Things to do in Menorca

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by Hertz - 14 September 2018

Situated just off the coast of mainland Spain, to the east of Mallorca, Menorca is a laidback retreat that’s made for relaxing adventures. The glistening turquoise Mediterranean Sea laps against the endless golden sand of this serene island, with more than 130 miles of picturesque coastline to discover.

Quieter than its party-loving neighbours, Menorca’s calm waters and natural beauty have earned the island a reputation as a family-friendly destination and the ideal place if you’re looking to unwind.

Although Menorca is the second largest Balearic Island, it’s still relatively small and easy to drive around in one day. There are ancient monuments and idyllic beaches just waiting to be explored in this picture perfect destination. Discover the best places to visit, eat and stay in Menorca with our guide.

Menorca’s best beaches

The waters fringing Menorca, which fade from dark blue to light turquoise, sparkle invitingly, tempting you to dive in and cool down. Calm and crystal-clear, they’re one of the island’s top treasures.

Despite its smaller size, Menorca has the same number of beaches as Mallorca and Ibiza combined. You’ll be able to discover hidden parts of the coastline where the beaches are both serene and secluded.

As well as being the ideal destination for snorkelling, dune-backed
Cala Pregonda is a long beach that can be found on the quieter north coast, with ample room for sunbathing. A lunar landscape is created here from the pink rocks and red-tinged sand. You’ll have to hike to reach this marine reserve which is six miles from Es Mercadal. You can park up at Binimel-la Beach, from where it’s a half hour walk. 

Cala Turqueta, one of the island’s most famous, and most beautiful, beaches, can be found on the southern coast. Here, the sand is white and the water clear. The beach is small and the cove relatively untouched, offering the perfect place to soak up the sun and unwind. This gorgeous bay is connected to secluded Cala Macarelleta by a trail that boasts stunning views.

But there’s plenty of more energetic things to do at the beach in Menorca. As well as swimming you can discover the world beneath the surface by snorkelling or diving. One of the best spots for this is Cala Pregonda on the north coast, near Es Mercadel, where the still, clear water is perfect for spotting colourful fish.

You can also spend a fun day indulging in watersports, with sailing, paddleboarding and kayaking offering plenty of ways to while away an afternoon in the emerald waters of Menorca. Alternatively, you can relax on a glass-bottom boat tour and explore the sea that surrounds the island.

Water parks in Menorca

If you’re looking for a different type of thrill in the water then there are an array of water parks in Menorca to choose from. Aqua Center water park near Ciutadella in the west of the island is the perfect place for entertaining little ones. Fly down the giant water slide, splash in the pools or sit back and relax in the jacuzzi.

Aquarock Waterpark can be found in the modern resort of Cala’n Bosch on the south west coast of Menorca, around six miles from Ciutadella, and 20 miles from Mahon and the airport. One of the bigger water parks in Menorca, there are plenty of waterslides here, along with a large pool complete with a wave machine. Younger ones can enjoy a splash pool with smaller slides and water jets.

Splash Sur Menorca is located in the small resort of Biniancolla on the southern tip of Menorca. Check out the Multi-slide for fun races, or the Kamikaze for a high-speed adventure. The Black Hole offers spins and slides in total darkness for those feeling brave, while there are smaller slides and water jets for younger visitors, along with a Slow River for a relaxing float through the water, a Jacuzzi for grown-ups and more.

The Kamikaze and Black Hole can also be found at the Los Delfines Aqua Center in the western part of Menorca, along with other slides plus go-karts and a range of restaurants. Parque Acuatico is part of the Hotel Marina Parc, but is also open to non-guests. It has a good range of slides and a Lazy River. 

Menorca’s natural beauty

Back on dry land, there’s plenty to explore along the beautiful Menorca coastline and through the lush countryside. Menorca became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993 which means much of its natural beauty is protected. A botanist’s paradise, here you’ll find more than 100 species of plants, while wild flowers decorate the many meadows. Go horse riding to admire the beautiful scenery or enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the flat landscape.

Keen bird watchers are catered for too, with Egyptian vultures, ospreys, purple herons and hoopoes among those to spot flying high above the Menorcan skies. Parc Natural S’Albufera des Grau is one of the best places to do it, a stunning UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Swap the country for the city with a trip to vibrant Mahón. Established as the island’s capital during the reign of the British Empire, it’s teeming with English-inspired architecture. Admire the handsome 18th century Georgian mansions as you amble through the streets, making your way down to the largest natural harbour in the continent. Fall into step with the laidback pace of life here and graze leisurely on seafood at one of the many pavement cafes lining the marina, watching boats bob in the harbour as you eat.

Holiday here during the summer and you might experience the Gràcia Festival, a fiesta that takes over the streets of Mahón. The three-day extravaganza features music, fireworks and the island’s famous rearing black horses.

History and architecture in Ciutadella

Part of Menorca’s draw is its preserved history, with the island largely untouched by tourism. The best place to begin a journey back in time here is Ciutadella, the former capital.

Founded in the Carthaginian Empire and ruled by the Moors, this harbour city has witnessed a sizeable chunk of Menorca’s history. A devastating fire during a siege in the 16th century destroyed much of Ciutadella, but most of what was rebuilt can still be seen today.

Wander through the old quarter and you’ll be greeted by the sight of cobbled streets lined with grand palaces and baroque churches. Let these lead you to Plaça d’es Born, the historical centre of the city. Here you can marvel at the glorious Palau Torre-Saura, a neoclassical masterpiece, and 14th century Ajuntament, the city’s grand town hall.

Beyond the former capital, you’ll find Bronze Age sites, megalithic villages and stone monuments scattered across the Menorcan countryside which date back thousands of years. Make a beeline for Torre d’en Galmés, one of the best Talayotic sites on the island. Stroll among circular dwellings and deep underground storage chambers which have stood on the site for centuries.

Naveta d’Es Tudons, another top archaeological site, is believed to be Spain’s oldest roofed building. The Bronze Age burial chamber was excavated in the 1950s and is within easy reach of Ciutadella.

Ancient fortresses are no stranger to the island but Santa Agueda Castleis one of the oldest. Dating back to 1232, it was devastated following the invasion in 1287 by King Alfonso III of Aragon. Perched at Menorca’s third highest point, some 850 feet above sea level, the castle offers sweeping views across the lush rolling hills that surrounding it. 

Where to stay and eat in Menorca

Menorca hotels

A country hideaway or an urban bolthole – whatever type of hotel you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Menorca.

Alcaufar Vell Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels on the island. It’s located a mile away from the coast, close to the capital Mahón. Dating back to the 14th century, the hotel is set in extensive grounds where much of the food served in the restaurant is grown. The rooms in the Neoclassical-style mansion all boast a whirlpool bath, while in the grounds you’ll find a swimming pool and a tree-lined path which heads straight down to the sea.

Equally luxurious is Sant Joan de Binissaida, a restored 18th century farmhouse situated on a working sheep and horse farm. It’s located a 10-minute drive from Mahón and the sea, between El Castell and Sant Lluís. On the menu you’ll find contemporary twists on traditional dishes created using fresh produce from the farm.

Menorca may well be the ideal destination for families but if you’re travelling as a couple, choose Jardí de Ses Bruixes Boutique Hotel. This adult-only hotel located in Mahón is situated in a 19th-century townhouse in the historic centre. Head up to the rooftop terrace and you can enjoy uninterrupted panoramic views out to the port. Alternatively, make your way down to the underground spa where you’ll find a heated therapy pool whirlpool tub, steam room and sauna.  

Best restaurants in Menorca 

From traditional lobster stew and moreish local cheese, right down to mayonnaise, which was invented here, Menorca serves up delicious cuisine in every corner of the island.

On the outskirts of Mahón you’ll find Can Bernat, a popular seafood joint famed for its local shellfish. In fact, the catch of the day will have been caught by the restaurant’s own fishing boat. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of seafood, this place also serves up a fine steak – just be sure to book a table in advance.

More stellar seafood can be enjoyed at Café Balearin Ciutadella. This waterside restaurant has been serving seafood since the 1970s and is one of the best places to try the famed Menorcan lobster stew, Caldereta de Langosta.

Also in Ciutadella is Cas Ferrer De Sa Font. Once a blacksmith’s forge, this restaurant serves up authentic cuisine with locally grown – and reared – ingredients. Take a seat in the quaint courtyard and pick from the menu of creative and traditional dishes. The octopus carpaccio and suckling pig are touted as some of the best dishes on the island.

A short distance from the capital, Mahón, you’ll find Cap Roigwhich boasts views across Cala Sa Mesquida from its position on the clifftop. Sit on the terrace and look out on the sea as you try the Menorcan seafood dishes, from squid ink risotto and lobster paella to Galician octopus. Aim to dine here at sunset – the views are breathtaking.

Over in Cala en Porter on the south coast you’ll find Cova d’en Xorionestled in the cliffs above the sea. This is the perfect place to have a nightcap as you watch the sunset and enjoy live music while admiring the stunning backdrop.

Hikes and walks in Menorca

The flat landscape of Menorca makes this the perfect destination for walking and hiking. There are several trails to follow and impressive scenery provides the perfect backdrop wherever you decide to wander.

Walking around the outskirts of the entire island is possible via an ancient coastal path known as the Cami de Cavalls. While you may not have time to walk the entire 116-mile distance, it’s worth joining the path when possible to discover the more remote beaches and secluded spots of Menorca. The path is split into 20 sections, ranging from three miles to just over eight miles so you can choose one that fits the bill.

Head to the north-east of the island and you’ll find Parc Natural S’Albufera des Grau, close to the village of Es Grau. This enormous, protected natural haven is the perfect spot for walking, made up of idyllic islands and a freshwater lagoon. You’ll find three designated trails to follow, ranging from wetland to forest, alongside dunes and cliffs and beside marine and agricultural areas.

Sa Gola, one of the trails, is around a mile long and takes you behind the beach at Es Grau and through the Sa Gola canal. For those wishing to go a little further, the longest trail is just under two miles. It’s an ideal place to spot mallards, grey herons and black-winged stilts as you walk alongside the lagoon.      

For more spectacular scenery as you stroll, head to Cala Galdana on the south coast of the island in search of Algendar Gorge. Here, over thousands of years, the water has carved out a limestone ravine that reaches the sea at Cala Galdana. The area is a magnet for keen hikers – join them and discover the dramatic beauty of the gorge.

Menorca is the perfect destination to escape everyday life. It’s serene and quiet but there’s plenty of opportunity to soak up the natural beauty on show.