Ciutadella is a beautiful port city on the western coast of Menorca. The island’s historic capital (the current capital is Mahon), it preserves an enchanting historic quarter, with medieval lanes winding around a Gothic cathedral. The city’s centrepiece is the picturesque harbour, fringed with handsome old buildings, where yachts now bob beside the fishing boats. Along with museums and historic sights, Ciutadella is packed with fantastic shops, bars and cafés, and offers some of the best nightlife on the island. There are dozens of exquisite little coves dotted along the coast, where you can snorkel, go diving, or potter about on a paddleboard.
Ciutadella is a very appealing, historic city, once the heart of Menorca, and you can happily while away several hours wandering around the ancient streets, popping into shops and cafés, and admiring the elegant squares. The city’s landmark is the golden cathedral, begun in the late 13th century on the ruins of a mosque, and other historic sights in Ciutadella include a clutch of handsome Gothic palaces and churches, a colourful Modernista (Art Nouveau) fish market, and a pair of sturdy 17th-century bastions. You can sit out on the Plaça d’Es Born, the city’s main square, and watch the world go by, or head down to the harbour for a boat cruise. There are several charming coves and beaches within easy reach, among them Cala Turqueta, which is considered one of the loveliest on the island.
Ciutadella is packed with cafés, bars and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, from popular international chains to charming seafood restaurants overlooking the port. Menorcan cuisine is fresh and delicious and is based on the abundance of local produce – seafood from the Mediterranean, and meat and vegetables from the rural hinterland. Across Ciutadella, you can snack on platters of the excellent local cheeses and charcuterie, usually served with the ubiquitous pa amb oli (crusty bread rubbed with tomato and drizzled with olive oil). Don’t miss the classic Menorcan speciality: caldereta de llagosta, a succulent stew made with spiny lobster, which was once a poor fishermen’s dish, but is now a local delicacy.
Ciutadella is a wonderful little city for exploring with kids. Compact and largely pedestrianized, its narrow lanes full of palaces and churches have a storybook appeal that most kids will enjoy. The Ciutadella harbour is always fun to explore – as well as the fantastic fish market – and there are lots of boat excursions that ply this stretch of coast and will keep kids happily entertained. There are a couple of beaches within easy reach of the city centre: Santandria, just 2 kilometres from central Ciutadella, is particularly recommended for families, thanks to its shallow waters and great facilities. There are a couple of water parks, which are not very big but will keep younger kids happy with their slides and pools.
Action & Adventure
Menorca is fantastic for hiking, mountain-biking and water sports, with a host of activities offered across the island. In Ciutadella, you can rent a boat to explore the little calas (coves) that dot this dramatic stretch of coastline, or go paddle-boarding or rent kayaks at the nearby beach of Santandria. The famous Camí de Cavallers, a medieval bridle-path that is now a long distance hike around the entire island, passes through the city, and is perfect for hiking or mountain-biking. There are several local suppliers who can rent out diving equipment and run diving excursions to the top local diving spots, including the marine reserve on the island’s northern coast.
In Ciutadella itself, you can head to the beach at Cala Degollador (also known as the ‘platja gran’, meaning ‘big beach’), a little curve of sand at the end of a shallow bay with turquoise waters. There’s a Blue Flag beach at Santandria, about 2 kilometres from the city centre, which is larger, and has plenty of facilities. Other good beaches in the area (easily accessed by bus) include the sandy swathe at Cala Blanca (which has also been awarded Blue Flag status for its amenities and the clarity of its water), and Cala d’en Bosch, which is the largest sandy beach in the area, and offers warm, clear waters and excellent facilities. Built into the holiday area of Los Delfines is Cala'n Blanes, another top beach under 2 miles from Ciutadella.
Menorca may not boast the intense nightlife scene that you’d find in Ibiza or even Majorca, but Ciutadella does offer plenty of bars and clubs to keep you happily entertained on balmy summer nights. There are cosy little jazz bars, elegant cocktail spots and a host of fabulous nightclubs where you can dance until dawn. Note that the nightlife in Menorca doesn’t get going until late, so there’s no point showing up to a club before midnight. You can warm up at one of the main bars in the Pla de Sant Joan, near the harbour, many of which have rooftop terraces that have fabulous views. Heading to the coast isn't a bad idea, with prime sea views available in Cala'n Blanes.
It’s hard to imagine a more romantic backdrop for a holiday with your partner than the enchanting little city of Ciutadella. Its ancient buildings of golden stone, narrow lanes full of stylish cafés and shops, and gorgeous harbour are perfect for exploring hand-in-hand. The nightlife also lends itself to romance, with everything from intimate jazz venues to rooftop cocktail bars where you can soak up fantastic views as the sun slips over the horizon. You could take a boat trip around the stunning coastline, or head off to the beach to soak up your tan and enjoy a slap-up seafood lunch by the water’s edge.
Ciutadella is the former capital of Menorca and is stuffed to the gills with gorgeous Gothic churches and elegant historic palaces and mansions. It preserves a beautiful historic quarter known as Es Born near the harbour, and its crowning glory is the medieval cathedral, built of honey-coloured stone and replete with exquisitely decorated chapels. Other churches, such as Es Roser, are now used for art exhibitions and other cultural events. There’s a fascinating history museum in the 17th-century bastion overlooking the harbour and you can also visit the Naveta des Tudons, a Bronze Age burial mound built 3000 years ago, on the outskirts of the city.