People often wonder whether to stay in Ciutadella or Maó. The former capital of Menorca and her successor are about the same size. But they are almost as different as their location on the island. Both are built around sheltered natural harbours. Ciutadella in the west and Maó in the east of Menorca. The airport is close to Maó and both towns can be reached by boat. It is faster to aim for Ciutadella from Alcudia than to sail from Palma to Maó. But the distance between both cities is less than 50 kilometers, so the question where to go remains open.
Ciutadella with its small, brightly colored houses and its colonial style architecture is less urban than Maó. Very relaxed and authentic, representing the countryside. Its stores offer a beautiful variety of nice things but many of them seem to cater to visitors rather than locals. On the other hand famous restaurants like S’Amarador are popular with people from here and abroad.
Maó breathes the spirit of a small capital. More civic maybe, focused on its role for the Menorcan people and economy. The pedestrian area is not as picturesque as the one in Ciutadella. Nonetheless I could have spent hours at places like the fantastic café and bakery Es Llonguet. We had coffee and pastries and took some more for hiking on the Cami de Cavalls which surrounds the whole island. You can take it by foot, horse or mountain bike.
Or you stay a little bit longer in the city and walk up to the historic fish market which also houses a food court today. Having lunch at the same place where you buy your groceries attracts more and more people in the market halls around the world. In the end it is not so important whether you prefer Maó or Ciutadella. Menorca is small enough to visit both. And only by doing so you will get to know the diversity of this great little island.
More about Menorca and pictures of Ciutadella in my previous post.