The mellow island of Menorca drums to a slower beat than siblings Mallorca and Ibiza, and therefore perfect if you're looking for a holiday of rest. The easternmost Balearic Island is lined by some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean: long swathes of powder-fine sand give way to rocky calas (bays) lapped by pale blue waters. Its capital overlooks a boat-speckled harbor while inland, whitewashed villages are tucked into the folds of rolling hills. Elsewhere, Bronze Age sites dot the landscape. Our Menorca travel guide is here to give you the low-down.
Located approximately 200 km southeast of Barcelona in the Mediterranean Sea, Menorca is the second-largest island in the Balearic archipelago. It also forms the easternmost edge of the Baetic System, a continental mountain range that proceeds partially underwater off the eastern coast of Spain. Probably due to its being located on the outermost edge of this range, Menorca possesses notably different geological characteristics from the other Balearic Islands and the rest of the Baetic System.
The entire northern coastline of the island consists mostly of rocky cliff faces, with numerous natural coves and small ports. As much of Menorca’s geological morphology renders it unsuitable for large-scale agriculture animal husbandry is thought to have provided an important means of subsistence since ancient times Menorca’s location relative to other bodies of land and the maritime conditions which govern its accessibility within the western Mediterranean were undoubtedly important factors in the formation of its external relationships. Pliny refers to the relationship of the Balearic Islands with the South of France, specifically with the Narbonense, and Strabo notes the proximity of Ebusus to North Africa. Additionally, the open route from the Balearics to Sicily and Sardinia was often used as a return route from Hispania to Italy, or via the Strait of Bonifacio directly to Ostia and Rome. The archipelago provided a good stopover for making repairs to ships, or for resupplying and taking on more water before a potentially difficult voyage across open water.
The Consell Insular de Menorca, the reserve's responsible governing body, has chosen sustainability so that future generations of island residents can fully enjoy the island's natural resources and beautiful landscapes. As a result, any actions taken within the territory must be carefully considered to preserve the quality of life and environmental values that have led to its designation as a UNESCO biosphere reserve for future generations. Our objectives as a biosphere reserve are as follows:Support activities that preserve traditional landscapes and avoid those that may be detrimental to them.
It categorizes territories in the hopes of ensuring sustainability and regulating urban growth. The Contract Agrari de la Reserva de Biosfera encourages proper agro-environmental practices as well (Agricultural Contract of the Biosphere Reserve).To provide evidence for the preservation of natural ecosystems, including indigenous flora and fauna. To that end, campaigns for the eradication of invasive flora and the active protection of threatened species, as well as unique habitats such as temporary ponds, have been developed, and environmental restoration projects are being carried out. Increase your understanding of natural and cultural resources. This is accomplished through research and investigation of natural and archaeological heritage. Develop strategies for local sustainability. Manage environmental issues related to the coastline and beaches, which serve as the foundation for tourist activity, particularly by protecting dune and marine ecosystems.
Click by Nicolas Vigier from Flickr
In the shade of El Toro, Es Mercadal is a sleepy village in the heart of Menorca - and an emerging gourmet destination. You'll discover a cluster of pastry shops and coffee bars; be sure to try the almond macaroons. Due to the nature of the roads and transport in Menorca, this makes Es Mercadal one of the most convenient locations from which you can explore all sections of the coastline on day trips with public transport or your car. At the foot of Monte Toro, the highest point in Menorca, it's also a popular day trip destination for foodies and those looking for a slice of local life away from the coast. However, this pro of being in the interior is also outweighed by quite a big con for any visitors making their accommodation choice: Es Mercadal is nowhere near the sea. In this guide, we've shared the best things to do in Es Mercadal if you're only visiting for the day, plus lots of tips and recommendations for those of you who may be considering it as your accommodation base in Menorca.
Click by Hugh Llewelyn from Flickr
While the capital is technically a city, its enchanting old town is worth a mention. Spread across a clifftop, Mahón overlooks the harbor. Don't miss the Museum of Menorca, housed in the monastery of San Fraps Mahon is the capital of Menorca, the second largest of the Balearic Islands. It stands out from the others because of the abundance of prehistoric structures, and because its culture was influenced by British occupation in the 18th century. The people who built the prehistoric constructions are believed to have been responsible for similar works in Sardinia, and Stonehenge in England. Believed to have been founded by the Carthaginian General Mago, Mahon was held by the Moors from the 8th to the 13th century and in turn, occupied by the English, the French, and the Spanish. Mahon was finally ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.
Click by adamansel52 from Flickr
If you want to try traditional Dubrovnik food, look out for Zelena ministry, or green stew. The staple ingredients are meat, potatoes, and cabbage. You could call this stew a classic- it was first documented in 1480. Suited to those wanting an authentic atmosphere set in attractive surrounding countryside Sant Lluis is a residential town at the heart of one of the top, if not the best, tourist areas on the island. The southeast corner of the island is the "golden triangle". Sant Lluis is a traditional Menorcan town (though architecturally it's grid-based- heritage from its french military occupying founders). Surrounded by picture postcard countryside and villages Sant Lluis is a great base to explore the island being equidistant from many attractions in the surrounding area and near to the popular south coast beaches. A people-friendly and walking-scale town. The main shopping street has quaint little shops, inviting pastry shops, bakers, and Bar Restaurants. Accommodation here is limited to small hostels and private holiday homes.
Click by Eladio Anxo Fernández Ma from Flickr
Es Grau is a tourist resort that feels like a town's traditional village and one of the most popular Menorca towns. Albufera des Grau nature reserve brims with wildlife and is a great bird-watching spot too. The half-kilometer crescent of soft dark sand that fans out from Es Grau village is far from manicured - but that’s what makes it so appealing. Divided in two by a big rock, it offers a larger beach popular with families and a smaller, more intimate cove, both edged by a large expanse of warm blue water that’s the perfect depth for paddling. It’s this paddling-pool depth hatch that makes Platja Es Grau beach so perfect for young children and those that enjoy calm waters, as well as an ideal spot for snorkelers.
Click by David Martín :: Suki_ :: from Flickr
Cala en Porter
Clinging to the sheer cliff face, this seaside town overlooks a picturesque cove lapped by sparkling waters. A handful of bars and restaurants create a buzz in the summer months. Cala en Porter is in Alaior, south of Menorca, between Cala Binidali and Son Bou. It's an excellent beach for children as it offers many services and high security. It has a lifeguard, and the coast has some buoys that avoid boats getting close to the beach. It's surrounded by high cliffs, generating a beautiful bay with a beach at the end. The strong north winds don't affect this shore. However, if it blows south winds, maybe you should go to another beach, as there will be big waves. In that case, beaches in the north are the best option.
Click by Travelinho from Flickr
Forested slopes tumble down to flour-fine sand, where it's warm enough to sunbathe year-round. Take a dip among brightly colored fish, weaving among the sailboats bobbing in the bay. Cala Macarella is probably one of the most spectacular corners of Menorca. This small beach hidden between rocks offers some of the most pristine waters of the Mediterranean and fine white sand that is perfect for sunbathing for hours. Access to some of the hidden coves of Menorca can be complicated and, sometimes, only possible by sea. However, Cala Macarella is one of the most famous beaches on the island, so reaching is a bit simpler than with others. Of course, the options vary depending on whether we want to visit it during the g high season (summer months) or low.
Click by Miguel Escobar Gómez from Flickr
Cala Turqueta is the tranquil alter-ego of sibling Cala Galdana. Despite being just a short hop from one another along the southern coast, Cala Turqueta feels more remote and untouched. The beach is sheltered from most of the wind and waves making it a lovely spot for a swim. You can also snorkel around the rocky ledgeonat on either side. However, there is no lifeguard service or any other facilities for that matter. Cala en Turqueta remains very much a beautifully pristine cove. Despite there not being anything in the way of cafes or amenities Cala en Turqueta is still one of the most popular beaches on Menorca. Given its small si, this can mean it gets a little busy during the summer months. What does keep the crowds down is the th10-minute or so walk from the car park. This is also where you will find the toilets. Our advice is to get to the beach early. Not only will you avoid the crowds but you will get the best of the sun, which tends to dip behind the trees in the late afternoon.
Click by Markus Trienke from Flickr
Menorca is rapidly developing as a center for water sports- one of the coolest things to do in Menorca. Fornells is one of the top Menorca beaches for windsurfing, sailing, and kite surfing. Fornells is a (former) fisherman's village that has become the main place for sail-based based water sports and specialist fish restaurants on the island. Centered around the fishing harbor, it remains mostly residential. The village is located at the entrance to a huge enclosed natural bay whose protected waters make it perfect for all manner of sail based 'messing aboaboutore like a large salt water lake the wind conditions here are great for beginners of anything that floats on water. Very pleasant for lunchtime and evening drinks and meals alongside the harbor quay
Click by Steve. from Flickr
From the limestone cliffs honeycombed with prehistoric cave dwellings, through to the Roman-era harbor, Cala Coves is sure to pique the interest of every history buff. Cales Coves' central bay splits into two smaller bays. It happens because the ravines of the orography reach the sea. There is the Son Domingo ravine on the left side and the Biniedrís ravine on the right side. And for sure one of the oldest ones. It was from the Bronze Age. It's a fascinating cultural place for people interested in history. Civilization used to bury human bodies before the Christian ages.
Click by Steve. from Flickr
On the wilder north coast is the remote Cala Pregonda. A scattering of wind-sculpted islets shelters the bay, making the waters calm for snorkeling. The area is a marine reserve brimming with fish and sea. Cala Pregonda is a practically unspunspoilede; there are only a few houses nearby. There are no services and it is completely isolated. This means that it is one of the most incredible and natural coves on the entire island, scarcely touched by human intervention. All the area is protected and forms part of Minorca’s Natural Areas of Special Interest. It is a very special and very different corner since fewer people go to the coves in the north than to those in the south. One of the main singularities of Cala Pregonda is its geological wealth.
Click by Eladio Anxo Fernández Ma from Flickr
Cala del Pilar
Another biting into the north coast is Cala del Pilar, where rose-tinted sand bursts through pockets of dense shrubs. If you're feeling sun-scorched, smear some of the red mud yourself to nourish your ski n.skins a beach that is open to the swell, making it practically inaccessible to enter the beach when the Tramontana blows strongly. It is a beach formed by gravel and golden sands. This dark reddish tone is characteristic of the north of Menorca, and you can also see the hills surrounding the beach, such as the hills of Marina de Santa Elisabet. The difficult access to this beach makes it a little crowded, ideal for those looking for a relaxing day surrounded by nature by the sea.