MenorcaBeat the crowds in Menorca (or Minorca), the most tranquil of the Balearic islands. The stunning coves and secluded, white sand beaches are matched with the idyllic countryside and historic ruins. This island's charm attracts visitors year-round.
The IslandMenorca, the most eastern isle of Spain's Balearic Islands, is only 48 kilometres long and 16 kilometres wide, but it still manages to pack in over 70 beaches along its ravishing coastline. Consequently, unfurling a towel and soaking up the rays are the most prevalent thoughts of the thousands of holidaymakers who touch down at Mahón Airport during the six-month season. Menorca is also a perfect place to go snorkelling and to discover hidden caves. You can also get spectacular views of the stunning coastline, and the island's marvellous nature by either hiking on Monte Toro, its highest peak, or by going on a horseback excursion. The reward of any activity is always a breathtaking view, and on a clear day, you can even see all the way to Mallorca. However, Menorca has a lot more to offer than just sandy beaches, amazing landscapes, and its beautiful coastline. Take a stroll to the historic cities to see the architectural heritage of the British occupation or the medieval era: to Fort Marlborough with its gloomy tunnels, to La Mola or to Cathedral Ciudadella, a beautiful church with lovely stonework and stained glass windows. On top of that, you can sample one of the best legacies of the British ruling: locally distilled gin.
Beach LifeBeach-goers are spoilt for choice in Menorca. Some are only accessible by private road where a small toll is often charged during the summer months.
Do & See
Many visitors immediately head east through the flower-freckled meadow land of the interior to the resorts of Cala en Forcat, Cala en Bosch and Cala Galdana. However, step off the beaten track and you will be rewarded - Mahón (or Maó), an interesting capital with a turbulent history, saw many sea conflicts as the Spanish, British and French grappled for control of this strategically important naval base. The influences of all three cultures, as well as the native Baleriac one, can be seen here today.
The island’s signature dish is (unsurprisingly) seafood – caldereta de llagosta, or lobster stew, to be precise. Anyway, you can also expect pork with apples or plums, and dozens of variations of oliaigues, or garlic soup, but you should not be tempted by a Minorcan breakfast, unless you are of a robust constitution, as you will then order some great neat gin!
Coffee breaks are obligatory in the Menorcan culture, and thanks to its many cafes, you will not have any difficulty finding the right spot when longing for a pause. On top of satisfying this craving, by serving both drinks and snacks, many venues also offer spectacular ocean views for a more enjoyable experience.
Bars & Nightlife
A word of advice: do not come to Menorca if you're a nocturnal neon-seeker with a penchant for high decibels to which you may be used to after visiting Mallorca 'next door'. Although this smaller island is not the destination for a heavy night out, the lights will not turn off at bed time already, as Mahón, Ciutadella, and most resort areas have a profusion of bars and a handful of clubs – however, do not expect A-list DJs and dancing till dawn, and you will then most certainly enjoy a quite great night.
For sheer diversity of shops, you should head for Maó or Ciutadella. In Maó, the area around Carrer Ses Moreres and Carrer Nou are home to the high-street labels. For stores of more individual character you’ll need to stroll down Moll de Ponent in the port area. Ciutadella’s ground zero for shopaholics is Ses Voltes and its numerous offshoots, where you will find plenty of opportunities to replenish your wardrobe. Lovers of bric-a-brac have numerous artisan markets to choose from including Es Migjorn Gran on Tuesday evening, Maó on Friday evening and Ciutadella on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.