Minorca Travel Guide

  • 01 of 04

    Overview

    Visiting Menorca
    ••• Visiting Menorca. Image: lhourahane

    This page talks about the Island of Minorca and shows you the various things you can do on the island. 

    See also:

    Cities and Towns on the Island of Minorca

    The following is a list of major cities and towns on the island of Minorca. But don't limit your self to these places, as visiting the beautiful Menorcan countryside and the fascinating historic and prehistoric sites which abound on Minorca are the island's biggest attractions.

    1. Mahon
    2. Ciutadella
    3. Alaior
    4. Es Migjorn
    5. Gran Ferries
    6. Es Mercadal
    7. Sant Lluis
    8. Es Castell

    Minorca Island in a Week

    A week in Minorca is plenty of time to see Ciutadella, Mahon, Minorca's prehistoric sites and a few of the island's lesser known sights, such as El Toro. Read more about A Week on Minorca

    Highlights

    Museu de Minorca Minorca's largest museum covering the island's archaeological past, together with a collection of fine arts. Situated in a former monastery the building is worth a...MORE visit on its own.

    • Location: Avda. Dr. Guardia 
      Opening times: Tue to Sat 10:00 - 14:00 and 17:00 - 20:00, Sun 10:00 - 14:00 

    Cami de Cavalls The Path of Horses is the name given to the medieval coastal path around Minorca. Legislation has now been passed to enable the path to be reinstated for public use. Inevitably it does not follow exactly the track of the original road due to developments over the centuries. Parts of the Cami de Cavalls are now open for horses. Whether as a walker or rider, visitors and Minorcans can now explore the old road.

    Torre d'en Galmés The largest Talaiotic settlement on Minorca. Located on a hill close to Son Bou Torre d'en Galmés consists of a public area, with an enclosure containing three Talaiots, where the people may have gathered for their ceremonies. This prehistoric site is at the highest part of the hill and also includes an area of taulas. Archaeological works have revealed that this settlement was inhabited for many centuries and continued after the Roman period.

    The National Dishes of Minorca

    Firstly there is Sépia al Forn (baked cuttlefish), followed by Tumbet (a baked vegetable dish) and to follow Ensaimada (a spiral-shaped bun) and Cuscusso (a Christmas dessert). However the king of Minorcan national dishes has to be its lobster casserole, Calderata de Langosta. Visit Fornells to really taste the authentic dish.

    Minorca's Best Beaches and Water Parks

    Cala Galdana or Cala Santa Galdana is often referred to as the queen of Minorcan beaches. A wonderfully sheltered keyhole bay with white sands, pine trees and high cliffs guarding its entrance. The bay has excellent conditions for swimming and morning shade at the eastern side.

    Cala Santa Galdana also boasts a fun water park and a children’s playground and is situated at the mouth of Minorca’s only river and the "The Algendar" ravine which stretches inland for 10km.

     

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  • 02 of 04

    Mahon, the Capital of Minorca

    The port in Mahon
    ••• The port in Mahon. Jeffery/Creative Commons

    Mahón (also known as Maó) is the capital of Minorca. The historic capital offers visitors the beautiful mix of old and new architecture. The city’s unique duality as both a city with a wealth of Minorcan and Spanish history in its buildings and the museums plus an impressive and thriving natural port. Mahón is one of the few natural deep-water ports in the world which extends several miles inland.

    See also:

    How to Get to Mahon

    The airport of Mahon is just 4.5 kilometres to the southwest of Mahon. From here there are regular flights to Palma Mallorca, Barcelona and Madrid. You can fly to Luton Airport in the UK all year round on a Friday and in the tourist season there are frequent charter flights to most large airports in the UK, Germany and Italy.

    Best Time to Visit

    There are three main festivals in Mahon:

    • Carnival in the week prior to Lent.
    • Semana Santa (Easter) sees solemn processions in the City and the surrounding villages.
    • Fiesta de la Mare...MORE de Deu de Gracia (September 7th-9th) Local businesses close the roads are closed and street parties where food, drink and music are in abundance, spring up around the city. All age groups join the party spirit singing and dancing. In the evening the there is a fair and on the last night a firework display.

    Number of Days to Spend in Mahon

    The island of Minorca is small. Wherever you stay you are never more than an hours drive by car from the capital. To fully appreciate the wealth of its history, beauty and culture three days would be necessary. Basing your visit in the Mahon area does not isolate you from the island's other attraction as there are all the ingredients necessary for all types of holiday. In close proximity to the city are the beaches Es Castell and Sa Mesquida plus the Talayot village of Trepucó and Torrellonet Vell.

    What to Do in Mahon

    • Visit Museu de Minorca, the island's largest museum covering the Islands archaeological past together with a collection of fine arts.
    • Visit the 18th-century Xoriguer Gin Distillery located on the Moll de Ponent harbour front. Visitors can admire the enormous copper stills, bubbling to produce the spirit. The finished product can be sampled on site and purchased at the distillery shop.
    • Take a boat trip around the harbour. This is one of the best ways to see and photograph the harbour. The harbour tours takes around an hour and tickets are available from close to the Xoriguer distillery.

    Day Trips from Mahon

    Close to Mahon to the north is S'Albufera des Grau Nature Park. Plan a day trip here to enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes in Minorca's Biosphere Reserve created in 1993 as a result of the Island status as a Natural Park.

    In Sant Lluís, the town built by the French, is Molí de Dalt. Built in 1762 during the brief French domination of the island of Minorca and added to by two other windmills form a spectacular backdrop for the town. Visitors to Molí de Dalt will see machinery reconstructed using original parts which illustrates engineering which was used nearly two hundred and fifty years ago.

    First Impressions

    The effective centre of Mahon (Maó) is Placa de S'Esplanada. Arriving by car, bus or on foot it is the place to aim for. Motorists will appreciate the underground car park beneath the Placa and the bus station is close by. Placa de S'Esplanada is the best play to engage in watching the local people at play. There are fountains palm trees and flower beds. There is also a bowling alley and a childrens playground.

    Around the Placa are cafes from where you can watch people at play whilst enjoying a coffee during the day and over some local drinks in the evening. If you can tear yourself away from Placa de S'Esplanada exit in the south east corner along Calle de los Moreres towards the harbour. Outside number 13 you will see the bust of Dr Mateu Orfila, the founder of modern forensic science. Along the way browse the shops and stores and maybe rest at a pavement cafe.

    At the top of the steps down to the the Harbour turn left into Placa de Conquesta. Exit the Placa in the far left corner onto Carrer d'Isabel II for a spectacular view of the harbour. Walk along the street past elegant Georgian houses which overlook the harbour and at the end of the road is the Museu de Menorca. Turn left at the museum and wander along the narrow lanes of whitewashed houses to Calle de Sant Jaume.

    At the end turn right and then left into Carrer de Sant Roc for a view of the only remaining part of the old city wall. Cross the square and follow Calle de Alaior back to Calle de los Moreres turning right and return to laca de S'Esplanada for a well earned drink in one if the square's many bars and restaurants.

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  • 03 of 04

    Prehistoric Minorca

    ••• Jaume Meneses (Creative Commons)

    Minorca owes a significant part of its present day appeal to its rich history. Settlements can be traced back to the Bronze Age, 2000 B.C. and man was possibly living in Minorca even further back - as far as 5,000 years ago. Prehistoric Minorca was subject to the influence of many Mediterranean cultures. These influences led to the Talayotic period which today can be seen in the form monuments, such as Taula, megalithic tombs and the collective tombs known as Navetas.

    Trepucó

    Today only small fragments of the city walls of Trepucó are preserved. This Talayotic township was abandoned during the second Punic war and the fragments of the wall and two square towers in the west wall are all that remain of its former glory. At its peak the township covered about 5,000 square meters, and was enclosed by the defence walls. Here you will find Minorca's largest remaining Taula which was the centre of worship in Trepucó. There are also five talayotic houses each different in style and two...MORE talayots. The most spectacular comprises a circular basis similar to a star. The other talayot is smaller in size and fixed to the wall of the settlement.

    Where to find this prehistoric site: Trepucó Road, Maó. (Mahon)

    Talatí de Dalt

    Talatí de Dalt appears to have been inhabited for some time after the Bronze Age. There is evidence that it was a thriving community between 400 and 200 BC when the Punic Civilization traded with the talayotic tribes around the Balearic Islands.

    Talatí de Dalt has many unusual monuments, an elliptical-base conical talayot, a leaning taula, and a dwelling area of houses with radial flagstone roofs resting on columns.

    Where to find this prehistoric village Along the main road from Mao to Ciutadella take the left turning at the Kms 4 sign.

    Es Fornàs de Torrelló

    At this site the most spectacular and well preserved monument is a Talayot. It has an unusual doorway topped with a monolith lintel. Excavations have discovered houses in front of the Talayot together with signs of the existence of a bronze forge.

    There is also a paleo-Christian church, oriented in an easterly direction. There you can see a Roman mosaic floor divided into three tapestries featuring different period

    Where to find this prehistoric site - Kms 3.5 on the road between Maó and Sant Climent. Turn to the right and head towards Torelló Vell.

    Naveta des Tudons

    The Naveta des Tudons is a late Bronze Age funeral monument. Built from large stone blocks it resembles an upturned boat, and hence its name. Continuing with the boat simile the stern contains a doorway, which opens into a square hall. Along with the bodies of the dead were left offerings such as bronze or china figures.

    Where to find this prehistoric monument Kms 40 on the road between Maó and Ciutadella

    Son Catlar

    Son Catlar is a prehistoric town dating from the pre-talayótic period. It is believed to have thrived and prospered right up to the end of the Roman era. It is the only prehistoric town in Minorca which has retained its defence wall. The wall is nine hundred metres long with six turrets and a bastion. Within the wall are the remains of a taula, five talayots and other buildings.

    Where to find this prehistoric town From Ciutadella head south for about 8kms take the Sant Joan de Missa road, towards the Son Saura beaches.

    Torrellafuda

    This one of the most attractive setting for a prehistoric site. Within the site are talayots, a cave, a taula and the distinctive remains of dwelling houses. The town was once encircled by a wall. From the ruins of the wall its original height can easily be gauged.

    Where to find this prehistoric town Close to Kms 37 on the Maó to Ciutadella Road.

    Torretrencada

    This prehistoric town existed until the end of the Roman period. A taula and a talayot are preserved along with some man-made caves. Burial Chambers, probably excavated in the Middle Ages, can also be seen. The taula is one of the most beautiful in Minorca with an unusual reinforced column behind the monument.

    Where to find this monument Torretrencada can be reached on the Camí Vell de Maó road about 7kms east of Ciutadella.

    Torre d´en Galmés

    This is the largest talayotic settlement on Minorca. Located on a hill it consists of a public area, with an enclosure containing three talaiots. It is thought that this could have been the place where people gathered for their ceremonies. This prehistoric site is at the highest point of the hill and includes an area of taulas with fallen capitals. Archaeologists have established that this settlement was inhabited for many centuries and continued to be so after the Roman period.

    Where to find this Monument :- Torre d’en Galmés can be reached from the Alaior to Son Bou road.

    Calas Coves

    This is a necropolis formed by a hundred burial caves dug from the cliff sides of the Binidalí and Son Domingo gorges. This necropolis site holds different types of tombs ranging from the Bronze Talayotic (1200-750 BC) with its simple artificial cave rooms, to the Iron Age caves (750-123 BC) with larger and more complex chambers containing Altars or Chapels.

    Where to find this Monument Cales Coves are reached from the road from Sant Climent to Cala en Porter. Turn left at Kms 8.5 and follow the rough sloping path which leads to this prehistoric site.

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  • 04 of 04

    How to Spend Five Days on Minorca

    Ciutadella, Minorca
    ••• Ciutadella, Minorca. Andrés Nieto Porras/Creative Commons

    Start off with a day in Mahon.

     

    If you are staying in the west of the island and want to travel by bus first make your way to Ciutadella then catch the bus which travels the main east west highway to Mahon. From the east of the island bus routes generally go to Mahon although some go by rather winding routes. If you want to really see Menorca in a single week you should consider hiring a car.

    Day two should be spent in Ciutadella.

    The old capital is a real change from Mahon. Its Roman origins and Moorish influences make this City a complete contrast to todays Capital.

    Day three lends itself to a look at the past and particularly to the Prehistoric sites, many of which have features unique to Menorca.A visit to Son Bou, which is virtually in the middle of the southern coast, would allow you to visit Torre d'en Galmés Talayotic Settlement which is just off the road from the Me-1 by Alaior to the resort of Son Bou.

    After lunch in Son Bou you could explore Son Bou's Fifth century...MORE Basilica located on the eastern end of the beach and still leave time for a swim before the shops reopen about 5pm.

    Day four can see you visiting El Toro, or Monte Toro as it is often called, the highest point on Menorca. However it is not just the view which makes this mountain special! Tradition tells that a group of monks, guided by a bull, came to the summit and saw a vision of The Virgin Mary. In the afternoon you could move on to The Castle of Santa Agueda (the name is based on the Arabic name "Sen Agaiz") was built on a plateau by the Arabs from the Caliph of Cordoba and became an amazing Palace from which to defend themselves from the invaders.

    Day five should be spent at sea.

    To explore Menorca from the sea is a unique experience and will give you access to places of incomparable beauty and inaccessible beaches. Trips can be from a couple of hours upto a whole day and operate in season from both Mahon and Ciutadella.

    Day six can be used to relax on the beach, shop in Ciutadellas winding lanes or visit the extravagant shopping facilities of Mahon.