Lonely Planet destination editor AnneMarie McCarthy recently returned from a flying visit to Palma de Mallorca. Here she shows you what you can squeeze into 24 hours in Mallorca's cultured capital by sharing highlights from her jam-packed day trip.
I visited Mallorca in May with a friend as part of a longer trip to the Balearics, taking in Ibiza first. Because of how the ferry schedule worked out, I arrived in Palma late on Friday night, meaning we only had 24 proper hours to explore the city and squeeze as much as we could before flying out early Sunday morning.
I immediately realized that Palma is the perfect place to have a sunny city break. Ideally, you'd need a few days to explore all the city has to offer. However, even for those planning a beach holiday in Mallorca, I highly recommend taking a day trip here. Its compact size and reliable good weather make it easy to combine relaxing resort time with shopping, great food and cultural activities - and thanks to the island's excellent public transport network, you can easily access Palma from almost any major beach resort in Mallorca.
I really didn't want to leave as soon as I did but we made the most out of the short time we had.
Where did you stay? What was the vibe?
I stayed in INNSiDE Palma Bosque. It's near the seafront and about a 30-minute walk from the Cathedral, so it's easy to reach the main touristy sights while still staying on a quiet, peaceful street.
The highlights were the indoor and outdoor aquamarine pools, which all the rooms overlook. On-site, there's also an excellent restaurant called Syndeo and a surprisingly busy gym, all of which will tempt you to stay and lounge in the hotel all day, drinking cocktails served in the poolside bar. So be warned, you'll have to be strict with yourself if you want to see something else.
Best thing you ate?
We had dinner at Vida right on the port and shared the Côte de Boeuf with a selection of sides. Usually, I'm reluctant to order meat that you have to finish cooking yourself but because it had already been seared when it arrived, it was actually easy to get it to my liking on the hot plate.
Unfortunately, it was so delicious I forgot to take a picture because I was so busy digging in. But we did go for cocktails in their sister bar Tree House which is just upstairs overlooking the harbor and that sort of counts as dessert, right?
Favorite activity from the trip
A two-hour yachting experience with Swiss Yachting. It took off from Puerto Portals (a 25-minute taxi ride from Palma) and took us all south-eastwards down the coast. It was wonderful to see the famously rugged cliffs from the ocean and we passed plenty of kayakers and boat tours with the same idea. Plus, our vessel went pretty fast while in the open water, which added to the excitement
We stopped to swim and sunbathe, surrounded by plenty of other yachts with the same idea, drinking a bit of rose wine in between.
Did you bring home a souvenir?
Yes! There was a great market in Parc de la Mar, which had the added bonus of beautiful views of the cathedral. I deemed some of the beautiful pottery too fragile to try and take home but I did get a gorgeous light jacket from one of the stalls. The owner said she's been selling here for years and all the clothing was in colorful and unique prints.
What was the most touristy thing you did?
We explored Castell de Bellver first thing in the morning before it got too hot to make the steep walk up the hill. It's an impressive circular 14th-century fortress and home to the city's history museum but the real star is the 360-degree views from the top, with stunning vistas of the harbour and mountains. Definitely worth the €4 admission fee.
By the time we'd finished,d though, it was getting hotter and the day was ticking away,y so we opted to get on the hop-on-hop-off bus to get us back to the Palma center a bit quicker (€20), with the added bonus of seeing a bit more on the way down. It lasts for 24 hours, so I wish we'd gotten more use of it.
Best tip for someone who wants to plan the same trip?
Honestly, try and leave more time! There is so much to see in Palma, plus the great weather and access to the sea mean you could easily spend a weekend or longer here alternating between the sights, markets and a pool (or the beach!) If you're in Palma for 24 hours though, before moving on to somewhere on the island, perhaps schedule your activities like the yacht for when you're outside the city so you're staying more in one place and can maximize your time a little bit more. But because we weren't staying longer in Mallorca, I don't regret the itinerary because it was a wonderful introduction to both the city and the island and I can't wait to get back.
AnneMarie visited Mallorca on the invitation of We Are Indigo. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in return for positive coverage.