History, culture, great food and a warm climate (still around 18°C). There’s more to winter in Palma than you think…
We get it. Winter is the time you feel like you most need a weekend away from it all.
But it’s time to rethink your destination list. Why flock to crowded Swiss Christmas markets, chilly Bruges streets or distant ski resorts when you could be indulging in some winter sun – and a heady dose of culture – in Mallorca’s stunning capital?
With its sandy beaches, sunny skies and turquoise waters, Palma may not be the obvious choice for a seasonal getaway, but its unique character, fascinating history and sumptuous food scene make it the ideal choice, and far from the tourist magnet of the summer.
Plus, with temperatures still in the comfortable teens and cheap flights (hello, new British Airways routes from London Gatwick from £25), you’re a mere two-and-half hours away from some well-earned R&R.
Here’s why Palma should be top of your list…
1. The music and art scene
Palma’s varied and energetic artistic scene is enough to satisfy any culture vulture.
Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art houses major works from artists such as Picasso and Miro; key works by Salvador Dalí are at the Fundacion Juan March; or head to the art gallery Caixa Forum, in one of the oldest and grandest former hotels in Palma.
The grand old Teatre Principal is a prime spot for great theatre and Auditorium on the Paseo Maritimo regularly stages ballet, plays and flamenco. The city’s vibrant nightlife spans everything, but the jazz scene is particularly good; head to Blue Jazz Club at the gorgeous Hotel Saratoga or venture into the heart of the Old Town to the amazing Jazz Voyeur Club.
2. The independent shopping
Sure, Christmas markets will always have a place in our hearts, but forgoing them for relaxed ambling in balmy climes… We’ll take it.
The pedestrianised street of Calle de Sant Miquel, just off the Plaza Major, is a retail mecca with small roads leading off into eclectic independent shops.
The tree-lined avenue of Passeig des Born is home to luxury fashion giants such as Louis Vuitton as well as well-known high street brands. And then there is Palma’s unique and famous store, Rialto Living, a lifestyle boutique selling everything from interiors to books.
3. The pilgrimage-worthy food
We challenge you not to get your fill of foodie dreams in Palma.
Breakfast is served in the picturesque Santa Catalina neighbourhood. Among the endless coffee shops, the best pastries in town are rumoured to be at La Madeleine de Proust.
There are tons of traditional restaurants, such as Casa Julio, which serves up the best of Mallorcan cuisine, or you can follow the popular tapas trail La Ruta Martiana in the Sa Gerreria neighbourhood.
Then there is the foodie paradise of Mercado Gastronomico, an indoor market opened in 2015, which houses over 18 food outlets, offering up everything from Spanish classics to Hungarian goulash.
Drinks fans will also love everything from traditional wine bars to experimental cocktail lounges. Bar Abaco and El Neo in the old Town are scenic cocktail spots or head to the terrace bar at Hotel Can Cera for old-school romance.
You can also indulge in the city’s various wine festivals, and you must visit its new gin distillery which opened this year.
4. The rich history
There’s history to explore pretty much wherever you step in Palma, thanks to the city’s deep connections to the Roman, Byzantine and Moorish rules and influences.
Dine al fresco in the harbour, overlooking the Porto Pí lighthouse – one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the world – or hop aboard the Ferrocarril de Sóller, a jaunty yellow electric train that cuts across the city and dates back to 1912.
Palma’s Old Town is an essential stop, with traffic-free streets, narrow winding passages and some of the city’s finest monuments and architecture on display. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Bellver Castle – once home to the Kings of Mallorca, it now houses the city’s historical museum, so you can swot up on Palma’s backstory.
In the heart of the city, you’ll find the impressive Royal Palace of Almudaina, built in 1309, formerly a Moorish Alcazar and now a majestic palace used by the King of Spain as his summer residence. And if you still haven’t had enough of a history fix, another vital stop is Palma’s vast Gothic cathedral, La Seu, in the centre of Palma’s Old Town and within walking distance from the Royal Palace.
5. The perfectly boutique hotels
Where to rest your head after a long day sightseeing, shopping and gorging yourself on tapas?
Palma has a stunning collection of some of the most unique boutique hotels, such as Art Hotel Palma (once a 19th-century palace, then an antiques store and now a cool, elegant hotel that prides itself on its artistic interiors), or Sant Juame hotel, in a recently renovated 18th-century palace.
Hotel Sant Francesc sits right next to Palma cathedral, with spectacular views from its roof terrace. Boutique Hotel Can Alomar, set in the heart of Passeig des Born, is where you can dip in its rooftop plunge pool when the history, food and culture gets too much.
Book your trip to Palma via ba.com/gatwick from £25 each way based on a return fare on a new route.
Limited availability. Prices are available each way based on a return ‘Basic’ Euro Traveller fare, from London Gatwick only, and include taxes, fees and charges. Correct as of 1 October 2018 but are subject to change at any time. Departing from London Gatwick to Palma (Mallorca) on select dates between 12 November 2018 – 2 December 2018 and between January 2017 – 20 January 2019. For details, see ba.com/gatwick