Best towns and beaches to stay in Menorca
The approach to the town is signified by the magnificent rearing stallion statue that pays homage to the Fiesta de San Juan held every June when the town comes alive with a carnival atmosphere. From July to August the Summer Music Festival showcases classical concert artists along with the Capella Davidica folk group.
The history of the town can be traced back to Roman times and the ´Contramurada`wall still rings the town where the original city walls would have once been. Ciutadella is great for a daytime visit for studying the history of Minorca and maybe having lunch in one of the many restaurants by the port. A good accompaniment to your lunch would be a Pomada; a long refreshing drink made from the island’s own cult drink, Gin Xoriguer, mixed with lemonade.
Ciutadella is the religious capital of Menorca and there is a small but pretty cathedral in the Plaza de Pio XII. The best way to see the cathedral and the other sights in the town is definitely on foot. Just wander freely through the narrow streets and mingle in with the locals as they go about their daily business. The wider Avenida Negrete is lined with palm trees and is pleasant to stroll along before heading through Plaza de Los Pinos and finishing up in Plaza Borne Ciudadela by the town hall. The town hall building is impressive and there is a walkway that affords excellent views of the marina below.
The narrow harbour in Ciutadella is one of the smallest in the Mediterranean and on a clear day it is possible to see across to Mallorca. There is a daily ferry across to Mallorca if you fancy a change of scenery. Night life in Ciutadella centres mainly round the harbour area but don’t go out until at least midnight or you might be the only person in the town. If you choose to stay in Ciutadella remember it is not a beach resort. Accommodation varies from private villa rentals to hostels and a selection of hotels.
With one of the largest natural harbours in the world Mahón, or Mao as it is more often called, became the capital of the island in 1721, displacing Ciutadella for the honour. The port area is vibrant, buzzing through the day but at night it really comes to life when the bars and small clubs get going. For music lovers there are jazz and music concerts throughout the year in Es Freginald Park and the summer festival from May to December has regular opera weeks.
The church of Santa Maria is in the main square and is worth a visit just to see the organ with over 3000 pipes. The town is mainly traffic free and there are cake shops, swishy boutiques, leather and pottery shops and plenty of places to buy fresh food and fish if you are on a self-catering holiday. There is a twice weekly market in the old convent building which also plays host to some of the numerous musical events.
La Mola de Menorca is a fortress on the north side of the Mahón harbour and well worth taking time to visit. With long tunnels to explore, the huge Vickers Gun and many outstanding photos opportunities this is a must-do when visiting Menorca. Water taxis carry passengers between Mahón port and La Mola and you can get a great view of the harbour from a different perspective.
The choice of accommodation in Mahón ranges from family owned hostels tucked away in the myriad of backstreets to four star hotels with stunning views across the harbour and beyond.
Arenal d’en Castell
This is probably the best known place in Minorca and it is a purpose built family resort. The almost circular beach is classed as one of the finest on the island and the gently shelving sands and shallow sea are great for young children. The beach is surrounded by picturesque cliffs and for anyone staying at the back of the resort the views are spectacular.
The Coves Noves commercial centre has plenty of bars and restaurants and a few well-stocked supermarkets for anyone that is on a self-catering holiday. The shops have the essentials for a beach holiday but if it designer shops and brand names you are after you will need to go further afield. A lot of the accommodation in Arenal d’en Castell is in low-rise apartments and villas with evening entertainment to be found in the few hotels in the area. Families love the Goody Goody bar on the beach where there are trampolines and bouncy castles to play on as well as plenty of music and tribute bands.
Halfway along the southern side of Menorca is Son Bou where a two kilometre stretch of golden sand is ideal for sun worshippers, water sports enthusiasts and families with small children. There are several beach bars and cafés to be found along the beach as well as sunbeds and umbrellas for rental.
A commercial centre at the eastern end provides all the day to day necessities and there is a decent choice of places to eat and drink to suit all budgets. Two big hotels can be found in Son Bou as well as many villa rentals and a selection of apartments. During the summer season there is live entertainement, with karaoke nights and bands playing to be found in the bars that overlook the beach.
Son Bou is only a short distance from the prehistoric village of Torre d'en Gaumes which is worth visiting. This large Talayotic settlement was in use for over 1000 years and the small entrance fee helps with the preservation of Menorca’s history.
On the south east corner of Menorca the rocky coves and beaches to the east and west of Binibeca have yet to be discovered by the package holiday companies. Most of the villas here are privately owned but discerning tourists are renting directly from owners to get high quality holidays in beautiful and peaceful surroundings. Car hire is recommended as public transport isn’t great in the area but a mini-train does run to the more commercialised Punta Prima every day.
The picturesque beach at Binibeca is a short walk from the main road through trees and sand dunes. The shallow waters and golden sands coupled with plenty of amenities and watersports equipment and pedaloes for hire make this an idyllic location. Cala Torret is slightly to the east of Binibeca where there is a traffic free development composed of low rise apartments, souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. It is only a few minutes from Binibeca beach and there are also supermarkets carrying English branded items. To the west Binibeca Vell has been designed to recreate a typical Mediterranean fishing village.