Whether you're visiting Es Castell for a day or using it as a base in Menorca, we've got you covered.
You wouldn't necessarily expect a town built by the British military to be one of the prettiest settings for an evening on the waterfront in Menorca.
Yet, on a balmy summer evening by the water here in the little harbour of Es Castell, one can eat fresh seafoodal aire libreor slurp on your second icy pomada in an atmosphere and architecture quite removed from some of the more tourist-focussed and tourist-led holiday enclaves on the island.
Es Castell’s story is also pivotal to modern-day Menorca.
尽管它可能不会看到m immediately clear from its distinctly Spanish colour scheme, the fingerprints of the British are also all over this place. Situated at the entry point to the natural harbour of Mahón - strategically valued for centuries and scrambled over by various European superpowers - the importance of Es Castell to controlling and defending the island was clear.
After the British captured the island in 1708, they tasked Scottish engineer and colonel Patrick Mackellar with improving the port’s defences, greatly weakened by the fall of Castell Sant Felip. And so, George Town was built, named after the British king and constructed following a strict grid pattern with a large parade ground and barracks at its centre. Ultimately though, the project failed with the Spanish reclaiming the island in 1782, transferring the name from the English monarch to the Spanish, as George Town became Villacarlos.
We explain more about the role of the British in Menorca in23 Things To Know Before You Visit Menorca(published soon).
Despite lacking a beach, what is now called Es Castell is a popular alternative base toMahón, the capital city only a few kilometres away, due to the presence of two excellent adults-only hotels, the atmosphere and food options on the harbour, and the chance to have a room overlooking the water.
A historical town, rather than a resort, it offers quite a different environment to the other options on the coast.
In this short guide, we've shared the best things to do here, alongside tips on accommodation in Es Castell, restaurants and bars to seek out, and advice on day trips, amenities, transport connections and parking.
Things To Do in Es Castell Menorca
Eat & Drink at The Harbour
For day trippers and those of you spending longer, it's the harbour of Cales Fonts which will shape much of your experience of Es Castell.
Little boats pootle in and out or bob away on the blue, restaurants and bars stretch out, couples stroll hand-in-hand, and and the scents of the Mediterranean carried in the air.
A photogenic setting, it's best enjoyed alongside a long lunch or dinner.
如果你只访问一天,我们会recommend arriving in Es Castell a few hours before sunset. Spend some time exploring the town, take a walk along the waters edge, partake in a sundowner drink or two, and then enjoy an evening meal at any little place that takes your fancy (on Spanish time please, not at 7.30 pm!). The night time ambience is really delightful here, with the stars and lights reflecting in the water, live music, and a constant babble of people drinking and socialising.
If a trip here later in the day doesn’t fit in with your plans, visiting during the morning or early afternoon isn't something to avoid, but just note that it does become unbearably hot in the summer months (July - September), with shade being wholly necessary to actually enjoy the setting instead of sweltering away uncomfortably.
We really likeChèspirfor drinks and tapas (they’re actually a very jazz bar and often have life music - be sure to pop your head inside even if keen to sit in the sun), whilstRestaurant Es LlenegallandRestaurant Trébolboth had really interesting menus that diverted from the standard touristic fare. For more of a splurge and formal setting with a view, considerSa Puntaon the upper level of the harbour.
A Walk Along The Promenade
Walk from the harbour up to the shark fin apex jutting out with the silver art installation, and you can go up the ramp or continue round alongside the water. Continue along, where there’s often a few locals fishing and small boats coming in and out and you’ll find a handful of younger, laid-back cave restarurants and bars sprawling out and then the entrance to theBarceló Hamilton hotel.
Note that during our visit, due to construction works, it was prohibited to walk beyond Cales Fonts to Cala Corb. This may have opened up by the time you visited Es Castell - otherwise you can walk between the two by taking the ramp and going via the town above.
Younger couples or groups should make a point of heading round this way before settling down for drink or food that's either more aligned to your budget, travel style, or preferences.
Away from the better known harbour, their setting on Carrer Moll d'en Pons may not be as immediately picturesque, but the cluster of bars and restaurants housed within the caves are worth a stop: Pindapoi, Namaste (particularly good for veggies), Restaurant Ana Luisa, and Sa Cova.
Nearby Bar Es Cau in Cala Corb (maps) often has live music.
Good To Know // From June to September, there’s an artisan craft market set up most evenings in Es Castell. There’s also a weekly market on Mondays and Wednesday mornings.
Visit The Military Museum & Plaça de s’Esplanada
The harbour understandably sees the majority of tourists and crowds, but peel yourself away and you'll find that Es Castell is home to pretty backstreets and a pleasing colour palette. It’s a small place though, so really won't take too long to cover much ground or get your bearings.
Plaça de s’Esplanada (maps) is however the area to seek out for a little more local life as well as a deeper understanding of how this little town on this little island came to be designed by the British and named after their King.
Bordered by several imposing buildings of the signature colonial red and white, it’s quite clear to appreciate that this vast central square’s (which is too big relative to the rest of Es Castell’s proportions) was designed for reasons strategic and militaristic. Though the harbour today feels like the heartbeat of Es Castell, this was the central nervous system upon which the grown was built around.
The main attraction is the Military Museum (Museo Militar de Menorca), housed in the former Cala Corb Barracks and Military Hospital. On an island which passed hands several times between a trio of European superpowers, the military history of Menorca is quite pivotal to its overall story - this is the place to learn more about it. Although the displays and focus may appeal more to those with a keen interest in the subject than those who are new to it, it’s a worthwhile stop.
+ |周一到周五时,和第一个太阳day of the month (June-September), otherwise it's Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the first Sunday of the month. Closed January & February.
Opening times can be quite limited, so check in advance ontheir website.
The red and white Museum is impossible to miss in the square - find ithereon Google Maps
Tickets | €4 adults, €2 for children aged 6-11 and over-65s. Is there a combined ticket?
Alternatives | Also consider the Casa Olivar and Museuo de Menorca in Mahón.
You'd be silly to not pair your stay in Es Castell with a a day trip toMahón, the capital city of Menorca. Their respective centres are less than 3 kms from eachother, and it would actually be pretty easy to view Es Castell as part of Mahón given the proximity (they're definitely separate entities though).
Built upon a cliff overlooking the natural harbour - the feature which saw various European superpowers scramble to claim her and the British to develop Es Castell as a military base - Mahón offers a pleasant foodie escape by the water. With a sumptuous colour palette of peeling colonial reds and fading lemons, pavement cafes in pretty little plazas, open-air boat trips under the summer sun, an iconic bustling Mercat des Peix and emerging cultural offerings, it will give a pleasant change of pace.
You can walk from Es Castell to Mahón in about 35 minutes, but note that this isn't a scenic walk, with the majority of it on the pavement next to the Me-2 road (perfectly safe though!).
The next best option is to hop on the Line 02 bus, which will take you to Mahón bus station in 15 minutes. It costs €1.70 one-way (pay driver on boarding), and you can find the schedule & pick-up pointshere. Line 25 also does the job.
Note that due to the nature of the bus network on the island, it's also kind ofinevitablethat you'll pass through Mahón on several occassions on your way to / from somewhere else.
Plan |Find inspiration and information in13 Wonderful Things To Do in Mahón
Visit The Islands & The Castles
With the privileged harbour position, Es Castell is a short boat ride from a couple of islands as well as two sites of historical interest. We fully appreciate that you may not have the time or inclination to visit all of them during the stay though!
Note that there a few water taxi and boat trip companies operating at the Cales Fonts harbour and in Mahón, and you can engage them for a variety of tours or transfers to the islands with pick up / drop-off in Es Castell.
Fortaleza de la Mola
The 19th century stone fortress, built on the easternmost point of the island to guard the city from the French or British taking it back, is one which is perhaps more for those with a passion for the period, rather than something we’d recommend for everyone.
Entry is €8 per person, and we preferred to save our money for other experiences. La Mola Fortress (maps) is best reached by car - find out more visitor information onits website.
Isla del Rey & Hauser + Wirth
The most important cultural addition to Menorca in the last decade, the Hauser + Wirth art gallery on Isla del Rey only opened in summer 2021.
It’s easiest to visit by boat from Mahón (see full details inour Mahón guide), but you can book a private water taxi for €15 return per person (minimum two people) for Es Castell. Arrange via Whatsapp: +34 689 428 098.
The Ruins of Castell de Sant Felip & Fort Malborough
Both of these are a must visit for those of you interested in the British occupation of Menorca and military history.
The reason Es Castell’s name was ultimately changed to ‘Es Castell’ was due to its proximity to castle Sant Felip (maps). Standing guard over the entrance to the port, it was rebuilt by the British in the 1760s but was actually unsuccessfully defended by them twice and soon partly-demolished. Not much remains of the castle above ground, but you can see some of the ruins as well as visit a section of the underground tunnel network on the well-regarded guided tour.
Note that the tour of Sant Felip Castle has limited hours and it’s best to phone / email ahead - find out morehere.
Fort Malborough, built by the British and home to various tunnels and displays, is nearby so it makes sense to pair them.
From Es Castell, it’s just under a 3 km walk along the coast, and that’s how we’d recommend visiting (see the section below for route information).
The place where ships arriving from certain desitinations had to quarantine to ward off the plague and other infectious diseases, many of its buildings were constructed from the ruins of Sant Felip. The quarantine period (something we’re all very familiar with these days) depended on the disease and the ship’s origin, but could last anywhere from 21 days to six months.
Tickets to visit cost €18 per adult (€9 for children aged 8 -15 years) and can be bought from the tourist information or from the boat departure point in Es Castell.
Ticket price includes boat to and from island as well as a guided tour.
It only opened to visitors in 2013, and we actually went to a random private event there in 2017!
Head To The Beach
Despite its popularity as an accommodation base in the southeast of Menorca, Es Castell doesn't have a beach of its own. Therearesome sunbathing and swimming spots nearby at Cala Padera and the adults-only hotels have fancy open-air pools, but you have to go somewhere else for a proper beach day or to accessthe remote calas for which Menorca is famous.
With your own rental car, this is straightforward, but with public transport, it usually requires a bus connection in Mahón.
At time of writing, there are no direct bus connections to the beach from Es Castell.
Punta Prima is the obvious option and the most convenient option for a day out, with white sand, great swimming, and lots of facilities - find out more and how to get there in this shortguide to Punta Prima.
Alternatively, from the bus station in Mahón you'll be able to access transport to a multitude ofthe beast beaches on the south coast of Menorca, which are those we'd recommend sticking to if you're doing a day trip from Es Castell with public transport. You can also go via a bus to Sant Lluis in summer, but this will limit the number of options and departures available.
If you hire a car for a day or your whole stay, then the island is your oyster. However, we recommend you read this explainer post onCar Hire in Menorcabefore you book anything (it’s guaranteed to save you money and stress).
Plan | Find your perfect spot for the day in our post,The 19 Best Beaches in Menorca
Walk The Camí de Cavalls
Alternatively, you could make yourself sweat to earn that sandy beach and pair your beach day with walking a section of theCamí de Cavalls. The 185 km / 115 mile trail circumnavigates the whole of Menorca, and Section 20 passes through Es Castell on the way to Mahón. That’s absolutely not a part to get excited about though, and instead we’d suggest walking Section 20 south to pretty Cala de Sant Esteve (just under 3 km, 30 minutes), and then continuing on via Section 19 of the Camí to Punta Prima (7.3 km, 2.5 hours).
Then it’s lunch at Punta Prima, time on the beach, and then the bus back to Es Castell via Mahón!
Plan | Find out more in7 Things To Know Before Walking The Camí de Cavalls
Where To Stay in Es Castell
Hotels in Es Castell
Barceló Hamilton Menorca| This modern 4* adults-only hotel has a really luxurious feel, excellent facilities (including panoramic rooftop terrace) and only a few minutes walk from Es Castell’s best restaurants. Find out morehere.
ARTIEM Carlos| Whilst the rooms could be considered a tad basic, this four-star adults only hotel has excellent facilities, views over the water, a great sustainable ethos and would be perfect for a younger couple. Find out morehere.
Pardela Menorca| If you prefer smaller properties with a little more charm, this beautiful hotel may be more your cup of tea. Comfortable and stylish rooms with a nod to the nautical, they also offer a guest terrace with lovely views. Find out morehere.
Airbnbs in Es Castell
As we have mentioned in our other Menorca posts, there are limited Airbnb options in town due to local government restrictions. Therefore, if you’d prefer an apartment over a hotel, it’s advisable that you book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Harbour Views| This brand new three bed apartment is roomy, light, bright and with modern furnishings. Also offers wonderful views out over Es Castell harbour. Find out morehere.
Duplex With Views| This three-bed duplex apartment offers two terraces and views over Mahon Harbour. Comfortable furnishings, it also has a communal pool and a parking space (garage). Find out morehere.
There is a bit of a dearth of one/two bed properties in Es Castell; the only real option for a couple isthis two-bed apartment. It’s a bit basic, but could be okay if you just plan on using it as a base. (it does however have excellent views from the balcony!)
Should you be looking for a property that caters to large groups, there are at least three marvellous options - all seafront, all with pools, all furnished and decorated to a high standard - that we just wanted to mention here:
How To Get To Es Castell
// RENTAL CAR
If your priority is relaxing on a lounger next to the pool rather than exploring too far beyond your hotel, then we appreciate that renting a car may not make much sense.
If you’re using Es Castell as a base for visiting much more of Menorca, then having your own vehicle will make a big difference to where you can go and what you can do - and it’s just a 15-minute drive from the airport to the town.
We’ve written much more in this guide aboutMenorca car hire, so if it’s something you are considering doing, we highly recommend giving it a read first.
Taxis outside Menorca airport are plentiful, and with a fixed rate depending on your final destination you needn’t worry about overpaying nor the meter.
The standard price (2021) for a Menorca Airport to Es Castell is €15.91, plus €0.60 per piece of luggage. Journey time is 15 minutes.
Travelling to Es Castell by public transport is easiest by connecting to Line 02, 15, and the 25 at Mahón bus station. Travel time is about 15 minutes, one-way tickets are €1.70.
If you’re going straight from the airport to Es Castell, then first hop on one of the regular buses from the airport to Mahón bus station (Line 10). These leave every 30 minutes from the single bus stop located outside arrivals. Tickets cost €2.75 per person from the driver, and the journey time is around 15 minutes. Once at the bus station, connect to the lines mentioned above.
If there are more than two of you though, or you want the more convenient option, just take the taxi instead.
You can find the full timetableshere.
ES CASTELL TRAVEL TIPS & FACILITIES
There are two small supermarkets (hereandhere),大多数事情self-caterers tr和天ippers will require. However do note that you will pay significantly more for groceries here than you would in one of the larger supermarkets outside Mahón.
If you’re based here for a week or longer and plan on doing a lot of cooking, we’d recommend heading to one of large stores at the beginning of your holiday. Of course, this may only be possible if you have access to a rental car, or are happy using a taxi.
There are several ATMs in Es Castell, but just be warned that the two located along the promenade are not free, and offer a hideous exchange rate. We’d recommend instead using an ATM attached to a bank within the town; they may charge a withdrawal fee, but the rate you’ll pay is fairer.
Read |How We Avoid ATM Fees When We Travel
// CAR RENTAL AGENCY
There are one or two small agencies in Es Castell.
We recommend you book your car several days or weeks in advance if you’re not picking it up from the airport, otherwise availability is very poor in these satellite offices and rates can be muchmuchhigher than you expect.
For more information, including ways to save money on rental, read this post:7 Things To Know Before You Hire A Car in Menorca.
The two free car parks (hereandhere) by Cala Corb are the most conveniently located, but are a bit more difficult to access and will fill up quickly.
如果你只是一天旅行,到达best option is to instead head to this large car park by the windmill (maps); it’s free and just a three-minute walk from the harbour.
If you’re staying on the western side of Es Castell, then this large free car park may be the more convenient option (maps)
Where to Next?
13 Wonderful Things to Do in Mahon | Menorca’s Colourful Capital
13 Wonderful Things to Do in Menorca
23 Things to Know Before You Visit Menorca
7 Things to Know Before You Hire a Car in Menorca
13 Wonderful Things to Do in Ciutadella | Menorca’s Prettiest City
Where to Stay In Menorca