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