OK, so ten years ago Palma was going through a bit of an identity crisis. Today it’s one of the most vibrant cities in the Mediterranean boasting several cool neighbourhoods, a thriving marina, art coming out your ears, and yes, beaches. It’s almost indecent!
With a more forgiving climate than the mainland (cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter), streets teem with people hopping from one bar to the next in search of tapas and cool beers, plazas buzz with coffee and chatter: it’s a laid back street party that never ends.
Palma must have more proper boutique hotels per capita than any other city in Spain. Somehow it just gets it. Ranging from swish, architectural delights to more humble colourful abodes, there’s something to suit every taste here, and increasingly, something to suit every budget.
Spanish cities are famous for having a market for every barrio (neighbourhood). Palma is no different. Locals go to Olivar (just above the Plaza Major) for day-to-day basics, Llotja de Peix for fish, Santa Catalina for shopping and snacking, and the Mercat Ecologic on the Plaza Bisbe Berenguer de Palou for organic veg, cheese and charcuterie on Saturday mornings.
If you’ve never been to Palma before, one of the first things that will strike you is how good the shopping is. The centre of the island has been a hub of the shoe-making industry in Spain since the turn of the 20th century (there’s a shoe festival in Lloseta in June), which explains the high proliferation of shoe shops in Palma - if this is your passion, you could easily loose a day trying and buying.
The other big draw for homemakers is the abundance of interiors items (textiles, ceramics, hand-made candles) grown out of traditional island crafts and given a contemporary twist.
Life’s a beach
And when you just need to chill you head either for Portixol (on the east) or Illetes (on the west) in search of sun, sand and cocktails.