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The capital of and main gateway to Minorca, the easternmost and least crowded of Spain's three Balearic Islands, has been officially known as Maó-Mahón since 2012. Pearl Harbour is the only natural deep water port on Earth larger than Mahon's three-mile+ harbour, whose slightly enclosed location keeps its waters clean. Car hire in Mahon is an ideal way to explore both Minorca's capital, whose population remains under 30,000, and the rest of this peaceful island.
Who to Book With
Hertz, Avis and Europcar are the three international car rental firms represented at Minorca Airport, situated less than three miles from central Mahon. Most of the 18 or so car hire firms within Mahon city limits are independent establishments. It is best to reserve vehicles online before arrival.
Best Time to Go
Mahon hotel and car hire rates soar along with Minorca's steaming hot summer temperatures during the island's peak tourism months from mid-June to mid-September. However, with a pleasant year-long Mediterranean climate and an annual average of more than 300 sunny days, there really is no bad time to visit Mahon. However, several hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses are closed during the November to February winter season.
Need to Know Essentials
Before collecting your rental car, remember the following documents:
- The official hire document
- A current driving license held for at least three years
- A valid passport or a photocopy
Driving in Mahon and the rest of Minorca is usually a breeze. The island's main ME1 road between Mahon and Cuitadella links to all other major Minorca resorts. Traffic is rarely a problem on this island, where distances are never more than 10 miles from east to west or 29 miles long from north to south. Not all of the beaches along Minorca's 134-mile coastline are accessible to the public. Parking in front of driveways or garages is strictly prohibited, as is drinking and driving.
Rented vehicles may be the most convenient way to travel around Mahon and the rest of Minorca, but taxis are also fairly easy to find throughout the island. Mahon is also home to Minorca's largest bus terminal, which connects the island's capital to most smaller Minorca resorts and villages. Water taxis, departing from Mahon's harbour to Es Castell, Cala Longa and many other stops along Minorca's capital, have also become quite popular. There is, however, no rail service in Mahon or the rest of Minorca.
All taxis in Mahon, and elsewhere in Minorca, are painted white, with fares priced per kilometer. All Minorca taxis must use meters, and all passengers pay higher rates during public holidays and after 21:00. Most Mahon taxis can seat up to four passengers, but larger vehicles, which can hold up to five or six passengers, are available upon request. Taxi Antonio has operated throughout Mahon and Minorca for more than 15 years.
Transportes Menorca is the main bus operator in both Mahon and Minorca. In addition to its eight fixed routes across the island, Transportes Menorca also offers a private hire service for special occasions. The daily Diario newspaper publishes the most up-to-date bus schedules.
Although many Minorca visitors drive their rental cars directly to the south coast's beautiful beaches, Mahon remains the best place on the island to find historic attractions. Aside from its breathtaking natural harbour, which the Spanish and British battled over for centuries, Mahon's main attractions are its Xoriguer Gin Distillery and the relaxing catamaran harbour tours. Admiral Lord Nelson wrote part of his memoirs during his stay at the British built Golden Farm estate.
The Golden Farm - This place has witnessed centuries of Mahon's history from its hillside location above the city's harbour. The same family has owned this former farmhouse for more than 400 years. Italy's last queen, German Kaiser Willhem II and Admiral Lord Nelson are merely a few of this lovely mansion's notable guests.
Xoriguer Gin Distillery - No Mahon visit is complete without sampling some of the city's most famous beverage at the Xoriguer Gin Distillery, whose sample liqueur flavours range from the hot cinnamon scented Calent to the bitterer Hierba de Menorca chamomile based drink. The same copper stills have made these legendary drinks for over a century.
Torre d'en Gaumés - A fascinating Talayotic settlement called Torre d'en Gaumés lies just 8.5 miles from Mahon along the road to Son Bou. A T shaped stone monument called a taula and three stone towers known as talayots are the most unique surviving landmarks here.