At the beginning of April I spent a long weekend in Palma de Mallorca for a relaxing break and some sunshine. A destination mainly chosen due to the cheap Ryanair flights from East Midlands airport, I didn’t realise the city is so beautiful or that there’s be so much to see and do, we easily filled 3 days. I’m not much of a travel blogger but here’s a quick breakdown some particularly nice places.
Where to go and what to see
The old city centre is fairly compact and easy to explore on foot – the map makes it look much bigger but nothing is too far apart. It’s a lovely city to just wander around finding hidden churches, little squares and surprise views. There’s a lot of nice Art Nouveau and early 1900’s architecture to admire, nice bars to relax at with a drink, and some very tasty bakeries 🙂
Some of my favourites places…
Le Seu (the cathedral)
A huge elaborate structure reflected in the water of the Parc de la Mar, built on a staggering scale with stunning stained glass, definitely worth a visit. There’s usually an admission charge but for about an hour over lunch between services on Sundays it’s free to wander around the main cathedral. The buildings are so crowded around the cathedral that it’s impossible to get a full view of the front of the cathedral, in the alley ways around the back you lose sight of it completely, quite an achievement for a building that size! There’s a section of old city walls near the Modern Art museum with good views across the roof tops, go in the afternoon for the sun to be shining onto the facade, or later on to watch the sun set behind the hills.
Castell de Bellver
The aptly named ‘Beautiful View Castle’ is on a low hill to the West of Palma, reached by a set of steps from the edge of the city or up the road by taxi or the City Sightseeing bus. We took the bus, it looks like a bit of a hike on foot. The castle is a lovely structure constructed all at once using mathematical principles and contains a few nice museum sections. The best part is the view from the roof across the harbour, city and mountains. And free entry on Sundays 🙂
Hort del Rei
A small park at the base of the palace the far side from the cathedral, it’s a calm oasis that’s stayed in my memory for the wonderful smell of the orange blossom and as a lovely place to sit and enjoy the sunshine.
Where to eat
The 5th floor cafe of El Corte Inglés on Avenida de Jaime III – the food was nice but the view is amazing!
View from the El Corte Ingles cafe
It’s probably because at the start of April the tourist season hasn’t really begun but we didn’t find a lot of restaurants open late. There’s a cluster of nice restaurants in the Plaça de la Llotja, next to the stunning Llotja (the old merchants hall which is open until 11 and looks wonderful inside when lit).
Beyond the city
A popular day trip from Palma is the old train ride to Sóller, followed by a tram ride down to Port de Sóller. At €30 for a round trip it’s not the cheapest day out but I had a great time. The old train used to transport oranges and lemons through the mountains to the city but now gets packed full of tourists – even in early April the train was nearly completely full. There’s not a lot of legroom but in the front carriage there’s a first class section with sofas which we ended up in by climbing into the nearest compartment as massed tourists attempted to board the train home, all much more luxurious!
The town of Sóller appears to be mainly the church, a few shops and cafes, and some wonderful views of the nearby mountains. Port de Sóller is a small beach resort and harbour reached by a tram that travels along the sea front. There’s a few view points around up the hills and some nice fish restaurants by the harbour. I suspect in the summer the beach will be packed but in April it was fairly quiet and a wonderful place for a stroll along the edge of the water. I had a great day out – fun transportation, lovely views and a relaxing time by the sea.
I’ve properly got the travel bug at the moment, I seem to be surrounded by people heading for exotic places… I need to start planning to next trip now!