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Sonnenuntergang auf Menorca, Bild: Gilmour Pics / shutterstock

The most beautiful holiday resorts in Menorca

Menorca is the northernmost and easternmost island of the Balearic Islands. In contrast to its bigger sister Mallorca , the island is known for its intact nature, the history and tradition of Spain far away from mass tourism.

Half of the island’s area is protected as a biosphere reserve. There are many hidden bays, undeveloped beaches, pristine landscapes and picturesque villages. With its many wonderful places, the island is made for nature lovers, families with children, beach vacationers, active vacationers and guests who are simply looking for peace and quiet.

Today’s island capital Mahon / Maó

Mahon, Menorca
Mahon, the island’s capital of Menorca, Image: lunamarina / shutterstock

Mahon, also known as Maó, became the capital of Menorca in 1722. The city is located on a natural harbor, the second largest in the world. Boat tours are offered here to explore the harbour.

Maó invites you to linger with its historic city center with numerous shopping opportunities. In addition to the numerous small boutiques and shops, there are also many sights to be found in the city. The La Mola fortress on the peninsula of the same name, which was formerly used as a prison, is well preserved and can be discovered with a guided tour.

The entire city center of Mahon is characterized by a certain British flair. The British conquered the island in 1708 and brought a certain boom to the city. It was also during this period, in 1748 to be precise, that the most famous church on the island was built on the site where a church once stood. This church is known for its magnificent interior, but above all for its mighty organ. The organ with its more than 3,000 pipes resembles human voices in its sounds.

To get to know the entire varied history of the island, a visit to the Museo de Menorca is highly recommended.

Small town with charm and history

For the fact that only 30,000 permanent residents live in Mahon, the small town has developed over the centuries into a center for civilizations in the region from time to time. From its origins under the Carthaginians to the Romans, the Moors and the Spaniards, they have all left their mark on the city, most of which can still be seen today. This impressive mix of influences of different types and eras make up the city – at least as far as the sights are concerned. If you are interested in the history of the Balearic Islands , you will certainly get your money’s worth here.

The real highlight of the city, however, is of course the unique nature that can be seen everywhere in Mahon. The harbour stands out in particular, which is considered the largest natural harbour in Europe and stretches along a wide variety of districts. But Mahon is also a green oasis that somehow fits perfectly with Menorca and gives visitors, who usually start their holidays from here, a good first look at why the island is now so popular with travellers.

The most beautiful sights of Mahon

As soon as you take your first step into the port area, the unique charm of Menorca becomes clear. In the largest natural harbour in Europe and supposedly the second largest natural harbour in the world, there are not only many different charms, but the panorama is also impressive. It is above all the fortifications on the hills that still give an impression of why the port of Mahon was so important for different generals and conquerors. And even though some of the fortresses are still preserved today, many of them were destroyed over time because the conquerors were afraid that they might fall into the wrong hands.

Fort Malborough is just one of many fortresses that are particularly impressive because they were built directly into the rock. From the harbour, the path leads directly into the old town and while strolling past small markets, countless cafes, bars and restaurants, it is particularly noticeable how different the houses on the island look. Especially with the older buildings, the influence of the different cultures and eras can still be seen and walking alone through the alleys and taking a look at the old houses is an impressive pastime.

The Plaza de la Constitución is the center of the city and from here you can quickly reach most of the historical sights. The church of Santa Maria is a special highlight – not only because of its architecture, but especially because of the impressive organ from the 19th century, which was installed here and can emit impressive sounds. A visit to the Museo de Menorca not only offers a bit of a change from sightseeing, but also tells the impressive history of the city and shows exhibits from the many excavations on the island that have taken place in recent decades and are a testimony to how long Menorca has actually played a role in European fortunes.

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Living and holidays in Mahon – experience the capital

Although only 30,000 people are said to live in the city, at the same time it always gives the impression of a lively port metropolis. This is especially due to the many bars and restaurants that attract attention with typical Mediterranean cuisine and always incorporate a bit of the twist of cultures that is so typical of this island. With plenty of opportunities for trips to the rest of the island and some beautiful beaches nearby, there’s also plenty to do for recreation. If you visit Menorca, you should definitely visit Mahon and get an idea of this impressive city, which is a bit different from the other metropolises of the Balearic Islands.

Menorca’s former island capital Ciutadella

Ciutadella, Menorca
Ciutadella in Menorca, Image: lunamarina / shutterstock

The city of Ciutadella is considered the most beautiful on the island. With its medieval charm, it enchants every visitor. It impresses with the narrow streets that wind through the old town and the romantic arcades. Here you will find small shops with handicrafts and typical souvenirs.

The center of the city is Plaça des Born. From here, a staircase winds its way to the harbour. You can also find the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria de Ciutadella on Plaça des Born. The many palaces around the square are also worth a visit.

Proud as an obelisk, friendly as a beach hotel: Ciutadella, the former capital of Menorca

The city of Ciutadella de Menorca – its name means “the citadel of Menorca” – is located on the west coast of the island of Menorca and has just under 30,000 inhabitants. The municipal area is very large with 186 square kilometers and extends over the entire western part of the island. Some small villages belong to Ciutadella. The inhabitants of Ciutadella are still proud of the fact that in previous centuries the defence against pirate ships and enemy fleets was organised from their town. Until 1722, Ciutadella was the island capital of Menorca. Since then, Maó (Mahón) has been the capital. And Ciutadella presents itself as an ideal holiday destination with its well-preserved, well-kept old town, well-kept streets and beaches.

Arrival and climate

Ciutadella does not have its own airport, but it is easy to reach: the city is only 39 km from the airport of the island’s capital Maó (Mahón). Ships depart from Alcúdia in Mallorca and from Barcelona to the port of Ciutadella. The climate of the region inspires tourists who like cozy warmth, but also not too much heat. In the hottest month, August, the average temperature is 25.1 °C. Cold is not to be feared here either! February, as the coldest month, has an average temperature of 11.4 °C. And plenty of sun is provided! In June and July, holidaymakers can expect 13 hours of sunshine per day, in December 6 hours of sunshine, and in January and November 7. Many a tourist starts to wonder: Wouldn’t it make sense to spend the winter in Ciutadella …?

A stroll through the old town

If you feel like shopping and enjoying, you will certainly get your money’s worth in Ciutadella! In the alleys of the old town, restaurants and cafés invite you to stop for a bite to eat, and in the shopping center “Castillo Menorca” you can go shopping. The old town is also home to numerous art galleries, perfumeries and antique shops, as well as souvenir shops where you can choose from high-quality souvenirs, such as Spanish wine. Visitors unexpectedly come to Placa Des Born while strolling through the city – and look up in amazement at the 22 m high obelisk that adorns the middle of the square. The obelisk was erected in memory of a naval battle of 1558. At that time, the Spaniards drove out a Turkish fleet.

What to see in Ciutadella de Menorca

The most impressive building in Ciutadella is probably the cathedral “Santa Maria de Ciutadella”. It is the landmark of the city and was built in 1302 – 1362 in the Gothic style. Since then, it has been rebuilt several times. The magnificent portal, crowned by a rose window, dates from 1813. Anyone who enters the church is impressed by the four side chapels, but also by the modern stained glass windows. The town hall of the city is also very photogenic. It stands on the Placa des Born above the harbour and looks like a palace. Rich citizens of the city have also built their own palaces in past centuries. These “city palaces” are well preserved. The entire old town with its buildings from the 16th to 19th centuries is a listed building. Curious: In the middle of the city there is a really nice sight, namely a large windmill. It is painted bright white!

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A look at history

The city was founded in ancient times. But the first settlement of Menorca took place even earlier, in prehistoric times. Proof of this is provided by the archaeological sites in the urban area of Ciutadella. First of all, there are the “Talayots of Montefí”, which can be visited outside of Ciutadella. These “talayots” are prehistoric towers that were built between the 13th and 2nd centuries BC. A visit to the “Museu Diocesà de Menorca” in the city center of Ciutadella provides many interesting insights into history. It is set up in a former Augustinian monastery and was opened in 1996. Archaeological finds from the region, old maps, but also modern works of art are on display.

Magnificent beaches

Ciutadella has several attractive sandy beaches. The “city beach” of Ciutadella can be considered the beach Cala en Forcat because of its immediate proximity to the core city. It stretches west of the city, is partly rocky, partly sandy – and of course always very busy in summer. If you like it quieter, you can visit Cala en Blanes beach, which is located in a pretty bay sheltered from the wind and offers 40 m of sandy beach. A palm grove also delights visitors. For beach vacationers, a trip to Cap d’Artrutx, which is a small suburb of Ciutadella that is located directly on the southwest corner of the island, is definitely worthwhile. There is a pretty lighthouse from 1859. From the beach at Cap d’Artrutx you can see the neighboring island of Mallorca. The beach Cala en Bosch (usually quite busy during the bathing season) on the south coast with its marina is also beautiful. Several hotels and restaurants are located close to the beach. Cala Blanca beach on the west shore is also popular and recommended with its white sand and good infrastructure (changing rooms, sanitary facilities, parasol and deck chair rental). Not only bathers cavort here, but also divers.

The small villages of Menorca

In Menorca, not only enchanted fishing villages invite you to visit, but also villages in the interior.

One of these enchanted fishing villages is Binibèquer Vell. The village with its intricate alleys, narrow paths, tunnels and niches is located in the southeast of the island. In the gleaming white houses you will find artists and manufactories where every holidaymaker will find the perfect souvenir. The small restaurants of the village offer typical Menorcan food with a view of the Mediterranean Sea.

The inland villages are known for showing the real Menorcan life. In addition to the island charm, these places have different characteristics that should not be missed. San Luis, for example, is known for its windmills, medieval defensive tower, and winery. The highest municipality is Ferreries with its typical alleys. From here there is a great view over the surroundings.

To the northwest of Mahon is Alaior. This village is known for the Queso de Mahon, the traditional hard cheese made from cow’s milk.

The many towns on the island are best explored with a rental car. Within a short time, the routes on the island between the villages and other sights can be covered.

The most beautiful beaches in Menorca

Menorca, Cala Mitjaneta
Cala Mitjaneta, Image: Pawel Kazmierczak / shutterstock

Menorca is the Caribbean Sea in the Mediterranean Sea. Here you will find beaches with snow-white sand and crystal clear, bright turquoise blue water.

These beaches of white sand are mainly found in the south of the island. They are also called the most beautiful beaches. On the south coast there are many secluded bays, endless beaches and also very hidden beaches.

One of the most stunning beaches is Punta Prima in the bay near Binibeca. Since the beach is very close to the capital, it is very popular. Another beautiful beach is located in the bay of Cala Galdana with its high cliffs and gently sloping beach.

But there are not only beaches with Caribbean flair in the south, but also in the north of the island. Cala Tirant and Playa de Fornelis are insider tips and not yet as crowded as the southern beaches.

In general, it should be noted that the beaches, which can only be reached by an arduous footpath, are the loneliest.

The Way of the Horses, the Cami de Cavalls

For nature lovers and active holidaymakers, the Camis de Cavalls, the Path of the Horses, is the perfect destination. This path leads 180 kilometers around the island. From this path there are the best views of the Mediterranean Sea. The hiking trail leads on winding paths through dense forests, over wide plains, over rocks and through gorges. On this path you can explore the dreamy beaches in the south, the cliffs in the north and the rivers of the island.

In addition to this enchanting nature, small, lonely mountain villages are also passed. The best time to hike the Way of the Horses is spring. At this time, the almond blossom takes place, which gives the path with its views a special charm

In the Middle Ages, the path was used by local soldiers on horseback to observe the sea and thus protect the island from attacks.

The island of Menorca does not have the big name of its sister island Mallorca, but it does not have to hide behind it. On this island, too, you will find everything a holidaymaker’s heart desires. And everything is spiced up with an extra portion of peace and deceleration.