Sunny weather, an abundance of pretty plazas and plenty of outdoor seating are an ideal combination for people watching. Enjoy the view as the world goes by from restaurants and bars, or completely free from the many public benches dotted strategically throughout the city.
People watching provides endless entertainment throughout the year but especially during the summer months when the streets fill up with visitors from around the globe. Here are some of the best places to enjoy the comings and goings in the Balearic capital.
The main square is one of the busiest in Palma and a city landmark. Rectangular in shape and surrounded by historic arcaded buildings, it was once the headquarters of the Inquisition. When exploring the old town it's natural to end up here since it lies at the heart of the district. The popular shopping street Sant Miquel is one of the four main streets that join the plaza, meaning throngs of people pass through every day. Street performers such as puppeteers, living statues and artists congregate here to entertain visitors. There are restaurants and bars for all budgets with terrace space delivering a great view of all the activity.
One of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Palma, Santa Catalina offers enticing restaurants and lively bars, most with outdoor seating. A former fishermen town brimming with character in its wooden shuttered windows, flower pots and colourful facades. The best street for people watching is the pretty tree-lined avenue Carrer de la Fabrica, which benefits from being fully pedestrianised. Although some of the restaurants open for lunch, the majority only serve dinner, so it's best to plan your visit for later in the day.
Passeig des Born
Arguably the most attractive avenue in Palma, its stone benches welcome visitors and locals alike to take a moment to enjoy its beauty. Lofty trees, decorative street lamps and a pulsing fountain make for an uplifting experience. Being so close to the iconic La Seu Cathedral and Almudaina Palace means there's a steady flow of people always passing through. Luxury boutiques and the popular chains of Zara and H&M also draw shoppers its way, who are either on their way back or heading towards Avenida Jaume III. If a stone bench doesn't appeal, not to worry, there are plenty of bars and restaurants with comfortable outdoor seating too.
Its position in front of Palma's principal bus and train station means Plaça d'Espanya is always bustling. At the centre, overseeing all the activity is a statue of Jaime I astride a horse. This is a popular meeting point. Ice cream parlours, tapas bars and fast food joints sit side by side along the pedestrianised zone. If you've hit your limit of 'cafçs con leches' but haven't tired of observing life in the capital, then I suggest crossing the road and entering the park behind the station. From a grassy patch or a wooden bench, you can carry on watching without any obligation to spend a cent. Enjoy!
Plaça de la Llonja
The picturesque square takes its name from Sa Llotja, the impressive Gothic market exchange building which overlooks it from one side. The decorative sandstone facade, contrasted with the lush green palm trees, makes for an idyllic setting. The plaza opens out towards the seaside promenade on one side and, on the other, tables and chairs from the surrounding restaurants spread out across the cobblestones. A great spot during the day and the evening. There are tapas menus here starting from €10 and for such a central location, it's a relatively inexpensive spot from which to watch fellow visitors exploring the capital.
Palma's seaside promenade offers an alternative people watching experience with the ocean providing a stunning backdrop. Here you can breathe in the sea air while you watch the city's sportiest jog, cycle or skate on by. For those who get excited about boats, the promenade offers a great vantage point to view incoming cruise ships and yachts. We recommend heading to Portixol for its laid-back bars and restaurants with sunny terraces. Of course, one of the bonuses of people watching is that it's free and once again there are plenty of benches enjoying sun and shade all the way up the coast.
One of the best ways of getting to know Palma is to soak up the atmosphere in one of its many squares and avenues. You'll discover its rhythm and its people. Mallorca isn't a place for rushing about, so relax, take the weight off your feet, order a drink and settle in to watch the world go by.