How to spend the perfect weekend in Palma de Mallorca

Palma - how to spend a weekend in Palma
With the glistening Mediterranean Sea at its feet, a weekend in Palma offers a delicious melting pot of cultures and historic influences - Travel Pix Ltd/Travelpix Ltd

With a dramatic and turbulent history harking back to the Bronze Age, Palma has had its fair share of invasions – from the Romans and Vandals to the Moors and Christians. So it’s hardly surprising that this perky, perfectly formed city has such a welcoming and grown-up attitude to international visitors.

With the glistening Mediterranean Sea at its feet, this effortlessly accessible capital offers a delicious melting pot of cultures and historic influences. Whether in the cobbled streets of the atmospheric old town, or in the heart of the grand plaças, impressive monuments, museums, galleries and churches of Gothic splendour abound. Edgy districts happily rub shoulders with more traditional and exclusive neighbourhoods, while a vibrant food and shopping scene weaves its magic across the city. So much to do, so little time? Head for a seafront café, breathe the air, relax and enjoy that first sip of ruby red Majorcan wine.

For further inspiration, view our guides to the city's best hotels, restaurants, nightlife and things to do.

In this guide

How to spend your weekend

Day one


Start the day at gothic landmark La Seu cathedral, which looms above the city walls, and admire the shimmering Parc de Mar Lake below. Don’t miss the quirky, contemporary  re-design of St Peter’s Chapel by artist Miguel Barceló and the upper terraces and belltower, before heading to neighbouring Almudaina Palace. There’s some exploring to be done at this gothic masterpiece, but on a sticky day, take respite in the King’s Orchard, a smaller version of Granada’s Generalife water garden.

Now stroll up the leafy Borne, once a river in the 17th century, popping by visual arts centre, Casal Solleric, to admire its authentic courtyard, along the way. Turn right onto Carrer de la Unió towards Plaça de Weyler. Here, feast your eyes on The Gran Hotel, a modernist masterpiece created by acclaimed Catalan architect, Lluis Domènech i Montaner, in 1903. Refurbished by La Caixa Forum, it is now a vibrant arts and cultural centre. Return to Jaime III and take a right turn onto Carrer de la Concepció for Fera restaurant where you can enjoy a glass of delicious wine and choice of exceptional Mediterranean-Asian tasting menus by renowned chef, Simon Petutschnig. For more suggestions of where to eat in Palma, see our guide.

Almudaina Palace, Palma
The original 10th-century alcazar may have long been demolished but the Almudaina Palace is a gothic architectural masterpiece in its own right - Vladislav Zolotov


Walk off lunch along Jaime III, home of the famed El Corte Inglés department store and various chic boutiques. From there, cross over to trendy Sant Nicolas, a labyrinth of stylish shops, before continuing to Plaça Santa Eulàlia in the Calatrava historic quarter, with its medieval cobbled streets, exquisite patios, bijoux palaces and renaissance architecture.

Bear left on the far side of Santa Eulàlia Church and take time out at Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo, Palma’s oldest and most cherished café, for a rich hot chocolate and snail-shaped ensaïmada pastry or handmade almond ice-cream. On your departure, pass the magnificent Plaça Sant Francesc, church and cloisters (pop in if the fancy takes you), and cut through the lean streets to quaint Santa Clara Convent, where you’ll need to ring a bell to buy the sisters’ delicious lemon biscuits.

Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo, Palma
Although Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo has opened two further Palma outlets, nothing can beat the ambience of the original in Carrer de Can Sanç - Picasa


Aim for Santa Catalina, a five-minute taxi journey from the centre, or walk through La Lonja old town area towards Santa Catalina, just 15 minutes away on foot. If you're on a budget, stop here at Café Sa Lonja for good-value tapas on the terrace. Otherwise, head on and enjoy dinner at svelte and urban Vandal, where an Argentinian chef and sommelier duo conjure up a world menu of bold and inventive dishes, expertly matched with local and international wines.

After dinner, take a fun two-minute stroll through this buzzing enclave with its village feel, lively bars, stores and cafés, and enjoy a welcome cocktail or hierbes local liqueur at rooftop Sky Bar at Hotel Hostal Cuba. Here you can enjoy mesmerising views over the Bay of Palma on the lovely rooftop terrace, while enjoying a relaxing and welcoming ambience.

Day two


The city’s bustling Olivar market is a wonder to behold and it’s a pleasure to browse the halls of seafood, fruit and vegetables and observe locals bargaining with stallholders.

From here, stroll up to majestic Plaça Mayor, surprisingly, for 300 years the seat of the Spanish inquisition, and head for Plaça de Cort with its 600-year-old olive tree and medieval town hall. Stop here for a coffee or fresh orange juice, perhaps at Café Cappuccino before weaving through the pedestrian cut-throughs to El Borne.

Cross over to Calle Sant Feliu and head for Es Baluard museum to view its eclectic collection of neoclassical, abstract and modernist art. Have a snack lunch in the al fresco café on the rear patio surrounded by modern sculptures, and enjoy the spectacular views over the city walls to Palma bay. For more recommendations of things to do in the city, see our separate guide.

palma bay
The view of Palma Bay is best seen from Bellver Castle - cinoby


Jump in a taxi and drive a few kilometres from the city centre to Bellver Castle, which sits aloft a peaceful wooded hill overlooking the Bay of Palma. Dating from the 14th century, it is the only circular castle in Spain and one of few in Europe. Allow for an hour’s visit, as there is a courtyard, museum and historic kitchen worth seeing, and then hop in a taxi and set off for the Joan Miró Foundation in Cala Major, just a five-minute drive away.

Here you'll find a vast display of the prolific artist’s works, including paintings, sculptures and ceramics.  Meanwhile, the artist’s re-imagined studio and home give an authentic feel to the estate. Enjoy a coffee in the grounds after exploring the fragrant gardens.

Joan Miró studio, Palma
Joan Miro's re-imagined studio and home give an authentic feel to the estate - Pep Escoda


Head to Calle Sant Feliu for dinner at De Tokio a Lima on the spectacular, candlelit roof terrace of Boutique Hotel Can Alomar. Offering a fusion of Peruvian, Japanese and Mediterranean gastronomy, this stylish eatery sets a mellow and relaxing tone, and staff members extend a warm welcome to customers.  A good selection of wines and tapas sharing plates are offered so there's no need to break the bank. The location is particularly special with sweeping views of El Borne and the giant plane trees flanking it, as well as the city’s lights.

For a postprandial treat, pop along the same street to enduring local favourite, Café Atlantico, for chilled music and innovative cocktails such as the Smoky Storm, a heady blend of rum, cinnamon and chocolate. For more suggestions of where to drink in the city, see our bar guide.

Insider tips


A good way to avoid the crowds is to arrive at a historic sight such as Bellver Castle during the lunchtime and siesta period (normally sometime between 1pm and 4pm), or shortly before the attraction closes – and where available, book tickets in advance. The advantage is that you face fewer queues and crowds and have more breathing space to admire the exhibits on show. Just remember to pack a water bottle and your shades.

City hack

Surf the Palma bus routes and avoid the capital’s stressful traffic and parking problems with an easy to use prepaid card that costs €15 (£12.90) for 10 rides. You can buy the card at the central bus station off Plaça Espanya or from many newspaper kiosks across the city.

Neighbourhood watch

Don’t miss sea-facing Santa Catalina, the chilled district that was once home to fishermen weaving their nets. Aside from possessing the oldest market in Palma, built in 1920, and Teatre Municipal Mar i Terra, an innovative theatre, it’s a magnet for eclectic international restaurants, businesses and designer boutiques. Drop into La Madeleine de Proust for pastries and coffee.


Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden has the largest private garden in Palma, perfect for coffee, lunch or dinner. One can sit here and listen to birdsong with a cunningly brewed coffee while tucking into a pastry from Forn de la Gloria, the oldest bakery in Palma that happily supplies the hotel with its goodies.

Can Bordoy, Palma
Can Bordoy, in the La Lonja district of the Old Town - art sanchez

Did you know?

During the 17th century a dragon nicknamed Drac de na Coca allegedly gobbled up Palma’s citizens by night until Captain Coch, governor of Alcudia at the time, happened upon it and killed the beast. In reality it was an escaped Nile crocodile from a ship in the port and had survived in the labyrinthal sewers. It was later embalmed and is exhibited in the Diocesan museum today.

When to go

Palma is temperate most of the year, even in the colder months when the temperature can drop in other parts of the island. As an all-year-round destination, most of the hotels stay open, unlike those in the beach resorts. Off-season, particularly from January to April, and mid October to December, there are hotel bargains to be had. Special city fiestas include the Three Kings parade on January 5, Easter processions, Sant Juan fire fiesta in June and Nit de Art, night of art, in September.

Where to stay

Luxury living

Sant Francesc Hotel Singular is a skilfully renovated, 19th-century mansion and boutique five-star situated in the capital's atmospheric historic quarter. Designed by well-known architect and designer, Maria José Cabré, the hotel has a warm, relaxing and pleasant ambience. There are 42 elegant and individually styled rooms; a number have balconies and verandas, and dreamy views over Sant Francesc square or the hotel's garden.


£ 185


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Sant Francesc Hotel Singular, Palma
Many original features at Sant Francesc Hotel Singular have been retained, including frescoes and moldings, large windows and arched doors - Francesc Bolunya

Boutique beauty

With its stylish white façade, deep blue shutters and jaunty, nautical theme, Hotel Portixol has the feel of a beautifully designed yacht. It occupies an exclusive position in the gentrified harbour, directly overlooking the sea, and inside has a relaxed Scandinavian feel. There are 25 comfortable rooms comprising port and sea view doubles and two large suites, one of which, Atico, occupies the top floor and has its own lift and roof terrace.


£ 200


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Budget bolthole

The four-star Brondo Architect boutique hotel is a good-value and comfortable urban getaway right in the heart of Palma. It comprises three buildings in the same street and marries 17th-century Majorcan architecture with modern industrial design (no mean feat). The pièce de résistance on the first floor is the lovely bright dining-room-cum-bar and tranquil, leafy, wood-decked courtyard. See our complete guide to the best hotels in Palma


£ 67


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Brondo Architect, Palma
All rooms are named after famed international architects and individually designed with an eclectic mix of furniture, both retro and modern

What to bring home

The two emblematic food heroes visible in Palma, and island-wide, are sobrassada, a cured pork sausage made with paprika and sometimes, honey, and ensaïmada snail-shaped pastries that come in different sizes and are beautifully boxed for visitors. Other hot buys in Palma include Gordiola handmade glassware , traditional avarca leather sandals and siurell clay figure whistles.

Know before you go

Essential information

  • Tourist board: 00 34 971 17 39 90;

  • Emergency fire and ambulance: 112

  • Emergency police: 092

  • British Consulate: Carrer dels Caputxins, 4, Palma. 0034 933 66 62 00;

The basics

  • Flight time: (from UK) Two hours

  • Currency: Euros €

  • Internationals dialling code: 00 34

  • Time difference: GMT + 1

Local laws and etiquette

  • Anti-social behaviour, such as drinking in public, and wearing inappropriate attire, such as beachwear, is unacceptable in Palma city and local police can issue heavy on-the-spot fines. Drunken and aggressive behaviour is not tolerated in local beach resorts either, and fines may be issued.

  • Although Majorcans speak Castilian Spanish, they are proud of their own language, Mallorquin, a dialect of Catalan. Road signs and public notices will often be written in the local language.

  • An excellent bus network serves Palma ( and there is also island-wide transport, including metro, train and bus, which run from Plaça de Espanya ( Taxis charge an initial €4.20 (£3.60) and the cost per km is approximately €2.50 (£2.15) (00 34 971 40 14 14). Bike hire is popular in Palma with many cycle lanes (

  • Tipping is at a client’s discretion but 10 per cent is considered acceptable.

  • Mainly due to the warm weather, Majorcans tend to dine later so 2pm at lunchtime, and in the evening, the majority of locals won’t arrive at restaurants before 9pm and often later.

  • Normally Majorcans – male and female – will shake hands at a first meeting but some might offer women kisses on both cheeks. Men often hug male friends in public.

About our expert

Anna Nicholas is Telegraph’s Palma expert. Since settling on the island 23 years ago, she has written ten Majorca titles, offering a brilliant excuse to explore the city and island. You’ll find her sipping espressos in a café on El Borne.