While many associate Balearics with hedonistic partying, Menorca offers a sleepier Spanish experience. At just 50km long, its rural landscape is criss-crossed with walking trails, traditional stone walls and quiet little villages serving up traditional tapas. Best of all, it’s coastline is littered with stunning beaches, from tiny sheltered coves to sprawling surfer-friendly sands; most are lined with craggy cliffs, fragrant woods or rolling grasslands.
When the lounging is done, head into one of Menorca’s 2 charming harbour towns. Island capital Maó sits to the east while Ciutadella, to the west, has a stunning pedestrianized old town. Wander through ancient architecture before sitting down to a fresh seafood dinner accompanied by Menorcan wine – the vineyards here are fabulous!
Fun fact: Maó is the birthplace of mayonnaise! Other than sampling this island delicacy, don’t miss the Xoriguer Gin Distillery, the Museum of Menorca and the Teatre Pricipal, one of the oldest theatres in Europe, which still hosts musicals, operas and shows. Following renovations, Jardi de ses Bruixes was able to rescue some original doors from the theatre and repurpose them as headboards in their hotel rooms.
Just off the coast from Maó and Es Castell, ex-Royal Navy hospital Isla del Rey is one of those oldest of its kind in the world, dating back to the early 1700s. Saved from dereliction by volunteers, visitors can now tour the island while restoration steadily continues. On the mainland, you can also visit 18th-century Fort Marlborough and the expansive La Mola stronghold.
Cami de Cavalls
Menorca’s coast is lined by an ancient path stretching 185km, its origins are uncertain, but 17th-century documents refer to it as the Camí de Cavallers, meaning Path of Knights, so it is thought that it was intrinsic to the defence of the island from sea attacks. Today, it’s poplar route for hikers, trekkers, trail runners and mountain bikers – though no one will judge if you simply use it to stroll from one beach to another.
Bars and Nightlife
Although generally a quiet island Menorca does have a few hotspots for fun after dark. One of the island’s most famous spots, is Cova d’en Xoroi stunning bar and club is built into the cliff face on the southern coast, ensuring stunning sunsets over the waves. Come in the afternoon for a relaxing drink or later to dance the night away. Mao and Ciuatadella aslo have a good selection of independent bars, and the latter is also home to a brange of world-famous nightclub Space.
Many of Menorca’s excellent vineyards are open for tours – try Binifadet with it’s pretty vine-covered terrace, family-owned Binitord or award-winning Hort Sant Patrici, where there’s also cheese production, a modern sculpture garden and Ca Na Xini, if you want to stay longer.
Menorca’s west coast stronghold, Ciutadella was a merchant’s town for centuries and its pedestrianized old town boasts many beautiful townhouses and pretty cobbled squares. Come for a relaxing lunch along the harbourside and to view the imposing cathedral – guests at Hotel Tres Sants can watch the sunset over this impressive monument from the hotel roof terrace.
It’s rare to find loungers or umbrellas on Menorca many beautiful beaches, instead there’s usually just soft white sand accessed through woodland or rural pathways. The south coast is sprinkled with picturesque little coves; families will like Cala Binibequer, which has sunloungers and a snack bar, while purists may prefer the natural beauty of popular Mitjana and tiny Cala Binidali. We also love Playa de Cavalleria on the north coast (great for surfing).
On the north coast, Fornells fishing village is a popular spot for seafood, every town and village on has its share of independent tapas bars, and Mao is the widely believed to be the birthplace of mayonnaise. But for something a little more gastronomic, you can’t beat Torralbenc’s restaurant. Open to all (but priority is given to hotel guests), we recommend an alfresco dinner when the pergola is beautifully lit, the sommelier is fantastic, the wait team are full of recommendations and the food is wonderfully theatrical – not to be missed!
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