Holidays to festival-rich Minorca
Pour a glass of pomada, breathe in the fresh Minorca air, and bask in the peace and quiet of this diverse island. A holiday to Minorca is all about the little things. Enjoying breakfast in the sunshine while birds twitter, a surprising smile from a stranger and the joy of tasting new flavours. Stepping out of your hotel and then finding a peaceful spot to relax and unwind is easy on this charming Balearic Island. It’s simply not a place you’d wish to be indoors.
The island’s status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has helped to protect the island, preserve its natural beauty and keep historic buildings intact. Explore the elegant harbour of Ciutadella, and discover the intriguing legend of Monte Toro. Then soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches of Cala en Blanes, Cala Blanca or Alaior, and you’ll quickly fall in love with Minorca’s diversity. Add a walk around one of Minorca’s other fine cities, Mahón, and you’ll soon see that a holiday here is easily the best decision you’ve made all year.
Most Minorcans are part of the Roman Catholic church and regular religious celebrations take place throughout the year. These events are celebrated with a glorious feast and fiesta music, plus processions in which horses and their elaborately dressed riders are major protagonists.
One of the most anticipated events is the Sant Joan festival, which takes place on the 23rd of June and marks the beginning of the summer festivals. The biggest festivities happen in Ciutadella, where residents gather to celebrate the life of their patron saint. Hazelnut battles are a particularly unusual tradition of the Sant Joan festival and their origin is unknown. During these battles, people throw hazelnut shells at each other because it’s believed to be a sign of love and affection.
Ciutadella is one of the island’s two main cities. Commonly known as ‘vella i bella’ – old and beautiful – Ciutadella is a city full of charm. Overlooking the harbour are the fortified walls of the old city, infusing the area with a real sense of history. Be sure to walk down to the water’s edge to see Castell de Sant Nicolau. From the site of this 17th-century watchtower, you can see all the way across the sea to neighbouring island Majorca. Set aside an afternoon to explore the harbour fully and call in at one of the picturesque waterside restaurants for a special treat.
The capital city of Minorca, Mahón is built around one of the finest natural harbours in the world. To capture a real sense of the scale of the port, you can go on a boat tour of the five-kilometre harbour. Saturdays are the day to catch the local fish markets, and tapas stalls and live music bands are set up from noon so you can sample the best of Spanish food and music. Gin lovers can pop into the Xoriguer Gin distillery to sample the best Minorcan gins and choose a bottle or two to take home!
There are different versions of the story of Monte Toro, but local legend has it that in the 13th century, a group of friars set about climbing the mountain after seeing a light shining at the top. They followed a bull up the mountain, a bull which led them to a statue of the Virgin Mary, and in honour of their discovery they built a church and monastery. You can visit this sanctuary today.
At 357 metres tall, Monte Toro is the highest point on the island and if you take a coach trip the summit of Monte Toro, you can admire the panoramic views across Minorca and the island’s coast. Monte Toro’s peak is recognised as sacred, and the views are enough to make you feel a little emotional. Remember to take your camera and snap some spectacular photos of the island’s natural beauty.
The island of Minorca is located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the northeast coast of Majorca, almost half way between the coast of Spain to the west and the coast of Sardinia to the east.. ’s name derives from ‘smaller island’ and directly contrasts with its much larger neighbour, Majorca. The island itself is 668 square kilometres in area – all English counties but one are bigger – and is the second smallest of the Balearics. It has a population of around 95,000 people.
The course of history saw Minorca inherit the British love of gin when local tradespeople begun to distil the drink to quench the thirst of British sailors and soldiers stationed here in the 18th century. From then on, the spirit gradually established itself as a popular drink and in the early 20th century, the Pons family created the brand Xoriguer Gin, a distinctively Minorcan gin distilled in Mahón. Today, the ‘pomada’ – Xoriguer gin with lemonade – is now the unofficial drink of the island and a quintessential part of any Minorca holiday.
You can fly directly to Minorca from London in approximately two and a half hours, or just under.
Minorca’s currency is the Euro.
When it comes to tipping, the custom in bars and restaurants is to round up the bill. The percentage of the bill is up to you, but 10% would be a respectable reward for good service in Minorca.
To show your appreciation for the maids who tend to your room during your holiday, you can also leave a small amount of money in an envelope addressed to the cleaning staff. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but rounding up your fare to the nearest euro is a kind gesture and won’t go unappreciated.
Minorca is one hour ahead of the UK.
Minorca’s official language is Spanish and Castilian, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
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