Mallorca known by many for their binge drinking young people on the beaches of Magaluf. All my visitors so far came also to the island with this idea, and I have to say they were pleasantly surprised that Mallorca has much more to offer. The first article about Mallorca is about the city I actually live, Palma de Mallorca.
Palma is the capital of the island, and although it has many visitors, it still managed to retain its original charm. You can feel Palma is a city where people really live and tourists merely visit for one day to see the highlights and catch a tapas meal (which is actually not typical Mallorquin). However, if you know where to be the city offers true authentic charm.
Things to do and see
Palma is mostly known for the massive cathedral directly at the sea front. It is also the biggest touristic attraction in the city but still definitely worth a visit. If you want to visit it, make sure you come on Sunday, as entrance is free then. The area around the cathedral is a nice area to walk around. The old town (the little streets between the cathedral and Plaza d´Espanya) meet all your expectations and visions you might have of Spain. There is a good mix between shopping chains and local boutiques.
When I am abroad I love to visit the local market to get a local experience. Most guidebooks mention Mercat D´Olivar in the city center, however, I prefer the smaller mercat de Santa Catalina, in the similar named neighborhood. The market is visited by locals that gather for coffee and make their weekly shopping.
Although Palma is directly next to the sea, the city beach (left of the cathedral) is not really worth visiting. If you want to find a nice beach the beaches slightly west of the city (Cala Major, Portals Nous) are much better. My favorite beaches close to Palma are Portals Nous (especially the Roxy beach bar on Puerto Portals I can highly recommend!) and Son Mattias at Palma Nova. Portals Nous is slightly more upscale and Son Mattias is more a friendly local family beach with several nice bars.
If you are already at Palma Nova I can highly recommend diving as well. I love diving and I have been diving a few times in Mallorca with Big Blue Diving. They visit nice places and have good equipment. I was surprised by the underwater scene here in Mallorca; there are several wracks, barracuda´s, octopus and sting rays to keep you entertained underwater.
The main shopping area is around Passeig de Born and the old town. There is a large variety between chain stores (Zara, H&M etc.) and many little boutiques. Palma will definitely meet your shopping requirements! If you want to do some bargain shopping July is the time to go; the ultimate sale kicks off with sales up to 75%.
If you want to go to a proper shopping mall your best bet is Porto Pi commercial center. You can get here with bus number 3 from Plaza d´Espanya or the Mac Donalds at the end of Passeig de Born. There is no particular charm to this center, it just offers a massive amount of shops and the Carrefour shopping center.
I have a soft spot for second hand book stores and therefore I was really happy to find the English Bookstore (C/ Morey m7, Palma de Mallorca). The shop is run by an eccentric English man, and offers the widest collection of second hand books I have ever seen in my life. If you are looking for a book on the history of the Russian warfare between 1400-1500, or simply a chick-flick than this is your store.
Eating and Drinking
In Palma (and Mallorca in general) there is no shortage of restaurants around! In the area where I live (La Lonja) houses probably the largest collection of tourist restaurants. These restaurants are nicely designed but aimed at tourists and therefore expensive. There is one good exception, Bar Dia. This is a small, local restaurant right in the heart of the neighborhood where portions are big, the food is fresh and the atmosphere loud, so a proper Spanish restaurant in short. Another good, but slightly more catering for the tourists restaurant is Tast. It is a modern tapas restaurant for very decent prices in the city center.
If you want to go to some “nicer” restaurants with more atmosphere the best neighborhood is for sure Santa Catalina. This area boasts next to the local market and specialist stores a large variety of Spanish and International oriented restaurants. If I had to pick my favorite restaurant on the island it would be Bunkers, in this neighborhood. The restaurant is tiny (so make reservations!), the food is fusion Italian, and the atmosphere is great! The next door neighbor of Bunkers is also a very nice place, Duke. The restaurant is known for healthy fusion food and a typical surfer atmosphere.
When it comes to going out for a drink in Palma the sky is the limit; you can find exclusive wine bars, little bistro´s, obscure cafes and megalomaniac clubs in a stretch of a few kilometers. Since the offer is so big, we tried out many places so to be honest I don´t have a real favorite. Some good areas are however La Lonja (Placa la Drassana and all surrounding streets) and again Santa Catalina, where Havana is a nice place to check out (also good food!).
I know the above list is highly biased and there are for sure a thousand more (and probably better) places where you can go. However, in my short time here on the island I decided to share my favorites, enjoy!