Ciutadella is one of two major cities on the island of Menorca. The original capital city, it retains much of the medieval, gothic architecture constructed prior to the capital's move to the other city on the island, Maó, and is popular with those looking to see an authentic Spanish, Mediterranean town on their visit to Menorca.
Ciutadella (officially known as Ciutadella de Menorca) is the smaller of the two cities on Menorca. The Romans, Vandals and the Byzantine Empire at one point laid claim to it, and developed the settlement. As a result, it was the original capital city, and lost this status to Mahón during the island's time as a British dependency in the early 18th century. Despite no longer being the capital of the island, it did remain the religious capital as the Bishop refused to move during the British occupation, and stayed in the Cathedral Basilica of Ciutadella de Menorca.
1 Menorca Airport (Mahon Airport MAH IATA), Carretera de Sant Climent, Maó, ☏ . Menorca Airport is the only airport on the island and so is the only way to Ciutadella if approaching from the skies. It sees daily international flights across the holiday season from a range of European countries, as well as year-round regional flights from both Palma de Mallorca and mainland Spain, including Madrid.
In order to get to Ciutadella from the Airport, catch the Number 10 bus from the Airport's bus station to Mahon Bus station (€2.65, 20 min), operated by Torres and you can view a timetable here. From Mahon Bus Station, take the 01 or 14 bus, which both take you directly to Ciutadella. The 01 is a stopping service and so stops at a few of the intermediary towns, taking an hour, whereas the 14 is an express service and takes 45 minutes. Both buses cost €5.10 per person and are operated by TMSA, with timetables here.
- 2 Ciutadella Port (Ciutadella Harbour), Via Mestre Vives (Follow signs for the ME-24, then turn right onto the R2 road, and follow signs for the Port.). Ferries are available to Ciutadella with a daily service to Alcudia in Mallorca and Barcelona on the mainland. Alcudia ferries take roughly 1 hr 30 min, while Barcelona ferries can take between 5 and 6 hours. Services to both Alcudia and Barcelona are operated by Balearia, while ferries between Alcudia and Ciutadella are operated more regularly by Trasmediterranea. Prices vary, but booking in advance for the best fares is strongly recommended.
Buses are available from every town and most resorts across the Island. There are three major bus companies on the island, but only two run into Ciutadella. Buses are relatively frequent, clean, and timely: drivers are friendly, and the island has no major traffic problems aside from occasional business on the main road. The remoteness of the various towns and cities on the island means that the buses are an efficient way to get around, and there is often few stops between your destination and your start point. The two bus companies that operate into Ciutadella are:
- Transportes Menorca (TMSA), who run buses throughout the island. Their buses leave from Placa de Menorca in Ciutadella.
- Torres run buses from Ciutadella to locations and resorts on the west coast. Their buses leave from the main plaza (Placa des Pins) in Ciutadella.
It is worth checking these websites for the timetables and stop locations for these companies. Bus stops across the island are yellow, with a red top, and are easily distinguishable. Every resort has several. If approaching from Maó, then there are two options from the Bus Station there. Both are operated by TMSA and cost €5.10 per passenger. The 01 stops in some of the major towns between Maó and Ciutadella, and so takes an hour to make the journey. This is an idyllic bus route that enables a glimpse of some true Mediterranean towns (Alaior and Es Mercadal). The 14 is an express service, that takes 45 minutes: it stays on the ME-1, and provides a more direct journey.
Menorca's road system is fairly basic and so is easy to understand. From anywhere in the island, follow signs for the ME-1, the main road connecting the two cities. From the ME-1, head west, following signs for Ciutadella. This is the only major road across the island, and so can be very busy at times. Once arriving in Ciutadella, there is widely available on street parking, but this is typically taken by locals. There are several large areas to park your car, and these are inexpensive:
- 3 Plaça des Born, Plaça des Born (from the end of the ME-1, head down the Carrer de Maó then turn right onto the Avinguda del Capità Negrete. Follow this to the end, then take the next two rights, which places you onto the road into the square). 24 hr. This car park has around 100 spaces and is ideally centrally located. It is accessible easily from the ME-1 and is inexpensive, if looking to stay for the day. This car park is great because it is located right next to the Town Hall, and a minutes' walk from the Cathedral, and a few minutes from the harbour. As a result of this proximity, it can be popular - and fills up quickly in the morning. €1-2.
- 4 Plaça de la Pau, Carrer del Bisbe Sever, 10, 07760 Ciutadella de Menorca (Turn left at the Rotonda del caballo, at the end of the ME-1. Turn right at the next roundabout, then left at the one after that onto the Carrer de Sant Antoni María Claret. Carry straight on over the next roundabout you reach, then turn right at the next one. The car park is directly ahead.). This car park is slightly further out from the centre, but this means that it is often less busy. It is a 5 minute walk into town. It has less spaces than the Plaça des Born, but is often easier to find a space. €1-€2.
The city is very walkable and nearly everywhere is accessible by foot. Walking maps are available from most car parking areas, and street maps are prominently displayed on signage in areas of public interest. Ciutadella is a tourist town, too - it's easy to ask a local if you get lost; most can speak a reasonable degree of English as well as the native Spanish.
The city, being almost completely flat and with wide avenues, is easily navigated by bike. Its straightforward street layout and parks are easy to navigate, but the 'old town' immediately surrounding the Cathedral might be more difficult to explore by bike, as its streets are smaller and If you arrive by Ferry from mainland Spain, you can bring yours with you for a small fee, or there are bicycle rental stores throughout the city.
- 5 Velos Joan, Carrer de Vila Juaneda Industrial, 23, 07760 Ciutadella de Menorca, ☏ . 10:00 - 14:30. A great local store who are both professional and friendly. The bikes that they rent have a reputation for quality, and are generally affordable: their road bikes start from €20 a day, which is a great price to get around the city quickly. €20/day.
- 6 Tot Velo, Carrer d'Eivissa, 59, 07760 Ciutadella de Menorca, ☏ . 09:30 - 13:30, 17:00-20:00 Daily. This local company has plenty of bikes available at bargain prices. The staff are approachable, but their location is slightly further away from the centre of town, and can be a 20-minute walk. Their bargain rental prices - starting at €12/day - makes this walk worth it. €12/day.
The city is so small you might not need to use buses. But if you're looking to explore further afield, and investigate some of the magnificent beaches or heritage surrounding the city, Buses are one of the easiest ways to get around. If you're looking to explore around Ciutadella, then you'll primarily be using buses operated by Torres: Their buses depart from 1 Placa des Pins, and are prompt, regular and clean, with friendly drivers that are happy to help. Introducing yourself and your destination in the local Catalan language will get a smile, but most understand mainstream Spanish and English.
- Route 60: This route takes a circular path around the outskirts of the city. It enables a great view of authentic mediteranean life, and also stops by the medical centre, if that is needed.
- Route 61: This route heads out to Cala en Blaines and Los Delfines. There are some great beaches here (see #Do) as well as a Waterpark. A popular British tourist resort.
- Route 62: This bus route heads to a gorgeous bay with high cliffs. It's out of the way and so is quiet, and is a great place to explore.
- 1 Ciutadella Cathedral (Ciutadella de Menorca Cathedral), Carrer de Ca'l Bisbe, ☏ . 10:30-13:30, 16:00-19:00. This majestic Roman Catholic cathedral was finished in the 14th century, and has changed little since. Its nave and various chapels are all original, and wonderful stained glass adorns its sides. Well worth a look inside, even if you're not religious. Wonderful Gothic architecture is open to be explored at your own pace. Information is made available in English, and the staff are very friendly. €6.
- 2 Convent Sant Agusti (Seminario de Sant Agustí de Ciutadella), Carrer des Seminari. If you pay for entry to the Cathedral, you also gain entry to the Convent. This peaceful monastery contains beautiful gardens and is undergoing restorations. It features small exhibits on the history of Menorca, Ciutadella, and the Civil War. Not too busy, but there is plenty to explore and learn, as well as take some time out in the gardens. Contains a wonderful little art gallery. €6 (entry included in entry cost to Cathedral).
- 3 Líthica (Pedreres de s'Hostal), Camí Vell (from Ciutadella, follow signs for the RC-2 then turn right at the first roundabout and then immediately turn right), ☏ . 09:30-sunset. This is a working Sandstone quarry that has been opened up to the public. A walk around the grounds allows for a chance to see the ancient methods of mining this rock, and then the more modern, imposing approach. Beautiful gardens and a sandstone maze make this a fun place to explore for everyone. There are even concerts held here during summer in the quarry. A gift shop offers cool drinks (needed after the long walks in the sun!) and decorated pieces of sandstone to take away. It is easy to spend 3 hours or more here. €5/person.
- 4 (Naveta of Es Tudons), Carretera Mao-Ciutadella. This remarkable stone structure is a megalithic burial tomb, constructed around 1200 - 750 BC. It is a fantastic experience to go and stand and peer into this tomb that contained 100 skeletons, some of which are on display in Maó. The monument resembles an upside-down boat and is a fascinating part of Menorcan history. It is well worth a visit, and is a very short drive out of Ciutadella, on the main road. Walking to it takes around an hour. It is even visible briefly from the ME-1 road.
- Horseback riding along the Cami de Cavalls: From the city it is interesting to hire one of these relaxing group horseback rides along some part of the "Cami de Cavalls" or Camino de Caballos, an old road that surrounds the entire island.
- Bathing on Algaiarens beach: This nearby beach is one of the most beautiful on the island.
- Summer Music Festival: Every year this excellent Festival de Música d'Estiu is held in Ciutadella.
- Processó des Tres Tocs. On January 17th every year: procession in memory of the capture of the city by King Alfonso III.
- Festes de Sant Joan. Known throughout Spain equestrian games on St. John's Day (June 24th).
- Fish and meat market, at the Plaça de la Llibertat. Here you can get different types of the local specialty, the Menorcan queso (cheese).