To say that the bay of Palma is the most popular place among tourists on the island is an understatement as it accommodates 80% of the tourists who arrive in Majorca every year. An Arab-Spanish city dominated by the imposing silhouette of the Almudaina, Palma is a great place to wander its narrow alleys or the outskirts of the cathedral.
To the west, you will find recently built and often well maintained holiday areas, scattered along a rocky coast. One of the most stylish stands out for its golf courses and luxury hotels; nestled in a cove, the Portals Nous resort consists mainly of private villas and yachts owned by the jet-set. Then there is Palma Nova, one of the oldest resorts on the island and Magaluf, with two rather pretty beaches but totally disfigured by construction development.
The west coast of Palma has some pleasant surprises for holidaymakers in search of well-preserved sites. The peninsula of Portals Vells in particular, located at the end of the bay of Palma and accessible by paved roads, is a great place for beautiful walks between the pine forest and the rocky coves. Water sports fans will be pleased as most beaches are equipped for water-skiing, sailing and parachuting."
The large variety of hotels for all budgets means there is a permanent program of things to do such as acquatic sports.
With the focus being on it as a seaside destination, Palma therefore offers little choice of local excursions to the surrounding areas. The old town, home to an impressive number of churches and ancestral homes, remains the cultural site of choice for holidaymakers.
Regarded as one of the greatest Gothic achievements in Spain, the cathedral in Palma boasts a wrought-iron canopy by Gaudi and the reliquary of the true cross, decorated with precious stones. To the west lies Almudaina Palace but only a handful of rooms are open to the public. Close by, there is a small museum where you can sharpen your knowledge of archaeology and local gothic art.
The Arab baths, the only remnant of a once prosperous Moorish city, also deserve a visit. Further away from town, Bellver Castle is an interesting excursion and it's from here that you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Palma and its bay.
Live your days like the locals: the Spanish rhythm means that the afternoon starts at about 4:00pm. and extends to 9:00pm, dinner is not eaten before this time! Stores and offices close between 2:00pm and 5:00pm, but most will reopen their doors until 8:00pm or later.
Those who prefer their holidays more peaceful should avoid the highly urbanised areas of Palma. The island countryside and local villages are well worth a visit, along with the mountains to the west and coves situated to the east. Buses commute regularly from the coastal resorts to Palma, but travel by car remains the best way to discover the island.
Being an island, Majorca excels in its recipes for lobster, cuttlefish and fish dishes. Taste the tumbet, a kind of lasagne with potatoes, aubergines, peppers and tomato sauce.
Here you can find many traditional Majorcan handicrafts. In addition to the famous pearls of Manacor, there are also stunning glass items (the glass is manufactured using traditional techniques), tapestries, leather goods, wrought iron objects and herbal liqueurs.
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