Earlier this month, Miloš and I headed to Palma de Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. We’d been meaning to go for the past few years now, but never were able to make it work. After hearing such wonderful things about this historically rich and lovely city – we had to see if for ourselves. We have friends/colleagues who spend part of each winter in Palma, and we wanted to make sure our visit overlapped with their time there as well.
(A big thanks to Barbara, Marco, Robert, and Chiara for sharing your time with us while we were in Palma! We had such a splendid time!)
Here’s a brief summary of our time in Palma de Mallorca and some of the major sites we experienced. Some restaurant reviews, too!
First – a handy map to show us where to find Palma – and just because I love maps! 🙂
Mallorca is the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, and recorded history of the island officially dates from the year of 123 BC, when it became part of the Roman Empire. In the 6th century, it was controlled by the Byzantine Empire, and later it was under Moorish rule. It then came under the Crown of Aragon, and throughout the ages, it had quite the history of falling victim to piracy. Such a varied background lends itself to a city with beautifully diverse architecture and rich culture. The old town is made up of narrow streets, full of cafes and shops. The old private homes have ornate inner courtyards, and the majestic cathedral lies along the town’s imposing city walls.
(Scroll to the bottom for restaurant reviews!)
Oddly, flights from Zagreb to Palma are limited, and of course require a layover. Our only choice that did not involve an overnight layover (that’s right!), was an early morning flight.
We arrived in Palma in the afternoon, and were pleased to see our home for four nights – an airy loft in the center of the old town. Here’s a view out of the window:On our first night, we met up with Barbara and Marco, and their daughter Chiara. They took us on a short walking tour of part of the city, culminating with a visit to Bar Abaco – one of the city’s most famous bars. It’s bedecked in elaborate decor, while standard classical music hits play in the background, and a roaring fire keeps guests warm. A visit to Abaco is a must-do for all new tourists in Palma. We had a nice time enjoying our daiquiris and great conversation. The next day, we wandered the town and explored part of the city and its fortress walls. It was an official holiday -Balearics Day. As a result, there were craft and food tents all along the city. We also took a long walk along the sprawling marina. Many shops and restaurants were closed for the holiday, so we were lucky to find a well-reviewed restaurant that was still open that night. Here are some photo highlights from our day:
On the next day, we started out with a short walk to the marina, then met up with Barbara, Marco, Chiara, and Robert at a coffee shop along the Passeig del Born. That was followed by a walk along the old streets, finishing at the Plaça d’Espanya. We had a very late lunch, as our dinner was booked for later that night. In this part of the world, it’s customary to eat a late lunch, as well as a very late dinner. Many restaurants close between 4:30 and 8:30pm each day.
On our third full day in Palma, the plan was to meet up again with Barbara, Marco, Chiara, and Robert by the fish market. Here we were to pay a visit to the oyster bar for fresh oysters and champagne. It was my first time trying oysters, and I admit that I was a bit apprehensive at first. However, I’m always willing to try new things – and it was Robert’s first time trying oysters too, so I wasn’t alone in being a newbie. Miloš’ stomach was a little iffy that morning, so he passed on the oysters. I’m definitely glad I tried them, but I don’t think I’ll be having another one soon. I think perhaps they’re an acquired taste.
After oysters, we went for a walk along the city walls. We said good-bye to Robert at the edge of the city, and continued walking along the seaside with Barbara, Marco, and Chiara all the way to the next village in the El Molinar area. It was a lovely sunny day, and after saying good-bye to our friends, we had lunch in the village.
When we finished our lunch, we walked back to the apartment and freshened up. We grabbed a taxi up to Bellver Castle, and hiked down the hillside after exploring. At just over 700 years old, this castle is definitely worth a visit! Miloš and I have seen many castles throughout all of our travels, but this one was certainly a highlight. Not only does a visit here offer amazing views of the city below, but the castle is extremely well maintained, with exhibits within the different rooms along its circular courtyard, providing some education along the way. Entry into the castle is 4€ per person, and our taxi ride was about 10€. Tickets are available at the far side of the castle. If you’d like to hike down afterwards, there is a well-kept stairway that leads down the entire hillside right across from the castle entrance, with a beautiful church about half way down. On our way back to the old town, we stopped for a drink at one of the restaurant bars along the marina. The evening was getting cool, and we headed back to the apartment to pack for our early morning flight back to Croatia.
Here are some photos from our third full day in Palma:
We had some excellent meals while in Palma – you can certainly eat well in this city. Here’s a look at our dining experiences:
We had lunch here on our first full day in Palma. The restaurant is built into the edge of the city walls. We snagged the only non-reserved table left in the place. Service was excellent, and the food was just as good. We started with a pear and goat cheese salad that was beyond delicious. We shared it, but after tasting it, we wished we had ordered one for each of us! We also shared a pizza and some grilled scampi. Overall a wonderful meal at a restaurant we would love to revisit!
Restaurante Peix Vermell
We were very lucky to find this restaurant when so many others were closed for the holiday. It had a great rating on Trip Advisor, and we were so glad it was open! We shared another goat cheese salad, which was very good. (Although the one at Cafe Murada was even better!) Miloš had steak, and I had pasta with clams and garlic. The server made a fantastic wine recommendation, too. The wine glasses were huge! The overall service was top notch. Our server spoke several languages – not just English for me, but Croatian for Miloš! Very impressive. We’d recommend this place to anyone!
This seems to be a high end chain located around the city. We stopped at the Palau March location, along the city walls near the cathedral. They are open during the siesta afternoon hours, serving food and beverages. I wasn’t too hungry, so I just had dessert (banana and caramel pie), while Miloš had a chicken with quinoa risotto. He raved about it – really excellent. Plus, in all honesty, the ambience and setting are fantastic.
Asador Bolixe Cocina Esencial
This steakhouse is a little bit of a walk outside the center of the old town, but it was rated highly on Trip Advisor, so we made a reservation. Service was good, but our server didn’t seem to speak English well, so it was lucky that Miloš speaks some Spanish. Miloš had steak, and I had the lamb chops. Even though the chops had a good grill flavor, they were a bit gristle-y. Not a poor meal, but our others were so great, that this paled a bit in comparison.
Trattoria A Tarantella
This was the Italian restaurant where we ate in the little village just past Palma proper. We shared a mixed salad to start the meal – it was hearty and worthy of sharing. We each had a pasta entree – mine was an excellent spaghetti aglio e oglio: simple, tasty, and a bit spicy. Miloš had spaghetti with scampi. We ate out on the outdoor terrace in the sunshine. A nice place to eat!
We had a wonderful time in Palma, and would love to return! (And other cities in Spain are also on the list!)