Menorca: Spain’s gourmet paradise

The best beaches and attractions on the island of Menorca

Menorca, Spain is an elite Balearic resort renowned for its excellent service and wide range of attractions. It has everything you need not to feel like a deserted island, but is deserted and sparsely populated enough to feel like a pioneer.

View of Menorca

General Info

Menorca is a small Spanish island located in the Mediterranean Sea, part of the Balearic Archipelago. The total area is 694.72 km², population about 100 thousand people. The capital is the city of Mahon.

Holidays in Menorca promises to be quiet and respectable, so it is perfect for couples with children and older people. Youngsters will love it too, though – the nightclubs, discos and other nightlife scene will be open from late afternoon onwards.

Conventionally, the island is divided into two parts – south and north. The first is painted with beautiful rural landscapes with beautiful wooden houses, cultivated fields and pastures of cows. Adjacent to these are pristine landscapes with beautiful bays and inlets. Minorca, on the north, is ringed by high cliffs that shelter the wind and numerous birds.

Menorca

Besides the many beaches and the huge number of attractions on the island there is all the necessary infrastructure – cafes, restaurants, bars, stores, hypermarkets, amusement parks, zoos, etc. Curiously, all these facilities are placed in one-, two- and three-storey buildings. And yes, looking at the photos of Menorca you won’t see a single high-rise building! The fact that the whole island is a big biosphere reserve, protected by UNESCO. In order not to disturb the balance and not to harm nature, the world famous organization has not invented anything else than to prohibit the construction of high-rise buildings.

This was not made in vain – the nature on the island is really very beautiful. Here you can see rare species of animals and plants, and for fans of birds developed a special ornithological routes. Another important feature of Menorca is considered a developed horse riding. Many islanders are engaged in horse breeding and are quite good riders. Numerous celebrations and festivals are not without horse shows.

Attractions and Entertainment

The list of attractions Menorca, often called the living embodiment of history, includes more than 100 different tourist sites. Among them, there are both picturesque natural monuments and stone structures dating back to the beginning of the Bronze Age. It will take more than a week to get to know them, so today we will take a look only at the most popular places on the island.

Port Ciutadella

Port Ciutadella is an ancient harbor built during the time of Aragon, an ancient state that existed on the territory of modern Spain from 1035 to 1707. Despite its long history, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that this harbor began to grow in importance. Since then, it has become the most important transport hub, providing a ferry connection between Minorca and the other islands and the Balearic archipelago.

The production capacity of the port is designed for 147 berths. Currently, recreational, fishing and commercial vessels are served here. Next to the harbor is a picturesque promenade, one of the most visited attractions on the island.

Port Mahon, located in the center of the city, can be literally called the largest harbor in Europe: the total area – more than 5 thousand square meters, length – almost 6 km, width – 1.5 m. The harbor, which receives mainly cruise ships, is built at the end of a natural Mediterranean bay, which makes its view extremely picturesque.

Port Mahon

The harbor has all the necessary infrastructure – cafes, public telephones, parking lots, stops and cab services. To get here you can not only walk but also by bus or small train (runs from 11:00 to 15:00 and from 18:00 to 23:00 with an interval of 1 hour, the ticket costs 5 €).

Among the best attractions of Menorca in Spain is the tourist town of Binibeka, located in the south-eastern part of the island and considered one of the most beautiful resorts in the Balearic archipelago. The settlement, built in the early 70s of the last century, is made in the Arab-Mediterranean style, which can be recognized by the abundance of white color, dashingly twisted towers and tiled roofs with textured chimneys.

Old Binibeca

The appearance of the town looks more like an ordinary fishing village. The cobblestone streets of Binibeka can be so narrow that only 1 person can pass through it. Nearby is a beach with soft golden sand and thick pine forest, as well as the river pier.

Mount Monte Toro, which rises more than 300 meters above sea level, is the highest point on the island. Apart from the large observation deck that overlooks almost all of Minorca, there are two other interesting sites. The first is the statue of Jesus Christ. The second is the medieval monastery Santuario de la Virgen del Toro, which houses a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, a unique shrine that attracts pilgrims from all over the world. Next to the church you can see a defense tower, a monument to local soldiers who died during the war, and a small café.

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Monte Toro Mountain

Equally important landmark of Menorca is the Catedral de Santa María, located on the Plaza de la Catedral in the historic center of Ciutadella. The monumental Gothic building was built on the site of a Moslem mosque in the middle of the 14th century and only the arches and the minaret which was the basis for the Christian bell tower are still preserved.

Originally a huge number of paintings, statues and other samples of medieval art were kept in the walls of the cathedral. Unfortunately, most of them were destroyed during the attacks of the Turkish army and the civil war that broke out in Spain at the beginning of the last century.

Ciutadella Cathedral

In 1953 the Catedral de Santa María received the title of basilica. Today it is not only a popular tourist attraction but also an active church.

La Mola, or the Fortress of Elisabeth II, is one of the greatest fortifications of Menorca. Construction began in 1848 and lasted 30 years. The result of this work is a massive fortification complex which counts no less than 10 fortifications. Only some of them are situated on land – the rest are in the sea.

Fortress of Elizabeth II

The fortress has been preserved to this day in excellent condition. It has a deep moat, underground galleries, and old-time firearms hanging on the walls. The high walls offer a beautiful view of the surrounding area. Nowadays, La Mola is used for exhibitions and chamber music concerts. You can get here not only with a tour group, but also on their own. Each exhibit is accompanied by explanatory notes, and at the entrance are given audio guides. Tourists have bicycle rentals, a bookstore, cafes and picnic areas.

Best beaches

Minorca has around 120 beaches, but due to the island’s particular geography, only half are accessible. The 60 is also a good number and you can find quiet, secluded spots to be alone with nature.

Despite slight differences in climate you can swim here in the south and north. True, the northern coast is less visited, but this does not detract from its beauty. For a quick summary of the best beaches on Menorca, please see our Menorca Beach guide.

Cala Pregonda

A small sandy beach, barely 200 meters long. Located near Es-Mercadal, it is famous for its pale red sand, giving it a truly ethereal landscape. Due to the lack of hotels and poor transport accessibility it is not very crowded. The entrance to the sea is quite steep, and the water is so clean and clear that you can see the stones at the bottom. The depth comes in 1.5-2 meters and there are a lot of jellyfish.

There is no special infrastructure in Pregonda Bay. All amenities are limited to the local parking lot and a small restaurant, so snacks and water equipment are better to bring with you.

Menorca’s list of best beaches also includes Cala Dalgaerens, another wild beach located to the south. It is fenced off from the rest of the coast by high sand dunes that serve as natural protection from the wind. The shoreline is covered with fine light yellow sand. Entering the water is smooth, the water is clean and calm. The line of shallow water is quite warm and wide. As for the facilities, there are, unfortunately, no. In addition, all along the coast you will not find a single tree that can shelter you from the scorching sun.

Cala d

A picturesque place located 14 km from Ciutadella. The coastline, surrounded by tall cliffs and coniferous forest, is no more than 140 m long. The surface is light sand. The water entry is gentle, the sea is clean, warm and calm. What is most interesting, even sitting on the shore, you can safely observe the life of sea creatures.

Cala Macarelleta

Makareletta has showers, toilets, beach bar, restaurant and two parking lots (paid and free). The descent to the beach is equipped with wooden steps. Hotels and rentals are completely missing, so everything you can do at home.

Considering the photos of Menorca (Spain) in the tourist brochures, you will surely see another quite famous place. The bay of Tourqueta is located in the southwestern part of the island. The beach here is almost wild, covered with white sand and is about 100 m long. The entrance to the water is smooth, the sea is clean and calm. The line of shallow water is wide enough – you can swim with children. As you gain depth there are stones at the bottom.

Cala Turqueta

The high cliffs that surround Turketa from all sides protect it from the winds. By the way, just because of them, darkness here comes suddenly, so it’s better not to linger. However, for the safety of tourists are monitored by lifeguards, so without the help you just do not stay. Infrastructure on Cala Turqueta is practically absent. Nearby there is only a parking lot, a stop and a cafe (from the beach about 10 minutes).

Pilar Cove is a good place for lovers of wild and unencumbered recreation. The length of the coastline, covered with fine golden sand is about 250 m, width – 45 m. Because of poor transport accessibility of tourists here is not much – not everyone dares to overcome the footpath, stretching for nearly 2 km.

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Cala del Pilar

The water in the bay is clean and clear, the bottom is shallow and well visible. But the sea is choppy – on windy days the coast rolls up large waves. Because of this, families with small children practically do not look here. But this place is very popular with surfers and divers. There are no facilities in Cala Pilar.

The island of Menorca in Spain is famous for another unusual place. This is Playa de Son Bow, located near the village of the same name. Being one of the longest beaches on the island (length – 2.5 km, width – 120 m), it has the greatest number of attractions (including nightlife). However, most of them are concentrated in the eastern part of the beach, while the western part remains wild and quiet.

Playa de Son Bou

The entrance to the sea is smooth, and the water is warm and crystal clear – great for diving and underwater hunting. Near Playa de Son Bou is Torre Esfondrada, the main local attraction. Hotels and campsites can be found in the neighboring towns.

It is a small beautiful beach, nestled in a bay between two large cliffs. It is very clean and quiet, covered with white sand and surrounded by a pine forest. Entrance to the water is not very comfortable – on the way and then you can meet boulders. The sea is warm and clear, but the depth is very fast and ranges from 5 to 9 meters. Cala Mityana is popular with diving enthusiasts – there is a rich and quite interesting underwater world.

Cala Mitjana

Infrastructure on the beach no. The only exceptions are showers and toilets. However, you can buy watermelons, coconuts and pineapples from locals. Garbage bins are outside the rest area, but leaving bags of leftovers behind is not recommended. Cala Mitjana is a protected area and is protected by the state. Signs with all bans and restrictions can be found at the entrance.

Here you can find a selection of the 14 best beaches on Mallorca, accompanied by photos.

Weather and climate – when is the best time to visit?

Despite lying in a Mediterranean climate zone, the island of Minorca is a bit cooler than neighbouring regions. This is mainly due to its northern geographical position, which makes it stand out amongst the resorts in the Balearic Islands.

Menorca weather

The high season lasts from May to October. The air temperature during this time is kept at +26 … +28 ° C, and the water warms up to +25-26 ° C. The largest amount of precipitation falls in August. With the onset of winter the thermometers fall to +14 ° C and on the north coast the wind blows very hard.

Menorca’s weather can vary from place to place, with rain in one place and sunshine in another. And summer on the northern part of the island comes a bit later than in the south. This can cause travelers to cheat by fleeing the heat to the north at the height of the beach season and heading south when September arrives.

How to get there?

If you don’t know how to get to Menorca, use these tips. To begin with, there are no direct flights between the island and most European cities, so vacationers have to fly to either Barcelona or Mallorca. Consider each of these options.

There are two ways to get from Barcelona to Menorca – by domestic plane or by sea ferry. The local airport is located in close proximity to the island’s capital. The flight takes no more than 40 minutes. The ferry “Barcelona-Menorca”, owned by the transport company Balearia, departs from Barcelona station and travels to the port of Ciutadella. The trip takes at least 7.5 hours. Tickets range from 45€ to 180€.

Balearia Ferry

See this article for the best places to stay in Barcelona.

The Mallorca-Menorca ferries depart from Palma (carrier Trasmediterranea, arrival point Mahon) and Alcudia (Balearia, Ciutadella). Travel time is about 2 hours. Fares range from 16 to 180€.

Important: For more information and to buy tickets, go to the official Balearia website, www.balearia.com.

The prices on the page are for February 2020.

Useful tips

Menorca, Spain has a lot to offer you:

Shoes Avarques

  1. When choosing souvenirs, pay attention to the avarquez, traditional Spanish sandals, handmade from high quality leather.
  2. Locals are very environmentally friendly and any broken twig or trash thrown in the wrong place can get you fined.
  3. If you have a lot of time on your hands, explore the rest of the Balearic Islands. There are boats between the islands every day. The cost of the trip is not more than 30 €.
  4. It is best to pay for purchases in local currency. Money can be exchanged either in banks (open Mon-Fri from 09:00 to 14:00) or in private exchange offices (open seven days a week, but the exchange rate is less favorable, and for the services they charge a considerable fee).
  5. Traveling around the island is most convenient by rented car. To make a deal with a passport and a driving license of international standard. In the provision of services may be denied only to those under 21 years of age and those whose driving experience is less than 12 months.
  6. Smoking is strictly forbidden in public places in Menorca, so please pay attention to the information signs and choose only those areas specially designated for this purpose.
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The island of Menorca and its beaches: how to get there, what to see, shopping, food, historical features

Menorca is the second largest and northernmost island of the Balearic Islands and the easternmost point of Spain. It is the freest and quietest among the islands of the Balearic archipelago.

The fact that Menorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1993 has contributed greatly to its unspoilt character. Large buildings cannot be built here and the walls must always be white. This distinguishes it from bustling Ibiza and Mallorca.

The British influence can be felt in the architecture and culture of the island, as the British ruled the island for almost 100 years. Most of Minorca’s tourists are British.

Minorca’s coastline is littered with almost wild beaches and coves. Within the island you can find over 1.5 thousand cultural and historical monuments, so Minorca is also called “Monument Island.

How to get to Minorca

Minorca Airport is located near the island capital of Mahón. But there is no direct flight from Moscow or St. Petersburg, you must change from Barcelona or Palma de Mallorca which takes about 8 hours and costs from 67€.

Ferry

You can also fly to Barcelona or Mallorca (Palma de Mallorca) and then catch a ferry to Menorca. To buy ferry tickets, go to www.balearia.com.

When to go

Menorca Landscapes

Menorca scenery (Photo © davidhc / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)

The island’s climate is a couple of degrees fresher than its neighbors due to its northern geographic location. While this is only a plus in the summer, in the winter the not-so-gentle “tramuntana” wind blows in the north. In summer the temperature stays at +26-28 ° C and in winter +14 ° C.

The beach and resort season begins in May and lasts until early October. During this time the weather is always sunny. The warmest water is from July to September – 25-26 ° C. During the summer of June 24 in Ciudadella you can witness a beautiful spectacle, the horsemen in armor with the emblem of the Hospitallers, galloping through the city in honor of the feast of San Juan.

History

The island’s history goes back centuries – ruins dating from 2000 to 100 B.C. have been found here. Each period is characterized by its own distinctive structures: the navetas – megalithic structures in the shape of an inverted boat, the talayotas – huge stone mounds, the taulas – horseshoe shaped sanctuaries.

There is a theory that for its stubborn resistance to the Franco regime, Menorca was punished by having its development deliberately frozen. As a result, Majorca became a prosperous island and Menorca fell into a kind of oblivion. And now it remains the quietest and least developed of the Balearic Islands.

Menorca was ruled by the British for nearly 100 years, who made it the capital of Mahón and left their mark on the architecture. The English conquered the town in 1708, then it passed to the French in 1802 and eventually returned to the Spaniards.

A special fate for the city of Ciudadella, which in 1558 was attacked by Turkish corsairs with 140 ships and 15 thousand soldiers. All the inhabitants of the city were captured as slaves, and the city itself was practically destroyed. But in the 17th-18th century the city again flourished with beautiful mansions, churches and squares.

Attractions

City of Mahon

City of Mahon (Photo © ssantastic / flickr.com / License CC BY 2.0)

The main cities are Mahon and Ciutadella, and the island itself is jokingly called “the piece of land between Mahon and Ciutadella.”

Mahon is on the coast in the second largest natural harbor (the first is Pearl Harbor).

Attractions of Mahon

The 19th century fortress of La Mola guarded the entrance to the harbor and was one of the best forts in Europe. The fortress is well preserved and half a day should be spent visiting it, as it is huge.

The 16th century San Felipe Castle is on the other side of the harbour and under English rule became one of the largest in Europe. Spectacular night torchlight tours are arranged here.

After enjoying the natural harbor and strolling along the waterfront, you can climb the snow-white stairs leading from the port to the center of town. From the top there are wonderful views, and the journey through the Old Town begins.

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In Piazza España you can find an interesting site in the form of the former Carme monastery, transformed into the Mercada Claustre del Carme market.

Placa de Esplanada is the main square of the city, where you can not only walk, but also buy handicrafts.

The 16th century Arc de Sant Roc is the only remembrance of the city’s medieval walls.

The Church of Santa Maria (Iglesia de Santa-Maria) dates back to the 13th century, and was reconstructed in the 18th century. The church is famous for its mighty organ, which was made in Barcelona and brought to Mahon in 1810. Those who wish can attend an organ concert.

The Maon Town Hall is a small structure from 1613, on which you can see the clock that was given to the island by the first governor of the island, Richard Kane.

The Church of San Francisco is one of the main monuments of the Baroque architecture of Maona.

The Menorca Museum is housed in a former Franciscan monastery from the 15th century. It houses valuable materials dating back to Roman times, as well as a collection of paintings.

At the gin distillery you can taste and buy excellent gin. You are also advised to try the strong drinks: palo and calent, with a pleasant cinnamon aroma, which is supposed to be drunk hot.

Talati de Dalt is an ancient village 3 km from Mahon where you can see the talayotes (ancient stone mounds around 1 thousand years BC) and the taulu (ancient sanctuaries). From here, a trail of 4 km leads to the village of Rafal Ruby with remarkably well-preserved naves (ancient megalithic buildings).

Ciutadella is a town at the western end of Menorca founded by the Carthaginians. Before the arrival of the British it was the capital of the island, and during the reign of the Moors the city was called Medina Menurca. “Vella y Bella” (“ancient and beautiful”), as Ciutadella is also called, is attracted by its port and the marvelous old quarter.

Sightseeing in Ciutadella

Car traffic is prohibited in the city center, so the tour promises to be as comfortable as possible. From the charming port, the walk heads to the central town square.

On the Plaza Borne (Placa de Born) there is an obelisk to the townspeople who heroically fell in the Turkish siege of 1558. The square is surrounded by buildings from the 19th century, including the Town Hall, the beautiful Torresaurus Palace and the only Salort Palace open to the public.

You can reach the Governor’s Fortress by walking around City Hall – you are guaranteed breathtaking views of sweat, ruins of ancient bastions.

The Cathedral of Ciutadella is a surprisingly compact 13th-century Catalan Gothic building on the site of the main mosque of the Moorish city of Medina Menurca. Ciutadella acts as the religious capital of Menorca, so it is the seat of the Bishop of the island.

The old town, between Piazza Borne and Palmeres, is an atmospheric place to wander through the cobblestone streets among the numerous monuments. Here you can find beautiful 17th-century churches such as the Church of Roser and the Church of Socors with the Dioseo Museum.

And beneath the luxurious Moorish arches of the Ses Voltes are stores, bars and restaurants. You can also visit the fish market (open from 7:00 to 13:00).

Pedreres de s’Hostal are 6 km from Ciudadella. They are stunning quarries of white sandstone from which almost all of Minorca’s buildings were built. In the old quarry of Lytica you can find a wonderful medieval garden.

Fornells is a charming village on the shore of a shallow bay in the middle of the northern coast of Menorca. The atmospheric whitewashed village is captivating at first sight, and is famous for its seafood restaurants, including expensive delights like lobster. All kinds of water sports are well-developed here – it’s a paradise for windsurfers and divers.

Ferrerias is a town in central Menorca producing fine cheese as well as leather goods and shoes. It’s worth stopping here on a Saturday, when vendors set up their tents outdoors. From here you can get to the resort of Santa Galdana if you drive towards Ciudadella and after 1.5 km turn left.

Es Grau is a neat whitewashed village 10 km from Mahon in an open bay. The waters here are very shallow, which will please families with children, and the S’Albufera d’Es Grau nature park is nearby. S’Albufera is the largest freshwater lagoon of Balear, which has become a habitat and wintering ground for many birds.

Son-Bou is a miniature resort village with several hotels, located in the central part of the south coast of Menorca. It attracts with its golden beaches at 3 km – this is the largest beach of the island. Nearby is a nature reserve.

Cala’n Porter is a beautiful resort surrounded by beautiful rocks and a magnificent beach. There are interesting caves nearby.

Sant Lluis is a nice family resort with a lot of very nice coves to swim in.

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Binibeca is an attractive little town not far from Sant Lluis with some really interesting architecture. A great place for scuba-diving in a rocky cove.

Menorca Beaches

Menorca’s top 5 beaches:

  1. Cala Macarelleta (Cala Macarelleta) near Cala Galdana;
  2. Cala en Turqueta near Ciudadella;
  3. Cala Pregonda near the village of Fornells;
  4. Cala en Porter in the resort of the same name;
  5. Morell (Cala Morell) 11 km from Ciudadella.

Tips from tourist reviews

The highest point of Minorca is Monte Toro with an observation deck at 375 m above sea level. Here you can take great panoramic pictures of the whole island and a statue of Christ with outstretched arms like in Brazil.

Shopping

What to Buy in Menorca:

  1. Footwear – Menorca is known for the locally designed shoe model, the abarca or abarcas, which are sandals with a closed toe and strap. We recommend bringing a pair of “abarcas” from the famous company Camper. Excellent shoes and other leather goods are sewn in the town of Ferrerias;
  2. Ceramics – Fornells village is famous for its ceramics, and some products can be made in front of you, such as painted “majolica”;
  3. Cheese and meat delicacies – one of the cheese areas of the island is the town of Ferrerias, in Ciudadella there are excellent places to buy local delicacies: El Paladar store (meat delicacies) and Ca Na Fayas (all kinds of cheeses);
  4. Gin, palo, caliente, strong chamomile drink, etc.

Things to do

10 Things to do on Menorca:

  1. See the second largest natural harbor in the world in the town of Mahon;
  2. Attend an enchanting organ concert at the Church of Santa Maria in Maon;
  3. Buy a bottle of authentic Menorca gin at the distillery in Maon;
  4. See the most ancient talayots, vestiges and taulas in Talati de dalt;
  5. Take a trekking route along the Cami de Calvas Trail;
  6. Enjoy the perfect beach vacation at Cala Turqueta Beach;
  7. Get your own pair of abarcas sandals;
  8. Taste the famous lobster soup in the inviting village of Fornells;
  9. Visit the Cap de Cavalleria or Cap de Favaric, a promontory on Menorca;
  10. Visit an unusual café in the grotto of Cap de Choroy.

What and where to eat

Culinary Legend

There are several culinary legends associated with Menorca. It is said that it was from the town of Mahon that the French brought the recipe for the sauce “maonce”, which is now known as mayonnaise. The second legend says that Menorca is the birthplace of gin. Locals consume it diluted with lemonade or in its pure form by ordering a saliveta, a shot of gin with olives.

Where to eat in Mahón

You can get a great meal in the fish restaurants near the harbor. Excellent cafes are on Cales Fonts, 3 km from Es Castell.

The Itake restaurant on Mall Levant has a very special interior, where every table is different. The local creamy sauces are especially good. Try the duck with itake sauce (pato itake) or the pork fillet with cheese sauce (filete de cerdo iberico con questo de Menorca).

The restaurant El Varadero (Mall Levant Street) is a great place to eat and enjoy the view of the harbor. A good lunch or dinner will cost you only 15€.

The restaurant Jagaro (St. Mall Levant) offers not only the usual seafood but also extreme dishes like actinia (ortiga de Mar) and sea cucumbers (morena mansa).

For a drink with music, go to Café Mirador in Plaça Espanya or the jazz club Akelare (Mall de Ponte).

Where to eat in Ciutadella

The specialty of Ciutadella is the lobster soup (caldereta de llagosta) which is not cheap (65€). The largest concentration of restaurants is at the port and some are housed in the walls of the old town or in rock niches along the promenade.

Café Cas Ferrer de sa Font (Calle Portale de la Font) is an institution with authentic Menorcan dishes, prepared with products from its own farm.

Café Balear (Plaça San Juan) is a classic with excellent seafood and a magnificent view of the historic center. The shrimp and navajas are recommended, and the fresh fish are supplied by local fishermen.

Tapas bar Hogar Del Pollo (San Pedro street) is an atmospheric place to experience a real Spanish Menorca. There’s a great selection of tapas and good service.

Bar Sa Bona Birra (Libertat Square) will appeal to all connoisseurs of beer and a fun time. Here you can taste the best local sorts of “beer”.

Where to eat in Fornells

Fornells is a paradise for lovers of fish and the delights of a range of seafood. Almost any restaurant will offer you lobster stew (caldereta de llagosta) – this is where the King of Spain likes to eat this dish. Also try the cuttlefish stuffed with eel and other seafood.

(Photo above © hugos007 / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)

Bonus for apartment rentals 2100 rubles

Instead of hotels you can book an apartment (cheaper on average 1.5-2 times) on AirBnB.com, a very convenient global and well-known rental service with a bonus 2100 rubles at registration

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