Why pocket-size Palma is the place to visit this spring

The Mallorcan capital is all too often overlooked. Here are the hotspots that explain why Palma has been gaining popularity as a weekend destination in its own right
Palma's cathedralPernilla Danielsson

Areas to explore

Palma is best explored on foot, partly because it is so small and partly because much of the old city is a labyrinth of narrow, cobbled streets, stairways and passages. These, at intervals, give way to secret squares of ancient balconied houses and pretty churches, or wide boulevards with avenues of plane trees.

A courtyard in the old townPernilla Danielsson
Plaça MajorPernilla Danielsson

Obvious sights include the cathedral, the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, Sa Llotja (the fifteenth-century merchant exchange building) and Plaça Major (the tourist epicentre), but locals will tell you to head to Santa Catalina, the most authentic district when it comes to everyday life.

Cafés in Santa CatalinaPernilla Danielsson
Tapas from the marketPernilla Danielsson

Not as picturesque as the old town, Santa Catalina has small boutiques and a vibrant restaurant scene, at the heart of which is the covered daily food market. Get here late morning, prop yourself up at the bar of one of the market restaurants and indulge in the freshest of oysters, sushi or tapas.

Art scene

A Joan Miró sculpture in the grounds of his museumPernilla Danielsson

The city has a thriving art scene. Famously, Joan Miró spent his final years in Mallorca and the museum set up in his memory on the site of the artist’s old studio, the Miró Mallorca Fundació on Carrer Saridakis, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Inside the Miró Mallorca FundacióPernilla Danielsson
A sculpture at Es BaluardPernilla Danielsson

Es Baluard is the city’s impressive museum of modern and contemporary art, with a great terrace for drinks and views of the waterfront. And do not miss Galería Pelaires on Carrer de Can Verí, the oldest and most distinguished gallery in town.


Sant Francesc Hotel Singular
The hotel's rooftop poolPernilla Danielsson

If good bone structure signals great beauty, Sant Francesc Hotel Singular had a head start when it was converted from a grand, but near-derelict, private house into Palma’s most exquisite boutique hotel in 2015. Set on the enchanting Plaça de Sant Francesc, which is dominated by the eponymous thirteenth-century basilica, the neoclassical mansion boasts numerous restored original features – a wide marble staircase, elaborate wooden
coffered ceilings, frescoes and stone floors.

A room at Sant FrancescPernilla Danielsson
Quadrat restaurant in Sant Francesc Hotel SingularPernilla Danielsson

Into this setting add contemporary art and furniture, an enviable assortment of beautiful books, a collection of specially commissioned photographs and a rich palette of greys, browns and blues, and the result is stunning. The inner courtyard, which some of the 42 rooms overlook, is a peaceful spot for a drink and there is an excellent restaurant, Quadrat, in the former stables and garden. But the pièce de résistance is the rooftop terrace, with its small pool, a bar and a beguiling view of church spires, the mighty La Seu cathedral and a distant glimpse of the Mediterranean.
Doubles from €285; hotelsantfrancesc.com


Tast Club
Tast Club's barPernilla Danielsson

This is an in-the-know sort of place and not one you would stumble upon by chance – it takes Google Maps and some head scratching to find the discreet, unsigned entrance on Carrer de Sant Jaume. Once you are through the door, the restaurant unravels in a series of rooms – the largest being the bar, with books, chandeliers and old mirrors under the curves of a stone-vaulted ceiling. If the design has a sophisticated private-members-club feel, so too does the ambience. Fellow guests are well heeled and reservations, unsurprisingly, are a necessity. Chef Patxi Castellano delivers a broadly Spanish menu of tapas-style sharing plates, but there are flourishes of France (chateaubriand), Peru (ceviche) and Japan (beef tataki), too. The most famous dish, however, is a thin, light, melt-in-the-mouth version of tortilla – not to be missed. tast.com