The port of Palma, set on a beautiful bay, can take visitors by surprise. It's long been considered a glamorous gathering spot for the wealthy and their yachts, but was initially overlooked as a cultural destination. That's all changed now, and Palma has become known as a great city for a cultural long weekend. There's a depth of history here to rival many mainland Spanish cities, with Mallorca's capital's origins going back to pre-Roman times. Roman remains are being uncovered to this day, and Byzantine and Moorish influences are everywhere.
As well as being a multi-layered city, and the most populous on the Balearic island of Mallorca, Palma is also charming, with an atmospheric old quarter and the bustle of the many markets held throughout the week. The Cathedral of Santa Maria is a major draw, a Gothic Roman Catholic extravaganza, one of Europe's grandest, built on the site of a pre-existing mosque. The tiny district of Santa Catalina is not often visited by tourists but is worth the walk for the atmosphere - local fishermen and citizens going about their business and stopping at the numerous bars for a spot of convivial chatter - and for the great views of the Cathedral and the city.
The old quarter of narrow winding streets and ornate squares is a pleasure to wander around too, with the Plaça Major at the hub, lined with bars and restaurants, cobbled streets, a craft market and many art galleries - it's also known as the ‘artists' quarter'. Palma has an impressive artistic legacy - not least because Joan Miro was so attracted to the island where he spent his summer holidays as a child that he eventually left his birthplace of Barcelona to live here until his death. It was no retirement - he drew much inspiration from the surroundings and the results and his studios can be seen at the Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro.
The Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum is a draw too, as much for the location as its exhibitions. Set on old Palma's harbourside fortifications, it provides the perfect place to have a drink and watch the spectacular sunsets Palma's beautiful bay is famous for.