Are you having a long layover in Palma de Mallorca or just looking for ways to spend your first day on the island most efficiently? I got you covered, with a bit of help from a Spanish local who has spent some years living here.
First off all, Palma de Mallorca is an awesome place to get stuck at: good weather, good food and good vibes. Mallorca is more of a family friendly destination than a hub for loner backpackers but that doesn’t make your layover any less fun. Of course depending on what time of the day, you can: (1) go to the beach (2) go for a good meal, chill and read a book at a coffee and wait for your boarding time again, or (3) explore the city and making every minute count which I did. I certainly couldn’t see everything but I think I did spend my time wisely.
A few facts about Mallorca: it’s also written as Majorca. Its official languages are Catalan (Mallorquí dialect) and Spanish. As it’s a major tourist attraction, English is widely spoken too. You’ll also hear a lot of German as Germany is hands down the number one tourist nationality arriving to the island. Palma de Mallorca is the capital and largest city on the island.
About my layover:
I needed to get to Madrid from Venice but the cheapest option by a landslide was Bologna – Mallorca – Madrid. I left Venice at 5:30AM to Bologna Central by train (11 euros) and then to the airport by bus (6 euros), landed in Palma at 12:30pm and flew out to madrid at 9:55pm. Sooo I basically had more than 9 hours between flights to spare.
Get out of Palma international airport:
The bus line 1 to the city center costs 8 euros round trip. Of course I didn’t even bother considering the 5 euro single trip option. The ticket machines by the bus stop only accept cash and don’t always work properly but you can also purchase the tickets as you get on the bus. The bus comes every 10-15 minutes and the ride each way takes only 20-25 minutes to the city which means no hassle leaving and arriving to the airport.
If you have luggage that is inconvenient to carry around the city,
take bus 1 and get off at Plaza de España. Inside the station you can leave your bag at Palma Lock and Go at reasonable price, I paid 3,95 for my 33-liter backpack. You can also rent a bike here for 6 euros for an entire day or you can also take public transportation, ooor you can just work your legs and walk the whole thing like me.
I spent some time chilling at Plaza de España, people watching and also eating my lunch sandwich I had packed with me the night before. I walked my way to the Mercat de l’Olivar that sells a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood. You can shop for fresh ingredients and the restaurants here will cook for you at 3.5 euros per person. Not a bad deal at all. I stumbled upon this la Boutique del Gelato place (that has a few locations) that I knew I had to have, all naturally made and much cheaper than any other ice cream shops around town for the same value. Yes, the mango with real pieces of mango and super creamy pistachio flavors were heavenly. I was also later recommended to try almond flavor that I’ll have to save for next time.
I then hiked up to the Bellver Castle – a medieval fortress which is 3,5 km from Plaza Mayor de Palma de Mallorca. Oh by the way, Plaza Mayor is also vibrant and full of activities and shops although can’t be compared to Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Anyway, as I walked by the cathedral and through the Parc de la Mar, the beauty of Palma revealed. The walk to Bellver wasn’t difficult, just has a lot of stairs. I took some good 45 minutes to arrive. There are several ways to access the castle by bike, bus or car in addition to going on foot. The admission costs 4 euros which I hesitated at first but I’m glad I got it because the view from the castle was really worth it. I was impressed by the 360 degree panoramic view of the city, the sea and thousands of luxurious sailing boats.
Before heading back to Plaza de España to pick up my backpack, I made two other stops at the Joan de S’aigo cafe for the renowned empanadas and at Horno Santo Cristo for its specialty ensaimadas. If you don’t feel like carry an ensaimadas box around (uhmm yes, they come in boxes for you to bring home as gifts), you can just get them inside the airport before you board.
What I would do differently:
I would have rented a bike actually (5-6 euros/day). I enjoy walking and biking equally but I must say having a bike would have spared me more time to squeeze in a few other places or at least being able to sit down at the S’aigo cafe instead of rush buying. Moreover, Palma de Mallorca is such a bike friendly town, there are many bike paths and of course places to park your bikes easily, too.
That said, I’m still super content about everything that I had done and excited to plan my next travel to Palma. I will definitely spend more time then! Hasta pronto, Mallorca!!!