Say the words Cultural City Break to me and I confess that Palma de Mallorca would not have featured on my list until now. How wrong I was. Turns out that a weekend in Palma de Mallorca is the perfect Spring City Break. Read on for my ideal Cultural Weekend Itinerary for Palma de Mallorca.
Mr CW and I travelled to Palma as guests of Jet2 Holidays
Palma has the lot. Everything Mr CW and I like in a city. Cathedral, Castle, excellent museums, cute streets, excellent food and vermouth. In March we walked around in shirt sleeves and bare legs, neither too hot or too cold. Goldilocks weather. Even better for us Jet2 offered holidays from London Stansted.
Table of Contents
Cultural Weekend in Palma de Mallorca
Where to start? Palma has many cultural delights to offer. Obvious big hitters like the the Cathedral and the Palace but also great museums and many architectural gems.
Two Day Itinerary for Palma de Mallorca Cultural Highlights
Timing is everything in planning your Palma cultural meanderings if you are not to be met with closed doors. The Cathedral only opens in the mornings and some places are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Palma de Mallorca Cultural Weekend Itinerary: Day One
I’m assuming that you arrived on Friday afternoon, which you devoted to a stroll down to the marina to see how the seafaring folk arrive in Palma and to have a restorative drink overlooking the yachts. Day one is therefore a Saturday.
Palma Cathedral or La Seu
Before you go inside Palma Cathedral take a wander down to the seafront and look back at the massive golden stone structure. It is one of the great Gothic cathedrals. Built by the Kings of Aragon after they had evicted the Moors from Mallorca. Inside the first thing that strikes you is the stained glass, or rather the vivid colours of the stained glass beamed onto interior stonework. That and the truly massive space inside.
The high altar was created by Gaudi. A simple stone table has an incredible baldachin floating above it. Gaudi wanted to make this from wrought iron but the budget ran out and so we are left with a confection of cork, cardboard and fabric.
To the right of the high altar is the Capella del Santíssim. It is safe to say that I have never seen anything like this ever before. A plaster and ceramic creation in muted blues by the Mallorcan artist Miquel Barceló. Just amazing and beyond description.
- Palma Cathedral, Plaza de la Almoina
- Open: Daily 10am – 2.15pm
- Admission: €25
Walk the ramparts
When you leave the Cathedral, head for the ramparts. Walk past the Palau de l’Alumdaina, that’s for tomorrow. You great views of the Cathedral and the Palau, as well as the glittering sea, from the ramparts.
If you are visiting in the winter months this open Monday to Friday only. I stared disconsolately at the closed door. Inside there promised to be a fine collection of Mallorcan Primitive paintings. There are couple of this 13th and 14th century Christian paintings in the Cathedral which had whetted my appetite but it wasn’t to be.
- Musea Diocesà, Carrer del Mirador, 5
- Open: November – March Weekdays 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 3pm, April – October Weekdays 10am – 5.30pm Saturday 10am – 3pm
- Admission: €9
Mercat de l’Olivar
After the ramparts meander through Palma Old Town. Pausing to look through the tantalising open doors that reveal mansion courtyards. You are heading for Mercat de l’Olivar for lunch. Palma’s market has many fruit and vegetable, butchers, fishmongers and stalls selling cheese and charcuterie. I deeply regret not buying 10 metres of Mallorcan fabric for curtains. There many stalls selling food, most of it tapas style. Grab a seat and either point at what you fancy or use your extensive Spanish to ask for exactly what you want.
Catch a Bus
Now we are going to catch a bus to the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró. We caught the Number 4 bus, heading to Uetam, from the top of Plaça del Rei Joan Charles 1. The fare is €2 and is paid in cash to the driver as you board. Ride for 14 stops (about 20 minutes) to the stop by the Hotel Nixe Palace. Head up the hill for fat five minutes and you will arrive at the Fundació Pilar I Joan Miró. A word of warning if you decide to catch the 46 bus back (stop just outside the Fundació) make sure you catch a bus heading up the hill, down is the wrong way … as we discovered.
Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró
Joan Miró, the Surrealist painter lived and worked here for the last twenty five years of his life. The Fundació is made up of three buildings. The Taller Sert, a white and primary coloured Modernist building designed by Josep Sert in collaboration with Joan Miró. This was his studio, it is everything you want an artists studio to be. Full of northerly light, with lots of Miró’s work on show including some of his working models. A little up the hill is the Son Boter, an old Mallorcan farmhouse deployed by Miró as a workshop. The walls are marked with his charcoal musings and the floors splashed with paint. At the bottom of the hill is the Edifici Moneo a gallery built by Mirò’s widow to display his work. This is a building of calm and joy. All the buildings are surrounded by beautiful gardens.
- Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Carrer de Saridakis, 29
- Open: Winter Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 3pm, Summer Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 7pm, Sunday 10am – 3pm
- Admission: €10
Palma de Mallorca Cultural Weekend Itinerary: Day Two
Museu de Mallorca
Palma Old Town is home to many mansions, most of them out of bounds to you and me. The Museu de Mallorca is housed in a rather splendid Renaissance mansion. You will find all the usual bits of pot and general fascinating finds from archeological digs around the island in the museum. Stars of the show is a collection of Mallorcan Primitive paintings, thirteenth century religious paintings. If these are not your cup of tea, then maybe give the Museu a miss. I love them.
- Mallorca Museum, Carrer de la Portella
- Open: Tuesday – Sunday 9am – 2pm
- Still searching for this information!
Arab Baths or Banys Àrabs
Mallorca was home the Moors for centuries. The Arab baths date from the 10th century. There is a impressive domed and arched room. Take a look at the tops of the pillars, all of the are different, the builders of the baths reused the stone left from Roman buildings. Outside the baths is a pleasant shady garden, perfect for a moment of repose.
- Arab Baths, Carrer de Can Serra
- Open: Daily 10am – 6.30pm (6pm Sunday)
Palau de l’Alumudaina
Back toward the Cathedral and the Palau de l’Almudaina which started life as the seat of the Moorish governors and then became the Palace of the Mallorcan Kings. It is still a Royal Palace today with the offices of the King and Queen both on the visitor route, although not when they are in residence and using them! The Palace is built round a courtyard, with its own chapel and spectacular views across Palma bay.
- Almudaina Palace, Carrer del Palau Reial
- Open: October to March Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm, April to September Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 7pm
- Admission: €7
Es Baluard Modern and Comtempory Art Museum
Stroll along in front of the marina and up the hill to Es Baluard Modern and Contemporary Art Museum built within one of old forts that protected Palma. You can wander around the courtyard taking in the views and seeing many fine examples of contemporary sculpture for nothing. Inside you need to pay. There is a permanent collection with Miró and Picasso but that was closed for a rehang when we were there and so we saw three temporary (and quite challenging) exhibitions. Make sure you head up to the roof for spectacular views across Palma.
- El Baluard museu d’art modern I contemporari, Plaza Porta de Santa Catalina 10
- Open: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 8pm, Sunday 10am – 3pm
- Admission: €6
Take a stroll around seeking out Modernist Architecture
Palma old town has many fine examples of Modernist (or Art Nouveau or Jugendstil take your pick) architecture. My favourites were the Can Barcelo on Plaça de Quadrado, a tile covered apartment block. Can Forteza Rey on Plaça del Marqùes del Palmer, was designed by the modernist jeweller Lluís Fortest-Rey and is now home to a bakery. Follow the road round and down to Plaça de Weyler where there is cluster of beauties. The Gran Hotel which is now home Caixa Forum art gallery. Opposite is Forn des Teatre, possibly the most beautiful bakery I have ever seen. Just round the corner are a pair of matching buildings, mirroring each other across a narrow street.
Getting from the Airport to Palma
The quickest, easiest and cheapest way is to catch the A1 bus from directly in front of the airport. €5 will get you to the centre of town. There is a ticket machine at the bus stop, ignore this. It doesn’t work. Pay the driver in cash when you get on the bus. Cash only, no cards.
Where to stay?
Central Palma is awash with cute hotels. We stayed in right in the centre in the Nivia Born Boutique Hotel. We had a Sweet room which had plenty of room and was quiet. I don’t usually sleep terribly well when I’m away but slept like a baby here. Breakfast is eaten in the restaurant at the top of the hotel which has two roof terraces offering stunning views over the Cathedral. In warmer weather the rooftop becomes a bar in the evening. We had a choice of several other central Palma hotels with Jet2CityBreaks some with pools but it was the roof terrace that lured us.
Where to eat?
What to eat is not an issue, tapas! Where we ate our tapas, don’t forget lunch at the Mercat l’Olivar.
Sa Trobada, Calle Parares 21 on the first evening when we were very tired after an early start we headed for the nearest place to our hotel. If you are looking for chic this is not the place for you, if you want good food it is. No website and only open on weekdays.
Café Poupette, Sa Feixina Park we saw Café Poupette from the roof of the Es Baluard and decided that was where we wanted to eat. Right decision.
La Cana, Passeig de Sagrera 3, over looking the marina you get tapas with a distinctly nautical feel here.
What and where to drink?
Mr CW and I are partial to a drop of Vermouth. Palma is the perfect place to enjoy a pre-dinner Vermouth, there are even special Vermuteria’s devoted to the consumption of Vermouth.
La Rosa Vermuteria, Carrer de la Rosa, 5 We would have liked to have eaten at La Rosa as well as having a Vermouth and olives but we didn’t book and it is very popular.
Sky Bar at the Hotel Almudaina, Avinguda de Jaime III, 9 For a vermouth with a view the Sky Bar at the top of Hotel Almudaina is the place to head. Don’t be put off by the anonymous entrance at street level, head in and take the lift to the 8th floor.
Getting to Palma de Mallorca
Jet2 has flights from Stansted to Mallorca (or Majorca) that take about two and a half hours. We took off in snow and arrived to balmy blue skies. Flying from Stansted is really easy, from central London the Stansted Express takes 50 minutes from London Liverpool Street. If you are driving then Stansted is minutes away from Junction 8 of the M11.