Palma, Mallorca’s capital, is the perfect place for any first-time visitor to the island to begin their tour. Situated on the coast, its maze of streets and squares hums with vibrant life. Outdoor seating at bistros and around the wide placas just beg you to stop and take a moment, perhaps accompanied by a glass of Spanish red wine.

Palma is an architectural delight (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Pedestrian-only streets abound (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

The city is crowned by its massive cathedral often referred to as La Seu, situated near the waterfront. It quite literally represents layers of the city’s history, as construction started in the 1200s on the site of a former Moorish mosque and continued in various capacities over the centuries. Antoni Gaudi even left his mark in the early 1900s, although his involvement was short-lived. Today it is an active place of worship, as well as one of Palma’s star tourist attractions. Adjacent to it are beautiful Spanish gardens, the perfect place for sitting in shade and taking in a cool breeze off the sea. Palma Cathedral makes for the ideal first port of call on a visit to the city.

Make sure to stop at the Forn Del Santo Cristo, where their fresh ensaïmades are second to none. These traditional Mallorcan pastries are slightly doughy and light as air, and with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar on them are the perfect pairing with a cup of coffee. The Forn del Santo Cristo has plenty of other pastries and baked goods to tempt you if an ensaïmada isn’t enough.

El Forn de Santo Cristo has a distinct and unmissable shop front (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

Once nourished, ramble leisurely through the streets of Palma. There is so much for the eyes to take in, from sweet storefronts to little chapels to open squares with bubbling fountains.

It’s also worth poking your head into the Mercat de l’Olivar, one of Palma’s markets. You’ll be greeted by stalls selling everything from fish caught that morning, fresh fruits and vegetables arranged in alluring displays, and vibrant meats and sausages. There’s even an option to select your ingredients for a meal and have them cook it for you on-site!

If a sit-down meal is what you’re after, there are options aplenty as well. Restaurants often spill out into the streets, having retractable shopfronts that open and allow for diners to be simultaneously indoors and out. Bar S’Olivera, located in the Plaza de Cort, has a heavy selection of traditional tapas on hand and is a wonderful option for a meal to share. Their red-wine sausages are particularly flavourful and pair well with a glass of vibrant sangria.

Alternatively, pick up a bocadillo at one of the many cafes in town. This classic Spanish sandwich is made with fresh-baked bread and thin slices of cold meat, commonly Iberian ham, and is delightfully filling.

You know what you’re getting in this bocadillo shop- they shave the meat in front of you! (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

Palma is full of discoveries of the historical, culinary, and retail varieties. Take a leaf out of the locals’ book and embrace a Spanish pace of life in Mallorca’s capital, leaving lots of room for good food, good company, and a whole lot of rambling.

(photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
(photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
(photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)