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Situated on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Palma is no longer the crucial port city that it used to be, but that economic dependence on trade has been quickly replaced by a burgeoning tourism scene—and it’s easy to see why. Any travel plan to Palma features lush palm trees, expansive white-sand beaches, top-notch historical sites, and a quintessential island charm that you’ll only find in the middle on the Mediterranean. Locals stroll past bulky-but-beautiful La Seu cathedral, which looms above clear blue waters jammed with British yachters. Mom and pop restaurants serve up plates brimming with fresh-caught seafood. School kids babble in Mallorcan, a dialect of the Catalan language, as German expats sip espressos at seaside cafes.
Palma’s great climate draws a horde of sun-seekers from across Europe, many of them from the uncomfortably wet and cold British Isles. The city lies a bit further off the beaten path for American travelers, but it’s not very hard to get there: take a relaxing ferry ride from Barcelona (about seven hours) or from Valencia (about nine hours). Once you get there, it’s easy to spend your whole time enjoying the gorgeous coastal parts of town, but much of Palma’s considerable appeal exists in the winding backstreets and alleyways. Lose the views of unsightly high-rise hotels by getting lost in the old town’s maze of cobblestoned streets, where vintage boutiques and cozy wine bars await the savvy culture-seeker. Check out some the stellar historical and artistic sites that dot the city, from Es Baluard Museum of Contemporary Art to the hilltop Castell de Bellver. Spain’s Mediterranean jewel has it all.