Minorca Introduction

Menorca - Package Holiday Guide

In this article, we look into Spain's second largest and least developed Balearic Island - Menorca, including its two stylish capitals, Mao and Ciutadella. We hope it helps when choosing your next Spanish break.

Author: Chris R. Wilson

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1. What is Menorca like for family holidays?

Menorca may be much quieter and smaller than its Balearic island neighbours, Mallorca and livley Ibiza; however, it presents a perfect choice for a chilled-out family beach holiday or an exciting city break adventure.

Minorca lies 34km (21 miles) east of Mallorca and is a heaven for beach lovers with more than 70 spectacular beaches, bays and coves. The north coast is quieter and less developed, with mostly jagged and rocky coastlines and fewer sandy beaches - while the south and west coast resorts have plenty of soft sandy bays - and is home to most of Menorca's main holiday beach resorts.

Whichever resort you choose, you won't be far away from one of the island's two fascinating cities, the former capital and ancient medieval city of Ciutadella on the west coast and the slightly more modern and lively cosmopolitan capital Mahon to the east. Both are wonderful ancient cities, and should be explored and visited at least once during your stay on the island.

2. Minorca Beach Holidays & Short Breaks

Menorca offers a resort to suit everyone – from vibrant family resorts with activities for youngsters; to laid-back, stylish fishing villages with spectacular sandy beaches and relaxing sandy coves. You'll find plenty of entertainment available wherever you stay, with an excellent choice of trendy bars and fine eateries - plus local restaurants that have been in families for generations.

Menorca is renowned for its environmentally sensitive development policy, which has helped retain the character and heritage of smaller resorts and villages - as a result, the island has some of the prettiest beaches and clearest waters in the Mediterranean.

Menorca's main holiday resorts are located south of the island - with Cala en Porter, Cala en Bosch and Cala Galdana being three of our favourites. For detailed reviews on Menorca's main resorts check out our resort blog posts below.


Menorca Pool

3. Interesting Places to visit!

Culture vultures won't be disappointed, with an array of ancient sites and art museums to explore, including:

  • Visit the Museu de Menorca - Mahon.
  • Visit Binibeca Vell – a fascinating recreation of a traditional Minorcan fishing village, a labyrinth of cobbled lanes and whitewashed houses overlooking a small harbour.
  • Visit Cala en Turqueta - a picturesque white-sandy beach, with clear turquoise waters, close to Cala Galdena, ideal for swimming & snorkelling.
  • Try Splash Sur the largest waterpark thrill-ride in Menorca, located on the south coast near Punta Prima.

Menorca's must-visit stylish towns include Mahon and Ciutadella.

There are two main populated areas on the island of Menorca, Mahon on the east coast and Ciutadella on the west. These two beautiful old cities are well worth discovering (each having its own unique character and history), plus offerings of harbourside wine bars, top-end boutiques and elegant eateries.

4. What to see in Mahon

Mahón (or Mao) is the capital of Menorca and lies on the east side of the island at the end of a large and sheltered harbour, one of the deepest natural harbours in the world (it was used as an important naval base by the British between 1708-1802). Mahon is a modern, lively city with a rich naval history and a port brimming with smart boutiques, handmade Jewellery shops, restaurants, sleek bars and perhaps the best tapas on the island.

Surprisingly, the town is full of distinctive (and familiar) British-influenced Georgian-style architecture, with wealthy 18th-century townhouses, particularly noticeable along Carrer Isabel II, a street near the port. Mahon used to be ruled by the British, and the elegant buildings they left behind are a reminder of the city's colonial past. Mahon is a reasonably large city for a small island - and is best discovered on foot as the distances between the city's main sights are manageable. If you fancy a rest, there are plenty of leafy squares with pavement cafes to enjoy.

Start your sightseeing day at Placa de S'Esplanada, a pleasant square full of cafes and restaurants and several impressive 18th-century mansions once occupied by British traders. For the main shopping area, head to the pedestrian zone along the Carrer des Ses Moreres that leads down to the harbour. On your way down to the harbour you'll find the city's main landmark - the church of Santa Maria. The church dates back to the 13th century and is famed for its impressive 3,000-pipe organ - built in Austria in 1810.

Dotted around the city, you'll find plenty of Tapas bars, local eateries and fine dining venues to try. The waterfront area is particularly 'impressive and lively', with its traditional Balearic fishing boats and marina providing more shops and restaurants to explore - look out for the supa motor yachts moored in front of Mahon Casino.

5. What to see in Ciutadella

Located on the west coast, beautiful Ciutadella de Menorca is an ancient cosmopolitan port city known for its old quarter, ancient buildings and medieval streets. Ciutadella is a cultural and exquisite hub that's home to Menorca's only traces of Moorish architecture, including Ses Voltres (Moorish arches and buildings) that form rows of small shops, tapas bars and traditional inexpensive restaurants serving local Mediterranean cuisine.

Ciutadella has an impressive selection of charming churches and shops that line the cobblestoned lanes and attractive plazas of the old town. Walking is the best way to experience the city's charm and to take in the stunning neo-classical architecture - should you fancy a break, you can rest up at one of many outdoor cafes or cooling tree-shaded squares.

Soak up the atmosphere of the old town and wander around the Placa d'es Born, a popular square bordering elegant palaces and more chic terrace sidewalk cafes - the square turns into a popular and bustling market on Mondays and Fridays (the market's great for fashion and costume jewellery).

It's a short walk from Placa d'es Born to the harbour area, where you'll find a small narrow inlet - full of fishing boats and luxury yachts. The area here is lined with chic harbourside bars and Gourmet seafood restaurants (many of which are carved into the cliff face). The stylish Terrazas along the harbourfront are great places to relax, drink and dine, especially at night when the harbour and surrounding buildings are all majestically lit up.

Minorca Sandy Beach

6. How to travel around Menorca

Bus, Taxi, Car Rental. Getting around Menorca is relatively easy. There's a reliable bus network between all major towns, resorts and larger villages, plus a good supply of reasonably priced taxis and car hire companies. Car rental rates are reasonable, and you'll soon discover there's more to Menorca than beautiful sandy coves and two trendy capitals to explore - so take a break from the beach and hire a car to discover Minorca's many treasures.

Cycling. Cycling in Minorca is inexpensive and fun (I've found the Spanish to be keen cycling fans, and cycling facilities are generally good). You'll find hiring a bike easy as most resorts have good rental facilities; there are many routes to choose from with different grades, abilities and cycling experiences.

Top Tip: The island is relatively small (the distance between Ciutadella on the west coast and Mao on the east is just 45km) - so public transport costs are inexpensive.

Bus Services. The central bus station for Menorca is based at the island's capital Mahon. Bus services are operated by three separate bus companies as shown below - tickets are available to purchase directly from the driver, (in my experience most drivers are helpful and speak enough English to help with fares, tickets and questions about services).

  • (1) Bus Torres Menorca (Ciutadella and West Coast) - providing Public Bus service from the city of Ciutadella to the Resorts on the west of the Island – Cala´n Bosch, Cala Blanca and Cala´n Blanes and many more. Services also include connections between the airport and Mao- Mahon bus station. https://www.bus.e-torres.net/en/
  • (2) Autos Fornells (Mahon and East Coast) including Fornells, Playa den Fornells, Arenal den Castell, Es Grau and Son Parc. https://www.autosfornells.com/en/
  • (3) Transportes Menorca provides bus services between Mahón and Ciutadella and the southern resorts of the island, including Cala Galdana, Santo Tomas and Son Bou. https://www.tmsa.es/en/transporte-regular

7. Helpful Holiday Facts & Tips on Menorca:

  • Mayonnaise. Did you know that mayonnaise was invented in Menorca in the mid-1700s - it was named after the island's capital Mao. You'll notice plenty of restaurants serving freshly made mayonnaise with local dishes.
  • You can visit Menorca anytime, most beach resorts are fully open from May to late September. Minorca is the wettest of the Balearic islands, but doesn't get overly cold in winter. Mid-summer months are hot and dry, with temperatures comparable to Mallorca.
  • Visit the Palacio Salort in Ciutadella, Minorca's former capital. Salort is a well-preserved former palace housing a mix of French tapestries, classic English furniture and 19th-century ceiling paintings. It's a great place to visit and take in some local and informative culture between sunbathing and swimming.
  • Visit the Cathedral of Menorca in the medieval capital Ciutadella - the cathedral was built on the site of a mosque and was completed in 1287.
  • For great shopping, including fashion boutiques, head to Calle del Angel in Mahon.
  • Try the two-hour hike to the top of Menorca's highest point, El Toro at 350m above sea level. El Toro is located at the centre of the island and has spectacular 360-degree views from the top. There's also a cafe and a 13th-century church (Sanctuary of the Verge del Toro) that's worth exploring. You can drive to the top if you prefer, where there's usually ample parking outside peak times.

Most of Menorca's coastal regions have their own individual charm, character and attractions. If you'd like to find out more about Menorca's resorts, check out our resort guides below.

Minorca Holiday Guide

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents of this article. The use of this site and third-party links is subject to our T&Cs.

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