Palma ~ Christmas
5 reasons why Palma is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit
Palma de Mallorca
My Dad lives in Mallorca. He has done since he retired more than 20 years ago and he lives about 30-40 minutes away from the island’s beautiful capital city, Palma - one of my favourite cities. Last year I visited Mallorca for the first time in early December so my Dad and Irmgard took me in to Palma to see the lights. I have always been a sucker for Christmas lights… You?
Mallorca has no official religion but the majority of its citizens are Roman Catholic so Christmas is a very important celebration here! They go in for Christmas in a BIG way and you can find lots of religious and secular celebrations and decorations across the island between December 8th and January 5th. Palma, however, is where it’s at its best,
From my December 2017 visit, here are 5 reasons why Palma de Mallorca is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit.
The Christmas lights in Palma are simply stunning, The city is festooned in thousands of bright white lights which are draped over public squares and busy roads, wrapped around palm tree trunks and winter-bare branches, shaped into Christmas trees and suspended round hanging globes. If you crave multi-coloured decorations at Christmas, it is there but you’ll have to find it in the city’s shop windows and coffee shops, in its restaurants and on its balconies, in the market stalls, in pots of poinsettias and bunches of balloons. If you look up, however, it’s definitely all white on the night. And it’s completely magical.
It’s not just strings of white lights that make Palma shine so brightly in December; some of the most elegant and notable buildings in Palma are also lit up to maximise the impact of the festive nightscape. The most elegant city-centre architecture and the magnificent Cathedral (worth a visit for its Rose window alone) are all illuminated in white, creating a truly majestic backdrop for your photos.
2. The Flights
In December you can get great deals on flights to Palma de Mallorca.
If you fly from Scotland, you probably have to include a stop, as direct flights are not currently offered in winter. Do ask a travel agent to help with this as they will come up with options you may not have considered, (We routed though Southend one February on the advice of DP&L in St Andrews and - as a group of 8 passengers - saved a small fortune!)
If you travel in early to mid-December you can expect to pay around £50 each way, on average. Here’s a Skyscanner search result ex Manchester for December just as an example, but do also take a look at Jack’s Flight Club, which I cover in this Resources post.
3. The Ambiance (and Food!)
Palma is a great place to wander around. It’s very easy on the eye with gorgeous architecture, wide streets and lovely views and it’s generally very safe - though be sensible with your belongings and alert to your surroundings as in any major city. There is always plenty to see. The atmosphere is fab in the run up to Christmas when local families are out in numbers, enjoying the lights and the laid-back street entertainment.
The locals eat late and eat well and the city-centre streets - even at this time of year - are full of cafes and restaurants with pavement seating. Many have outdoor gas-powered heaters but some offer cosy blankets and fleeces. My timing was a little too early to get photos of these pretty places with many people in them but, by 9 and 10 at night, trust me, they’re busy and bustling!
The centre is also busy with a street market on the Paseo Maritimo that has everything from sweets and toys to local delicacies and handmade gifts. The stalls are gorgeous to look at as well as smelling wonderful, so it’s a feast for the senses as you meander along the avenue. Here you can also find local foods being cooked and served fresh to keep you going until your late night supper: foods such as sobrassada - a spicy mince and bacon mix, coca Mallorquina - vegetable-laden flatbreads, cocarrois, a local version of empanadas, and - of course - the sweet pastry Mallorca is famous for, Ensaïmadas. There’s a lot of chatter and busy trade going on and it all feels very festive indeed.
If food’s your thing, you’ll definitely want to make time to visit Mercat 1930, Palma’s Gastronomic Market. It’s open 365 days a year and until 2:30am Thursday to Saturday nights and it has an exceptional range of food and drink for you to try and buy.
4. The Temperature
Although it’s winter, temperatures in Palma are generally above 10 degrees Celsius in December (50° Fahrenheit) and - on sunny days - can reach the high teens (above 60°F), This makes walking round the city a really pleasant option as you won’t need heavy coats or boots and you’re unlikely to need any rain cover. It also means you can eat outside, even at night, under one of the woollen blankets on offer in the many pavement cafes and restaurants, sipping a glass of festive fizz, perhaps, as you people-watch and soak up the atmosphere.
5. The Accommodation
If you’re in Palma in early December, you’re there out of season so some hotels will be offering great deals. Typically, you can expect to pay 20-30% less for a city-centre room at this time of year, compared to high season. You should be able to find a room for around £100/night but it’s worth shopping around and checking with the usual sites such as Expedia, Trivago, Booking.com and TripAdvisor. Many offers will include breakfast, typically a buffet-style, but, if you’re located in the centre, it’ll be easy to find breakfast nearby so don’t be pressured into paying extra for it when you book. You’ll have the choice of chain and boutique hotels but I’d recommend you aim for something distinctively Mallorcan to enhance your trip. Like, for example, the handsome Hotel Born in the Old Town - just 10 minutes from the Cathedral.
Cheaper accommodation prices can be found outside the city but, as this is a post about soaking up Christmas in the the city, staying centrally will enable you to make the most of the festivities. If you do stay further afield, check your transport options (car hire is usually cheap to arrange by the day) and do pay attention to online reviews before you book because, out of season, some normally busy resorts will be quiet and may not offer the cheerful atmosphere you’re hoping for.
So there you have it: 5 reasons to head to Palma for some early festive cheer. Go in early/mid-December for the best deals on flights and accommodation and enjoy the city’s lights, ambiance and milder winter temperatures!
Where do you go to get in the mood for Christmas? I know some people head to Lapland for a Christmas treat but - honestly - I don’t enjoy snow (!). I also don’t crave anything tropical at this time of year, although I grew up enjoying hot and sunny Christmases in Africa, and I like the idea of wrapping up warmly to go out and coming back inside to get cosy at Christmas time. That makes Edinburgh ideal for me but I think Durham would also be lovely for a Christmas trip. As would Melrose and Harrogate.
Tell me: where would you like to go for a pre-Christmas break if time and cost weren’t an issue? Let me know in the comments below; I‘m all ears for good ideas ;-)
The Tripographer’s notes
Unslumping level? 10/10
Would I go again? Definitely!
Best time to go? Early to mid-December. (The 8th is when the festivities officially begin.)
Best for? Pretty lights, great food and a friendly, festive ambiance
Top tip? Visit the touristy markets for some gift inspiration but go where the locals go for food. Ask around and seek out food markets as well as local tapas bars away from the main drag.
Buy: Mallorca by Michael Poliza. Images of the island to drool over all year round!