If ever there were a place to effortlessly bring together 13th century Gothic architecture, world-class accommodations and dining, and panoramic views of deep blue water dotted with some of the rarest sailboats in the world, it’s the crown jewel of Spain’s Islas Baleares: Palma de Mallorca.
I first visited Palma at 21 years old on a solo backpacking trip, during which I found myself crashing with a group of absolutely lovely “yachties” from New Zealand, who offered their couch to me after I’d found them on a backpacker’s networking site. Reflecting back on that experience, things could’ve gone entirely wrong but, being young, starry-eyed, and armed with a backpack comes with a certain naïveté. That said, my introduction to this stunning archipelago was through a rather specific lens. I learned about the place itself from an insider’s perspective and discovered a whole culture and community of international boat workers, of which I’d previously been totally unaware. My new group of Kiwi friends, needless to say, made a lasting impression.
Fast forward several years and a whole new career later: I’m back in Palma, this time with a glass of Cloudy Bay (New Zealand’s most revered wine brand) in hand, about to embark on the sailing adventure of a lifetime aboard the Svea J-Class for a joyride right before its appearance in the 22nd edition of Europe’s longest running superyacht regatta, the Superyacht Cup.
With a newfound and more elevated perspective on Palma, I bring you my ideal 72-hour itinerary for this island off the coast of mainland Spain.
Touch down at Aeroporto de Palma and take a car into town. Check into Sant Francesc Hotel Singular; this is one of the most luxurious accommodations in the area and is part of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio. In other words, it’s the place to stay when visiting Palma.
Set out to explore your surroundings. Points of interest around Old Town include the Santa Maria cathedral (also known as La Seu), the adjacent Palau de l’Almudaina, the Arab baths, the Basilica de Sant Francesc, and the sprawling bay.
After stopping by the hotel to rest and refresh, head over to De Tokio a Lima at the Can Alomar hotel (just a ten minute walk from Sant Francesc) for an exquisite dinner of Japanese, Peruvian, and Mediterranean fusion. Try the glazed Iberian pork from the “Al Fuego” menu or the ceviche de pescado y marisco for something a bit lighter. Walk it all off on your way back to the hotel; if you’ve still got a bit of energy left, stop at the lobby bar for a nightcap.
Wake up at your leisure and make your way downstairs for an impressive breakfast spread in the garden just beneath the lobby. From there, make a quick stop at your room to change into rooftop pool garb––the sparkling lap pool and panoramic views of the town below await upstairs.
Once you’ve settled into your chaise, promptly order something cool and crisp from the terrace’s extensive wine list (go for a bottle of the Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial, always a solid choice for sunny poolside sipping). Proceed to lounge the afternoon away.
For those looking for a more adventurous afternoon, ask the hotel about chartering a private yacht (and stocking said yacht with wine aplenty).
Take a car out to the Real Club Naútico de Palma, where you’ll be having dinner directly above the bay at El Naútico. If you arrive while the sun is still up, you’ll be able to see boats cruising the water, and then, of course, the sunset as your freshly caught fish appears in front of you.
Depart the hotel for Aeroport de Palma to catch your flight home.