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Top 3 things to do in Palma

La Seu Cathedral from the outside

A short stay in the city? Long weekend ahoy? Do you want to make the most of your scape to Palma? Here we give you our top 3 activities and places to see!

Visiting the Cathedral of Mallorca

Although it may sound like a cliché, the Cathedral of Mallorca is one of the emblems of the city and therefore you cannot dismiss the opportunity to visit it, both on the outside and on the inside.

The cathedral hides a thousand secrets and the architectural beauty is spectacular. Beginning to be built in the 13th century, the cathedral took more than three centuries to be finished and ready for worship. Built on top of an old mosque, this imposing building represents the Christian faith in its splendour being the highest of all the Balearic Islands and possessing one of the most beautiful Gothic rosettes in Europe. With approximately 100 m2 of surface area, it is discussed which of the two rosettes, Notre Dame or ours, is larger and more beautiful. Of course, a Mallorcan will say that ours is bigger feeling the characteristic pride of the island.

Even so, we can not only boast of this great “eye of the Gothic” as this building also gives shelter to great works of art such as “the chapel of Barceló”. This controversial work of art was (and still is) the talk of some unwilling to see the sensibility and beauty of contemporary art. Arguing that this chapel does not fit the rest of the cathedral’s decoration, many criticize the darkness and the horrifying of its forms and lights. Not everyone appreciates the meaning and why of so many shapes and colours and although many do not believe it, this chapel is considered one of the most precious treasures of the entire building.

During our visit to the cathedral, we can also dislocate other architectural and decorative treasures that adorn the walls and ceilings of the basilica.

Perhaps you recognize a certain modernist style in some of the elements that decorate the columns and also, you may take a look at the structure that crowns the main altar. This structure is part of a series of reforms carried out by the famous Catalan architect Antonio Gaurdí at the beginning of the 20th century. Loved by many and hated by some, the architect had to confront the collective of canons who disapproved his reforms considering it an outrage to the sacred ground (something similar to what happened with Barceló). Fortunately, today Gaudí is considered a genius and his works are respected and admired and, luckily we can boast of his influence in such an important building as the Cathedral.Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca, Spain

On the outside, the façade of the cathedral is one of the most beautiful and large you will find in Palma. It houses two styles, the 16th-century mannerist and the 18th century neo-gothic. And you may wonder how it is possible if in the 18th century the cathedral was supposed to be more than finished. In 1755, a terrible earthquake in Lisbon reached our lands and with it, part of the façade of the cathedral collapsed. When they rebuilt it, they took advantage of the style of the time, reforming the façade in Neo-gothic style.

Having an ice cream or hot chocolate with Ensaimada in Can Joan de S’Aigo

The oldest ice cream/chocolate shop in Palma is an emblematic place and popular among locals. On designated days, you can see how a queue of people waits to have their snack in a local setting in the 1920s. It was founded in 1700 by the valldemossí Joan Thomàs, known as Joan de s’Aigo because it sold pressed ice brought directly from the snow houses of the highest mountains of the island. Joan Thomàs’ success also prompted him to sell almond milk and various types of ice cream. His travels in Europe allowed him to bring recipes, probably from Italian ice cream. The current manager of the establishment, Pedro Juan Massanet, says that doctors are said to prescribe their almond ice cream.Interior-of-Mallorca-Restaurant

The business was acquired by Antoni Martorell Guasp at the beginning of the 20th century; his son Joan Martorell Pol inherited the business. Massanet explains that the original location was on Carnisseria Street, but in 1976 it was moved to its current location on Sanç Street due to the risk of collapse. The manager explains that this moment was key to the survival of Can Joan de s’Aigo and highlights that the owner kept it open so that the employees did not lose their job. “In 15 days he set up this, which used to be a jewellery shop,” he says. Many ancient objects are conserved, such as ice-cream pumps, which are more than 100 years old, etc. Over the centuries, Can Joan de s’Aigo has become one of the oldest establishments on the island.Mallorca-Coffee-and-Pastry

What are you waiting for to taste their delicious scones? Whether you prefer sweet ones or prefer savoury ones, this place will make you enjoy a unique experience.

 My recommendations for the sweet tooth ones: 

  • Chocolate ensaimada: the majorcan pastry par excellence. A snail shape bun from the Jewish “challah” but “Christianized” with lard, stuffed with delicious chocolate. Ensaïmada from Mallorca
  • Coca de Cuarto: for vegetarians, which is one of the few things that doesn’t carry lard in the entire establishment, is a sponge cake made only of eggs, flour and sugar! mmmm! super fluffy! 
  • Almond gató, for those allergic to gluten, this cake only has chopped almonds, eggs, cinnamon and lemon. Anyway, ask if they added flour to the recipe.

 

My recommendations for those who prefer savoury cakes:

  • The peppers coca:  a kind of cheese-free pizza, made only with a crunchy dough and roasted peppers on top. Delicious!
  • Cocarrois. They are a kind of pie of vegetables with raisins, very tasty and reminiscent of the Arab cuisine, and you can order it with sweet, integral or classic dough. 
  • Panades. Some lamb or pork pies, with or without peas and with a piece of sobrassada inside to give that characteristic paprika flavourtraditional mallorcan food - empanades

 

Interesting fact: If you are travelling with your dog, this place allows having your dog inside as long as it’s a good boy/girl.  

Go to the local markets

Markets are an essential part of the Mediterranean and Spanish culture. There is no city that does not have a daily fresh produce market. In the villages, not having a fixed place to hold this event, one or two market days are usually chosen and the farmers are there to sell their products. 

There are 3 major markets in the city:

  • El mercado del Olivar

It is the market par excellence of the city. Being the largest, it houses all kinds of stands of fresh products and in the surroundings, you can find bars that offer tapas and wines of first quality so spend an entertaining morning. The Olivar was built in the 50s as a roofless market, as a solution to a little hygiene and spread of market stalls that existed throughout the city. In this way, food vendors were concentrated at a single point and responsible hygiene measures could be carried out. The market, now covered, is divided into two main areas: the fish and seafood area, on the one hand, and the meat and vegetable area on the other. On the upper floor, there is the supermarket and also, a very interesting bar with a sign on the door that says “bring us your fish and we’ll cook it for you”. Yeah, you read it right. This bar cooks grilled fish that you bought yourself on the market on condition that you consume your drinks on the same bar. It is a perfect plan for fresh fish lovers if you want to eat cheap and quality without dirtying your kitchen.

  • El Mercado de Santa Catalina

The market of Saturday morning par excellence is a market that is located in the beautiful district of Santa Catalina, on the outskirts of the old wall, 5 minutes from the cathedral. This neighbourhood is crowded with people in the morning by those who enjoy vermouth and good company. Being a very local market, it is half as small as the market of Olivar but it does not lack anything: fresh seasonal vegetables, fresh fish, meats and chickens… Even bouquets of flowers. Of course, there are also bars where you can enjoy a Mallorcan tapas! The corner bar also offers its grill for the fish and seafood you bought at the market. A bargain!

  • El Mercado Gastronomico de San Juan

It is not a common market for fresh produce but a food market. What does this mean? The Market is divided into stands where each stand specializes in one thing: croquettes, pizza, oysters, paella… In the middle of the building, there are tables and chairs to sit on that all the stands share and this allows each one to choose what kind of food they want to eat while attending the stand that interests them. It’s great for groups where it’s hard to agree on what to order. The market is about 20 minutes walk from the centre in the area of the “Escorxador”, a former slaughterhouse that has been converted into a cultural centre where we can find, apart from the market, a public library, a cinema of independent films and lots of tapas bars.

 

It is important to keep this trade active and to encourage the sale of fresh produce to small businesses that we can find in those spaces. It is equally important to be sustainable when buying and responsible for purchasing local (KM0) and ecological products. We also encourage you if you go to the market, to take your own bag and try to do without one-use plastic bags to contribute to the environment.

Those are just a few of the activities and highlights for your short weekend stay in Palma that you can not miss! For other activities or tours, please click below and ask for info!

Buenos Días Mallorca

Don’t worry, this isn’t your typical Spanish lesson — we’re going to skip the classroom and dig into a Mallorca-style…

Don’t worry, this isn’t your typical Spanish lesson — we’re going to skip the classroom and dig into a Mallorca-style breakfast.

Buenos Días Mallorca

Don’t worry, this isn’t your typical Spanish lesson — we’re going to skip the classroom and dig into a Mallorca-style breakfast.

Cathedral, Backstreets and Market in Palma

Discover Palma through our local walking tour, on a journey to explore the best-hidden corners but also the highlight of…

Discover Palma through our local walking tour, on a journey to explore the best-hidden corners but also the highlight of Palma!

Cathedral, Backstreets and Market in Palma

Discover Palma through our local walking tour, on a journey to explore the best-hidden corners but also the highlight of Palma!

Local tapas in Palma

We’re meeting up with locals and taking you on a foodie adventure that’s filled with tasty tapas and perfect pinchos.

We’re meeting up with locals and taking you on a foodie adventure that’s filled with tasty tapas and perfect pinchos.

Local tapas in Palma

We’re meeting up with locals and taking you on a foodie adventure that’s filled with tasty tapas and perfect pinchos.