ABOVE: Café tables await customers on a
pedestrian thoroughfare in Palma's old town.
Palma de Mallorca shore excursions
from: Port of Palma de
Most cruise ships spend only a day in Palma, which means
passengers are faced with a dilemma: Should they explore the city or head for
Mallorca's justifiably renowned countryside?
There's no doubt that Mallorca's true beauty is away from the
high rises of Palma's coastal buildup, or that most visitors enjoy the popular
shore excursion to Valldemossa (a beautiful hillside village where Fréderic Chopin and George
Sand made tabloid headlines in the winter of 1838-1839). And if your visit to
Mallorca is bracketed by stops in larger cities like Barcelona or Málaga,
an out-of-town trek may offer a soothing break from noise and traffic.
Still, Palma de Mallorca is well
worth a day's visit. Start by heading for the Cathedral, a soaring Gothic
church of golden limestone that was begun in 1230 A.D. and finished in 1601.
Wander around the old town, and follow the signs to the small Arab
Baths, the only remnants of Palma's Moorish occupation. (The Banys Arabs,
as they're called in the Mallorquín dialect, have modern toilets and a pleasant
garden where you can buy a drink from a vending machine.)
Shopping is a big reason to
stay in Palma; women tell me that shoes and other leather goods are among the
best bargains, and cultured Mallorcan pearls are longtime favorites with
tourists. Shops typically close for several hours at 1:30 p.m., so plan your
shopping and sightseeing schedule accordingly.
On your way back to the ship, make
a detour to Bellver
Castle, a 14th Century fortress high on a tree-covered hillside overlooking
Port of Barcelona