We love Palma, it’s so easy to get around and the city has a wonderful, relaxed vibe. And best of all was our decision to explore the island with a rental car, it was a unforgettable 3 days.
As a holiday destination Palma de Mallorca has it all. A cruise from Palma, the capital city of the Spanish Balearic islands, means that you can enjoy both the lively city and the beautiful island of Mallorca before you climb aboard your cruise ship.
Spend a few days here and start your cruise vacation immediately on an island that has it all -incredible beaches and mountains, a rich history, great shopping and a lively nightlife. And don’t limit your stay to Palma, we encourage you to explore the quaint Spanish villages, vinyards, olive groves and beautiful coastline towards the north and east of the island.
With excellent transportation options and a busy airport, Palma is both easy to get to and easy to find your way around.
Base yourself in the centre of the Palma, and you will still be within walking distance of the marina and close to the beach. Further afield, the surrounding countryside is ideal for exploring by on a small group tour, with rental car or on a scooter.
And it doesn’t stop there. Get out on the water and enjoy a multitude of water sports. Or even deep sea fishing, diving or snorkeling. You and your family will love this place.
We have a detailed 3 day guide to make your visit memorable before you cruise from Palma. Most cruises depart from the main Palma cruise port, easily reachable by a short taxi ride from the city center. Check your cruise ticket to be sure which terminal you need and find more details of how to get to the port at the end of this article.
Transport options from Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) to the city center
Here are the transport options you have to get from Palma de Mallorica Airport to your city center hotel.
Palma de Mallorica Airport is located 15km south of the city. You can find our expert tips on booking your flights here.
Upon arrival at the airport and after you have gone through customs control and baggage claim, you will find services such as rental car desks, banking, a couple of cafes and a gift shop.
The airport bus is our favorite way to get from the airport into the center of Palma. It’s easy to find, just follow the covered walkway signposted to the bus pickup area. Buses will be clearly marked into the city.
You will need to take the blue, green and white EMT bus. Route A1 is for rides into the city center. Buy your ticket from the driver upon boarding the bus. Have some euros in coins or small notes with you. if you are travelling with children under 5, they will travel free of charge. The journey time is about 40 minutes and offers 10 stops in the city center.
There are plenty of licensed taxis at the airport. Look for the offical Palma Airport Taxis which are white with a red and yellow stripe. Most taxis are metered. The airport is 15km from Palma and a taxi journey should cost you around 35 euros.
Follow the taxi signs at the airport to get to the taxi rank. This way you will know you are getting into an approved licensed taxi.
If you want the freedom to explore the island whenever you want, then renting a car is easy from the airport. Big brands such as Hertz, Avis, EuropCar and Alamo are all located at the airport. Book in advance and ensure you have the appropriate insurance. And do remember to check if you need to apply for an international driving licence before you leave home.
Where to stay in Palma
We have a selection of recommend hotels that are firm favorites for cruise passengers and for ourselves when visiting the city.
The hotels are located either in the center or close to the attractive Marina. They offer modern and spacious rooms and are ideal hotels to stay in before you cruise from Palma. The marina is located about 2,5km from the Old Town in the center, so choose the location that suits you best:
- Hotel Victoria Grand Melia
- Melia Palma Marina
- Innside by Melia Palma Bosque
City center location:
- Hotel Sant Jaume
- AH Art Hotel Palma
- Can Alomar Urban Luxury Retreat
How to spend 3 days before you cruise from Palma de Mallorca
Palma has one of Europe’s best historical quarters. It’s a compact city, a maze of shops, cafes, restaurants, striking architecture and palaces. Spreading out to the marina and the surrounding beaches. A few days here before you cruise from Palma will feel like a mini holiday in itself, even before you climb aboard your cruise ship.
The Hop-on, Hop-off bus, a visitors best friend
As with all major cities, there is a hop-on, hop-off bus in Palma too. Ideal especially during the heat of high season, or for those who cannot walk great distances, the stops on the bus routes include all the major sights. And also a stop at the main cruise terminal. It really is a good way to get around if you don’t mind some crowds and joining the queue.
Day 1- Palma Cathedral, Palace of La Almudaina & Shopping on the Golden Mile
Palma Cathedral – a great starting point for your first day on the island of Mallorca
Start your day at Palma Cathedral. If you are in a group and want to split up and do different things, then the Cathedral is a good meeting point to reconnect during the day.
The official name of this beautiful cathedral, a landmark in the city, is Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca, but it is more commonly refered to as La Seu. It’s famous for the enormous rose window and wrought iron canopy. Do check the opening times for the cathedral before you visit.
We recommend that you buy a ticket with an audio guide in advance to make the most of your time here. You can also include a tour of the terraces in your ticket which gives you a spectacular view of Palma and beyond.
The Royal Palace of La Almudaina
Directly opposite the cathedral is the 14th century Royal Palace of La Almudaina. This is the official residence of the Spain’s Royal Family when they are visiting the island. There are some areas of the palace that are open to visitors, and the chapel, the parade ground, the baths and the terraces are certainly worth a visit.
A shoppers paradise and the Golden Mile
From here we suggest you head towards the historic square Plaça Major. Use the time on the way to explore the atmospheric side streets as Palma is a real shoppers paradise. If you are lucky there will be an outdoor market and the square is surrounded by numerous cafes – an ideal place for coffee and a pastry – try the traditional Mallorcan ensaimada pastries.
If you’re looking for luxury brands and wide tree-lined boulevards then head on to the area known as Palma’s Golden Mile, Passeig del Born. It’s easy to spend the rest of the day around this area, shopping and sightseeing. Turn into Carrer de Sant Feliu for art galleries and exclusive home decor boutiques.
Finish the day by eating dinner at La Paloma. We love this rustic restaurant. They open at 5pm if you want to eat early otherwise book a table in advance to avoid disappointment. Alternatively very close by if the more formal restaurant Forn de Sant Joan, they have a great cocktail menu too.
Day 2 – Bellver Castle, Mercat de Santa Catalina & Joan Miró’s Workshops followed by an afternoon at the beach
Start your 2nd day at the Marina at one of the cafes alond the waterfront. If you’re staying close by then a morning stroll around the marina is a great walk, indeed it’s our favorite part of the city in which to stay, particularly at the Melia Palma Marina Hotel.
If you enjoy history then we recommend the short taxi ride to Bellver Castle – Castell de Bellver. The castle is located just a few kilometers on a hill. Buy tickets in the visitors reception center upon arrival – but check their website before your visit for opening times and note the castle is closed on Mondays!
Originally built as a Royal castle by Jaume II in 1300, it is now a fantastic museum with outstanding architecture. Audio guides are readily available when buying your entrance ticket. Head to the top and be inspired by the spectacular view of Palma laid out before you.
The fantastic food market of Santa Catalina
If you prefer you can head straight to Mercat de Santa Catalina to start your day. A foodie’s paradise, it is the oldest and one of the best food markets in Palma and just a 20 minute walk from the marina. Here you are right on the edge of the Old Town in the charming neighborhood of Santa Catalina.
Specializing in fish, cheeses, fruit and vegetables, you can even try and buy local olive oils, fresh almonds and wines. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7am until 4pm. If you are there around lunch time order fresh tapas and a glass of local wine and sit in the sun.
Visit the workshops of Joan Miró, a portrait of life and art
Whilst in Palma, you don’t want to miss a visit to the beautiful home, gardens and workshops of the famous Catalan painter Joan Miró. Check out the website for opening hours. There is a cafe in the gardens and a great little gift shop too.
Palma Beach Life
Time for the beach? You are spoilt for choice. Local buses are very good and cheap in the city. Cala Major is one of the most popular. It’s a wide sandy beaches but too far to walk from the center. The number 4 bus goes there from the marina. Otherwise hop into a cab for the 10 minute drive.
Playa de Palma is the closest beach to the city. It’s a long sandy beach with great restaurants and numerous water sports available. The beach is located 5km east of Palma. Get there using the bus stop opposite the cathedral at Plaça de la Reina and hop onto bus number 15. Alternatively take a taxi from your hotel or rent bicycles and cycle the coastline to get there.
A favorite family beach spot close to Palma is actually just a little further afield, at Santa Ponsa. Located about 25 minutes by taxi from Palma, there you’ll find a really great beach, in a busy town with lots of choices for eating out and relaxing. And it’s an ideal spot for families with children and the chance to explore another part of the coast.
Finish your day back in the Marina. If you are looking for a great restaurant with a view over the marina, try 49 Steps, it’s one of our favorites. Or for something closer to the city center, try The Merchants, with a rooftop bar to enjoy those after dinner cocktails.
Day 3 – Best day trips from Palma
If you have time we strongly recommend that you use one of your pre- (or post) cruise days in Palma to see some more of the island of Mallorca. Our top choices for a day trip from Palma are:
- Port d’Alcúdia and Drach Caves
- Valldemossa and Sóller
It is easy to rent a car in Palma. The roads through the mountain ranges, Serra de Tramuntana and Serra de Llevant are excellent and some of the most scenice routes you will ever drive. If you opt for an electric car there are charging points all over the island including at public car parks.
With a rental car you can zip around the island according to your own time schedule. But is you prefer not to tackle the traffic getting out of the city, book a guided tour or bus transfer, Viator are excellent.
Port d’Alcudia is located 60km from Palma on the northeast coast of Mallorca. It’s an easy drive there across the island. It’s a beautiful beach destination next to the town of Alcudia. Enjoy the day at one of the many beaches and shopping in the cobbled streets of the old town.
Just 5km from Alcudia is the hidden gem of Platja des Coll Baix, situated on Peninsula La Victòria. The only way to get down to this beautiful quiet bay is by hiking across cliffs or by boat from Port d’Alcudia. It is incredibly beautiful here so if you make the effort it will be well worth it. Take plenty of water and snacks with you, there is just the beach and peace and quiet here.
If seeking nature and aren’t really one to sit on the beach, then opt for hiking the Alcudia peninsular instead. Spring and Autumn are ideal times to hike. The unique flora and fauna on Mallorca, together with hidden coves and clear blue water make this a fantastic way to spend your day.
Hike the pine forests surrounding Puig de Sant Martí, there are many tours that start at Plaça de la Porta de Mallorca in the center of Alcudia. We recommend you visit the tourist office on Passeig de Pere Ventayol for maps and advice before you set off.
Combine your day excursion with a visit to the Drach Caves
Some guided tours with transport will even include a visit to the spectacular Drach Caves, south of Alcudia in Porto Cristo on the east coast of the island. These limestone caves are absolutely stunning. Tickets can be purchased when you get there but check the website for opening times. Tours often include a boat trip across Lake Martel.
A visit to the Drach Caves can actually be done separately as a day excursion in itself. There is plenty to see in nearby Porto Cristo, and we would recommend you combine a visit to the caves with a boat trip from Port Cristo exploring the fantastic east coast of the island. Many of the catamaran cruises also include lunch.
Valldemossa and Sóller
This is our favorite of all day excursions from Palma.
Valldemossa, just 30 minutes north of Palma, is a beautiful small town that gives you a feeling of old Spain. Walk the streets, shop in the markets and support local businesses by enjoying the local produce, arts and crafts. Surrounded by citrus groves, a hike from the village towards the mountains offers fantastic views as you discover more of the tiny villages scattered in the hills.
From Valldemossa drive to the remote village of Sóller. A small, charming coastal village, there are old wooden trams running through the town. Hop on the tram in the at the train station, which is in the village itself, and ride the 20 minute journey to Port de Sóller. The harbourside is a perfect place for lunch. A much quieter alternative to Palma, you will also see spectacular sunsets if you lengthen your stay into the evening.
If want want to enrich your day even further and feel you have the driving skills to tackle a mountain road, then include the idyllic, honey-colored mountain village of Deià as you explore. Deià is located between Valldellmossa and Sóller in the dramatic Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.
How to take the historic train journey from Palma to Sóller
If you do not wish to rent a car in Palma, then we recommend you take the historic wooden train to Sóller instead. It’s a popular and easy train journey winding through the mountains and tunnels with fantastic views. It’s sometimes called The Orange Express.
First of all you need to get to the train station in Palma. The Sóller train departs from Palma railway station located close to Plaça de Espanya. To get to Palma railway station is a 10 minute journey time by taxi from the center, or about 15 minutes using a taxi from the marina, and a few minutes longer if you are travelling from the cruise port.
The train journey from Palma to Sóller is about 7km and takes around one hour. A return ticket will cost you approximately 25 euros per person. Although we recommend that you add on the tram ticket too for a total of around 32 euros per person. (Please note that prices are subject to change).
Once you get to Sóller train station there is a little tram that takes you from the village down to Port de Sóller and the beach (a further 5km). Use the ticket to hop on the tram any time during your time visiting Sóller. Buying the combination ticket will save you money. See train timetables and buy your tickets on their website here.
How to get to Palma Port for your Cruise from Palma de Mallorca
There are six cruise terminals in Palma port (Port de Palma) located across 2 zones, Poniente and Paraires Quays (Estacion Maritima terminals 1,2,3 and 4 which most major cruise lines use) and Dique del Oeste (terminals 5 and 6). Check your cruise ticket for the correct terminal address you need.
The cruise passenger terminals are located only a 15 minute taxi ride from the city center although the Poniente and Paraires Quays can be reaching by walking about 45 minutes along the sea front boulevard from the marina. Remember you have your cruise packing with you, and may not want to walk (especially in high season) with your luggage.
The hop on/hop off sightseeing bus stops at Estacion Maritima too. It is stop number 14 on the red route.
Ask your hotel concierge to arrange a taxi for you on the morning of departure. It really is the quickest and most convenient way to get to the cruise port from your cruise from Palma.
As always, check and double check your cruise ticket for instructions about your departure port and your allocated boarding time.