Away With The Faeries: Palma de Majorca

Palma de Majorca

A gay sun holiday complete with plenty of proper cultural highlights might sound like a misnomer, but as Neil Geraghty discovers, Palma de Majorca has it all.


Ibiza has long been the gay party capital of the Mediterranean and a holiday there has become a rite of passage for young gay guys all over Europe. Let’s face it though; a club-tastic fortnight of partying until dawn is not every gay man’s cup of tea. If you prefer your Balearic sunshine served up with a sophisticated slice of urban culture, then neighbouring Majorca’s beautiful capital city Palma might just be the place for you.

When you first arrive in Palma, you’ll notice a distinct pink tinge to the labyrinth of narrow medieval alleyways that make up the city centre. 20 years ago, this area was a hotbed of prostitution and drug abuse, and the ancient graffiti-strewn buildings provided a blank canvas for top designers who have recently transformed Palma into one of the coolest cities in Spain. Some 60 Renaissance mansions line the streets, all built around shady patios which are now home to a sparkling collection of boutiques, small independent hotels and restaurants. These are often managed by gay professionals who inject a stylish and sophisticated vibe to the city’s street life.

There’s no better place to get your gay bearings than Bar Coto, a delightfully camp all-day café on a shady square in the heart of the city centre. It’s worth going to if only to recline on the chairs which are covered in faux sheepskin and pink cushions! The cafe has a friendly neighbourhood feel to it and watching the steady stream of both gay and straight customers, who all seem to be best friends, you get a real sense of how integral the gay community is to this cheerful and welcoming city.

From Bar Coto, it’s a short walk to Palma’s key historic attractions, most notable of which is the cathedral – a magnificent Gothic pile bristling with a forest of miniature spires. Palma has a long association with avant garde artists, and inside the cathedral, Miquel Barcelo’s ‘Capella del Santissim’ is a hallucinogenic riot of twisting ceramic trees and animals in which Galadriel would be more at home than the Virgin Mary. Opposite the cathedral, the Almudaina Palace has a touch of King’s Landing from Game of Thrones about it. Half Moorish pleasure pavilion and half Gothic den of intrigue, this beautiful palace overlooking the sparkling Med is still used by the Spanish royal family. Below the cathedral, the landscaped city walls, dotted with picturesque pepper-pot turrets, are a romantic spot for a sunset stroll. Don’t be put off by the snogging hetero couples entwined on the battlements, there’s a stretch of the walls further along reserved exclusively for nocturnal gay cruising!

West of the city centre, overlooking the craggy Cala Major Bay, modern art lovers will be in seventh heaven at The Joan Miro Foundation. This striking angular gallery displays shifting exhibitions of the legendary surrealist’s colourful squiggly paintings and sculptures. Miro was a long time resident of Majorca and his atelier, adjacent to the gallery, has been left virtually untouched since the maestro’s death in 1983. Near the foundation on a rocky promontory, Palma’s gay ‘beach’ lies incongruously beneath a military museum, and is a great place to come for a spot of afternoon tanning and swimming. It’s more of a rocky bathing platform than a beach; be careful of the car ferries leaving port that send huge waves crashing over the rocks!

Up on the hillside above the beach, a striking 14th Century castle, the Castell de Bellver lies in the middle of a beautiful pine forest popular with buffed joggers and cyclists. In the summer months, the unique circular keep becomes one of the Mediterranean’s most atmospheric concert venues.

Gomila, Palma’s gay village is located in a surprisingly quiet, residential neighbourhood to the west of the city centre. Bars such as Naughty and Horny stand out like sore thumbs amongst the manicured bougainvillea filled gardens and quiet corner shops. Gomila has its very own Tapas Route where you can while away the early evening in sunny terrace cafés before hitting the gay bars later on.

Closer to the city centre, gay life takes on a far raunchier edge. Dark Bar and XY are a couple of old fashioned cruise bars where you’ll need to carefully hold onto your valuables groping around in the dark rooms. Spartacus, meanwhile, is a small but perfectly formed sauna that is always buzzing during weekend siestas. In the snazzy nightlife district of Santa Catalina, La Demence is the only gay club of note and is always packed to the rafters with pumped up chicos.

Outside the gay venues, one of the great pleasures of Palma is just dropping by randomly at local cafés and tapas bars. Unlike many city centres, which have a sterile, commercialised feel, Palma’s city centre has a down to earth, lived-in ambience. In the bars, you’ll soon strike up conversations with the friendly locals and before you know it, you’ll be immersed in feel-good Spain at its very best.


The Very Best…



Hotel Cort, Placa de Cort 11. Urban cool meets home from home in this chic, apartment style indie hotel.


Cuba Colonial Bar, Calle San Magi 1. Close your eyes and sail away to Havana in this mellow colonial style cafe.


Bar/Cafe Coto, Plaza Drassana 12. Feel like a Barbie girl in this riot of Almodovar style kitsch.


Bar Espanya, Carrer de San Escursac 12. King sized pintxos (tapas) for hungry boyz.


La Demence, Discoteca Luna, Plaza del Vapor s/n. Party under the palms in gay Palma’s hottest disco and terrace bar.








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