Palma de Mallorca, is the capital and largest city of the Balearic Islands in Spain, situated on the south coast of the island of Mallorca on the Bay of Palma.

Mallorca is a major European holiday destination and almost half the island’s population lives on Palma. The city feels modern with hotel chains and flashy shops, yet, is dated and still retains much of the old architecture, with the Old Town having narrow streets, and the restored cathedral standing in the center of town.

Arriving at Palma de Mallorca

A Balearia ferry docked at the port of Palma

Palma is a popular destination for many Mediterranean cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival. We reached Palma as our first stop from Barcelona on a week-long western Mediterranean cruise in Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the seas.

There are also daily ferry services like Trasmediterranea, Balearia and others from major Spanish cities like Barcelona and Valencia. Palma’s city airport (code: PMI) has daily flights from most major European cities. It’s located 9km from the city center.

A bus waiting at the cruise port to take passengers on an excursion

Once you reach the port of Palma there are number of options to get to the city center. Cruise passengers signed up for an excursion will find their Bus right in front of the terminal. We opted to exploring the city on our own and found both buses and taxis arriving every few minutes to the terminal.

Yachts galore at the harbor of Palma de Mallorca

The scenic drive to the city center is typically filled with shops and hotels on the left and lovely boats and yachts on the right. The taxi can drop visitors at the main square right in front of the royal castle with an imposing view.

Exploring Palma’s History and Castell de Bellver

View of the royal palace from the public square across the moat

The name Palma dates back to the Roman settlement on the site of the present city around 123 BC. The Moors conquered the island in 902 AD who named it Madina Mayurqa, Arabic for “City of Majorca”. In 1229 it was conquered by King Jaume I of Aragon and became an important trade city.

A stairway connects the ground level to the royal courtyard offering a grand view of the palace and the harbor

In the 16th century a significant decline was caused by attacks from Turkish and Berber Pirates and through the plague. In early 18th century Mallorca was conquered by the French-Spanish army. Later, Carlos III established a free trade pact with the Indies, which had a huge impact in improving Palma’s financial situation. Palma became a tourist destination in the 1950s and has grown ever since to become one of the most popular island destination in the Mediterranean.

A closer view of the royal palace by the stairs of the central courtyard

Known for its uniquely circular form, Castell de Bellver has three large towers, a central courtyard, and other features shown throughout the architecture of the interior and exterior. The best way to tour this castle starts with a walk around the moat.

Bellver Castle is built on the ruins of the old Moorish site. It contains a museum of archaeological finds and classical sculptures. It is considered one of the most distinct castles in Spain.

Castell de Bellver offers visitors the best view of the bay of Palma and the entire city of Palma.

Exploring historic city center

The royal palace is just a few minutes walk to the scenic path that connects to the city center

The city center is very walkable and has all the modern amenities like shops, restaurants and restrooms among historic buildings.

The government buildings are located around the main plaza surrounded by delicious eateries
The main plaza has a 360 view of historic buildings and shops great for a photo op
The historic restored cathedral is just few minutes walk from main plaza

Another site of interest in city center is the Pueblo Espanol. This architectural museum is designed like a small village containing facsimiles of the major classical works of Spanish architecture. During the week there are numerous artisans’ shops, restaurants and bars operating within the museum.

One of many narrow streets in Palma is a joy to walk on
A painting next to a historic courtyard shows the byzantine influence of the island
The streets of the city are easily navigable and circles back to the royal palace courtyard
The exit back to the courtyard offers a grand view of the Bay of Palma

Paseo Maritimo

The bay of Palma across from the moat and seaside walkway with our cruise ship towering by the port
Shops offer a lovely collection of pearl and other unique island jewelery and collectibles

Paseo Maritimo refers to area all along the port, where all the yachts and boats are chartered. Most of the discotecas, bars, pubs, etc. are located here. A nice jogging track and walking path surrounds the area offering a lovely view of the harbor.

Returning to Port

Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the seas docked at the port of Palma

There are taxis available all around Paseo Maritimo that can take passengers back to the port or airport. Buses are also available but have specific locations of departure. A convenient stop is across from the royal courtyard on the seaside.