If you want to combine the best of a city break with a beach and nature holiday, Menorca is your answer. After you’ve had your fill of golden sand beaches, water sports and rugged hiking trails, the island’s former capital, Ciutadella, can offer you fascinating historical attractions and urban sophistication. Whether you choose to spend a few nights in Ciutadella or to visit it on a day trip, give yourself time to explore these highlights in the Old Town.
One: The Cathedral
Commissioned by King Alfonso III in the thirteenth century on the site of a former mosque, the cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was a stunning example of Catalan gothic architecture. Over the centuries, it has witnessed and suffered many traumas from the pillaging of the Turks after the Ottoman assault in 1558, to the damage inflicted over the course of the Spanish Civil War, in 1936. However, commanding such a place of pride in the heart of the Old Town ensured that the cathedral was not neglected, and many restoration campaigns have preserved the building and its historical features.
On the exterior, the neoclassical gateway, stunning in its own right, protects the original gothic entrance, and the minaret of the original mosque has been preserved as the base of the bell tower. Inside you can find the eighteenth century seats and episcopal throne within the choir. The baroque Chapel of Souls dates from the seventeenth century, and the Chapel of the Holy Virgin is a wonderful example of the late neoclassical style.
Two: Casa Olivar
Casa Olivar belonged to the aristocratic family of the same name that presided over the area between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Their sumptuous lifestyle has been frozen in time to give visitors a taste of noble Menorcan life. Lavishly decorated and furnished, the rooms are a treat to wander.
Three: Palau Salort
The other noble home that’s worth a peek is the Palau Sort. The building that you visit today dates from 1813, when it was constructed by a local aristocrat, Don Pedro Martorell. However, the original structure was built in 1600 and extended throughout the century. The neoclassical facade from the nineteenth century is particularly noteworthy and reflects the influences of the famous Lonja de Barcelona. When you enter, make sure you look up to see the elaborate Salort family crest that looms over you on the ceiling. Upstairs there is an elegant ballroom, a library and a glittering Hall of Mirrors where a dozen Louis XVI mirrors hang.
It’s worth returning here in the evening, as the entrance hall becomes the venue for Moriarty, a classy tapas and gin bar.
Four: Museu Diocesa
The Museu Diocesa is maintained by the nuns of El Socors, whose convent in the heart of the Old Town is home to an eclectic collection, including artefacts excavated locally; eighteenth century paintings and engravings; and scientific exhibits from the Diocesan Seminary. The vaulted ceilings are still frescoed, and the architecture is a well preserved example of the local style in the seventeenth century. Guided tours are available that include the charming cloister, and there are occasional concerts held in the atmospheric exhibition hall.
It’s not all about history in Ciutadella. For a cultural experience, get up early in the morning and head over to the Plaza de la Libertad, where you’ll find the bustling fish market that the locals call the Mercat des Peix. The freshest catch and produce exchange hands here. Taste the exquisite tapas as you soak up the atmosphere, and explore the surrounding arcades that lead into some of Menorca’s best gardens and courtyards.
If you’re looking for souvenirs that have a longer shelf life than fish, then the Mercat Municipal, in the town’s main square Placa de Born, is where you’ll find local handicrafts for sale on Fridays and Saturdays. During the summer months, you can visit the night-time craft market that runs daily from 10pm to midnight in the Carrer de Pere Capllonch.
Six: Can Saura
Can Saura is an aristocratic town house that is now home to the Museu de Ciutadella. The range of exhibits reflects on all aspects of Menorca’s history and culture. You’ll see archaeological finds from the cave excavations of Cova des Mussol and Cova des Càrritx. On the ground floor, a Moorish necropolis forms the centrepiece for a display that covers the rituals and beliefs around death of the first inhabitants of the island.
Seven: The Port
Ciutadella’s harbour is an ideal place for dining or just sipping a drink and watching the world go by. It comes alive in the evenings when the cafes, bars and restaurants that line the marina open up.
Where to Stay
Mon Hotel: Mon Hotel is a boutique property that boasts one of the top restaurants in all of Menorca. With only eight rooms, you can be sure that you’ll receive exquisite care in this intimate and charming setting. Decorated in the traditional Menorcan style, the rooms are havens of relaxation and tranquillity in the heart of Ciutadella.
Murada Hotel: Located only 500m from the cathedral, Murada Hotel is a combination of luxury and central convenience. Some rooms have a terrace with a city view, and all guests are provided with their own fridge. You’ll enjoy a relaxed ambiance that is suitable for couples and families.
Tres Tocs: This is an unpretentious but comfortable property with family rooms available. The boutique hotel takes its name from Alfonso III’s knocking on the gates of the Arab citadel when he took Menorca in 1287. The event is celebrated every year in January.
How to Get There
Getting to Ciutadella from the UK is very easy. The nearest airport is Menorca Airport (MAH), and there are a host of airlines that fly to this destination, including RyanAir, EasyJet and BA. To get to your final destination after you land, we recommend that you pre-book a transfer from Menorca Airport to Ciutadella. The journey time is around 55 minutes in the comfort of a private car or shuttle bus.
UK to MAH Flight Time: 2 hours, 26 minutes
MAH to Ciutadella Distance: 55 kms
Shuttle Direct Transfer Time: around 55-60 minutes
Types of Transfer
Shuttle Direct offers a range of transfer options to suit all budgets and needs.
Pre-booking a taxi from Menorca Airport to Ciutadella gives you peace of mind, knowing that a vehicle will be waiting for you and will deliver you directly to your hotel. For speed and convenience, a Menorca Airport transfer by pre-booked taxi is highly recommended.
For those who want to start their holiday with a bit of pampering, hiring a luxury, private transfer is our number one service to get you from Menorca Airport to Ciutadella. One of our professional drivers will escort you from the terminal and take you to your accommodation in style!
Not everyone wants to spend their holiday money on a transfer from Menorca Airport, so we have a budget conscious option that doesn’t compromise on reliability. Book a seat on one of our designated shuttle buses to get you to your accommodation in a timely and inexpensive way.
To help those who are travelling in groups reach their hotel in comfort, we have a fleet of minibuses that can be booked to transfer you from Menorca Airport to Ciutadella. These vehicles have plenty of space for luggage and passengers, so you all arrive at your destination together.
Choosing the Right Transfer
All our airport transfer options are professional and dependable. However, we recognise that price and convenience are the main issues that determine your choice of transport.
Cost: For those who need or want to reduce the cost of the journey from the airport to Ciutadella, the shared transport options are the best. A Shuttle Direct minibus for large parties or a seat on our shuttle buses guarantee great value for money.
Convenience: If, however, you are willing to spend a bit more to get a more tailored and luxurious transfer, have a look at our pre-booked taxi and private transfer options.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct has been transferring passengers from airports to their final destinations all over the globe for decades. Over the years we have built our reputation as one of the most dependable suppliers of airport transfers. From budget friendly options to high-end private cars, we cater to all needs. And no matter how you travel with us, you can be sure that you will encounter a professional, friendly driver who will deliver you to your accommodation safely and pleasantly.