About Ciudadela beaches
Although Mahón is the official capital of Menorca, Ciudadela is easily the most attractive and interesting town on the island. Its Old Town is a delightful compact warren of palaces and churches, little changed in 300 years. Many of its streets are pedestrianised and shops and bars shelter beneath vaults and Italianate archways. A wide set of steps leads to the long straggling port and waterfront, with its pleasure craft, restaurants and bars. Almost immediately west lie the twin man-made resorts of Cala en Blanes and Cala en Forcat, which have now effectively merged in a suburban sprawl to become the largest resort on the island, providing simple fun-in-the sun holidays.
The coastline west of Ciudadela is incised by deep rocky inlets. At the head of these inlets Cala en Blanes and Cala en Forcat each have their own tiny sandy beaches, though these are unable to accommodate even a fraction of the holidaying population. Most visitors opt for swimming pools, sunbathing by the water’s edge and entering the sea by diving platforms. The nearest reasonably sized beaches are at the resort of Cala Blanca, 5km (3 miles) south of Ciudadela, and at neighbouring Cala Santandria though in high season these too are oversubscribed.
Beyond the beach:
A trip into Ciudadela is the main distraction for resort holidaymakers. In terms of sightseeing there are two small museums, Museu Municipal (Placa de sa Font) and the Museu Diocesa (Calle Seminari), the Cathedral (Plaça sa Catedral), the Governor’s Palace (Plaça d’es Born) and the Palau Salort (Calle Major d’es Born) to be visited. However none of these are essential and most people are more than content to spend a morning admiring the stately architecture of Plaça d’es Born, then losing themselves in the narrow streets of the Old Town, taking in some shopping, a café or two and lunch. Boat trips, calling at the beaches of the south, operate from the port.
There is a small waterpark, Aqua Center Water Park (www.aquacenter-menorca.com) at Cala en Blanes and various small play areas for young children.
Menorca is a small island and with a car you can see it all in a few days. Like Ciudadela, Mahón is an historic harbour town with a good choice of shopping, restaurants, cafés and bars. Any island tour should take in the highest point on the island of Monte Toro with its hilltop church. It may only be 350m (1,150ft) above sea level, but the views are excellent. Another must see is Binibeca Vell, a very photogenic, whitewashed ‘old’ fishing village. In fact it’s a fake modern re-creation, but no less pretty for that and a nice place for a coffee or a meal as long as you avoid the times when coach tours call here. Menorca is also famous for its prehistoric standing stones, the best examples are to be found at Naveta d’es Tudons (5km/3 miles east of Ciudadela near the main road), Talatí de Dalt (Carretera Mahon-Ciudadela, 4km/2.5 miles) and Toralba d’en Salord (3km/2 miles south east of Alaior).
It’s quite literally off the beaten path, along a dusty farm track, some 2km (1.3 miles) north of Ciudadela on the road to Cala Morell, but the reward for finding Es Loc de Sant Ignasi is the best gourmet Menorcan/Mediteranean food on this side of the island in a charming converted farm building.