Palma de Mallorca, the largest city and capital of its own island as well as the entire Balearic archipelago, is one of Spain’s most delightful towns. Despite its proximity to tourist beaches where millions of Europeans take summer vacation, Palma maintains the traditional rhythm of a Mediterranean city: busy food markets, open-air terrazas for lazing and grazing and the Passeig del Born, perfect for an evening paseo (stroll) under its canopy of trees. But the city is also, increasingly, a hub of contemporary culture and cuisine—witness the old town’s buzzing gallery scene, and cutting-edge restaurants like Simply Fosh and Aromata.
If location is all, Palma’s peerless setting, at the center of a glorious sweeping bay, counts for a great deal. The city has its own beaches and a working harbor where a state-of-the-art new marina, Moll Vell, has brought back locals to stroll and gawk at the giant yachts.
From down here the Casco Viejo’s jumble of golden stone, the churches and palaces jostling as if for a better view, is crowned by the magnificence of Palma’s 14th-century cathedral in a commanding position on the old sea wall, its soaring beauty making it one of Spain’s most spectacular buildings.