Situated in the centre of Minorca, at the foot of the iconic Mount Toro and with a beautiful coastline, we can’t be talking about anything less than Es Mercadal. With an area spanning 134 km2, it is the second largest municipality in Minorca—albeit with a population of under 5,000 (according to 2018 figures)—and it neighbours Es Migjorn Gran to the south, Alaior to the east and Ferreries to the west.
Most of the municipality’s population is concentrated in the eponymous town of Es Mercadal (or Mercadal, in Spanish), and in the town of Fornells. On the northern coast, where the aforementioned town is also located, are various residential areas, such as Son Parc, Coves Noves, Arenal d’en Castell, Addaia, Platges de Fornells, Na Macaret and Punta Grossa.
Somewhere that should be top of anyone’s list of must-visit spots is the town of Es Mercadal, a pretty place that has been acknowledged as a ‘welcoming town’, and if you visit, you’ll soon see why. With its popular architecture, twisting streets and whitewashed houses, it reflects the essence of Minorca. If viewed from the summit of Mount Toro, all you can see is a lovely wash of white against the green plains. In addition to exploring its streets and visiting Sant Martí Church and the cistern, another must-do is climbing the aforementioned mountain to pay your respects to the Virgin of Mount Toro, the patron saint of the island, which is housed inside a sanctuary. You can even enjoy a hike and have lunch at the restaurant located next to this place of worship.
The large number of farms surrounding the town nod to the importance of agriculture in Es Mercadal, which was once its main source of income in addition to cattle farming. However, over the years, tourism has gained considerable ground. The town is also a good place to buy avarcas, traditional Minorcan sandals, as it has a small factory, and to sample its delicious artisan confectionary, such as amargos (round almond biscuits), carquinyolis (similar to Italian biscotti) and torró cremat (a type of nougat eaten at Christmas).
The second largest town in terms of population is Fornells, a fishing town that is now heavily geared towards tourism. If we had to highlight one thing, it would be its food. The town’s delicious lobster stew has transcended borders and visitors from all over make their way here to sample it. In addition to the cuisine on offer, another interesting thing to do is to visit Sant Antoni Castle, the Casa del Contramaestre—a former search and rescue base—and the coastal defence tower.
Other smaller towns, which also deserve a visit when in Es Mercadal, include Arenal d’en Castell, Coves Noves, Ses Salines, Na Macaret, Port d’Addaia and Son Parc.
Finally, don’t forget about the municipality’s nature and beaches, as a large part of the region was declared a protected natural area by the parliament of the Balearic Islands.
Mount Toro, admiring Minorca from a bird’s eye view
The highest hill in Minorca provides a spectacular view of the island, and conceals a curious legend about its name.
Things to do in Fornells, other than trying the lobster stew
For some, one of this fishing village’s biggest attractions are its restaurants, which specialise in lobster stew. But there are many more things to do in Fornells.
Cala pregonda, a red paradise in northern Minorca
Cala Pregonda’s natural beauty, with its burgundy-coloured sand and rocks, has a certain wild touch to it.