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Glorious beaches and people watching are among Mallorca’s biggest draws, but the urban side of things has its own appeal. Visiting Palma de Mallorca, the capital – also the largest and oldest town on this Balearic island – is a treat, whether it’s history, culture or food and drink you’re after. Here are our 15 top picks of things to do.
Wander the narrow cobbled streets of Palma’s casco antiguo, and admire its elegant archways, grand historic palacios, medieval churches and charming squares. Snatch a glimpse of shady courtyards through ancient doorways, or take an official guided tour and learn about the district’s long and varied history. Along the way, stop to buy some traditional Mallorcan baskets at the Mimbreria Vidal, one of Palma’s oldest basket shops; nibble on an ensaïmada from any one of the many local bakeries; or sit in a sunny plaza and enjoy a cold drink and tapas. If your legs aren’t up to the stroll, you could always take a Segway tour.
Despite being warm all year round, Mallorca is famed for its brandy, a drink typically consumed to stave off the cold. Since 1851, Bodegas Suau has represented a partnership between the island and mainland Spain, as the liquor is distilled there, then brought to Mallorca to be aged. The cellar itself is a great attraction, and the perfect place to sample the brandy, as you’ll be meeting it just as it is ready to be bottled and sold. Given its age, the location is rich with Mallorcan tradition, and tours can be booked for just €10 (£9.10) per person.
Sailing is a fun way to take in the Mallorcan coastline, but why not take it to the next level by boarding the oldest working ship in Spain. The Rafael Verdara, launched in 1841 and registered in Ibiza, has a long and fascinating history. It’s well maintained and fully functional, and you can now book trips for the day, for a romantic sunset cruise or, for the more adventurous, a 10-day long whale-watching excursion (only available in summer). Day trips run at €95 (£87) per adult, setting off from the Muelle de Golondrinas de Palma. It’s not the cheapest, but you won’t forget it in a hurry.
Gordiola has been making glassware in Mallorca for more than 300 years, and its artistic, unusual blowing and decorating has endured. Its approach to bowls, stemware, vases and other products means that no two items are the same, so you’ll be going home with something truly unique. Vidrería Gordiola is right in the centre of Palma, just a few minutes from the cathedral, and the staff there are happy to answer questions about the amazing products on display. There’s really no better way to take a piece of Mallorca home with you than to pick up some Gordiola glass, just be sure to pack it safely!
As you’d expect from the largest town on the island, Palma has a bustling nightlife. The Plaza Quadrado isn’t just reliable for good tapas, it also makes a perfect waypoint for heading out on the town. Clubs such as the Blue Jazz Club and Bar Flexas take a very relaxed approach. If you’re looking for something more modern, Stereo Club and Es Gremi offer house, techno and other dance music to keep you moving until the small hours. If you’re inclined towards something more rustic, Galactic offers swing music nights, while Social is a great spot for a relaxed cocktail to close out the night.
Additional reporting by Callum Davies