When Menorca was first suggested to me as a destination for a short European beach break, I was sceptical. Like many people, the name Menorca along with it’s larger sister island Majorca, conjured images in my mind of mass tourism, tacky English bars and endless resorts. If it wasn’t for the fact the recommendation came from a Spanish friend of mine, who, as well as having insider knowledge, has impeccable taste, I may not have bothered to look into what the small mediterranean island has to offer. I can honestly say I am glad I did, as what I found was an island full of hidden coves, crystal clear waters, picturesque towns and ancient cities full of history, culture and great food! There are of course areas of Menorca that do live up to its more touristic reputation, however, if like me, you prefer to steer clear of package holidays and explore an area on your own terms, Menorca is an excellent destination for a sun filled break!
So, to give you an introduction to the island, and some tips on what you should see and do, here are my 5 reasons why Menorca should be on your travel list!
1- Stunning coves + crystal clear water = a beach lovers paradise!
I don’t know about you, but I love a cove. Long stretches of beach are great, but for me, you just can’t beat a good cove. They have this hidden, secret vibe about them and they provide great shelter from the wind, so you feel like you’re lying in a permanent sun trap. Menorca has a whole host of fantastic coves (mostly along the south coast), some more easily accessible than others, but each spectacular in their own way. Here are a few I visited on my trip, plus a couple that I didn’t get the chance to visit but I know come highly recommended:
- Cala Binidali- This was the first cove I visited as I was staying nearby in an Air BNB on the south-east side of the island. The actual cove itself is really small, but it has a large expanse of crystal clear water that is perfect for swimming around in. We parked on the road at the top of the cove near the Binidali beach bar; parking is limited, however we arrived late afternoon so managed to get a space as others where leaving the beach. There is a short pathway that leads down to the beach that gives you a pretty view of the surrounding area. We dropped our bags and went straight into the water and stayed there until the sun was beginning to set. By the time we came out, a wedding ceremony had been set up on the shore, and so I made a speedy exit, grabbing my towel as I rushed past all the wedding guests!
- Cala Macarella & Cala Macarellela- You’ll find many of Menorca’s coves come in pairs. The main coves often have smaller ones next door to them, which are frequented by nudists. To get to Cala Macarella, you have to walk a good 10-15 minutes from the car park. There are a couple of car parks to choose from, the closer one has a fee while the other one further away is free. Whichever you choose there will be a walk to get to the cove so its worth having something other than flipflops to wear. There are some great websites with detailed instructions on how to find the car parks etc so I’ll link to one here. The main cove has a small beach bar and restaurant with toilets and bins, and you can rent kayaks and paddle boards from the beach. The pathway to the smaller cove Cala Macarellela leads you on an impressive trail, high around the rock face that separates the two coves. It wasn’t the easiest of walks, especially in the heat, but it was well worth the effort as you get great views of both coves and lots of photo opportunities. We also ended up spending the whole day at the smaller cove, as it was less busy and completely picturesque. Both coves had lots of shaded areas from trees which made it a comfortable place to spend the whole day. If you end up heading to Cala Macarellela, make sure you bring snacks and water with you as you won’t want to do the walk back to the main cove to buy food and drinks.
- Cala Mitjana & Cala Mitjaneta- Again these two coves are next door to one another, and both require a walk through the forest to get there from the car park. We had a lot of trouble finding a parking space, as we visited in the busy month of July. I really would recommend getting to the beaches as early as possible to minimise the stress of finding a space. The cove is surrounded by high cliffs which makes for a great spot to try out some cliff jumping. We actually ended up staying on a rocky cliff ledge to the west of the beach, where there were great spots for jumping into the sea, for all levels of braveness. There are no beach bars or restaurants, so best to bring your own supplies. The coves are near to the popular beach resort Cala Galdana, I believe it’s possible to hike from Galdana to the coves, or another option would be to rent a kayak or boat and get there via the sea.
- Cala Turqueta- Arguably the most beautiful cove on the island, Cala Turqueta is supposed to have it all; turquoise water (hence the name), white sand, and a backdrop of beautiful pine trees. I didn’t find the time to visit the cove, but if I return to the island I definitely will as every photo I’ve seen of it looks beautiful.
- Cala Trebaluger- Again I didn’t manage to get to this cove myself, however I think its worth a mention as apparently, it’s one of the few coves that doesn’t get crowded in the high summer season. This is because it’s not the easiest cove to get to; you have to walk along the coast from Cala Mitjana to get there, which deters a lot of people. But if you’re looking for a beautiful beach, away from the crowds, then it may well be worth the effort getting there.
2- Who doesn’t love picturesque towns with boho vibes?
There are loads of beautiful small towns and villages to explore on the island of Menorca, and if you rent a car you will no doubt find yourself driving past many where you could stop and easily spend a few hours exploring. I visited one small seaside village by the name of Binibequer Vell that I think is worth a mention. The town is about 5 miles from Mahon and was developed in the 70’s with the aim of recreating a small traditional fishing village. The whole area, which is filled with quaint whitewashed houses connected by small cobbled lanes, gives off an almost Greek vibe and makes for a perfect backdrop for a photo or two! You’ll also find a handful of little cafés where you can enjoy a coffee before moving on to your next destination.
3- It’s the perfect size- plenty to do and easy to navigate
I was only in Menorca for 4 days; however, I still managed to see and do a lot in my short visit. That’s because, although Menorca is one of the smallest Balearic Islands, it’s packed full of attractions and all of them are in easy reach of one another. To put it in perspective, it only takes around an hour to drive from one end of the island to the other and yet Menorca apparently has more beaches than Mallorca and Ibiza combined! For this reason, I really don’t think it matters where exactly you choose to stay on the island. I rented a small AirBnB in the countryside outside of Mahon in the east of the island, however we found ourselves driving to the west of the island most days, but it was never a problem and we found ourselves enjoying the journeys. We found the island to be very well connected with roads that never seemed to be very busy, which made driving and exploring the island stress free. My only tip is to be wary of your SatNav trying to direct you down small country lanes when you head to more rural spots, as on one occasion we found ourselves driving along a very tight dirt lane with unforgiving dry-stone walls on either side- not the best when in a rental car!
4- There’s a great choice of bars and restaurants
Although we found it useful during the day, to buy supplies from local minimarkets to make picnics for the beach, we also ate out each evening and so I got to see a little bit of what Menorca has to offer in terms of bars and restaurants. Where we ended up spending each evening was down to a mixture of recommendations, research and luck, everything worked out great though and we really got to enjoy the warm evenings…
- Cuitadella De Menorca- This delightful port city on the west coast of the island was worthy of a day visit as it’s packed with historical buildings and shops that I would have loved to look around if I had the time. I found the whole place very beautiful and there were loads of bars and restaurants to choose from. My Spanish friend had recommended eating paella at Restaurant Aurora, so after wandering around the centre and busy port area we headed there to eat. Food and service was really good, and you can sit outside to make the most of the warm evenings.
- Cave De Xoroi- A visit to Menorca would not be complete without a trip to Cave De Xoroi. I came across the bar when researching Menorca, and although it’s a bit of a tourist hot spot, it’s truly unique setting makes it worth a visit! The bar itself is located within a cave on a very high cliff edge, making for spectacular views of the ocean. Many people seem to go to watch the sunset from here, so it does get rather crowded, but this didn’t hugely spoil it for me. The entrance fee was 15 Euros but that included an alcoholic drink from the bar. The night I visited also had live music playing and the band that performed was really good.
- Cales Fonts- We found this delightful little harbour by pure accident, as we were looking for somewhere to eat that was near our AirBnB. All around the harbour there are a lovely choice of restaurants and some very tempting shops (although I have to say everything in the shops was very expensive!). Definitely worth checking out if you’re staying nearby.
5- It’s a kick ass holiday that doesn’t break the bank!
Easyjet has some great prices for direct flights to Menorca from London Gatwick, London Luton, and Bristol. Jet2 also operates direct flights to Menorca from Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle, although it seems harder to find the cheaper flights from these airports. AirBnB has plenty of low budget accommodation throughout the island, so finding somewhere nice but affordable to stay is pretty easy and as for car hire, prices are generally very competitive on the island. So, with everything the island has to offer and the fact a holiday here can be organised on a tight budget- Menorca really does deserve to be added to your travel list!
Have you been to Menorca? Tell me your holiday highlights below. Or feel free to ask questions if you’re planning a trip and want more advice!