Just outside the city centre you find a big, green park landscaped in a way it actually feels more like a forest. It’s called the Bellver after the old castle in its middle, and it's very popular with people who like to hike, run, walk their dogs or just appreciate the tranquility of being surrounded by trees and birds chirping, in contrast to hustle and bustle of the city.
It goes without saying that the neighborhoods surrounding this lush and lovely area are highly sought after as the combination of living just a stone's throw away from the city centre and having nature in front of your doorstep is a bonus not easy to find.
Son Armadams #
Son Armadams is more or less an extension of popular Santa Catalina, but as soon as you leave that busy and trendy area behind and enter Son Armadams, the buzz quietens down. The buildings grow a little higher and the villas a little bigger. This used to be one of the most exclusive areas of Palma, which you can still see in some of the properties.
The city centre, the harbour, the Paseo Marítimo, and Bellver park are all only a short walking distance of just a few minutes away. Son Armadams and its neighbour Son Espanyolet, are the closest you can get to living in the heart of town, but still being in a quiet, safe neighbourhood. Even though there are many bars and restaurants around here, it never gets as noisy as in Santa Catalina.
El Terreno #
In the 1970’s, El Terreno was the place to be for jet setters and globetrotters. Back then, the area of La Gomila was the true hot spot for Palma’s nightlife. Unfortunately, after many of the old clubs and bars were closed down, the area lost its shine and over the years gained quite a bad reputation.
Recently, El Terreno has started growing in popularity again. More and more people are discovering the fact that it’s actually a prime location.
Although, you will still see many run-down and/or abandoned buildings, there is a certain, albeit morbid charm to the diversity of this area where old meets new and luxury meets disrepair.
The steep hills of El Terreno feature an unlikely mix of relatively unappealing apartment buildings and beautiful mansions. Back in the old days, these used to be the summer homes of wealthy people from Palma as during the warmest months a nice ocean breeze fans cool air up the hill.
La Bonanova #
Just next to El Terreno and Porto Pí, you enter the calm of La Bonanova. This is a well-maintained, green and quiet neighbourhood which, thanks to its elevated position, offers stunning sea views from some of its streets.
The area features a mix of both apartment buildings and smaller houses, but if you manage to catch a glimpse through a gap in one of the many high gates and perimeter walls you might be surprised. There are many well-hidden big, beautiful villas surrounded by fabulous gardens in La Bonanova.
This is a very family-friendly area located just next to the Bellver park and the international school, Queen’s College, which is said to be one of the best ones on the island. La Bonanova is more or less residentials only, but since it’s adjacent to Génova, Porto Pi and Cala Major, down the hill, you have everything you need and more nearby.
Local Sights #
There are many local sights worth a visit in central Palma, but when in Son Armadams you should visit the open air museum, Pueblo Español, which means 'Spanish village'. It hosts 72 different examples of Spanish architecture, including 18 blocks of buildings and 15 streets built from materials transported here from their respective regions. With its 24.000 square meters, Pueblo Español is the third largest replica village in the world.
Another must-see is The Bellver Castle, one of the few circular castles in Europe, built in the 14th century for King James II of Mallorca. After having served as a royal residence and then as a a military prison it was placed under civilian control in the mid-20th century, and now hosts Palma's History Museum.
Food & Drink #
In these eastern parts of Palma you have a very wide range of restaurants, bars and cafés just around the corner. Given the proximity to Santa Catalina, especially in Son Armadams and El Terreno you’ll find everything from Spanish cuisine, burger bars, vegan and vegetarian restaurants just to mention a few. La Bonanova, on the other hand, is not the place to be if you’re looking for dining experiences at walking distance.
This cute café, located on a corner on Calle Hannibal, welcomes your four-legged friend to join you while having a coffee and a pastry or maybe the lunch of the day. This small, cosy place serves breakfast and simple lunches like soup, pie or lasagne. Contact: +34 971 45 59 16
In the middle of Son Armadams and El Terreno, on Avinguda de Gabriel Roca next to the harbour, you’ll find this gastronomic market. With a big selection of dishes, pintxos and tapas, you can wine and dine with your friends in a great atmosphere. Since table reservations are not available, you might just have to eat standing up, but that’s all part of the experience. Contact: +34 669 78 7804
Downhill from El Terreno, on the Paseo Marítimo, the restaurant Bahía Mediterranea offers “top level haute cuisine”, as they describe it, with a stunning view over the yachts and sailing boats in the harbour. With high stucco ceilings, décor in gold and white, large drapes and parquet floors, the restaurant gives you the feeling of an old ballroom. A main course costs about 25-30€/person, but the experience justifies the somewhat higher price and does give you value for your money. Contact: +34 971 457 653
Disclaimer: With COVID lockdowns, many bars and restaurants have been shuttered. If you have a favourite, please send us the recommendation to Food & Drink.
Shopping and/or Markets #
Since all of these areas are located in Palma, you have great shopping experiences just minutes away. Just next to La Bonanova, the Porto Pi shopping mall also offers a variety of stores, both big and small, including the Carrefour hypermarket.
In the heart of Santa Catalina, at walking distance from both Son Armadams and El Terreno, you will find the Mercat de Santa Catalina. In this covered food market, you can wander among the food stands, pick and choose from fresh fish and seafood, locally grown fruit and vegetables and Mallorquín delicacies. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 7 am till 5 pm.
Sports & Recreation #
From all of the mentioned areas, you have direct access to Bellver park where you can walk or run along the trails for hours if you like. Don’t forget to take a deep breath once in a while and admire the spectacular view. The park was named Bellver for a reason – it's Mallorquín for “beautiful view”.
In Son Armadams you will also find the very popular and well attended tennis club. People of all nationalities come here to work out, do yoga, swim in the outdoor pool, play tennis or just have lunch and socialize for a bit in the restaurant.
Living in Son Armadams, El Terreno and La Bonanova #
of properties in neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Palma centre, will always be in high demand. Living at walking distance to the city, but still in a quiet street means getting the best of both worlds for a lot of people. El Terreno is an area on the rise, and even though it’s more affordable than Son Armadams and La Bonanova, we’re still talking Palma prices. But for someone who really puts a value to having easy access to nature while living in a big city, any of these neighbourhoods would be the grand slam.
By Maria Strömqvist
18 February, 2021