Minorca (or Menorca) is one of Spain’s Balearic islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Traditionally more low-key than its neighbors, Mallorca and Ibiza, it’s known for its endless beaches, from miles-long sandy crescents to rocky, turquoise-watered bays called “calas.” Pine trees fringe the coast. The capital, Mahon, is on a bluff overlooking a large harbor, with Georgian mansions and a church with 13th-century roots.
Area: 702 km²
Island group: Balearic Islands
Province: Balearic Islands
Top 17 things you must try when visiting this place:
1. Love Menorca
Here’s a trio of treasures awaiting you along the island’s Eastern coast. As you cruise around one of the world’s deepest natural harbours, you can admire spectacular views of the majestic historical buildings that line the port of Mahon. Once back on dry land, there’s time to visit Menorca’s vibrant capital on market day. Travel along the scenic coastal road until we stumble upon the whitewashed sugar-cubed village of Binibeca before making a beach stop at lunchtime. Travelling further along the East coast, we come to the unique prehistoric Caves of Xoroi. Admire the views over the Mediterranean whilst sipping a cool complimentary drink. Cameras are essential on this great day out.
If you want to get a feel for Menorca’s past, this trip to the island’s former capital is ideal. Packed with medieval architecture and Moorish-style buildings, Ciutadella’s cobbled lanes, Gothic churches and palaces make it heaven for exploring. You’ll start with a guided tour taking in all the best bits of this delightful town. There’s the palm-shaded Placa des Borns, considered one of Spain’s most beautiful squares and home to the elegant Town Hall. Plus, there are the lavish 17th-century palaces tucked down the surrounding alleyways. Built by Menorca’s richest families, a few of these aristocratic mansions are open for visits, including the grandiose Palau Salord, which is stacked with antiques, tapestries and frescoes. Another highpoint is the Cathedral, a 14th-century masterpiece built on the site of an ancient mosque. After that, you’ll have a couple of hours to wander round, so you can hunt for souvenirs, visit a museum or two, or head to one of the harbour front cafes to cool off with drinks while you watch the passing boats.
3. La Verge De Gracia
This 3-day festival celebrates the islands patron saint, our Lady of Grace, and the events in Mahon eclipse the rest of Menorca’s towns and villages. Expect medieval markets, donkey races, and processions through the streets. The harbour regattas and fireworks displays are pretty spectacular.
4. Fiesta Sant Llorenc
Alaior locals go all out for the fiesta of San Lorenzo, a Menorcan patron saint. The festivities hit the town in August, usually around the middle of the month, and there’s a 2-week or so build-up of activities before the main event. There are all sorts of things on the agenda, like football tournaments, paella parties, jazz performances and cheese-tasting. The festival is then climaxed with a huge Sunday evening parade, featuring a float procession and an appearance of the local mascot, Xoroi the giant.
5. San Juan Fiesta
San Juan is a monster celebration that marks the summer solstice. It’s celebrated across Spain, and Ciutadella is one of the best places to see the festivities. The street parties go on for 3 or 4 days, but the headliner is the famous horse-riding procession. Watch as black stallions rear up into the air, and locals surge forward to touch the horses’ chests. Then get ready to be pelted with hazelnuts. It might sound bizarre, but it’s not an act of aggression – each nut actually represents a kiss.
6. Admire the blooms in Torre D’en Gaumes
This prehistoric village near Son Bou is the largest of its kind in the Balearic Islands. It was home to more than 1,000 people back in its heyday in 1400 BC. Now deserted and bursting with wild flowers, its crumbled walls wrap around well-preserved ‘taulas’ – T-shaped temples – and ‘taliatos’ – round towers.
7. Point your camera at Santa Eulalia Church
Alaior is dominated by a Baroque church, which was built sometime between 1674 and 1690. Aside from offering incredible countryside views, a result of its elevated setting, it’s also worth a visit for its intricate carvings. Among the highlights is the huge front door, which is etched with fruit, temples and angelic-looking faces.
8. Soak up the scenery on Cala Es Talaier Beach
Cala es Talaier is a 40-minute drive from the nearest resort, Cala Galdana, and it’s backed by a thick pine forest, so not many people know about it. It’s really tiny – just 80 metres long – but it’s one of the most picturesque beaches on the island, thanks to its blindingly white sand and striking rock formations. The exploring potential is great, too – the rock pools have all sorts of crabs and urchins clinging to their edges.
9. Discover pretty Macarella Beach
If there was a gong for Menorca’s best-looking cove, Macarella Beach may well clinch it. To get here, you’re looking at about 15 minutes in the car from Ciutadella, then a 15-minute walk through pine woods. But the beach’s super-fine white sands and turquoise waters make it well worth the trek.
10. Delve into the caves of Cales Coves
The Cales Coves, near Cala en Porter, have seen millennia come and go. This prehistoric site overlooks a rocky bay and is made up of over 100 Bronze Age caves. Between the 9th and 4th centuries BC, the caverns were used as both homes and cemeteries. Today, they shine a light on Bronze Age life – in some of the caves you can still see wall paintings depicting ancient customs.
11. Relax on Cala Binisafuller Beach
You’ll find the tiny cove of Cala Binisafuller about halfway between the towns of Binibeca and Binidali. It’s shaded by leaning pine and palm trees, and there’s nothing here, save for a whitewashed villa belonging to a lucky local. In the summer, fishing boats bob along the shores, hoping to take visitors out on trips around the coast.
12. Visit Naveta Des Tudons
It might look like an upturned boat, but Naveta des Tudons, a few minutes outside Ciutadella, is actually a millennia-old burial chamber. Built from limestone back in the Bronze Age, it’s the oldest roofed building in Spain. Over 100 skeletons were unearthed here in the Seventies, and some were still wearing the bronze arm bracelets of their day.
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