Play Hard

48 hours in… Palma de Mallorca

In need of a bit of actual sun before the end of the summer? Palma de Mallorca mixes all the best bits of a beach holiday with a city break and doesn't break the bank...

Written by Beth Williams
Published 26.08.2023

Having holidayed in Mallorca as a child, I’d always (wrongly) assumed that it was just for all-inclusive family breaks and lads’ holidays.

Don’t get me wrong, it definitely does have those elements (Magaluf is only half an hour away from Palma after all), but there are also parts of Mallorca that ooze culture with its hidden port towns, beautiful beaches with turquoise waters and restaurants serving the highest-quality seafood.

Along with Lisbon, Palma seems to be the go-to holiday destination of 2023.

So many people I follow on Instagram have visited this summer, and this means I had curated quite the stack of recommendations before I visited myself.

HLN Top Tip: You can fly direct to Palma from Newcastle Airport with return flights starting from around £100.00 (based on a search for flights in September with Ryanair).

WHERE TO STAY

In terms of location, there are a few different spots to choose from when staying in Palma.

After doing a bit of research, we’d narrowed it down to either staying in Palma Bay (to be near the beach), in the Old Town (for all its quaint and quirky bars), or in Palma’s very cool up-and-coming district Santa Catalina (where all the great brunch spots are).

We eventually decided on the beach as our top priority and stayed in Melia’s Palma Bay branch for its gorgeous rooftop pool overlooking the sea. It was only a 12-minute drive from the airport and was super reasonably priced at around £350 for five nights at the end of June.

From the hotel, it was around a 15-minute walk to the Old Town and a half hour’s walk to the centre of Palma – so, in 35-degree heat, we quickly resorted to travelling by taxi booked by the hotel’s concierge. But being a five-minute walk from the beach was so worth it.

The rooftop pool also had a bar that serves food including nachos and five-euro sangrias – what more could you want?

HLN TOP TIP:  Make sure you sign up to the Melia Rewards scheme (which is free), as it offers a discounted rate for members. They also offer a points reward for signing up, which you can then redeem on your booking.

FOODIE FAVOURITES

I take dining out very seriously usually, but even more so when I go on holiday. And when researching where to eat prior to visiting, I quickly realised the food and drink scene in Palma is top tier.

For brunch alone, there are more than enough spots to visit for a week away without repetitions and, as you would expect, there’s a wealth of must-visit tapas restaurants. So, while we initially booked our Palma trip for sun and sea, it was such a pleasant surprise to realise just how many great independent foodie spots there are.

Here are the top spots I visited…

Brunch

Brunchit

This all-day brunch spot has cafes in Madrid, Malaga, Marbella, Alicante and Ibiza as well as Palma and it’s not hard to see why. Tucked off a side street in Palma’s Old Town, the outside of Brunchit is decorated roof to pavement with red, white and pink roses, and the inside is just as beautiful. They serve every combination of fruit smoothie you could imagine, and the food is presented like a work of art.

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Santina

In the heart of Palma’s up-and-coming and very cool district Santa Catalina, you’ll find Santina. This spot does some incredible bagel boards involving a stacked bagel with the fillings of your choice and a side of the fluffiest organic scrambled eggs. I had the “King of the North” – a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel with avocado and salad – and it was delicious.

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Fika Farina

Fika Farina is a bakery that is just down the road from Brunchit and it is so worth a visit. Nip in for a pastry to take away after your brunch or stop for a croissant and coffee before a day’s shopping in the town centre like we did. The smell wafting out the doors of this place is incredible and the pistachio and Nutella pastries are dreamy.

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Mama Carmen's

Another great brunch spot in Santa Catalina. Mama Carmen’s Coffee and Kitchen is a friendly neighbourhood coffee shop serving super fresh brunch. They do stunning acai bowls among your standard brunch offerings and their iced matcha is the perfect way to start your day.

Whilst I didn’t try any, the cakes looked absolutely phenomenal.

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Dinner

Koa

Koa was everyone’s favourite dinner destination we visited. It was a total all-rounder – serving the tastiest tapas and everything from burgers to slow-cooked lamb, and the best-cooked sirloin steak I’ve ever eaten. There was also a fantastic amount of gluten-free options.

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Rikito

I know what you’re thinking. Eating Italian in Spain? Sacrilege. But pausing your tapas tour for this spot is 100% worth it. With tables spilling out onto the street and the most stunning interiors, the vibe in Rikito is unmatched… and that’s not even to mention their unbelievablely delicious homemade pasta and pizza.

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L'informal Tacos

Laidback dining in the coolest surroundings. L’informal Tacos is a must-visit for tequila and tacos. We actually visited for lunch and were very jealous of the start of the evening patrons meandering in for a night of socialising. We loved the Al Pastor tacos and their homemade lemonade was so refreshing.

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La Rosa Vermuteria & Colmado

This was the most authentically Mallorcan spot we visited. With garlic, chillis and Jamón Ibérico hanging from the ceilings, La Rosa’s interiors fit the Spanish holiday vibes of our dreams. Their dedication to authentic, simple but well done tapas is exactly what we were after from our last night in Palma.

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AN UNMISSABLE COCKTAIL BAR

No guide to Palma would be complete without mentioning Bar Abaco.

It was the very first place that I’d noted down to visit after following Palma de Mallorca Guide on Instagram and let me tell you, it is so worth the hype.

Bar Abaco resides in a 17th-century palace and is filled with trickling water features, antique furniture and sculptures bearing fresh fruit. They exclusively play classical music and you are waited on by impeccably dressed, charismatic waiters – it was the closest thing I’ve ever felt to feeling like a Roman Emperor.

It is on the pricey side, at around €15 for a glass of sangria and around €20 for a cocktail, but even if you only go for one drink it is definitely worth splurging the extra euros.

HLN TOP TIP: Bar Abaco does not take reservations so be prepared to queue if you want to sit in the terrace rather than the main building. 

WHAT TO DO IN PALMA

From wandering around the Old Town and visiting the Catedral de Mallorca to shopping on the Paseo del Borne or spending the day in Sóller – there’s plenty to do while you stay in Palma.

The biggest highlight of our holiday was without a doubt our day spent at Balneario Illetas – a gorgeous beach club based on Illetas Beach, just a 20-minute drive from Palma (which is easily accessible by public transport, or if you can’t hack the heat we paid €20 for a taxi).

With a gorgeous restaurant, comfy sunloungers and turquoise waters, this is the perfect spot for a boujee day at the beach. For about £30 you get access to the beach club and utilities from 9:30am to 6:30pm, a welcome drink on arrival, a sun lounger with a parasol and a towel and waiter service all day.

We had the best time relaxing and swimming in the sea and making the most of the cava sangria pitchers – it would have been rude not to.

HLN TOP TIP: Booking is essential and it is very popular so make sure to book far enough in advance for your desired dates!

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