Traveling to Menorca? Wondering where to stay – Ciutadella or Mahon? Can you get around without a car? If you have all these questions, you’ve come to the right place.
Before my trip to Menorca, I too was also confused about all these things. But after visiting the beautiful Balearic island, I think I know a little better, and I’d like to share that knowledge with you.
Best Area To Stay In Menorca
Mahon, and Ciutadella are the two main cities in Menorca, and are quite literally located on opposite ends of the island. Mahon is on the east, and Ciutadella on the west. In between, there are a few other smaller towns (Es Mercadal, Alaior, or Ferreries), but that’s not where you’d find most of the tourists or touristy spots. There are a few smaller towns that do see some tourists, such as Santo Tomas, or Los Delfines.
However, the vast majority choose to stay at either Mahon or Ciutadella.
Mahon (or Mao)
Mahon is the capital city of Menorca. It is bigger, and more commercial than Ciutadella. It is where the airport in Menorca is located, and so is the harbour for cruise ships. In fact, Mahon has one of the largest natural harbours in the world and is also the birthplace of mayonnaise (fun fact).
Although we only spent a day in Mahon, we loved the city. The town with its sloping roads, old cathedrals and markets were beautiful. We ate an incredibly delicious meal at Restaurant Ses Forquilles, and enjoyed the views from the vantage point cafe of Mirador.
However, we didn’t stay at Mahon. We stayed at Ciutadella, and I’d probably advise you that too. Why you ask? Read on.
Ciutadella de Menorca
Ciutadella de Menorca (or simply Ciutadella) is located on the eastern coast of Menorca. It’s a smaller town, with more character in my opinion. Its charming, and colourful alleyways reminded me of the houses in the old town of Sevilla.
Ciutadella is more popular than Mahon among tourists because of its proximity to the most beautiful beaches in Menorca. The virgin beaches in the south-west of Menorca (Cala Turqueta, Cala Macarelleta, and others) are greatly regarded as the most beautiful on the island. And I agree. Unless you’ve rented a car, it’s much more difficult to get to these beaches if you were staying in Mahon. Even then, the journey could be over an hour. From Ciutadella, the beaches in the south are approximately 20 minutes away.
As a couple, we really enjoyed staying at Ciutadella. It was more charming, closer to the beaches, and had great places to eat. We stayed in the heart of the old town in a hotel called Cheap and Chic and absolutely loved it.
We also discovered that Los Delfines (a town close to Ciutadella) attracted large families, and as such had loads of entertainment options for kids.
Getting Around Menorca
If you’ve rented a car, getting around Menorca is a breeze. In fact, it’s highly recommended to rent a car as access to the beaches and other remote locations can be difficult without one.
Luckily, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t or don’t want to rent a car. We didn’t, and we managed just fine using buses and taxis.
Buses in Menorca
To start with, there is a regular bus service (operated by TMSA) that runs between Ciutadella and Menorca. The journey takes an hour, and runs from the bus station in Mahon to Plaza Pau in Ciutadella. The map of the routes, and the timetable can be accessed here. Buses run between almost every town or village in Menorca.
To get to Ciutadella from the airport, one first needs to go to the Mahon Bus Station, and then catch the bus to Ciutadella. We found that the bus schedules were synced such that passengers traveling to Ciutadella from the airport didn’t have to wait at the bus station.
For intra-city journeys, and to get to the beaches, there are shuttle services operated by Autocares Torres. Their map and shuttle schedule can be found here.
Taxis in Menorca
Taxis are another option to get around Menorca. Although I would not recommend them for traveling between Ciutadella and Mahon, they’re good for shorter distances.
We used taxis to get to beaches and places such as Punta Nati, or Los Delfines. They usually stand at designated taxi stops, or can be summoned via phone.
However, I cannot stress this enough –
- Keep a couple of business cards from taxi operators with you at all times. If you need a taxi, just call anyone and they’ll come to where ever you are.
- Mobile signal in Menorca is weak or non-existent in remote locations (beaches, and outer edges). You may need to walk towards civilization before catching a bar or two.
I hope I was able to share my knowledge about Menorca through this post and that helped you understand the island a little bit better. Feel free to leave a comment, or ask me a question below.