I have imagined Menorca would be my perfect Balearic Island after visiting its big sister Majorca many years ago. So when a friend happened to be living there for the summer, I jumped at the chance to visit! I was lucky to be staying in Menorca’s capital (it’s not what you know but who you know) and my first introduction to Mahon or ‘Mao’ as the locals call it, was a quick glimpse down the 5km natural harbour on route to her apartment. The sight of lavish yacht’s bobbing around on deep blue water drew me in, and as soon as I could unpack my flip flops I walked down to explore.
The harbour is surrounded by picturesque crayon coloured houses, behind those are the vast fortress walls that surround the city. There is a multitude of different cuisines available in quant restaurants and cafes by the harbour but I chose to sit on one of the many stone benches, and contemplate a life travelling by boat, squashed quickly by my fear of open water! If like me, Mahon is your first stop on the island there is also a tourist information office with helpful staff to supply you with free maps and answer any that you have.
Further down the harbour there is the Xoriguer Gin distillery. This Gin was created using juniper berries and herbs in the 18th century to satisfy the demands of British soldiers and sailors stationed on the island. You can pop in for a tour or to buy the famous drink which is best served with lemon. I had to try it of course, just so I could write about it, obviously. I am a fan of gin anyway, but this has a very distinctive ingredient within its closely guarded secret recipe. Loved it, and picked up a bottle at the airport too!
Midway down the harbour I was greeted with a stairway surrounded by a small park that dragged my tired legs up to the fortress walls which houses the old city. Here you will find cobbled streets that are home to the museum, many churches, more restaurants and the main shopping area. There are cafes with internet, and as I found out when a poor waiter was climbing up ladders to sort the connection for me, the locals are very happy for you to linger over your refreshing cold drink as long as you need to.
I visited Carmen church as I always like to light a candle and escape the heat for a few minutes of thinking. There is also a market which is attached to the church selling local delicacies and handicrafts for you browse around and don’t forget to walk out to look over the fortress walls for a bird’s eye view of the harbour.
I was overjoyed to discover a vegetarian restaurant called ‘Clorofila’ offering a super tasty three course meal at great prices, my only disappointment is that I did not get the chance to go back. Check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/clorofilamao.
I was aware of the famous Menorca sandals before my visit as my friend had posted a few photographs on Facebook so I was not surprised to see many shops selling them around Mahon. They are originally made with old tyre soles and leather straps and are available in many brands, colours and with hand painted designs. I even discovered a small shop that can hand paint specific designs just for you if you buy a particular brand. I did not catch the name of the place but do ask around if you can’t find any designs that suit your style. They look great and are as comfy as a pair of old slippers, so what more can you ask for?
Most of my time in Mahon was spent exploring the back streets, appreciating its beautiful buildings, taking photographs and chilling at the cosmopolitan harbour. I loved discovering the street art and finding yet another angle to look over the fortress walls. There was a great atmosphere about the place and I felt saddened that many of the package tourists might only see the resort side of Menorca. One of my favourite finds was the beautifully peaceful mermaid statue down by the harbour.
If you enjoyed reading this post, check out how I managed to pack for this trip in just 6kgs! https://lisalovesunlife.com/2016/06/29/holiday-packing-in-6kgs/
- I was not asked to endorse or review the area by any companies, all comments are my own personal views.