October 11, 2022
Picturesque Palma is a great holiday destination for so many reasons – it’s got the culture, amazing architecture, and some of the best food in Spain. On top of all that, Majorca’s capital is a super affordable city, with loads of great free things to see and do.
So if you’re thinking about a Palma holiday but don’t want to splash the cash, take a look at our top tips for how to have a memorable trip on a budget.
Palma has a huge amount and variety of accommodation on offer. You’ll find small but stylish studio apartments in the heart of Old Town, big beachfront resorts along the coast towards Palma Nova, and even boutique hotels with rooftop pools overlooking the skyline.
If you’re travelling on a budget, book well in advance to get the best deals. You’ll also want to think about what you need your accommodation for. If you don’t intend to spend much time in it, you might want to go for a basic hotel or apartment.
But if you know you want to break up your city exploration with afternoons relaxing, it might be worth investing in somewhere with a pool or beachside location, such as in Cala Mayor. Book early – and travel outside of the school holidays if you can – and you can find great package deals for under £200pp for four nights.
There are hundreds of places to eat and drink in Palma, with very mixed price tags. The key to finding affordable options is to do your research, head off the tourist trails and eat where the locals do, often in neighbourhoods such as lively Santa Catalina. Local favourite Bar La Tapita offers affordable plates and their variety of dishes means there’s always something that will take your fancy. Closer to the city centre, Bar Botana is a good pick.
Another good tip is to enjoy your main meal of the day at lunchtime, when many places will offer a set menu del dia (menu of the day) which is usually a three-course lunch with beer or wine, for around €10-€15. Check out Basic Bar and Restaurant, which offers a menu del dia from €16.90.
For the ultimate budget-friendly Palma dining experience, forget the restaurants and head to the city’s markets instead. Pick up fresh artisanal produce at the huge Mercat de Santa Catalina, or head to Mercat de l'Olivar where you can shop for fresh food, and have it prepared by one of the restaurants upstairs. If you have a kitchen in your hotel or apartment, stock up on goodies from the markets and supermarkets so you can enjoy local delicacies without eating out every day.
There are so many cheap things to see and do in Palma that you could easily stay for a long weekend and hardly spend a thing on activities. Start by exploring the city’s picturesque Old Town, and wander along its cobbled streets admiring the ancient architecture.
Make sure you tick off all the city’s best sights too, either on a self-guided tour, or with the help of a free walking tour guide. Must-see spots include the majestic Almudaina Palace (€7 entrance), as well as Parc de la Mar and the Arco de la Drassana, which are both free to admire.
In terms of museums and attractions, some are free to enter, such as the Museu Fundacion Juan March Palma, while others offer free admission at certain times. Head to the Joan Miró Studio on Saturdays between 3pm and 6pm and Bellver Castle on Sundays to avoid paying entry fees.
Finally, for a more scenic budget-friendly day in the capital, make a trip to the beach. The golden sandy shores of the city beach are just a 20-minute walk from the heart of Old Town, where you’ll find a pretty seafront promenade and a handful of bars and restaurants.
Almost all of the city’s main sights and experiences are within walking distance of each other – pack your comfiest trainers and you won’t spend a penny on travelling around in the city. Even getting to and from the airport won’t set you back much, as there is a regular and cheap airport bus, which costs just €5 one-way.
If you do want to explore further afield during your Palma holiday, the bus is still the best option. To get a good idea of costs, check the timetables before you make plans. You’re looking at €5 and above to head out of the city along the coast, or even less if you buy an Intermodal Card, which can help you get up to 60% off for frequent trips or trips as a family. Not bad for a daytrip to a sandy shore such as Illetas Beach or Cala Portals Nous!
If you are planning on doing lots of exploring, or are travelling as a family or bigger group, hiring a car might be the better option. Though it's certainly not the cheapest way to travel, it is certainly the most convenient, and you can usually bag some pretty good deals too, especially if you compare online in advance of your holiday.