It was the first day of our family holiday in Mallorca and the weather forecast was rain and cloud all day. Instead of letting the weather dampen our holiday we instead decided to use the day to explore Palma, the capital of Mallorca. I had fancied visiting this city anyway having heard good reports of how nice it was so this was the perfect opportunity. Here is the Mini Travel Tribe guide to the top 3 family friendly things to do in Palma de Mallorca.
- Palma Aquarium
We don’t often go to Aquariums but I have to say that we all thought this one was really impressive. It isn’t cheap but we had picked up a map at the airport that had a token on for €5 off each for up to 5 people. When we arrived there was a big queue to get in (everybody obviously had the same idea on a cloudy day!). Husband jumped out of the car to get in the queue while I found somewhere to park, which worked well as by the time we got to him we only had another 5 minutes before we were at the front. The Aquarium is quite close to the beach and the airport, about 10 minute drive South of the centre of Palma. Parking proved a bit tricky too! There are a couple of free car parks very close which were all completely full. We just managed to get a space in an underground car park, next door to the Aquarium- it wasn’t expensive and there was €3 discount if you showed your aquarium ticket.
Once inside there is a set route to follow with different zones including Mediterranean, tropical seas, the jungle and big blue. Most of the tanks were big and even the toddler could see into all of them without any lifting required as they were floor to ceiling or the smaller ones had steps so little legs could get some help up!
There are also a couple of cafes and play areas. The children loved the large pirate ship that was in the gardens area outside. There was a separate smaller playground for young children too and a small splash park if it’s hot. When we were there a man was doing free face painting too.
There is also an indoor soft play area, which we didn’t visit, we had already been in the aquarium for over 3 hours by this point and we wanted to see more of Palma. We managed to get the children past without them noticing it!
There were other options that you could pay extra to do in the Aquarium, an aqua dome and a shark vision boat. These sounded fun but we didn’t pay for them so I can’t comment on what they are like. I think our favourite section was the ‘big blue’ one. This is a huge tank which has sharks, rays and loads of different fish in it. Apparently at nearly 9m deep it is the deepest shark tank in Europe. What was great is that you could view it from all sorts of different levels and angles. This is the tank that you go over in the glass-bottomed shark vision boat.
- Pick up a map at the airport with the vouchers in. If there are more than 5 of you in your party get more than one as each voucher is for 5 people.
- If you don’t have a voucher you can book tickets online in advance meaning that you don’t have to queue for as long to get in.
- The cafe inside had a large queue where we were there. If we went back I would take a packed lunch instead- there is lots of seating outside next to the play areas.
2. Palma Cathedral
Whether you like churches or not Palma cathedral is pretty impressive. You can’t miss it if you are driving past the port as it is visible from quite a distance. From the outside it is a stunning gothic building. We approached it from the water, which gave great views while we then climbed the steps to get to the cathedral. We were disappointed at first as when we arrived it was closed! However we called in later on our way back to the car after dinner to find it open and a service on. Quietly, we sat at the back for a little while to admire the fabulous building and enjoy the beautiful choral music that was part of the service. Check out those amazing stained glass windows.
- For a great view of the outside of the cathedral there is a bar called ‘the Guinness bar’ (not very Spanish sounding I know!) in the Parc de la Mar which overlooks the cathedral. The children had amazing ice cream while we had a drink there. There was also space for the children to play after they had finished their ice creams while we finished our drinks.
- Check opening times if you are going in the afternoon, it closes earlier on Saturdays and Sundays.
- There is a nice little playground down the first set of steps behind the cathedral that young children will enjoy to let off some steam.
3. Palma old town
If you go to the cathedral you are already at the edge of the old town. It is a beautiful, atmospheric place to wander through the narrow winding streets and get lost in. The children loved exploring all the alleyways and we stopped for dinner in one of the small Plaças that we passed. We wandered all the way to the Plaça Major (main square) but were quite disappointed with it. In my opinion many of the other smaller squares were much prettier
- If arriving by car like we were there are many underground car parks. We managed to park in one that brought us out right in the Parc de la Mar, next to the cathedral.
If you have longer in Palma I have heard really good reports about the vintage train to Sóller. We weren’t staying particularly close to Palma so we drove to Sóller for our visit there instead- read our other blog post about exploring Mallorca with kids.exploring Mallorca with kids.
What were your highlights of Palma de Mallorca? Anything that you recommend we do next time?