The charming harbour town of Mahon is the capital of Menorca, possibly the most laidback island in the Balearics.
Historic stone buildings sit above a sheltered bay in a town centre that oozes character, making an unusually charming gateway to the rest of the island.
Arriving at Mahon Airport
Menorca Airport (MAH), also known as Mahon Airport, is your gateway to the island of Menorca. The airport is located at the eastern end of the island, about 10 minutes’ drive from the town centre in Mahon and about 45 minutes’ drive from Ciutadella de Menorca. As you fly in, see if you can spot Mallorca out to the west of the island. In the distance, at the far end of the Balearics, you might spot Ibiza and Formentera.
The airport itself is pleasingly compact, with one main terminal and quick access out of the airport to your next destination. Book your car hire in advance and you can pick up a car at the airport to get straight on the road. Hiring a car can be very useful if you’re planning to travel outside the capital of Mahon.
Alternatively, you can catch a reasonably priced taxi into town or take one of the buses that run to Mahon’s central bus terminal. From here you can connect to buses that take you to all the other major destinations on the island.
Flights from London City to Mahon run throughout summer, so seize the moment while the weather is nice and the route is open.
With a limited time in Mahon, focus on exploring the area around the natural harbour, which is one of the largest in Europe. Hop on a boat for an hour-long tour of the waterfront, so you can get a sense of the layout of Mahon and enjoy the best views of the island from the water.
Disembark from the boat and explore more of the harbour on foot. The Museum of Menorca is hosted in an old Franciscan monastery and traces the story of the island from the prehistoric Talayotic culture through different occupations of the island, up to the period where it thrived as a hub of shoemaking and jewellery.
After learning about Menorcan history, explore the Xoriguer gin distillery, also in the port area. They’ve been making gin here since the late 18th century and you can see the original copper stills. Enjoy a taste of their produce, then head out for dinner.
Enjoy dinner with views of the harbour, enjoying the day's catch if you like seafood. After dinner head out for a big night or relaxed drinks as the mood takes you. You can enjoy either with Menorca's varied venues; some clubs embrace the Balearic style and play chart-toppers well into the morning, but you can just as easily find a laidback jazz bar or relax with views of the Mediterranean.
Start your trip at one of Mahon's finest attractions, Ca n’Oliver, a beautiful mansion that has been transformed into a multimedia museum. The exhibits here chart the seafaring history of the city and its surrounding region.
After grabbing a quick lunch in the port area – try a pastry for something on the go – head around the harbour to the peninsula island of La Malo to visit the fortress there. The Fortaleza de Isabel II was designed to protect Mahon’s harbour, where it was occupied and expanded by the British and Spanish in different eras. Walk around the ramparts and learn about the military history of Menorca before heading back into the centre for the evening.
Visit Mahon in July or August and your evening’s entertainment could involve watching world-class musicians perform in a 19th-century theatre. The Mahon Music Festival is one of the highlights of summer on the island, offering regular classical performances by singers, quartets and orchestras in the historic Teatro Principal. If classical music isn’t your thing, visit a jazz bar or waterfront club.
Use day two to explore the outskirts of the city. Seek out the ancient monuments from the prehistoric local culture, whose impact is still visible in the landscape to this day. Head to Taula de Trepucó, just outside Mahon, to explore a stone village from over 2,000 years ago. You can still trace the shape of the village and get an insight into how Menorca’s ancient inhabitants lived.
Spend the afternoon enjoying a taste of Menorca. Local queso de Mahon is a famous cheese that is still handmade in many creameries around the town and popular throughout Spain. Pick up some cheese to take home or take a guided tour of one of the creameries on the island – the town of Alaior is known as a hub for cheese production. Finish your day with an evening drinking Menorca’s own gin at one of Mahon’s charming waterfront bars.
Take a full week in Menorca for a truly relaxing time in this laidback Balearic beauty. Seven days on the island will allow you take a long and leisurely circular route around its coastline, enjoying some of the most famous and appealing attractions on the island.
Fly into Mahon Airport then drive north to s'Albufera des Grau Natural Park, a protected stretch of biodiverse wilderness outside the capital. Follow the walking trails through the park, looking to the skies for eagles and exploring the wetlands to spot tortoises and lizards. Es Grau beach, on the edge of the park, is a tranquil introduction to Menorca’s sandy shorelines. For an even more secluded beach head to Cala Presili, which can only be reached on foot. Park at the Favàritx lighthouse then wander down to the beach.
Head west along the northern coastline to Fornells, a sun-drenched port in a sheltered harbour area. The natural features of the bay make it ideal for windsurfing and sailing without choppy waves. Spend a day on the water before enjoying an evening in the 17th-century fishing village enjoying a drink as the sun sets.
Days three and four
Spend two days exploring Ciutadella de Menorca, the island's former capital. On the opposite side of the island, it’s an interesting contrast to buzzy Mahon, with visibly different architecture and attractions. This unmistakeably Spanish port is known for its spacious central plaza, the Plaça des Born, and its array of charming Catholic churches. It’s worth taking time to relax in this chilled-out town, especially as the evenings often come with music performances from lively local bands.
Days five and six
Discover the wild and beautiful beaches of the southern coast during the second half of your trip. Cala en Turqueta is famed for its gorgeous turquoise waters, making it one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. Calas Covas, which is further east along the coastline, feels truly hidden beneath the cliffs of southern Menorca. Have fun exploring the nooks and crannies of this stunning area, then finish the day with drinks at Cova d’en Xoroi. This famous bar is halfway down a cliff-face, in naturally formed caves with uninterrupted views of the sea.
Finish your trip back where you started, in the historic city of Mahon. Get a last lesson on Menorca’s history in museums such as Ca n’Oliver, a splendid converted mansion, or the Museum of Menorca. Mahon is equally appealing, however, as a place to simply unwind in a historic setting. Peaceful churches, casual bars and boat rides along the harbour all invite you to slow down and appreciate the enchanting Mediterranean atmosphere.