La Seu, Palma de Mallorca
| ||Maps provided by
Got questions? Cruisers share about Palma de Mallorca.
Find Western Mediterranean cruise deals
View 208 port reviews of Palma de Mallorca cruises
Read more about Mediterranean cruises
Palma de Mallorca Overview
Palma de Mallorca, a major port city on the island of Mallorca and the capital of Spain's Balearic Islands, is a delightful cross between the Arabian Nights and the Renaissance, reflecting its checkered past of African and European control. It is the largest city on Mallorca, home to about 300,000 people -- a big, bustling place, with most of the tourist action in the old part of town around the Cathedral.
The architecture of this ancient Mediterranean port blends Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles. Palma's winding streets make way to grand churches, yacht harbors, beaches, fountains and old castles. Because there is so much history, so close together, it's a perfect port to explore on foot. The snaky, narrow streets hold many surprises -- including the occasional dead end (beware of the passages around the Cathedral … you truly cannot get from here to there!).
This sun-kissed port is also an outdoors city in-season, with much pedestrian traffic and the opportunity to eat or relax outside in a myriad of settings -- some free (parks and boulevards), and some in conjunction with visits to museums and historical sites (always look for interior courtyards, extra features of older buildings). For sun worshippers, the beaches are close by and the water is wonderfully clear.
Print the entire port review.
Other Western Mediterranean Cruise Ports:
Barcelona • Cannes • Capri • Corsica (Ajaccio) • Elba • Florence • Fuerteventura • Genoa • Gibraltar • Ibiza • La Palma • Lanzarote • Las Palmas • Lisbon • Madeira (Funchal) • Malta • Marseille • Monaco • Naples • Nice • Palermo • Palma de Mallorca • Portofino • Rome (Civitavecchia) • Sardinia • Sete • Seville • Sorrento • St. Tropez • Taormina • Tenerife • Tunis (La Goulette) • Venice • Villefranche
Catalan and Spanish, but most shopkeepers and museum attendants speak some English.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The euro. ATMs are plentiful, particularly in the shopping areas in and around the main thoroughfare, Passeig des Born.
Any locally made handicraft from the wood of the olive tree -- these are unusual and unique to the area; also leather goods and Majorica pearls.
Where You're Docked
The port of Palma de Mallorca is on the south coast of the island on the Bay of Palma. Ships dock in a remote commercial pier about four miles from town, an unpleasant walk through industrial areas.
Take a cab or shuttle to the Cathedral and start from there. This magnificent church is the center of the oldest and most historic part of town, and overlooks the Parc de la Mar, a picturesque seaside park with a small lake and panoramic views of the Mediterranean. The park contains many shade trees and benches for those inclined to sit a while to watch the world go by. Nearby is the Avinguda D'Antoni Maura, lined with sidewalk cafes and snack shops, and the adjacent Passeig des Born for serious shopping. The major museums and architectural highlights are close by, too.
Cabs are plentiful at the cruise terminal and may be shared with another couple. The cost for a trip into town is about 10 euros. Also, most cruise lines offer a shuttle from the port to a central point in town near the Cathedral; check your ship's shore excursions desk for availability and pricing. After arriving in the old part of the town, everything is within easy walking distance.
Watch Out For
As in other parts of southern Europe, the siesta is alive and well in Palma. Many shops, churches and museums close in mid-afternoon for several hours, so check before you go. Also, beware of cabbies who insist the only fare they offer is a "city tour." Taxis are legally required to pick up all passengers and drop them off where they request. Anyone encountering a problem (passengers who disembark first sometimes get the tour pitch) should report it to personnel in the cruise terminal or onboard the ship.
Sa Seu, Palma's cathedral (Carrer Palau Reial, 971-723-130, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily except Sunday), is a breathtaking Gothic structure, finished in 1587, that combines vastness and elegance. Viewed from below from the Parc de la Mar, it appears to rise mountain-like from its surroundings. Even the entryways are magnificent, including the Portal del Mirador with its seaward wall of buttresses and elaborate door, and the Portal Major, with its Renaissance design and colorful ceiling. The interior, partly redesigned by the famous Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi, features his controversial main altar. The Cathedral houses 20 small chapels around its perimeter, each unique, and several honoring regional religious heroes. Visitors looking up will discover the Rose Windows above the main altar.
Palau de l'Almudaina (Carrer Palau Reial, 971-214-134, 10 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. and 4 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.), across the square from the Cathedral, was once the royal Moorish palace, and then a summer palace for the Spanish monarchy. Much of the building's interiors are intact, highlighting unique architecture and art. Some interesting areas include the Hall of the Fireplaces; the terrace, with its clean lines and panoramic view; the Queen's and King's rooms with their tapestries and period furniture (down to the inkwells on the desks); and the Chapel of St. Anne and its Romanesque portal and delicate interior. The museum is large, not often crowded, and allows visitors time to explore and linger. The excellent audio guide, in English, is a must.
Museu de Mallorca (Palau Reial, 971-717-514, 10 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. and 4 p.m. - 5:15p.m.) is the archeological museum of the island, also near the Cathedral, down several small, winding streets. Its basement rooms are filled with relics from the different eras of the island, with each exhibit clearly identified and detailed. The second floor is devoted to art, mixing works of Spanish artists from the current era and old altarpieces. The building is unusual, with a large open center courtyard that provides a quiet place to relax between sights.
Banys Arabs (Carrer Serra 7, 971-721-549, 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.) contains a variety of architectural styles inside, including parts of a 10th-century bath, columns from the ruins of Roman buildings, and features that speak of Palma's Moorish past. The baths served as a gathering place in their time, and visitors can see the various rooms that comprised such an establishment, including the tepidarium (the lukewarm room). Visitors should be sure to visit the courtyard.
Basiilca de Sant Francesc (Placa Sant Francesc, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. except Sunday afternoon) is a Gothic church with a baroque facade built in the imposing island style of overpowering sandstone walls and an offsetting rose window. The statuary in and outside the church is noteworthy.
Shopping: Almost every main street and side street in the old town area contains shops; many are grouped in and around Passeig des Born and Avinguda Jaume III. A couple of unique boutiques include Antiguedades (Placa de la Almoina 4) for locally crafted jewelry and Arte-Facto (Cerrer Sant Pere 8) for regional handicrafts, including unusual umbrellas. Diego Villamediana maintains a workshop and gallery at Carrer Guatemala 2 and offers his original oil paintings and sculptures for sale -- but be warned: He doesn't accept credit cards.
Placa Major is a short walk from the center of town; it is an unusual underground shopping mall, and the stores do not usually observe siesta.
Been There, Done That
Fundacio Pilari i Joan Miro (Joan de Saridakis 29, 971-701-420, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily except 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sunday) is a short cab ride from the downtown area. The museum, which is built around four of Miro's workshops from his years living on the island, holds pieces from those workshops that were donated by Miro, and includes documents, drawings and sculptures. Special exhibits complement the central theme. It is a simple yet elegant grouping of buildings that provides some interesting insights to this popular artist.
Valldemossa is the island's most beautiful town. It is set in the hills, a short 30-minute cab ride from Palma (about 50 euros roundtrip). A lovely place to stroll, it's not crowded and is filled with attractive small shops and cafes. The Monastery Complex is the main feature of the town and incorporates a palace, the municipal museum (Museu Municipal de Valldemossa), and a neoclassical church. The complex also contains cloisters with several cells (rooms) given over to displays, one of which contains Chopin and George Sand memorabilia (they stayed here together in 1838). The old town is worthy of a look, surrounded by thousand-year-old walls and farming terraces.
The small streets radiating from Passeig des Born are filled with restaurants and sidewalk cafes of all types and price ranges. Look for local dishes like sopas mallorquinas, a bread-and-vegetable-based soup, and pa amb oli, hearty bread spread with Spanish olive oil. Paella, though not traditionally Mallorcan, can be found on many menus. Seafood in other preparations and roasted meats are also mainstays.
On a Budget: For inexpensive tapas, seek out the charming "Cafe i +" (Caputxines 2, 971-729-014), a nook off of a small street that also serves as an art gallery (the art is for sale). Be sure to sample anything made with lamb and the garlic mayonnaise.
Local Eats: La Boveda (Calle Boteria 3, 971-714-863), near the Cathedral, is well known in Palma for its tapas and entrees of veal, pork, chicken and fish. The restaurant is open for lunch every day except Sunday. Also nearby is Cellar Pages (Carrer Felipe Bauza 2, 971-726-036); the hot ticket on the a la carte menu is the fish of the day (have it grilled). It's likewise open for lunch every day except Sunday; reservations are recommend -- it's a small space.
Gourmet Lunching: For a real splurge, wander down into the harbor area to La Lubina (Muelle Viejo, 971-723-550), snag an outside table, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the pier while enjoying fresh seafood. The staff is friendly and stands ready to assist diners with the comprehensive menu. Lunch starts at 1 p.m., and reservations are a good idea.
Casual Dining: Craving fish and chips? You can get out of the sun and sip a cold beer at MacGowan's Irish Pub (Calle del Mar 18, 971-71-9847). Other items on the menu include various savory pies and chicken curry. The pub doubles as a sports bar, with soccer often displayed on the TV screens. Open daily 10 a.m. until "late."
Staying in Touch
An Internet cafe is located in Porto Pi Centre. It is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.
Best Choice for Active Travelers: Take the bike tour of Palma and get beyond the old town area of the city to the beaches, harbor and maritime promenade.
Best Choice for the Gastronome: Skip breakfast and venture on the "Tapas in Palma" tour, which features stops at three of the city's best tapas bars. In between snacks, the group hits Bellver Castle for a walking tour.
Best Choice for Wine Lovers: Book a wine tour (Wind Surf offers two different excursions) and you'll be treated to tastings in one of several wineries, enjoying rides through the Mallorca countryside to and from the vineyard.
For More Information
On the Web: www.illesbalears.es
On the Web: www.infomallorca.net
Cruise Critic Message Boards: Europe
The Independent Traveler Message Boards: Spain and Portugal
--updated by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor
--images of La Seu and Palma de Mallorca buildings appear courtesy of Melissa Baldwin
--images of Bellver Castle and Valldemossa Church appear courtesy of Carolyn Spencer Brown