Minorca or Menorca (official name) is the second largest of the Balearic Islands, located to the northeast of Mallorca and is the least overrun and most tranquil of the Balearics. Due to its unspoilt beauty, it allows the more adventerous the opportunity to discover new charms and experiences. Despite its smaller size among other Spanish islands, the number of beaches that Menorca has equals the number of beaches that can be found in Mallorca and Ibiza combined. The possibility of having a beautiful beach largely to yourself in the summer, combined with alfresco dining and peaceful holiday resorts, makes Minorca a highly desirable place to visit.
Maó or Mahon is the capital city notable for bars, restaurants and its port. Maó's harbor is its most impressive feature and is a strong drawcard for visitors, especially the British, who today flock to the island in droves. The town is built atop cliffs that line the harbor's southern shore, with the majority of the architecture in the 18th century Georgian style.
Ciutadella or Ciudadela - Former capital city during util the first British occupation.
Alaior- Home to the local cheese and shoe industries.
Es Mercadal - Right in the center of the island
Fornells - A small fishing village on the north coast that has some delicious seafood restaurants and is on the edge of a large picturesque bay.
Minorca was designated in 1993 by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. The goal of this designation is to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
In addition, the local government has started working on the process to achieve the designation of World Heritage Site for all its prehistoric monuments.
Minorca is a relatively quiet island which means that more wholesome, family fun holidays are geared towards this island. If you prefer a more vibrant night scene, head to nearby Ibiza or Mallorca for a bustling city atmosphere.
The peak season in Minorca is from end of June until the beginning of September, being the first two weeks of August the most crowded time. However, the touristic season, when most of the hotels are opened starts around April and finishes in October.
During the "winter season", from October to April, most of the hotels are closed and many attractions will be opened only during the weekend or closed as well.
All locals can speak Menorquí, standard Catalan, and standard Spanish. Menorquí is the island's local dialect of Catalan, different enough so that people from Catalonia often struggle to understand it. The islanders use it in most everyday situations. They can switch to standard Catalan or Spanish for less casual situations or when speaking to people who are not from Minorca and do not understand the local speech. Standard Catalan and standard Spanish are the two official languages of the island (as in the rest of the Balearic Islands), and are used in schools, the media, and the government. Islanders are happy to use any of these languages with visitors, and many can speak English reasonably well, especially in the tourist areas.
Regular flights are available directly to Mahon from mainland Spain and the sister islands of Ibiza and Mallorca. Regular scheduled services are available with Monarch from Birmingham, Manchester, London Luton and London Gatwick. Easyjet and British Airways also operate flights from some major and regional UK airports.
Minorca's airport is served by buses to Maó (Euro$1.50, 15 min) every half hour from around 6AM to 10PM and then hourly to midnight. The bus stops at the bus station, the Estacio Maritima and a couple of other intermediate points.
Regular ferries from both mainland Spain and Majorca are also available. Modest-sized cruise ships occasionally visit. They primarily use the deep harbour of Maó, which offers highly scenic views of homes, hotels/resorts and historic structures and fortifications.
There is one main bus company, Transportes Menorca.
The main bus route which serves Maó, Alaior, Es Mercadal, Ferreries and Ciutadella runs along the centre of the island. Most buses leave hourly and are very inexpensive, at around €4 to €5 to travel between Ciutadella and Maó.
Most of the Western beach towns are served by buses leaving from the main Plaza in Ciutadella. Other buses leave from Ferreries, Alaior and the largest bus stop on the island is that one in Maó, it serves Sant Lluis and then all of the beach towns in the East. Son Bou is reached from Alaior.
There are numerous agents and companies such as Avis, Hertz, Europcar etc. specializing in car hire in Minorca - both at the airport and in resorts - although it may be prudent to organise it from home before you arrive to avoid disappointment during peak periods. It is the best option together with motorbikes if you want to reach most of the beaches.
Note that during July and August the parkings of the most popular beaches can be fully occupied during the morning. In this case, when the access is through a narrow road, this one is closed in order to avoid traffic jams.
The big advantage of taking a motorbike is that there will be no need to worry for place at the beach parkings. In the peak seasons the road to some beaches are closed once its parking is full. This will not be an issue with a motorbike.
The harbour at Maó, the island capital, is the second largest natural deep water port in the world - the largest being Pearl Harbour.
During the 18th Century, Minorca was a bone of contention among the British, French and Spanish powers. This was due to the Port of Maó, the finest natural harbour in the Mediterranean, and one of the best in the world, which could protect the largest fleets of the time in their entirety. The Utrecht Treaty, signed in 1713, gave place to the first British presence on Minorca, which lasted until 1755. The first British Governor was John Campbell (Argyll) nominated by the Queen Anne. Richard Kane ,from County Antrim in Ireland, the second British Governor, is still fondly remembered for his effective support of agriculture on the island; he introduced the cultivation of the apple, promoted cattle breeding and built roads and reservoirs which are still in use today. The Scottish Col.Patrick Mackellar (Argyll) was the chief engineer of Minorca and responsible for the main constructions of the british legacy. The main contribution of Mackellar was the design and construction of Georgestown (Es Castell) near to Sant Felip fortress at the entry of Mahon harbour.
There were two later periods of British presence on Minorca, from 1763 till 1781 and 1798 to 1808. The British left more than their earthworks and ramparts behind. Things as varied as the growth of Maó, which enthusiastically accepted the opportunities for trade and the abolition of the Inquisition,, the traditional woodworking and boat building techniques and designs and Minorca's most popular drink, gin.
The Golden Farm, a summer house near Maó, is one of the symbols of British presence on Minorca, perhaps as much as the bow and sash windows still to be found in the capital's old part quarter.
Son Granot is a Georgian style house built during the British presence on Minorca and is where Mackellar lived. This building is the second symbol of British presence and is considered a monument. Now the house is totally restored keeping the original concepts of XVIII century and it is a pretty land hotel and restaurant at the entry of Mahon harbour. It is the first house(red and white) you can see arriving by ship.
To this day no one is certain of the significance of these prehistoric monuments in the form of Taules, T shaped stone formations thought to be spiritual sanctuaries; Talayots which are stone towers that local people believe were once used as look-out points. There is little evidence to support these theories about Menorca’s prehistoric past nor the original function of these breathtaking creations . Taules are named after the Menorquí word for table. (Menorquí is the local dialect of Catalan which is widely spoken on the Island. Menorca is by far the richest place in Europe for sites of prehistoric settlements, mostly dating from the Talaiotic Period, which was the period of civilisation between 2000 and 1000 BC. The term Talayot is believed to originate from the Arabic atalaya meaning “watch tower”.
Another feature of prehistoric Menorca, and one of its most famous monuments, is the communal burial structure known as a Naveta. The best example of such a structure is close to
the former capital Ciutadella. Just to the east of the town is the Naveta d’es Tudons which dates from around 1300 BC it is believed to be the oldest roofed building in Europe. It gets its name fromits shape which is like an unturned boathape of an upturned boat. You enter via a small low entrance which gives access to a roomy interior which measures 46 feet in length, 21 feet in width and up to 13 feet in height. When it was first excavated in the 1950’s there were the remains of some fifty bodies confirming that it was used as a burial chamber.
Since prehistoric times the Island has been controlled by the Romans, Moors, Catalans, Spanish, French and English. All these nations have left their mark on the Island and monuments to visit from Sanisera, the archaeological site close the port of Sanitja on the north coast of the island to the ruins of the Fifth Century Bascilica on the beach at Son Bou.
Some of the most significant prehistoric sites are:
Naveta d'es Tudons. The most remarkable megalithic chamber tomb in Minorca. It served as collective ossuary between 1200 and 750 BC.
Torre d’en Galmés.
Torralba d'en Salord. Contains the most important "Taula" in the island, which is 4,30 meters high.
La Mola Fortress (Fortalesa Isabel II La Mola), c/La Mola s/n (Maó), ☎ 971364040, . Daily. A magnificent mid nineteenth century Spanish fortress set over Maó harbour, a fine example of mid nineteenth century Spanish military architecture7€. edit
St. Philip's Castle (Castell de Sant Felip), Carretera de Sant Felip, S/N (Es Castell), ☎ 0034 971362100, . 10AM Sat (guided visit). It was rebuilt by British forces in the 1760s, around an earlier Spanish fort, which had been established about 1554.5€. edit
Fort Marlborough, Cala Sant Esteve (Es Castell). Built by the British empire between 1710 and 1726.edit
Lazareto, Lazareto island, in Mahon's Harbour (Take the boat from Cales Fonts, Es Castell), . Until only a few years back, access was quite restricted. Since July 2011 it is much easier to visit it. However, the schedules are still quite limited: once a week during the weekends in the peak monthsedit
Xoriguer Gin Distillery. Minorca's very own Xoriguer Gin Distillery, constructed during the 18th century, is situated at the Moll de Ponent dockside. Minorcan gin is distinctively aromatic and very tasty, and generally offered only there and by select European retailers elsewhere. Fortunately you may sample and purchase it on-site, as well as the many other types of liquor that the Xoriguer Distillery manufactures. This attraction is open to the public from M-F 8AM to 7PM and Saturdays 9AM to 1PM.
Museu de Menorca. This former 15th century Franciscan monastery contains the earliest history of the island, the Roman and Byzantine eras and Muslim Minorca and includes paintings from more recent times times. Open 10AM -2PM and 6-8:0PM Tu-Sa, 10AM-2PM Sun and holidays.
Military Museum, Plaça de s'Explanada (Es Castell), . edit
Municipal Museum of Ciutadella des Bastió de sa Font, Plaça de sa Font, Ciutadella, ☎ 0034 971 38 02 97, . Permanent archaeology exhibition. By observing the various archaeological materials, visitors can take a journey through the history of Ciutadella from prehistoric times to the Islamic period.edit
Minorcan Cheese Museum (Museo etnológico del Queso de Menorca), Camí de Sant Patrici s/n, 07750 Ferreries (Hort de Sant Patrici), ☎ 0034 971 37 37 02, . Mon., Tue., Thu., Sat. from 9AM to 11AM. edit
Cycling Museum of Minorca (Museo de ciclismo de Menorca Arturo Sintes), Es Mercadal, ☎ 0034 610 464 816, . edit
The Old Radio Station Corner (Es Racó de sa Radio Antiga), C/ Metge Camps, 07740 Es Mercadal (next to the Craftmanship Center, at the exhibition ground (Recinte Firal des Mercadal)), . Sat. from 11AM to 1PM. Free entrance. edit
Favàritx. Located at the north-east of the island. Unique landscape compared very often to a "moon-landscape". One of the most photographed places in the island, it also worths a visit during windy days, as the wind hits specially hard in the area and you can see how the waves break against the rocks next to the lighthouse. Cala Presili is a beach that is not far from the lighthouse and has views directly to it.
Cavalleria. The cliffs next to the lighthouse are 94m high. The beach of Cavalleria is only 5min by car from the lighthouse.
Punta Nati. In the north of Ciutadella.
Cap d'Artrutx. In the south of Ciutadella, it is very popular during sunsets.
Illa de l'aire. Located in a small island in front of Punta Prima, Sant Lluís.
Punta de sa Farola. In the entrance of the harbour of Ciutadella.
Punta de Sant Carles. In the entrance of the harbour of Maó.
Monte Toro (the highest point on the island, near Es Mercadal) for a fantastic panoramic view of the island.
Cova d'en Xoroi. Natural cave in a cliff, used as bar during the evening, popular for its sunsets, and one of the most famous clubs of the island at night.
S'Albufera d'es Grau, (Maó), ☎ 0034 971 17 77 05, . Natural Park located at the north-east of the island. It is the heart of the biosphere reserve.edit
Cales Fonts. Small bay in Es Castell, inside the harbour of Maó. The caves where the boats used to be stored are now mostly restaurants with a very special atmosphere during the summer nights.
Binibeca Vell. Small fishing village on the coast, with narrow streets and all houses completely white. The village is only a reconstruction for tourism, but it is still beloved, specially by photographers.
Lithica (Pedreres de s'Hostal), Camí vell km1, Ciutadella (Maó), ☎ 0034 971 481578, . Old quarry.edit
Minorca has its share of beautiful coastline that deserves recognition. Minorca beaches are generally not crowded, so finding a nice relaxing spot of your own is usually not hard to achieve. However, during the first two weeks of August there could be problems to find in the most famous beaches a parking place and a spot spacious enough on the sand.
Some of the most well-known beaches are:
La Vall, which includes Algaiarens and Platja d'es Bots. Since 2013 it is connected to Ciutadella by local bus .
Son Xoriguer. Connected to Ciutadella by local bus .
Son Saura. Since 2012 it is connected to Ciutadella by local bus .
Cala en Turqueta
Macarella and Macarelleta
Cala Trebalúger: half an hour walk from Cala Mitjana
Arenal d'en Castell
Cala Pregonda. Probably the most beautiful beach on the North Coast. 20-30min walk from the parking of Binimel·là.
Son Bou. The largest beach of Minorca (about 2.5 km long). Most of the people remain near the parking and hotel area, so there is plenty of room if you do not mind walking a few minutes from the crowd. Connected to Alaior and Maó by local bus.
Cala Mesquida Beach
Es Grau. One of the closest beaches from the capital to the north. Connected to Maó by local bus.
Punta Prima. One of the closest beaches from the capital to the east. Connected to Maó and Sant Lluís by local bus. There are around eight buses a day to Punta Prima.
Camí de Cavalls. The Camí de Cavalls is an ancient path of 186 km (116 miles) that encircles the island of Minorca, Spain. This long-distance walking route is the GR 223 of the Senderos de Gran Recorrido network in Spain and it is also use to reach some of the most inaccessible beaches of Minorca. The path is divided in 20 different stages, each of them between 5 and 14 km. All the start and arrival points can be gained access to by road traffic, making possible to cover only one or some stages of the path at a time.
It is also possible to cover the Camí de Cavalls with mountain bike. However, some stages are technically complicated and a good bicycle could be needed. Some companies are arising during the last years to cover this offer:
An identifying sign of Minorca is its fascination with horses. All things centre around horses and the people love them. Minorca has its own race of black horses. In all the festivities the horses and their "caixers" (riders) are the centrepieces. There are several companies that offer horse rides along the "Cami de Cavalls" and other paths.
Alternatively, numerous operators offer glass-bottomed cruises around the harbor.
Rutas Maritimas de la Cruz, (Maó & Ciutadella), . is the most fun and very recommendable.edit
Son Bou Scuba, Centro Comercial San Jaime s/n (Son Bou), ☎ +34 696 628 265, . Professional PADI staff available to take you to visit underwater caves and caverns, wrecks and the protected Marine Reserve on the North Coast. Novices and experienced divers alike are welcome.starting from € 35. edit
Menorca's local fiestas. Starting from Sant Joan on the 23rd and 24th of June in Ciutadella (the most ancient and crowded ones) to the Festes de Gràcia on the 7th and 8th of September, almost every weekend in summer there is a local fiesta in a different village of the island. The horse is the star of the festivity, being the highlights the Cargols in Ciutadella or the Jaleo in all other villages. These festivities are loved and awaited by the islanders. Their dress code is quite simple: T-shirt, jeans and most important trainers or comfortable covered shoes, since it can go a bit wild. One should learn from their experience and dress similarly to avoid any misfortune.
Opera week held in Mahon Main Theater (Teatro Principal de Mahón) twice a year, usually in June and in December.
Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls. Ultramarathon going around the whole island through the Camí de Cavalls, covering a total of 185.3 km. It is held yearly in May since 2012. It is possible to participate covering only half or one quarter of the distance.
Extreme Man Menorca. Triathlon race held in Fornells in September every year since 2010. The distance to be covered is 1.9 km (1.2 miles) swim, 90 km (56 miles) bike and a 21.1 km (13.1 miles) run. Over 600 took part in the last event.
One Punta Prima Day. Surf Festival in Menorca. Exhibitions, skate park, food and good environment describe our humble festival festival de surf menorca
Avarca. Typical sandal from Minorca. Known locally as Abarcas or Avarques, they once were the footwear of choice for farmers and land workers, but now a fashion icon and exported all around the world.
Industrias Artesanas, Poligono Industrial de Ferreries (Just off the main Maó - Ciudadella road at the Ferreries roundabout. Look for the building with the flags), ☎ +34 971 15 50 77, . 7 days in summer. See traditional Minorcan footwear being made at the Industrias Artesanas factory shop(39.987307855733675,4.023241102695465)edit
Minorca is packed with good restaurants whose menus especially feature fish and seafood. Minorca also has a great variety of bars and cafes.
Es Pla, +34 971 376 655. Open daily 1-3PM and also from 7-11PM at weekends. While the option to arrive at Es Pla by yacht is there, (it's the method that King Juan Carlos 1 uses), you can easily enter by foot, although it is wise to book ahead considering this restaurant is a plate with a view. The reigning monarch tucks into caldereta de langosta, a delightful lobster stew, but if you're after something a little less royal, try the lobster paella or a grilled loin of pork. As the fame of Es Pla grows, so does the prices and the service gets worse, but itsn't it great to boast that you've dined like a king?
The Windmill restaurant, +34 971 375 392. Moli d'es Raco in Es Mercadal, on the main Maó-Ciutadella road. The restaurant inside the 300 year-old "molino" has an authentic, homely atmosphere. Authentic Minorcan cusine.
Es Cranc in 29 Ses Escoles Fornells, +34 971 376 442. Arguably one of the finest restaurants in Minorca, what it lacks in interior design, it makes up for in tasty home cooking. Be sure to try the shellfish soup 'Caldereta'
La Ribera in Santo Tomas, located near the centre of the resort between the Santo Tomas and Lord Nelson hotels. Best restaurant in the resort.
Ca n'Olga in Pont Na Macarrana, Es Mercadal, +34 971 375 459, is also very well regarded. Attracting a stylish a sophisticated clientele, Ca n'olga is warm and intimate. It offers dining on a pretty outdoor patio or at a handful of indoor tables and an eclectic menu featuring local produce.
Son Granot in Carretera Sant Felip sn Es Castell offers an extraodinary traditional cuisine and fine spanish and french wines. Enjoy a romantic fine dinner in the terrace with nice views to the Mediterranean and Maó. All the vegetables are grown ecologically in Son Granot's very own kitchen garden.
American Bar in Placa Reial, +34 971 361 822. Sit down on a seat on the terrace while sipping on a coffee and pore over a newspaper at this recommended breakfast spot.
Asia, Arcada Comercial Hotel San Luis (S'Algar). Have a nice and tasty Asian dinner prepared by the Chef Jay Rupisan and enjoy a relaxing dinner in the garden terraceedit
Bottle of Gin Xoriguer, the typical gin from Minorca. It is very often mixed with lemonade.
On Minorca there were a great many junipers, (there still are), and in the harbour lay the British fleet. The twain met and Ginet was the result, a spirit far removed from the Spanish and Mediterranean traditions and with notable difference from the English Gin.
It is a kind of cross between London Gin and the Mediterranean spirit, invented in Minorca. It was very successful and was drunk throughout the British Fleet and it surprised more than one distinguished visitor to declare "the best of the sprits found in Europe today" was historian Vargas Ponce's opinion on visiting Minorca in 1781.
The major difference between London Gin and Minorcan Ginet, is that Minorcan ginet is based on a spirit distilled from the grape, as is usual in the Mediterranean, and not on a cereal based spirit. The juniper now comes from the mainland, but the distilling continues to be done in old copper stills. The spirit rests in oak barrels cured in gin so that the end product does not take the colour of the wood.
Gin is found all over Minorca, drunk neat or in a mix. One such mix, named Pomada, is created by adding bitter lemon. It's the drink of choice during the many fiestas which take place throughout the summer on the island.
Nightlife in Minorca is low key compared to nearby Mallorca or Ibiza. For a drink with a waterside view, head to the waterfront which is where the majority of bars are situated.
Akelarre in Moll de Ponent (Maó). Jazz music echos off the warm stone interior which is open until the wee hours. Great cocktail list.
Vinateria Parra in Carrer de San Fernando (Maó). Indulge in a great selection of wines and accompany it with a selection of cheese or meat platters from the bar. The interior features timber and marble tables and compliments the soft music that plays.
Mirador in Placa d'Espanya. A popular music haunt for locals which impresses with its cave like interior carved out of the walls above the harbor.
Cova d'en Xoroi in Cala En Porter, +34 971 377 236. Formatted out of a cave perforated in the cliff stoneand pending over it. The atmosphere within the cave is unique and must be seen to be believed. One of the few nightclubs in Minorca, it is open until the early hours of the morning. Watching the sun set over the sea from the terrace is simply breathtaking.
Maritim Café, Moll de Llevant, . Nice bar and terrace next to the Casino Maritim of Maó. At night is transformating in a Lounge Bar were people can have cocktails, long drinks and dance.edit
Dinky Bar, Paseo Maritimo (S'Algar), . Nice beach bar in S'Algar Resort open till 2AM everyday. Good place to meet locals and have a beer on the garden terrace.edit
Plaza Domingo, Cala N Forcat. Fantastic group of bars run by very friendly people, good value and good entertainment. With a choice of American, Irish, Mexican and African style bars and a kids play area and arcade this Plaza really does cater for everybody, family, couples or groupsGood Value. edit
Posada Orsi, +32 971 364 751, Carrer de la Infanta. Rooms are bright and clean and the hotel staff are attentive.
Hostal-Residencia La Isla, +34 971 64 92, Carrer de Santa Catalina. This large hotel offers spacious rooms for good value. While the decor is unimaginative, the rooms are clean and the staff are pleasant.
Hotel Mirador des Port, +34 971 360 016, Carrer de Dalt Vilanova. Showcasing great views of the port from its room, this hotel also has its own pool, and fitness area complete with jacuzzis.
CasaPas, Son Parc, ☎ 0034971151960, . checkin: any; checkout: any. 'CasaPas' is a 2 bedroom apartment situated just two minutes away from Menorca's only Golf Course. edit
Hotel Es Mercadal, Carrer Nou 49, 07740 ES MERCADAL, ☎ 0034 971 15 44 39, . Small hotel in the centre of Menorca. 4 double rooms 2 junior suites. Built in a typical Menorcan house that was totally renovated in 2007. No A/C.edit
Hostal Jeni, Mirada del Toro, 81 - Es Mercadal, . Full service modern hotel in the centre of Menorca with a terrace-garden, jacuzzi, sauna, heated swimming pool with a retractable roof, individually-controlled A/C, business centre, restaurant serving 3 meals daily and large bar where locals congregate.edit
Hotel San Luis, Arcada Comercial Hotel San Luis (S'Algar), ☎ +34 971 150 750, . checkin: 14PM; checkout: 12PM. Hotel located in S'Algar Resort with 228 rooms available, 3 swimming pools, a Lobby Bar, 2 Restaurants, a Conference Rooms and Animation during the dayedit
Son Bou Gardens, Son Bou, ☎ 0034971371575, . checkin: any; checkout: any. The 'Son Bou Gardens' are mature and well established holiday apartments in the Son Bou area, just a few minutes from the nudist beach.edit
Vista Picas Apartmentos, Cala N Forcat. checkin: Varies; checkout: Varies. Family hotel in Cala N Forcat on the west side of the island, 5 minute car journey from Ciutadella, 30 minute walk. Swimming pool is spacious, staff always incredibly friendly. Rated as 3+ but truly a 5 star experience. Supermarket just over the road, local nightlife 2 minutes away.edit
Playa Calan Porter, Calle Llebeig 12, ☎ 00441442818017, . Lovely two bedroom apartment with private balcony that overlooks beautifully landscaped gardens and a large communal pool with separate child’s pool. The beach is just a 10 minute stroll and the town centre is just a few minutes walk.edit