Palma de Mallorca is a typical stop off on a Mediterranean cruise and if you’re a fan of your summer sunshine holidays it might be a port that you return to time and time again.
When you’ve done the impressive Le Seu Cathedral, admired the colourful buildings on the Placa Major and shopped on the Passeig des Born you might feel like you’ve seen it all.
Don’t shun this Balearic beauty in favour of a day on the ship’s sun loungers however. Discover what’s hot in Palma de Mallorca and spice up your visits to this popular port……..
1 – Be a Beach Babe
You might be thinking ‘Beach? What beach??’
Whilst Palma doesn’t have a central beach like many sunshine stop offs, it’s worth making the 4km trip to the west for the Blue Flag Cala Mayor.
It might be undeniably small but it’s got the whole package – soft sands, swaying palms, calm waters, the works! For a change from your ship’s swimming pool and city sightseeing tours, an afternoon here offers a sandy slice of the beach life.
2 – Feed the Fishes
If you’re cruising with kids then Palma Aquarium is probably already at the top of your list of Majorcan must-sees, but even if you’re a fully grown person, pounding the pavements in the sunshine can quickly become a chore – after all, there are only so many cobbled streets and town squares that one person needs to see on a two week cruise.
Palma Aquarium is one of the best in Europe and has so much to delight all ages.
You can count on seeing four different types of sharks among the 200 species of marine life (the only time on a cruise holiday that you’ll be happy to see a shark!) Plus, if you time your visit right, you can help feed the turtles and pet the starfish in the Touch Pool.
Throw in a ‘tropical rainforest’ and a playground for the kids and you’ve got a great way to fill a port day.
3 – Creep Yourself Out
If you remember the 80’s horror films ‘Puppet Master’ and ‘Child’s Play’ (shudder), you’ll know why the Museum of Antique Dolls in Palma has the potential to be seriously creepy. And if you’re thinking ‘Pah – what’s so creepy about some old dolls,’ keep in mind the fact that some of these 18th and 19th century toys were found in the graves of children. Not quite so keen now, are you?
4 – Meet the Locals
Mingling with the locals should be one of the great pleasures of port days but it’s easy to get swept along on the organised excursions, ticking off the tourist traps as you go.
Skip the cathedral tour and head to Olivar Market instead where you’ll find locals clamouring around stalls laden with everything from dangling pig and rabbit carcases to oranges piled so high they look like they could cause an juicy avalanche at any moment. Pick up some olives, meats and fruit for a picnic in the Parc de la Mar later or stand at one of the tiny tapas bars and have lunch alongside the stall workers.
You could even try out your GCSE Spanish, if you’re feeling brave!
‘Me gusta the purple ones.’
5 – Tour Spain in a Day
So an architectural ‘theme park’ may be an odd concept but that’s pretty much what the Poble Espanyol amounts to.
The only ride you’ll be taking is a whistle stop tour of Spanish architecture, with examples from Grenada, Madrid and more, but it’s still a fun way to feel like you’re ticking off lots of different Spanish destinations in one afternoon.
6 – Visit a Bullring
Whatever your thoughts are on this tradition there’s no denying that the Plaza de Toros is one of Palma’s most stunning buildings.
With striking similarities to the Coliseum in Rome this Palma landmark is well worth getting the camera out for.
However, a decline in popularity means that you’d have to be pretty lucky (or unlucky) to drop by on a day when an actual bullfight is taking place.
7 – Take a Train Ride Back in Time
Buy a ticket to ride and let the wooden coaches transport you back in time with the quaint nearby mountain village of Soller. It’s a magical ‘olde worlde’ experience that can provide a welcome change from the modern facilities of your shiny cruise ship should you ‘choo choo choose’ (sorry!)
Don’t worry, the games consoles, golf simulators and virtual balconies will still be waiting for you on your return to port!
8 – Visit Barcelona
There are echoes of Barcelona to be found in Palma, giving you a two-for-the-price-of-one port experience.
Seek out the influences of Barca fave, Antoni Gaudi. This famous artist and architect had a hand in the decoration of the La Seu Cathedral (ask the locals what they think of his ‘Crown of Thorns’ addition – just brace yourself for some Spanish expletives!) And several buildings, including Edifici Casasayas, seem influenced by his quirky style.
9 – Get Cultured With Sculpture
Fancy a spot of culture to boast about over dinner? Head over to Es Baluard, the contemporary art museum. Its defence bastion location is as impressive as its vast collection, but it’s the sculptures in the outdoor space that really appeal on a sunny day.
10 – Take a Bath
When the tourist shops and bustling attractions get too much, head to the medieval quarter of Palma to escape. The Arabic Baths are a particularly peaceful haven. Don’t expect a Jacuzzi or masseuse – this isn’t a working spa, so you can leave your paper underwear in your cabin. Instead it’s a glimpse back in time through the ruins of an ancient bathhouse. The attached walled garden is an added bonus, too!
So when you think you’ve done Palma, think again. Some of the hottest spots that this popular Balearic port has to offer are hidden behind the scenes. Mix up your Mediterranean shore days and take a fresh look at Palma de Mallorca – it’s worth leaving your sun lounger for.// END - About the Author ?>