Things to see and do in Mahón

Menorca’s capital has a lovely small-town feel, with at its core a maze of narrow lanes lined with appealing townhouses and churches. Above all though, it’s a port, a 5 km long, deep-water natural harbour. Here’s our list of 7 things you have to see in Mahón.

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with Rough Guides

1. The harbour

When cruise ships are in port, the area is busy with hair braiders, henna tattooists and stalls selling sandals, sunglasses and sarongs. Here you can hop on a glass-bottomed boat for a fun hour-long trip round the harbour – beats walking! 

Es Port, as it’s known, is still a busy working port (the ferry terminal to mainland Spain is here too) and yachts here come in all sizes – some very luxurious. A string of restaurants, ceramic shops and shoe shops all vie for the cruisers’ euros.

2. Plaça de s’Esplanada

This large shaded square is quite unremarkable aside from the big market here on Tuesdays and Saturdays, selling a variety of crafts, jewellery and leather goods, plus a wide variety of food stalls. While you’re there, you may wish to hop on the little tourist train that takes visitors around town (you just know the kids will love it!).

3. Plaça de Sa Constitució

Plaça de Sa Constitució is dominated by the great Església de Santa Maria, with its eclectic mixture of architectural styles. The church houses a mighty organ, boasting 3,210 pipes; a masterpiece of its kind. If you want to hear it, book a seat for the half-hour concert at 1pm (Monday to Saturday).

4. Sant Roc and Sant Francesc

Opposite the imposing Ajuntament (Town Hall), Carrer de Sant Roc leads to the late 15th-century Port de Sant Roc, the only one of Mahón’s mighty medieval town gates surviving from the original fortifications. A few yards to the left is the Plaça del Bastió, with restaurants and cafés surrounding a children’s play area in the centre.

On Plaça d’es Monestir you’ll find the Parròquia de Sant Francesc d’Assís. A former Franciscan monastery, all that remains is the elegant cloister, which houses the Museu de Menorca. Exhibits range from Iron Age finds to Greek and Roman amphorae, Islamic tiles, Spanish and British ceramics and 20th-century paintings, while modern sculpture is displayed in the courtyard.

5. Claustre del Carme

Seek refuge from the summer heat at the Parc des Freginal. It has a children’s play area but really comes into its own in the days before the Festa de la Vierge de Gràcia (7–9 Sept), when it hosts fantastic jazz concerts.

Just around the corner is the well-renovated Teatre Principal. Apart from Opera Week (during Semana Santa, the week preceding Easter), little remains of the glorious days of opera, but there’s still a lot going on, including classical concerts and Latin American music.

Close by is the huge 18th-century Església del Carme and its adjoining cloister, the Claustre del Carme, which holds the city’s main market. The central courtyard is used in summer for concerts and outdoor film screenings – known as Cinema a la Fresca. The Café Bar Mirador, with entrances both inside and outside the cloister, has a large sunny terrace with fantastic views over the harbour.

6. Es Castell

Buses run every half hour to Es Castell, which is virtually a suburb of Mahón. The main square, the Plaça de s’Esplanada is huge, but has a pleasant neighbourhood atmosphere in the early evening, when people gather at café tables in the centre, and children amuse themselves in a little play park. At one end of the square, huge cannons stand outside the Museu Militar, home to an interesting collection of militaria. A short walk from the square down Carrer Stuart brings you to Cales Fonts, a pretty harbour lined with fish restaurants that gets very animated at night. 

Nearby Sol d’Este is Menorca's most easterly point, the place where the sun rises first in the morning. That’s why bars and restaurants here have names like The Rising Sun and El Sol Naciente. Nearby lie the ruins of the Castell de Sant Felip which you can visit on a guided tour. 

Not far is Cala Sant Esteve, a pretty cove that's hard to get to and has no beach so it has retained its individuality and charm. Up ahead, Fort de Marlborough, an 18th-century British fort with a Martello tower and underground galleries, stages explosions as part of a 45-minute tour.

7. S’Altra Banda

The port’s north side is called simply S’Altra Banda (The Other Side). Past the naval base, there’s a fine, terracotta manor house, officially called Finca Sant Antoni but usually known as Golden Farm.

Past the smart suburb and little bay of Cala Llonga, and a bleak, inhospitable stretch of land and a narrow causeway stands the huge Fortaleza de la Mola.

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