The capital of Mallorca, Palma is a city I could wander around for days on end. I first visited for a city break in 2014, and made my way back in October for a last minute holiday in the sun in the nearby resort of Playa de Palma. Although the main aim of the holiday was to relax by the pool, we had to make sure we had time to fit in a day of sightseeing in the capital of the island.
After breakfast on our last full day, we made the short walk to the bus stop near our hotel and for the first time in years I found myself sitting on a bus taking the short 20-minute ish journey into the city centre. We had contemplated jumping in a taxi for the journey, but at €1.50 each compared to €15 for a taxi and only 10 minutes extra on the journey, we couldn’t really justify it.
At the end of the line, we stepped off in Plaça de la Reina, in the city centre. Although we’ve spent a fair bit of time exploring Palma previously, there’s still plenty we’ve not seen. Wandering along Passeig del Born, a high end shopping street with trees lining the wide walkway, we spotted our favourite place to buy macarons at a reasonable price – McCafe! I know, so cultural. Although, we don’t really have McCafe’s in England so we were still experiencing the local culture…at a stretch.
Continuing on, we decided to make our way to the Gaudi style building Can Casasayas, before opting to take side and back streets to the shopping area, Plaça Major and then on to Mercat de l’Olivar in search of a bite to eat for lunch. One of my favourite things in Palma is the architecture and street art, and by straying from the tourist trails we got to see so much more than just the city highlights.
Popping out on the shopping streets by Plaça Major, the streets seemed full to the brim after the quiet of the side streets. Not wanting to do much tourist-tat shopping, we knew what we were after – food! On our previous visit to Palma we visited Mercat de l’Olivar and were keen to revisit to pick up some lunch. After wandering through Plaça Major, seeing the street performers and wishing we had a flat overlooking the square, we stopped in to see a couple of churches before ending up at the market.
One of the largest markets I’ve been to, there are two floors and two food halls. Upstairs is a small supermarket, presumably to pick up the bits you can’t find at the market. The ground floor is split into two halls – fish in one, everything else in the other. Although we had a quick walk around the fish hall, we’d come a bit too late to see all the fresh fish stalls and could only really see what was on offer at the restaurant style stalls, with ready made food available to be eaten in the booths there. We passed, and went back to explore all of the stalls in the other hall. Huge fruit and veg, baked goods, tapas, stock cupboard bits and everything other kind of stall you can imagine can be found in this hall. I even got to watch someone making fresh pasta to be sold! Even if you’re not going to find something to eat, it’s really interesting to have a look round and marvel at just how big the fruit and veg are compared to UK produce!
Despite the vast amount of food on offer, we actually found a ham shop to grab a sandwich just a short walk from the market. Refuelled, we were off again to find some more churches and just have a wander. We weren’t pressured to see ‘the sights’ of the city, as we’ve had a city break in Palma previously and seen the big sights. This time, we just wanted to walk about, find some cool new hidden churches and get lost in the side streets of the city.
After walking for a while, we popped out on Las Ramblas. The slightly less impressive version of the famous street in Barcelona, we had a look at the flower stalls before continuing on to the rabbit run of side streets of Sant Jaume. Having wandered this area before, I already knew there was some cool architecture, street art and churches to be found and so we were off.
Eventually we came full circle and found ourselves on Passeig del Born again. Looking for somewhere to get a cold drink and rest our feet for a bit, we wandered toward the cathedral and stopped in a pub for a while. I do love sitting in the sunshine, watching people rush about doing their shopping or waving their maps in the air trying to find the cathedral – usually right behind them!
Feeling sufficiently refreshed, we were off again to join the trail of tourists heading towards the cathedral. Having visited before and seen inside, we just had a mooch around the gardens and market in S’Hort del Rei before walking through the park in front of the cathedral, alongside the lake.
Heading once more for the side streets of Monti-Sion, another neighbourhood of Palma, we had no destination in mind and just walked around admiring the architecture and street art. Recognising the surroundings from our previous visit, we arrived at Convent de Santa Clara which is, as the name might suggest, a convent for nuns! I’m not sure why this excited me so much, but we made our way in, noting the ‘silence’ signs. There was no-one else in there when we arrived, and following our usual church routine, we took a seat to really be able to see the church. As we sat, a lady entered and shuffled around with her walking aid. In the absolute silence of the church, a low, slow trump sounded. My first thoughts were that my boyfriend had let one slip, and as I shot him a shocked look, I noticed he had the same look of shock. As it dawned on us who the culprit was, another long trump echoed around the church.
Worst thing about the absolute silence of the church, was that I could not laugh. At all. Which was hard, because it was so funny. So. Funny.
After exploring this side of Palma a bit more, we started to get tired and decided to make our way back to the hotel. Unfortunately the bus that had taken less than 20 minutes would somehow now take over 45 minutes to get back. Deciding that we didn’t want to wait for the bus and then spend ages on it, we jumped in a taxi, took one last drive by the sea before heading home tomorrow, and were back at the hotel in 10 minutes. Today just reconfirmed why I love Palma so much and I can’t wait to book my next visit to the city!