The university city of Menorca
Alaior is a beautiful inland city in Menorca, in the Balearic Islands. Being located just 12 kilometres from Mahón and having direct access to the main road that runs through the island, this town is a perfect starting point for those who wish to explore the eastern part of Menorca.
A hill called Ihalor witnessed the rise of buildings and little white houses around, giving the place name to the city. Santa Eulalia Church crowns it, delivering the rest of the buildings at its foothills.
Alaior is known for the numerous archaeological sites that have been found there, being Torre d'en Galmés the one that stands out. Another noteworthy aspect of the area is the intense jewellery and footwear manufacturing, which can be purchased in local shops, as well as the production of the famous Queso de Menorca, artisanal cold meats, liqueurs, ice cream and pastry products.
How to get there
What to see
Walking through the streets of Alaior centre, we find numerous interesting buildings from an architectural and touristic point of view. Places to be noted are the town hall, Santa Eulalia Parish, the University of the Balearic Islands Headquarters and San Diego Church. In addition to these important buildings, you will find most of the shops here.
This quarter blooms with countless details from the medieval era, which you can relish by just walking through its narrow streets while paying attention to windows, cornices and house facades.
If you want to take a guided tour around the historic centre, check the schedule at the town hall or at the city's tourist office.
Santa Eulalia Parish
This is the first thing we encounter when arriving in the city.
Inside, we can see the Rosary Chapel, and outside, a magnificent door called the San Pedro doorway, an inviting point into this amazing building.
Parc Munt de l'Angel
It is located near Santa Eulalia Parish, therefore in an elevated area, which gives rise to a wonderful viewpoint with access to a deep and personal contemplation of the entire city.
Sant Pere Hermitage
It is located on the outskirts of Alayor, on the road to the cemetery, in the northern part of the city. The square that opens wide in front of this hermitage offers nice views of the rest of the town.
Patio de sa Lluna
This is how the church of San Diego’s cloister, an old Franciscan cloister, is known here.
Can Salort Palace
It is a palace from the late 17th century, former home to a wealthy family and now to the University of the Balearic Islands. It is located on Main Street.
We can find several mills around Alaior, such as John's or Pujol's, that capriciously decorate the landscape with their presence.
Sa Torre d'en Galmés
It is one of the largest and most interesting prehistoric settlements in Menorca. It is very well preserved and therefore, one of the most recommended sites to visit on the island.
You can access it by road, the one from Alaior to Son Bou. It is estimated that more than one thousand people could have lived at the same time in the 60,000 square metres of the site. Here we can see impressive talaiots (characteristic tower construction used as a watchtower), house interiors of the time, and several buildings that are still standing today, including the ‘taula’, used for religious events.
Torralba d'en Salort
It is yet another example of the best known prehistoric settlements, together with the previous one. There is a 3-metre tall ‘taula’, famous for its perfect structure, along several talaiots and a series of caves dug into the ground.
Other less known sites in Alaior are So na Cassana and the Paleohristian Basilica in Son Bou.
This necropolis contains many funerary caves excavated into the rock.
Within the municipality of Alaior, we find beaches such as Cales Coves, Cala en Porter or Son Bou. The latter is the largest beach in Menorca, with several residential areas around it, making it an important tourist destination.
What to do
There are several rural roads that allow nice excursions around the city, both on foot and by bicycle.
One of the best-known hiking routes is the one reaching the Sant Llorenç de Binixems hermitage, a 2 to 3 hour walk, depending on the stops made. The level of difficulty is easy since the road is paved. The route passes near several quarries and allows you to see Ses Penyes d'Egipte from a distance, a protected natural environment distinguished by abundant vegetation, large pine trees and eroded rocks with spectacular shapes. The route ends with a visit to the hermitage.
Where to eat
Restaurants in Alaior have a very wide culinary offer. Many of them offer Menorcan food, with Arabic or French flairs, due to the important historical influence of these cultures. One of the favourite dishes in the area is the partridge with cabbage, together with traditional soups.
You will also find tapas bars and several coffee shops here.
Where to lodge
It is not possible to find accommodation in Alaior’s old town, but will do nearby. Although hotels are not as abundant as in other areas on the island, you can still choose between a rural hotel with a swimming pool or a hostel. Agroturismo establishments are what you will find on the outskirts, mostly country houses or rural farms where you can sleep. If you want to have a greater hotel offer, you should look for accommodation in Son Bou or Cala en Porter, both beach areas.
San Lorenzo festivities are celebrated on the first weekend of August. During this time, traffic to the city is closed almost completely in order to be able to enjoy the famous ‘jaleo’ taking place in the main square and the street party lasting most of the night. Horsemen and horses enjoy the ‘jaleo’ in the crowd, making the horses move and jump to the rhythm of the music. La Pomada, just like in many other festivities in Menorca, is the most important beverage during this time.