Menorca sits in the Mediterranean and can be reached in around two hours flying time from London. One of the Balearic Islands, Menorca is perhaps a little lesser known than its sister islands Ibiza and Majorca but don’t overlook it as this little gem has something for everyone. For adventure seekers there are a whole host of activities from kayaking to horse riding and paragliding. Outdoor enthusiasts will love adventuring along Cami de Cavalls, 180 kms of walking routes that cover the whole of the island. For history buffs there are forts and megalithic monuments and lets not forget the beach lovers, Menorca’s 160km of coastline is covered in white sand beaches with turquoise waters just right for kicking back and relaxing on. Families will also love this idyllic island. A Biosphere Reserve, Menorca proudly preserves its natural environment and I can see why. After being invited on a weeklong press trip with Spain, Menorca and Traverse Events I am now desperate to get back there! The trip consisted of dinner and drinks at some of Menorca’s best bars and restaurants and the days were jam packed with boat trips, exploring pretty towns and historical landmarks, gin tasting, (right up my street!) a visit to a shoe factory and the opportunity to see some of Menorca’s finest beaches. I also managed to squeeze in a bit of pool time in honour of the hashtag #MenorcaSlow! Read on for my 9 must do’s in Menorca…
Mahon, the capital of Menorca is full of beautiful architecture, white washed buildings and tiny lanes, which are great for exploring. Steeped in history and home to one of the world’s largest natural harbours there is plenty to see and do in this pretty city. For a different view take a boat tour around the harbour, Yellow Catamarans have glass bottom boats, great for spotting marine life. The one-hour trip cruises around the harbour, past fortifications, the pretty fishing village of Es Castells and hidden beaches. A stop in a gorgeous cove with the opportunity to pop below deck to the glass bottom for a bit of sea life spotting is a fun extra. Back on dry land stroll around the quaint streets, pick up a frozen Pomada (I’ll talk more about this below) and people watch. Mahon is great for shopping; visit the fish market and Mercat del Claustre del Carme which is full of local produce, the famous Mahon cheese, clothes and jewellery. Shoe shopping is a must here, Menorca is famous for its sandals, they come in all sorts of colours and can be found in many shops around the city. I’ve never seen such beautiful leather sandals in so many different colours!
Visit a gin distillery
If like me you love a drop of gin then this place is a must visit! The Xoriguer gin distillery in Mahon is a fun and interesting visit, sample Menorca’s favourite tipple in the tasting room, also try the other flavours, chocolate, peppermint and chamomile to name just a few. The distillery can be viewed through glass windows, I was lucky enough to step foot behind inside and marvel at the gin making process. The gin is distilled using water from the harbour and infused with juniper berries. It can be purchased in glass and ceramic bottles; the latter were supposedly used by pirates and can be kept and refilled. I have added Xoriguer to my own gin collection and now only drink it with lemon…
Drink Pomada in a cave
Still on the gin theme, Pomada is a local creation; gin mixed with cloudy lemonade, or Lemon Fanta, its delicious and is now my new favourite drink! Order it frozen or straight up as it is. The best place to drink this fabulous gin concoction has to be at Cova D‘En Xoroi a bar in a cave on the edge of the ocean. A unique setting to watch the sunset this place was originally used by pirates for smuggling. Today the caves have cosy corners with awesome sea views, a decked area out on a breezy edge and plenty of Pomada! This has to be one of the best bars on the island and an unforgettable place to have a drink.
Jump into the ocean
There are a lot of rocky outcrops dotted along the coast just right for jumping into the crystal clear Mediterranean ocean. The tiny fishing community of Alcaufar was my favourite place to do this. A gorgeous inlet of turquoise water and a good snorkelling spot. Take care to check out where you are jumping, be sure the water is deep enough and there is enough clearance away from rocks. I stayed in S’Algar, a 15-minute walk across the rocks from Alcaufar, although it has no beach there are ladders on the rocks to swim in the sea and some good spots for jumping in. Check out Brendan Van Son’s Menorca Vlog, 3 minutes in I join him and his GoPro for some awesome saltwater jumps!
Have dinner with incredible views at Cap Roig
Plan to get to Cap Roig before sunset, high up on a bluff overlooking the town of Sa Mesquida and the ocean the views are stunning, especially if you get to see the sun go down. It’s picture perfect setting with fantastic service, gorgeous food and great wine. I sampled some great seafood here; small starter plates included squid, cuttlefish, cured ham and sea anemone. This was the first time I had tried sea anemone and I’ve got to say I’m not much of a fan, I’m glad I tried it though! For my main I had hake with chips and it did not disappoint, washed down with a crisp white wine and taking in the spectacular sunset was a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening.
Visit a winery
For a special evening out Binifadet winery is the one, take a stroll around the vines in the evening light and sample one of the many wines produced here along with tapas dishes or a main meal. The setting is gorgeous with tables outside overlooking the vines.
Relax on a beach
Menorca has 160 km of coastline and over 100 beaches, so relaxing on a beach is not hard to do. Find your own unspoilt bay such as Cala Binidali or Trebalúger, only reached on foot or by boat they are often very quiet. In the north the beaches are quite different with red sand, try Cavalleria, a lovely bay perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The water temperature is an average of 18°c and very inviting in the heat of the day. I know I’ve mentioned it more than once but the sparkling turquoise sea and perfectly white sand is just such a dreamy combination!
Kayaking is a must do in Menorca, join an organised trip with an instructor and see the island from a different angle. Hiring a double kayak is a lot of fun and a good way to start off if you’ve not kayaked before. Discover caves and hidden beaches that you wouldn’t get to see from the land. I kayaked with a guide from Cala Galdana and got to explore some incredible caves as well as snorkel in the crystal clear Mediterranean, check out my blog post for more information: Kayaking Adventures in Menorca. Thanks to Steve from Biggsy Travels for the gorgeous image of me kayaking through the cliffs.
Eat like a local
Menorcans are seafood lovers, I am too so I got to sample a lot of the local seafood. Menorca is all about long lazy lunches with many different courses. Famous for its cheese this is often served up during the starter courses with cured meats. Tomato bread is a favourite of mine too. Be wary though not to fill up too much on the starter plates, as there are always some good main dishes to follow! A lovely place to eat in Mahon on the waterfront is La Minerva, part of the restaurant can be found floating on the ocean and the menu has a fabulous tapas selection. Thanks to the lovely Nienke Krook from The Travel Tester for the images.
Visit Fort Marlborough
If you are interested in learning a little bit of history while in Menorca then Fort Marlborough is definitely worth a visit. Built by the British during the 1700s to protect the entrance of Mahon Harbour it is an impressive structure. Walk through tunnels carved out of rock and up on to the roof of the fort where there are views of the sea and surrounding countryside. A self-guided, audio tour takes around one hour and brings the fort to life. Park up and walk through the quaint waterside dwelling of Cala de Sant Esteve or walk the 2km from Es Castell.
Thanks to Jet2 for getting me to Menorca and to Visit Spain, Turismo Menorca and Traverse Events for inviting me