mallorca to keep you busy year-round. And the best part? You can see and do it all on foot or with public transportation.

Where to stay in Palma

There are two areas I recommend for your stay in Palma. The Casco Antiguo – the Old Town – is my number one recommendation. Its colorful buildings and narrow cobblestone alleys look like a Tuscan village in Italy. The Old Town is only a few minutes from Palma’s main attractions, bus station, and nightlife, making it easy to pivot and experience it all during your visit.

The other area I recommend is the waterfront area on Avenida de la Roca. This is the main avenue that runs along Palma Port, and it has views of docked boats bobbing in the harbor. You can find the best nightlife in Palma within minutes on Paseo Maritimo. Hotels on Avenida de la Roca are a little more expensive, but they’re elegant and worth the price. The only downside to this area is you will have to take a taxi or a longer walk to get closer to the city center. 

Historic buildings in La Calatrava section of the Old Town in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

20 Can’t Miss Things to do in Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Palma is a small dot on the map of Mallorca, but you can easily fit a week’s worth of activities into a visit there, whether it’s the height of summer or the more quiet off-season. Below you’ll find 20 can’t miss things to do in Palma de Mallorca.

Visit the Old Town and La Seu Cathedral

Living in Spain for several years, I’ve seen a lot of old towns in Spanish cities across the country. Palma’s Old Town is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to put an exact perimeter on where it begins and ends, but you’ll be able to tell by the narrow, cobblestone alleyways and historic buildings. 

La Seu is the second biggest cathedral in Spain and one of the most stunning examples of Gothic architecture. It sits elevated between the narrow Old Town streets and the Mediterranean Sea, and the views are incredible at sunset. Once the sun goes down, you can stroll around the neighborhood surrounding the cathedral called La Calatrava. This area is spooky in a beautiful way, especially at night. It’s by far my favorite section of the Old Town!

Perk up at the Cappuccino courtyard

There are Cappuccino coffee shops across Palma, but make sure you go to the one on Carrer de Sant Miquel. It’s set in a restored historic building and has elegant indoor and outdoor courtyards. Cappuccino also serves desserts, aperitifs, and cocktails. It’s one of the nicest places in Palma to get a caffeine boost after a long siesta.

Try tapas at a bustling local market

The buzzing daytime markets at Mercat de l’Olivar and Mercat de Santa Catalina have fresh food stalls with vendors preparing everything from traditional Spanish tapas like croquetas and tortilla de patata to seafood and sushi. Visiting either market is a must-do for visitors, and you’ll feel fully immersed in Spanish life here as you’re rubbing shoulders with locals. While you’re trying different tapas, ask for the caña, the cheapest Spanish beer on tap (and still plenty good!), or an Estrella Galicia.

Landmark at Portixol / El Molinar near Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

Bike ride the waterfront path to Portixol

You can rent a city bike near the local beach, Platja de Palma, and follow the walk-and-bike path for about 3 miles to Portixol. It’s a relaxing ride that follows the coastline down Palma’s southeast coast. Once you reach Portixol, you’ll find a promenade and beach called Playa El Molinar. It’s a great place to relax and take a dip before biking back to Palma. 

Have a Mallorcan meal at Celler de sa Premsa

Mallorcan food is a culinary affair all its own. Mallorca shares some coastal dishes with mainland Spain like seafood paella and fideo, but Mallorca also has its own hearty dishes that have been around for centuries. Celler Sa Premsa has one of the most extensive Mallorquin menus in the city, so it’s the perfect place to try local cuisine.

You can get a few raciones to share with your table, and I recommend trying Mallorquin classics like:

  • Pa amb Oli: A delicious appetizer with garlic aioli and fresh bread
  • Frit Mallorquin: A hearty dish cooked with meat (lamb or pig), vegetables, potatoes, pepper, and spices
  • Tumbet: A mixed vegetable dish with tomato sauce
  • Arros Brut: a soupy rice dish with meat and vegetables 

These dishes have a lot of personality, so if you’re picky, you might not love all of them. If you want to fully embrace your Mallorquin evening, try one of the local wines, too! 

Go shopping on Passeig des Borne 

Palma’s elegant boulevard Passeig des Borne is lined with shops from Zara and El Corte Inglés to luxury designers like Louis Vuitton. The storefronts are revitalized historic buildings with modern, clean interiors. Even if you don’t want to shop, Passeig des Borne is a beautiful part of the city worth seeing on foot.

Try an ensaimada at C’an Joan de Saigo

The perfect breakfast pastry or mid-day snack, the ensaimada is considered one of the most popular foods from Mallorca. The best place on the island to get one is at C’an Joan de Saigo, and they are easy to find throughout Palma. For your first time, go to the C’an Joan de Saigo location on Carrer de Can Sanc for an old-world experience. The building is gorgeous, with patterned tile floors and bright green chandeliers. The go-to order is a plain ensaimada with chocolate for dipping or a coffee.

The Carthusian Monastery tower in Valldemossa, Balearic Islands, Spain

Day trip to the mountain town Valldemossa

You should make at least one day trip into the Serra de Tramuntana mountains while you’re visiting Mallorca. Buses run daily from downtown Palma to the mountain town Valldemossa and it’s about a 1-hour ride into the winding mountains.

The 14th-century Carthusian Monastery is Valldemossa’s most notable landmark, with a blue-tiled tower making it easy to find. You should spend a day wandering through this dreamy pueblo and taking in the fresh air from the mountains. Be sure to try Valldemossa’s Coca de Patata here, too, another Mallorquin pastry that Valldemossa is famous for.

Spend the day at Portals Nous Beach

Just like you should take one day to the mountains, you should also spend a day at a beach near Palma. Palma’s city beach is not the cleanest, so it’s worth the short bus ride down the southwest coast to Portals Nous. At this beach, you’ll find the bright blue Mediterranean waters you’d hope to find in Mallorca. Next to the beach is a gorgeous cafe called Roxy Bar that hangs over the water and is perfect for a post-swim meal.  

Experience Palma de Mallorca nightlife on Paseo Maritimo

The best nightlife in town happens on Paseo Maritimo, a waterfront boulevard in Palma. Bars and mega-clubs line the street, and it doesn’t get busy until at least midnight. You can start your night at the English pubs, and as the night goes on, slowly make your way further down Paseo Maritimo to different bars for dancing and drinks. 

Drink vermouth and eat well at La Rosa Vermuteria 

My friends and I used to love having dinner at La Rosa. Vermuterias are popular in Mallorca, and this place combines specialty Vermouth drinks with delicious tapas. La Rosa does classic tapas well that you can split with the table – croquetas, tortilla de patata, and jamon serrano are all excellent choices. I recommend this place to anyone visiting Palma for the first time, and even those of us who used to live in Palma re-visit this place every time we go back.

View of the Palma Port from the top of Bellver Castle in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

Hike to the Bellver Castle

Right outside of the Palma city center, you can make the urban hike to the 13th-century Bellver Castle. hIt’s a steep trek up hilltop roads until you level out to a pine tree forest that leads you to the Bellver Castle. From the top of the castle, you have sweeping views of Palma and the port. 

Find Palma’s Moorish influence

Mallorca is ancient and dates back millions of years. Like much of Spain, Mallorca spent part of its history under Moorish rule. You can find evidence of their influence still today through some of Palma’s oldest structures.

The most impressive Moorish landmarks to see in Palma are:

  • Banys Arabes (Arab baths) – Remains of Arab baths are tucked inside a tranquil garden of the Old Town, near La Seu Cathedral. Look for a keyhole-shaped entryway leading you into the Arab bath ruins. The ancient architecture here is fascinating. 
  • S’hort del Rei – S’hort del Rei is a beautiful walkway and garden near the Old Town that’s sprouting with greenery and fountains. I would walk through it every day when I lived in Palma, and loved its simple symmetry and peacefulness.
  • Palau de la Almudaina – This building sits next to La Seu Cathedral. It’s a citadel and fort built by the Moors in the 14th century and is now one of the few designated royal residences in Spain. 
  • Arc de sa Drassana – These stone archways imitate the famous Roman aqueduct design, but they were built by the Moors sometime as early as the 10th century. 

Relax at Babel Bookstore and Cafe l’Antiquari

These two gems are next to each other in a quiet pocket of the Old Town, next to a wide set of stone stairs. La Biblioteca de Babel is a cozy haven for book lovers, with popular books in multiple languages and just about every genre you can think of. After Babel, head next door to the bohemian-style Cafe l’Antiquari for one of their sandwiches and a drink while you read a book on their patio. 

Go out in Santa Catalina

Tthe Santa Catalina neighborhood is a go-to spot for nightlife in Palma. You’ll find more visitors than locals in this area, but there are cocktail bars and fun places to dance that are worth checking out. It’s walk-friendly and easy to move from place to place on the main street, Carrer de Sant Magi. I recommend starting at Havana cocktail before making your way to bars further down the street.

Sculpture at sunset on the Es Baluard Museum terrace in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

Eat seafood paella by the water

Sangria and seafood paella is the best coastal Spain combination there is. Locals in Palma love the restaurant Arroceria Sa Cranca, and I can confirm they have amazing seafood paella. It’s got a covered outdoor patio so you can enjoy the waterfront views year-round. 

Check out Plaza Espanya 

Plaza Espanya is a square that acts as the hub of Palma de Mallorca. Whether it’s meeting up with friends before dinner or catching the city bus, there are always people gathered here. It’s an ideal place for taking a break from walking around to people-watch. You’ll also find random entertainment in Plaza Espanya, with rotating events like seasonal Christmas markets, small concerts, and cultural festivities. 

Caixa Forum

Locals are proud of the Caixa Forum cultural center in Palma for its architecture and exhibits. The Caixa Forum building is designed by Catalan architect Lluis Domenech y Montaner, whose whimsical Modernist style is similar to Antoni Gaudi’s famous buildings in Barcelona. The Caixa Forum hosts rotating exhibits from creative workshops to art and film expositions.

View of Portals Nous Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

As I finish writing this post, it takes me back. I owe so much of my personal growth to Palma, and I hope this post makes you reconsider a trip to mainland Spain in exchange for sunny, stunning Palma de Mallorca. You won’t regret it! 

Would you like to see more posts about living abroad in Spain and how you can find jobs abroad, too? Let me know in the comments or using my Contact Form!

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