If you need proof that there's more to Mallorca than sun, sea and sand, then Palma is it.
Home to world-class art galleries and exquisite cuisine, the capital is a destination in its own right. Of course, Palma is also the entry point for the rest of Mallorca, so if sun, sea and sand tick your boxes then you're in the right place.
Arriving at Palma de Mallorca Airport
Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) is located five miles (8km) east of the city centre. The airport – the third-largest in Spain – is modern and well-equipped, with four terminals, free Wi-Fi available, VIP lounges, and a variety of shops and restaurants.
The city bus is an easy and affordable way to access central Palma from the airport. Take bus number 1 to the city centre; it runs about every 15 minutes from 0600 to 0110, stopping at central Plaça d’Espanya before heading on towards the Estació Marítima ferry terminal. The number 21 bus runs in the other direction between the airport and Arenal every 30 minutes from 0700 to 2130. The cost of a single ride is €5 for visitors and €1 for residents. Buy your ticket on board from the driver. There are also intercity buses heading to destinations around the island, including Magaluf (take the A11) and Alcúdia (A32).
The bus is convenient, but there's also an official taxi rank just outside the airport. The official city taxis that stop here are certified and will charge a metered fare. The ride into the city centre should cost around €20.
There is a metro line in Palma, but the city is so compact and walkable that it's best explored on foot if you can. The metro has two lines; both run from the Plaça d'Espanya in the city centre, with M1 terminating at the University of the Balearic Islands and M2, at Marratxí. If you're heading further afield, the Transport de les Illes Balears bus service goes out to the suburbs of Palma and on to the rest of Mallorca. Buses depart from the Estació Intermodal de Palma on Plaça d'Espanya.
Cycling is an easy and relaxed way to see Palma. The city is criss-crossed with bike lanes, making for relatively safe and stress-free riding. Palma does not have a bike-share programme, but there are bike rental shops around the city.
Metered taxis are available throughout Palma. Hail a car with a green light or pick up a taxi from the taxi ranks in and around the city centre.
Parking in the city centre can be a challenge, but if you're planning to explore more of Mallorca then it's a good idea to rent a car to get to the best beaches and destinations further afield, such as Pollença. Book your car hire in advance and collect your car at the airport.
Old Town: for sightseeing
Old Town Palma is the enchanting, labyrinthine heart of Palma. Here, you’ll find buildings that have withstood 800 years of history, with a combination of Moorish, Gothic and Modernist architecture to show for it. La Seu Cathedral and the Palau de l'Almudaina are the star attractions, but the Old Town is home to lots of less imposing charms. Wander through back-alleys, stop into tiny shops and find a sun-drenched square where you can linger over a cortado and watch Palma pass by. Along the waterfront is the promenade and Parc de la Mar, perfect for a sunset stroll or a picnic.
Santa Catalina: for gastronomy
Bohemian Santa Catalina is Palma’s coolest neighbourhood, just a few minutes west of the Old Town. The area was once a fishermen’s village but has since developed into a hotspot for dining and nightlife. The heart of Santa Catalina is its eponymous market, open 0700–1700, Monday–Saturday. The market is a perfect place to shop for foodie souvenirs and taste local delicacies. At night, the neighbourhood oozes atmosphere, with buzzing tapas bars and trendy cocktail spots.
Portixol: for yacht-spotting and sunbathing
The neighbourhood of Portixol is just east of Palma's Old Town, along the waterfront. Another former fishing village, harbourside Portixol is now one of the poshest pockets of Palma. Yachts bob in the harbour while their owners sip wine and dine on some of the best seafood on the island. The two beaches here, Can Perl Antoni and Playa Portixol, are among Palma’s best, with views stretching to La Seu Cathedral, the palm trees beyond and on to the mountains.
Time zone: Central European Time (GMT+1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT +2)
Languages: Catalan and Castilian Spanish (English is widely spoken)