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03rd May 2019

48 Hours In… Palma, Majorca


When you’re on a really short break, your itinerary needs to be a work of logistical art.

There’s no time for dawdling, even less for dilly-dallying, and don’t even dream about lollygagging. To do such a thing is a cardinal sin of weekend getaways.

Luckily for me, I’ve been blessed with the ultimate organisational tool: a girlfriend who plans our holidays weeks in advance with Word documents. I’d thoroughly recommend finding one of these for yourself. Very handy.

Early in the year we were both feeling in dire need of a quick break, so we decided to plan an escape before the summer crowds descended.

Our checklist of needs were simple: a reasonable price, sunshine, a few sights to see and a selection of decent bars and restaurants. We did a little cursory research and, hey presto, we landed on the city of Palma in Majorca as our holiday destination of choice.

Here’s how we spend our time there…

Palma Aerial


10am: Full disclosure we arrived in the city at like midnight on Sunday morning, but I think I’ll skip the hotel check-in segment of this story… as fascinating as it was.

We got a good deal on the striking four-star Hotel Melia Palma Bay, with its wood-panelled everything and a triangular, vertigo-inducing shaft that runs through the centre of the building. If you take the elevator to the seventh floor you’ll find the rooftop terrace, which boasts a pool, bar and enviable view of the city.

When we left the hotel we opted for the scenic route to the centre, along the beach. About halfway into the city we passed the awe-inspiring Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, the city’s most iconic landmark, the kind of place you can’t not visit once it’s on your radar. We earmarked the attraction for further exploration after we’d had something to eat.

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12pm: Our research suggested that an eatery known as Mise En Place in the corner of the bustling square Plaça Major was a solid bet for brunch. The research did not lie.

Now this was a proper feed, which is exactly what you want when you’ve got a long day of pounding the pavement ahead. We tucked into a satisfying brekkie composed of scrambled eggs with bacon bits, buttery toast, muesli with yoghurt, mixed fruit and freshly squeezed OJ.

The only bum note about the whole experience was that the restaurant right next to our one was so empty in comparison that it made us a bit sad. Other than that, top marks all round.

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2pm: Once we’d had our fill of grub, we decided it was time to load up on culture, so we made our way back to the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, also known as La Seu, which overlooks Parc de la Mar and the Mediterranean Sea.

Construction began on this place of worship in 1229 and was only completed in 1601, but an earthquake in 1851 caused damage to the facade. in 1901 the building’s restoration was overseen by Antoni Gaudí, the architect behind Barcelona’s world famous basilica Sagrada Familia, and during his time there he removed the Gothic main altarpiece, made the baldachin for the main altar, incorporated the bishop’s seat in the sanctuary, and illuminated the space with glazed windows and artificial light.

The building is remarkable from the outside, but its majesty can only really be appreciated from within. Its glorious stain-glassed windows, golden statues and enormous vaulting ceiling inspire such awe that gawping tourists are stopped in their tracks — a rare feat these days.

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3pm: Keeping our whole cultural buzz going, we decided to check out the nearby Es Baluard — Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Housed in a 16th-century fortification, the museum is dedicated to artists who either hail from the Balearic Islands or have some sort of connection to them. The first exhibition we encountered was in the building’s basement and it made a pretty big impression on us, as a series of seriously creepy videos were displayed around the big, dark, subterranean room… not exactly the barrel of laughs you’d want from your weekend getaway, so we promptly escaped the dungeon and found ourselves some nice pictures upstairs.

As we were leaving Es Baluard we spotted its slick rooftop bar area, which overlooks the city streets, palm trees and nearby docks, but at this point we’d had our fill of walking and the sun, so we resolved to come back in the evening after a much-needed afternoon nap and a few of those luxuriously long showers you only take in hotels.

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7pm: Once rested and freshened up, we went back to enjoy the cooling evening on El Baluard’s terrace bar.

While there was no shortage of seats on the large terrace, every single one was taken when we arrived. That didn’t bother us in the slightest, however, as there was still plenty of sitting room on the stout fort’s walls for us and the streams of people who arrived after us. The venue’s vibrant atmosphere was energising, being surrounded by our fellow tourists laughing aloud and updating their ‘gram.

We had a drink or two atop the walls, happily watching the sun dip a little lower in the sky, before setting off in that perennial search for good food.

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9pm: After we had the usual debate about where to eat, we ended up agreeing that you just can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned burger, so we set a course for Lemon Tree.

Set slightly apart from all the touristy hubbub of the city, we’d heard great things about this downright cool spot. I enjoyed the bright and colourful decor, as well smattering of art around the place, including depictions of characters from classic films like Young Frankenstein and Eraserhead.

After a quick scan of the burger menu I quickly set my heart on the Route 66, made up of juicy beef, bacon, cheddar, tomato, onion, lettuce and homemade BBQ sauce, which came with thick chips and guacamole on the side. No word of a lie, the bread alone on this beauty was enough to make me fall in love with this place.

While we stuck to the burgers, I’ll admit I was also sorely tempted by their selection of pinchos. I’d recommend coming on a Tuesday, if you’re ever planning on giving Lemon Tree a try, because that’s when they run a sweet offer for a glass of beer or wine with two pinchos for just €4.50.

After washing another successful meal down with local beer in the restaurant, we opted to be boring and hit the hay relatively early so we could make the most of the next day — with the solemn promise that we’d go out properly the following night.


11am: The next morning we caught a bus from Palma’s city centre to the supposedly even more beautiful town of Soller.

About halfway there we stopped at the little village of Valldemossa, where my girlfriend and I experienced the worst Cappuccinos of our lives, if you can even actually call them that, which were essentially cups of brown water with little mounds of whipped cream on top.

Valldemossa wasn’t all bad, however, as the village itself is super picturesque and it’s a joy to explore its old cobbled streets and narrow alleys lined with potted plants.

After about an hour of wandering and drinking shite coffee we’d had our fill of the hamlet and hopped on the next bus to our real destination.

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2pm: Once we arrived in the centre of Soller, we decided we’d get something to grab a decent lunch heading to before the beach.

In our wanderings we spied a restaurant with an attractive inner courtyard and after some quick research to confirm this was a decent establishment, we ventured inside.

La Vila Hotel concealed a leafy garden area with a small fountain and a lovely sense of tranquility. Despite the square bustling with tourists in front of the restaurant, apparently very few of them realised this little oasis was back here.

I ordered a fillet of veal over grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes and peppers with a mild whisky sauce and it was so damn delicious — I would’ve licked the plate if it was socially acceptable. There’s something about being on holidays that just makes food taste that much better.

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3pm: We decided it was time to make our way to the beach in the most charming way possible — via wooden tram. With it’s wide open windows, a refreshing breeze swept through the carriage as we gently coasted along the rails to the beach.

It’s a short journey, but the views en route are lovely.

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4pm: Once at the beach, we strolled its length with ice creams in hand and soaked up the rays.

After awhile we found a random terraced bar where we get a few drinks — a big, frothy fuck-off glass of local beer for me, sweet sangria for her — and basically just loved life for a few hours until it was time to take the bus back to Palma.

We didn’t pick the place because it was especially remarkable, I never even thought to take note of the name of the place, but merely because it afforded a great view, comfortable seats and booze that was cheap and cheerful. Sometimes you really couldn’t ask for any more.

Once we made it back to our hotel, we changed and headed straight back out for an actual night on the town.

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7pm: As we were waiting for our restaurant of choice to open, we popped into an Italian bar and restaurant called Casa Rosita with a couple of seats out front.

We sat at a small table at the front of the restaurant as the elderly owner listened to classical music within. When he finally emerged to serve us, he was conducting an invisible orchestra before taking our order — and he actually corrected my order (Estrella Galicia is far superior beer to San Miguel in his opinion, by the way).

After waiting a short while for the doors of nearby joint The Duke to open, which we’d heard great things about, it soon became apparent that our restaurant of choice was not gonna open its doors on this particular night (confirmed by a quick check of their Facebook page), so we settled for our second choice… and we ended up being so very glad we did.

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8pm: The restaurant we ended up in was called Balagan By Etoh, which boasts an “original Mediterranean, Middle East and Balkans influenced menu”.

With its colourful decor, cosy lighting, overgrown plants and private courtyard, you’re defied not to be charmed by the place. And that’s before they even whip out the menu.

The place was packed when we first arrived, so we had to be seated at the bar, which actually turned out great cos it meant we could get our drinks refilled instantly. We were told up front that they’d be a little while getting to us, what with the jam-packed restaurant and all, but we were happy enough to soak up the atmosphere and sup our drinks while we waited.

When it came time to order we opted for the six-course tasting menu and, my God, was there some eating in it.

They whole thing was a blur of unreal dining. We devoured Hummus with deep fried kale, parmesan, pomegranate, hazelnuts & pita, gorged on Red Falafel with garlic yoghurt, heart salad & pickled onion, picked clean Spicy Mussels with tomatoes, coriander & chilli, munched Aubergine Fritters with mozzarella, oregano & feta cheese, eviscerated Braised Beef Cheeks with truffled purée, parmesan & bread crumbs and just about managed to cram in the Vanilla Ice Cream with Rhubarb Crumble.

Add in the fact that the staff were super friendly, one of whom was able to spot we were Irish due to our description of the meal as “lovely”, and you couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

When we eventually waddled out of there we were as full and content as can be.

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10pm: Once fed, we needed to be watered, so we sought out a nearby spot that had caught our eye earlier in the evening: Hostal Cuba Sky Bar.

Luckily we got in early enough to secure a table with a good view of the old town and the harbour, where we could avail of table service from smartly dressed waiters.

Living the high life does come with a price though, as the cocktails on the menu will set you back about 15 quid a pop. We didn’t like the view that much, so we didn’t spend the whole evening there.

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11pm: After all that class, we were in the mood for something more dive-y.

Just a few doors away from the rooftop terrace we found a more laid back, and far cheaper, option in The Soho Bar, with its upcycled furniture and retro arcade games.

We’d tried our hands at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mortal Kombat while soaking up a particularly sweet selection of indie tunes.

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And that pretty much sums up our stay in Palma.

While there wasn’t a huge amount of activities to do in the area, that wasn’t a problem for us during our short stay, but might prove a little more tiresome for those of you who love an action-packed getaway.

But if you just want someplace with good food, nice bars, sun and sea, Palma won’t let you down.

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