Six to Know: Menorca

Scanning a map of the Mediterranean—dotted with islands of various sizes and personalities—one might miss Menorca, the tiny Spanish isle located 50 miles to Mallorca’s northeast. Slightly larger than Ibiza but a fraction of the size of its neighbor (Mallorca’s ‘major’ to its ‘minor’), Menorca has long been overlooked by international travelers, having been overshadowed by its buzzier sister islands: the vibrant party setting, Ibiza, and the bustling beach and countryside destination, Mallorca.

By contrast, Menorca is delightfully untouched, having avoided the tourist boom of the late 20th century when many of Mallorca’s small towns were invaded by large hotels. Here, the pace is slow and the days are long: even on a trip at the height of the summer, I found myself wandering the quiet streets of old town Ciutadella (the island’s original capital) without another person in sight. There is a true peacefulness and authenticity here; some say Menorca resembles the seaside retreats of Positano or Marbella of decades ago, and visitors can’t help but feel like they are sharing in a secret by being here. Indeed, the island does not offer much in the form of cultural activities and sites—there is no ‘scene’ of lively beach clubs and fashionable nightlife—but for travelers in search of a place to truly unplug, Menorca is ideal. Here are six things to keep in mind when planning your trip there.

1. Spend a few days At its core, Menorca is a real retreat, attracting sun-worshipping beachgoers who are looking to relax off the grid. While many visitors choose to stay for a night or two as a short coastal getaway, Menorca can be enjoyed for longer stays as well. Though small, the island is rife with opportunities for exploration, from sparkling hidden coves to hiking trails and ancient ruins. We recommend renting a car, as travelers will want the freedom to explore beyond their hotel.

2. Start in Ciutadella Visitors should station themselves in or near Ciutadella, the charming seaside village on the island’s northwestern coast, and plan excursions from there. While the city is tiny (and easy to navigate on foot—as the historic center can be circumnavigated in less than an hour), it delights travelers with its quaint harbor and cobblestone streets that are noticeably devoid of crowds. Spend a day roaming the narrow paths of old town: browse in the many boutiques that sell a rainbow-colored selection of espadrilles or shop for chic beachwear and accessories at Simplement (Ntra. Sra. Dolors, 7); stop for lunch at the elegant S’Amarador for particularly fresh seafood and a view of the harbor (Carrer de Pere Capllonch, 42) or nearby Cafè Balear, which is known for its lobster (Passeig es Pla de Sant Joan, 15); and don’t miss the funky Sa Gelateria de Menorca gelato shop with a hot pink stucco interior. This literal hole-in-the-wall is located inside the city’s fortress wall that separates the harbor from the main square (Major des Born).

3. Days are slow Menorca beckons visitors with its laid-back, beach town personality—not its celebrated cultural sites or trendy beach clubs. The charming island feels a bit sleepy, and (for better or for worse) hardly anyone speaks English outside of the hotels. Visitors will spend days wandering the quiet courtyards of Ciutadella, savoring long lunches along the harbor dotted with fishing boats (no yachts here), exploring the island’s verdant landscapes and spending days at the beach. Travelers in search of a more lively scene or those who prefer jam-packed days of cultural exploration should consider Mallorca or the Amalfi Coast.

4. Hotels are low-key Despite its small size, Menorca is home to two lovely retreats: Can Faustino, a stylish boutique hotel in a renovated 17th–century manor house located in the heart of Ciutadella; and Torralbenc (, a gorgeous countryside hideaway housed in a white-washed farmhouse. Both properties are utterly romantic and Torralbenc in particular is ideal for long days of relaxation by the pool. Each hotel offers excursions and activities including horseback riding and boat rentals.

5. Take time to enjoy the beaches Menorca is known to have some of the most pristine beaches in the Mediterranean. During high season (June–September), it’s best to go in the morning before they get busy. Guests should visit Cala Algaiarens (also referred to as La Vall), a secluded, sandy beach with bright blue, shallow waters (on the island’s north coast), or Cala Mitjana, an oasis flanked by cliffs and with powder-white sand. Boating is a great way to explore these coves, as calm waters allow guests to moor their tenders only a few meters from shore. Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team for personalized recommendations.

6. … And the exceptional landscape Menorca was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993 due to its stunning and varied landscape, the majority of which is largely untouched. The island’s rugged interior is known for its dramatic cliffs, protected beaches and diverse habitats of caves and wetlands, and is ideal for exploring. Highlights include Cami de Cavalls, an ancient military path that encircles Menorca; once patrolled by soldiers on horseback guarding the island from invaders, the scenic, hilly path is great for hiking and mountain biking. S'Albufera Es Grau Nature Park, located on the northeastern coast of the island, is a haven of lagoons and marshes that is home to over 250 species of birds. Nature enthusiasts should book a guided tour with an expert who can advise on the best hiking and biking routes throughout the island.

Menorca is a 45-minute flight from Palma, Mallorca, and 3-4 hours by boat or ferry from Mallorca’s northeast coast. For customized itineraries and recommendations, contact the Bookings Team.

Related: Mallorca Destination ReportTop Ten: Mallorca

Published onAugust 25, 2016

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