Island Paradise: The Best Things to Do in Menorca
Bigger isn't always better, as the Spanish island of Menorca proves.
This island is the minor to Mallorca’s major (the clues are in the names), making for a much smaller and less swanky take on the Balearic Islands. And it’s certainly less noisy than parts of Ibiza, so this is one for lovers of a quiet holiday retreat. It also shares many characteristics with the other parts of the archipelago, namely the hot summer weather, the Mediterranean vibe and the sumptuous seafood.
We’ve got nothing against the other islands, but what we love about Menorca is how quiet and unspoilt it is. It is perhaps the least developed of the islets in these parts, yet has more beaches than Ibiza and Mallorca combined. That’s because vast resorts and hotels haven’t been built all over the sandy stretches. Oh, and by the way, the island is a bit obsessed with horses, so look out for them.
Come here for a truly relaxing time on an island adorned with exclusive restaurants and a quieter side of life. Read on for the Plum Guide look at the best things to do in Menorca.
Go to the beach
As we were saying, the beaches here are pristine, quiet and picturesque, so hitting the sand is by far one of the best things to do in Menorca. But the winner of the ‘secluded’ prize (disclaimer: not a real prize) must go to the Cala del Pilar, because it takes 45 minutes on foot through exotic woodland to reach it. We mean exotic in the sense that there are nice trees and things that don't grow in England. For clear, shallow waters that’d be perfect for kids, spend the afternoon sunning it up on the Playa de Son Bou. You’ll even get to spot the ducks and things hanging about in this island – that’s how undeveloped and quiet it is. Aside from all the quacking.
Other beachy highlights include the Cala Macarelleta, the Playa de Binigaus and the Playa Arenal d’en Castell. Good luck pronouncing all of those (maybe take up some Spanish lessons before the trip).
For something a little different, head to the Cala Pregonda for a red Martian terrain and rocky surroundings. Embark on a walk along the coast in this otherworldly part of the island.
If all that nature is getting a big boring, you could always pop over to party island Ibiza. While you're there, consider staying at one of our luxury homes such as the gorgeous Au Natural.
Explore the capital city of Maó
Maó may sound like a ruthless dictator, but give it a chance. In fact, far from the authoritarian government of China’s Mao, this town is a hub of freedom and fun, with countless bars and restaurants. While it's the capital, it's still pretty small, so you'll be able to see most of it in a couple of days. The town is also known as Mahon, so you can avoid the whole tyrant association with that spelling.
In any case, it's the island's cultural hub. Hungry? Why not try the food at one of the fine-dining establishments, such as Passio Mediterrania or Es Moli de Foc. Hey, do you like eating slippery sluggy snails? Then, the Restaurante el Rais is for you. You’ll find plenty of top restaurants in the area, from the Restaurante S’espigo and the Jardi de Ses Bruixes Boutique Hotel to the Biniarroca Bistro & Restaurant and the Pan y Vino. Wash it all down with something potent at the Xoriguer Gin Distillery.
With a belly full of expensive food, waddle on over to the harbour and admire the enormous yachts. Tell your family about how ‘this time next year, we’ll be the proud owners of one of these aquatic behemoths.’ Admire the views from this clifftop town, as you make your way around and inspect the 18th-century Georgian designs of the façades. If you want to stay in an architectural gem of your own, over on Mallorca is this funky white washed villa.
See the Ciutadella
While we’re talking about architecture, it'd be a sin to miss out on the Ciutadella. Marvel at the spectacular Italianate styles of the former capital of the island. The highlight in this municipality is the Cathedral de Menorca, whose gothic edifice dates back to the 1300s. See the boats in the port and gaze up at the old city ramparts, fortified walls that overlook the water and light up at night.
For something a little more ‘family-oriented’, head to the water park in the Cala en Bosc. Here, you’ll also find a surf school, where you can learn to take your board out on the waves. You’ll find an array of hotels in a rare built-up part of the island here.
Climb to the top of El Toro
El Toro is the tallest part of the island, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Clamber up to the peak of this mountain for awe-inspiring views of the rest of the island, right by El Mercadel. Drop in at the rustic monastery and stop to catch your breath in the café and shop at the summit.