Drive Majorca – Day 1, Palma
Fancy seeing a different side to Majorca? There’s no better way to do it than by hiring a car and hitting the open road. And if you need a helping hand, we’ve drawn up and tested out a week’s worth of itineraries, starting with a tour of Palma on day 1…
I’m in a lottery syndicate at work. Whenever talk turns to what we’d do if the golden finger of fate pointed in our direction, my colleagues always laugh at me. While they’d splash their imagined cash on Ferraris and Porsches, I’d head down to the car showroom and buy a… Fiat 500.
I’m in love with these little motors – the originals and the revamps. And I’m not alone – there’s even a Twitter group called @ILoveMyFiat500. After all, what’s not to like? These compact cuties are design classics. No surprise what hire car I earmarked when organising my holiday to Majorca.
Booking the car made me a little bit nervous. The small print stated ‘Fiat 500 or similar’ – and I was convinced I was going to get lumbered with the ‘or similar’. I needn’t have worried though, as moustached Manuel at the car hire firm dropped a shiny new set of Fiat 500 keys into my hand. It was like I’d been given an OBE and a blessing from the Pope in one hit.
With my wheels sorted, my thoughts turned to my island road trip. Like so many people, I’ve been to Majorca loads of times before but have always tended to stick to the beach resorts. But this wasn’t going to be just another fly-and-flop escape – I was determined to uncover the ‘real’ Majorca. And in the weeks leading up to my getaway, I’d been planning everything with military precision so I could hit the ground running…
DAY 1 – Palma
First on my hitlist was Majorca’s capital, Palma, where I happened to be staying. Driving around the city sounds a bit lazy, I know, but it’s a big place and you’ll need a run-around if you’re going to do it justice in a day.
I kicked things off with a dose of culture by way of Bellver Castle. It’s tucked away in the west of Palmaon a pine-cloaked hill on Carrer Camilo Jose Cela. Talk about well looked after – it’s hard to believe this fort has been standing proud for 700-odd years. Its main claim to fame? It holds the title as Spain’s one and only circular castle. Plus it serves up stellar views of Palma Bay.
Back behind the wheel, I then headed east, joining up with the Avenida Gabriel Roca – the main thoroughfare that sweeps along Palma’s seafront. My objective was Porto Pi, Majorca’s premier shopping centre. It’s great for a mooch and lines up big Spanish names like Zara and Mango. Two sweaters and a pair of chinos later and it was on to my next stop – Palma’s old town.
The old quarter is easy to pinpoint – just drive all the way down the Avenida Gabriel Roca to where it links up to the Autovia de Llevant, keeping your eyes peeled for Palma Cathedral. Pulled up close to the marina – and towering over the city – this immense church is made from golden sandstone and seems to almost emanate heavenly light. Quite simply, amazing.
Next up was the neighbouring Palaude l’Almudaina – a palace built within the walls of an Arab fort. Talking of which, the highlight of my forage around the old city was another throwback to Palma’s stint under the Moors – the Arab Baths, on Carrer Can Serra. Along with a 10th-century domed ‘spa’, there’s a lovely garden that feels a million miles from the bustle of town.
As evening began to roll in, I sniffed out the Calle Apuntadores. This area is lined with tapas bars so I drew up a stall by a barrel/table and eeny-meeny-miney-mo-ed my way through the menu. With a belly full of pimientos de padron, my thoughts turned to the next day when I’d be really earning my driving stripes, ticking off a trio of towns – Valldemossa, Deia and Soller.