Since the advent of mass tourism in the 1950s, Palma has been transformed into a tourist destination. This has contributed to a huge change in the city’s traditions, its language, and its economic power. The boom in tourism has caused Palma to grow significantly. In 1960, Mallorca received 500,000 visitors, in 1997 it received more than 6,739,700. In 2001 more than 19,200,000 people passed through Son Sant Joan airport which is quite near Palma, with an additional 1.5 million coming by sea. Palma is a city full of history and reflects periods of occupation by the Romans, the Byzantine period and the Muslim period. Palma is a thriving year round destination with plenty to offer visitors. Here are five suggestions of things to do and see.
Sushi Bar at Hotel Sant Frances Singular
Set atop the award-winning five-star boutique Hotel Sant Francesc Singular is an impressive al fresco terrace where both guests and residents nibble on sushi while taking in the surrounding city panorama.
Though not grand mountain or sweeping sea views, visitors can peer over the scenic surrounding rooftops, neighbouring medieval church, and out to Palma’s majestic sandstone Cathedral. Accompany the views with a top-notch selection of Japanese delicacies from the Sushi bar, or a burger flame-grilled to perfection.
The cathedral is spectacular from the outside and set in an amazing location dominating the seafront. Arguably the building is even more impressive inside, with amazing multi-coloured light coming through the huge stained glass windows into the cavernous light, airy interior.
There is also a contemporary feel with an unfinished alter by Gaudí and a modernist chapel by a renowned Spanish artist. Located in the historic heart in Palma, it’s surrounded by gardens and the lovely lanes of the old town. Marvel at the skill of the stone masons who created its wonderful edifice.
Caves of Genova
In 1906 a treasure was discovered a few minutes from Palma, The Genova caves, a fascinating natural legacy sculpted in stone. In prehistory the natural caves in Mallorca served as habitat and refuge.
Nowadays, thousands of people are enchanted by its natural beauty, which the water has been sculpting over the past centuries, comprising huge domes, majestic columns, water pools and tunnels.Their proximity to Palma makes them easily accessible to visitors as they are located in the residential neighbourhood of Genova. The interior tour takes place in small groups of people accompanied by a guide, with whom you’ll descend 36 meters deep.
Mallorca is a great island to explore by car. Use Palma as a base to discover the island. Mallorca is not too big that you can’t easily get from one end to the other, in a relatively short time. There’s a variety of landscapes to take in, the flatlands to the south and east and the mountains in the North.
Explore the Tramuntana mountains and call at some of the beautiful villages you’ll find there. Of particular interest are Valdamossa, Fornalutx and Deia, all stunningly beautiful and well kept villages boasting great restaurants and cafe stops. Take the road from Soller to Pollensa and be amazed at the breathtaking scenery en route. Sa Colabra is worth a visit, if only to drive down the tortuous road that twists and winds down to the sea. The road from Pollensa to Cap Formentor is one of the most beautiful roads on the island and the lighthouse at the end affords views over the Med that are stunning. Car hire is cheap and there are many companies in Palma to choose from. Alternatively, pick up a hire car at the airport on arrival.
Millions of people visit Mallorca to spend time on the fantastic beaches that dot Mallorca’s amazing coastline. There are 262 beaches on Mallorca with a total length of 50 km. That’s a lot of beach! From secluded beaches, to wide sandy beaches or rocky bays, the choice is vast.
Mallorca’s wonderful beaches have been yet again recognised with the blue flag awards. The island now has 31 blue flag beaches. The nearest beach to the centre of Palma is a short walk and takes in the Anima Beach Club and Assaona Beach Club. A short drive away is a lovely little beach at Illetas. This small sheltered beach has sparkling clean water and soft golden sand, and is one of the more attractive beaches on the coastline to the southwest of Palma. It’s not a very large beach, so we recommend arriving early to stake your claim to a patch of this paradise. You can hire sun loungers and parasols on the sands or chill out at one of the two good beach clubs you’ll find there, Virtual Club and Las Terrazas.
Danny Frith is Director at SkiBoutique. SkiBoutique is a luxury ski chalet agency based in Switzerland.
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