Palma de Mallorca - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca

Palma, capital of the autonomous region of the Balearic Islands, is a lively, cosmopolitan city in true Spanish tradition, its centre forming a bustling montage of shopping centres, a maze of narrow lanes and restored buildings surrounded by ruined ancient city walls, and modern boulevards. Like mainland Spain, Mallorca and Palma itself was under Moorish control between the ninth and 13th centuries until the re-conquest by Jaume I of Aragon.

The Moorish heritage is still evident, as are the remnants of Palma's golden years when it rose to wealth and prominence in the 15th century as the main port of call between Europe and Africa. Later the city, set on the beautiful bay Bahia de Palma, became the favoured Royal retreat for Fernando and Isabel, which helped it to become the popular Spanish beach holiday haunt and favourite weekend city break destination of the rich and famous. Despite the invasion of foreign tourists, Palma has kept its local flavour, particularly in its old quarter lined by cafés and tapas bars. Often the native dialect of Mallorquin is the only language heard in the backstreets, a fine Palma de Mallorca trait.

Information & Facts


Palma de Mallorca key activities centre around its nightlife and the town is well known for its foam parties, discos, bars and nightclubs. The Aqualand theme park, a short drive away from the city, is great fun for the whole family. There are several excellent golf courses around town, as well as good hiking trails in the rocky Majorcan hills.

Spanish is the official language, but English is widely understood in areas frequented by tourists. Catalan, Galician and Basque are spoken in the relevant areas.

Spain's official currency is the Euro (EUR). One Euro is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change and major hotels, but banks give the best rates. All major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining money.


The city itself does not have a main beach. When exploring be sure to carry a map as the streets are not well signposted. Palma is the largest town in the Balearics and a magnet for clubbers; it is generally not suited for those wanting a quiet, family oriented holiday.


Some of Spain's biggest clubs are in Palma de Mallorca. Some of the most popular Palma nightlife hotspots include Pacha Mallorca, which is built into the Cliffside overlooking the marina. Nearby Tito's also enjoys dramatic views over the yachts mooed below, and don't miss a visit to the extravagantly decorated ABACA. There are also several decent clubs lining the Carrer del Apuntadors.


The biggest concentration of restaurants is in the centre of town at El Terreno, and around the Paseo Maritimo. For some of Spain's best Basque food head to Koldo Royo.


The best places for shopping in Palma de Mallorca are in the atmospheric streets of the old town. The daily Mercat Artesanal is a lively craft market worth visiting for local curios and holiday souvenirs, while the Rastro flea market sprawls over the Villalonga ring road. Those on a health kick should visit the colourful Santa Catalina fruit and vegetable market, open every day on Placa Navegacio. Local produce markets generally open early in the morning and close around mid-day: bargaining is expected.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October). The Canary Islands: GMT (GMT +1 in summer).

The only remaining complete Moorish-built building in Palma is the bathhouse in the medieval quarter. It contains an elegant horseshoe-arched and domed chamber, supported by 12 columns, and is fronted by a garden with picnic tables.

There are several good, though usually crowded, beaches accessible by bus from Palma. El Arenal, seven miles (11km) to the south-east of the city, attracts many German visitors to its waterfront restaurants, bars and hotels. The long beach boasts white sands and turquoise water. Palma Nova and Illetes, six miles (10km) to the south-west, are smaller but equally popular beaches. On the road to Palma Nova is Marineland, offering dolphin, sea lion and parrot shows, as well as Polynesian pearl-diving demonstrations. Other beaches include Portixol, El Molinar, Coll d'En Rebassa and Can Pastilla. The most popular beach on the entire island of Mallorca, Es Trenc, on the south-east coast between Cap de Salinas and Cap Blanc, can be reached by bus from the Plaza Espanya in Palma. The local tourist office distributes an information leaflet on 40 beaches in the Palma area.

Mallorca's most popular hiking trail is the climb from the town of Alaro up to a ruined castle and hilltop chapel, which offers panoramic views of the sea and plains as far as Palma. From Alaro the walk takes about two hours to complete. The castle ruins on the hilltop date from the 15th century and dominate the landscape. At the summit there is a restaurant and bar to refresh weary climbers. On Sundays the trail becomes rather busy.

The round hilltop castle built in 1309 was the summer residence of the kings of Mallorca during the short period in which the island had a Royal family. The fortified castle with its double moat also served as a prison. Today it contains Palma's Municipal Museum, displaying mainly archaeological artefacts and old coins. There are also models of archaeological digs to be seen.

Palma's magnificent Catalonian Gothic cathedral is a landmark of the city, standing in the old town overlooking the ocean. The cathedral is dedicated to Palma's patron saint, San Sebastian, and contains some saintly relics and pieces of the True Cross in its treasury. Construction started on the edifice in 1300. The vast central vault is 144ft (43m) high, its columns towering to a height of 65ft (20m). The wrought-iron canopy over the main altar was added by Gaudi in 1909.

Palma's most renowned art gallery contains works collected by the Juan March Foundation, housed in a restored mansion on the Carrer Sant Miquel. The collection focuses on modern works including Picasso's Head of a Womanand paintings by Miro, Dali, Juan Gris and Antoni Tapies.

Opposite the cathedral in Palma stands an austere fortress palace that was erected by the Moors and later became the residence of the kings of Mallorca. Inside, most rooms and corridors are bare, but there are some beautiful Flemish Gobelin tapestries on display as well as a few antiques, art works and suits of armour. The palace, on the Plaza Reina, is surrounded by a pleasant Moorish-style garden sporting fountains, which offers panoramic views of the harbour.

Soller, set in a lush valley of orange groves between the mountains and the sea, half way along the north-west coast of the island, is a popular day-tripper destination because it can be reached on a vintage train ride from Palma. The town is awash with tempting pastry shops, ice-cream parlours and tapas bars in its quaint squares, but there is more to do than just eat and drink. There are some good examples of modernist architecture, like the church of Saint Bartomeu with its 1912 arched tower above a rose window, and needle-like spires. There are also two museums: the Natural Science Museum displaying fossils and the Museu Municipal filled with antiques.

Mallorca's favourite titbit of tabloid gossip has turned the monastery in the small town of Valldemossa, on the west coast, into a tourist attraction. In 1838 Frederic Chopin arrived with his lover, George Sand, to stay in a former monk's cell in the Cartoixa Reial monastery and carry on their affair away from the eyes of Paris. The shocked locals shunned the tubercular Chopin and his lover, and the couple were so unhappy that their relationship never recovered from the wet, windy and miserable winter in the monastery. Today the cells occupied by the lovers are open to visitors. The library and old pharmacy can also be visited and there is a small art museum with works by Picasso, Miro and Juli Ramis.

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