Menorca, with its chilled vibes, laid back mood and slower pace sits with its Balearic brothers in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Menorca means smaller island but this little isle punches well above its weight in terms of unspoilt beaches, secluded coves and crystal clear waters.
The best things to do in Menorca
Menorca is packed with captivating old towns, cathedrals, harbours and is in itself a vast natural bio-sphere. The food is good; think cheese, the freshest seafood, vineyards and gin. There are so many things to do, lots to see and masses of reasons to visit. Menorca is also a very safe female solo travel destination and I felt very comfortable at all times.
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Here are some of the things to do in Menorca that I loved most…
1. Enjoy Menorca’s Beautiful Beaches and Bays
When I think of my time on the island the image that instantly pops into my mind is the mind-blowing blues of the clear Mediterranean Sea. Menorca sits in intensely turquoise waters edged with white-sand beaches, pretty coves and pine-fringed bays. Menorca beaches range from small white sandy coves to large swathes of rich red sands edged by the clearest waters.
One of the best things to do in Menorca is explore the 216 km of coastline and more than 100 beaches which grace its shores. Some beaches are only accessible by boat and others by car plus a hike. If you put in the effort you’ll more than likely get a beach to yourself.
The volcanic red beaches of the north are a complete contrast with the white sand beaches and bays in the south of the island. We spent a chilled day mooching our way along the craggy south coast of the island by boat.
Kayaks are a great way to explore the caves and grottos and get into the secret coves that boats can’t.
2. Visit Mahon, Menorca’s capital
Mahon (Mao) has been Menorca’s capital since 1722 and sits high on a cliff with superb views of the harbour. Pretty, pastel alleyways, food markets, squares and cathedrals make the town incredibly Instagramable.
Mahon Port is the Mediterranean’s largest harbour and world’s second deepest natural port. A boat trip with Yellow Catamarans around the harbour will take you past historic fortresses, small islets and harbour-side cafes and bars. A look at the harbour and its fish from beneath the water through the boat’s glass bottom is a must-do.
Where to eat: Restaurant Minerva which can be found directly on the harbour side. Choose from the floating terrace or inside the converted flour mill for fresh seafood dishes.
For more things to do in Menorca check out Things to do in Ciutadella Menorca from Heather on her Travels
3. Sample Menorca’s excellent Gin
Mahon was an important British Port over 200 years ago and the Brits have left their influence. If you know me then you’ll know I’m partial to a gin and tonic. For me the Xoriguer Gin Distillery was a Menorca must-see.
The distillery’s tasting room was a total revelation. Camomile infused Hierbas de Menorca was, err, interesting. Calent, a cinnamon-scented gin, was rather nice but then all my dreams came true when they brought out the chocolate gin! A visit to the Menorca Gin distillery at Xoriguer is a must during your Menorca holiday.
4. Chill Out in Menorca’s Coolest Cave Bar
Probably the coolest place on the island for sundowners is Cova d’En Xoroi. This Menorca cave bar is housed in a series of caverns and terraces set into the cliff face. Stunning views look over the ocean and coastline and make for epic sunset moments.
The background vibe of chill-out music adds to the relaxed atmosphere until night-time when DJs perform more clubby sets and you can dance until sunrise to Balearic beats.
5. Eat all the Menorcan Cheese
Menorca is well-known for its Mahón cheese. It’s named after the island’s capital but made all over Menorca and you’ll find it served up at almost every meal in one form or another. The cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a buttery, mildly salty taste which comes from the cow’s diet of grass naturally seasoned with sea salt.
A soft and creamy cheese is the younger version whilst the hard, crumblier cheese is aged longer. Rind colours vary from a pale cream to vibrant orange depending on whether it’s rubbed with butter, oil or paprika.
6. Get back to Nature at Menorca’s Biosphere Reserve
The entire island of Menorca was officially named a Biosphere Reserve in 1993 to protect the natural beauty of the island, its animals and wildlife. 42% of the island is protected which is why you’ll not see many high-rise buildings and built up areas. Menorca has total respect for its environment.
For trails and hikes through olive groves, lagoons and wetland areas head for natural park S’Albufera d’es Grau at the north-east end of the island. Here you’ll encounter Menorca in harmony with natural beauty at a slower pace. I loved this aspect of the island and exploring the outdoors was one of my favourite things to do in Menorca.
7. Discover Menorca’s Wildlife
Menorca sits bang in the middle of bird migratory routes over the Mediterranean. Bird enthusiasts can spot up to 200 different species of birds around the island from osprey and red kite to herons and mallards. It’s not all about birds though, we met this little fella going at his own slow pace as we hiked through the park S’Albufera d’es Grau.
You might like to read about a craft holiday in Spain
Menorca doesn’t want to be big, it wants to be sustainable with a good balance between natural beauty and tourism
8. Enjoy the Spring Flowers
Menorca in May is in full bloom and it’s just beautiful. Of all the things to do in Menorca don’t miss the island’s natural beauty. The countryside was lush and green with daisies and poppies. The island’s deep blue seas and craggy coastline contrasted with vivid yellow flowers and stately blooms.
9. Find Menorca’s Windmills
Wind power is an important sustainable resource in Menorca. Modern turbines at Milà harness energy from the Tramontana, the island’s prevailing northerly wind. Windmills (or moli) can still be found around the island – you can eat in the restaurant inside the 300 year-old Moli d’es Raco in Es Mercadal. You’ll find it on the main road from Mao to Ciutadella.
10. Go back in time at Lazareto
A small islet sits right in the centre of Mahon port and it’s called Lazareto. However, the serene setting hides an eerie back story. Menorca is the most eastern island in the Mediterranean. Many ships from the East and North Africa passed through and brought with them bubonic plague, yellow fever and leprosy.
Built in 1793 the Lazareto of Mahon was a place where any new arrivals considered a danger would pass their quarantine. We spent a few hours exploring the beautiful grounds and I couldn’t help but feel the eyes of past residents watching our every move.
11. Uncover Menorcan history at Naveta d’es Tudons
3,000-year-old Naveta d’es Tudons looks like an upside-down boat and is a reminder of Menorca’s history. The ancient naveta (vessel) was originally used as a group funeral chamber and was constructed by stacking stones in a way that holds it together without using any other materials. The megalithic site is said to be the oldest roofed building in Europe.
If you like cobbled alleyways, street cafes and cathedrals then you’ll love Ciutadella. The town was the original Menorcan capital before Mahon took over and has many important buildings. Ancient palaces line the old town’s main square, Plaça des Born.
There’s a 14th-century cathedral and a 17th-century baroque church. A maze of streets lead off from the Placa where you’ll discover hidden courtyard gardens, artisan shops and a myriad of tapas bars.
Where to eat: Café Balear dished us up an excellent meal. Eat good food in modern surroundings or outside by the water.
13. Say cheers with a Pomada
The Menorcans have put their own twist on the gin and tonic and replaced the tonic with their own refreshing fizzy lemon. Pomada is the perfect drink to go with an epic sunset and I’ve made one or two since I got back home. Every sip brings back a taste of Menorcan magic.
Menorca doesn’t want to be big, it wants to be sustainable with a good balance between natural beauty and tourism
14. Marvel at Menorcan Lighthouses
What is it about lighthouses? Menorca is home to seven lighthouses so I was spoilt for choice and this was one of my favourite things to see and do in Menorca.
Favàritx lighthouse in the north-east of the island was quite striking and the scenery around it was stunning. I think it was the unusual black spiral band, rugged landscape and the remoteness of its surroundings that drew me to it.
15. Feast on Menorcan Food
With all that coastline the seafood in Menorca is going to be excellent with the freshest of plump prawns, mussels and fish. I can’t eat mussels – I love the taste but they disagree with me so it was a bit of a tease to see everyone tucking into platters of juicy mussels while I couldn’t.
I was assured by all that they were absolutely delicious. Two particularly good restaurants were Can Bernat des Grau who served up fabulous seafood and slow-cooked, melt-in-the-mouth beef.
Moli de Foc in Sant Climent served exquisite food in a rustic and ambient setting. This was my favourite restaurant and the best meal of the week. The restaurant’s website isn’t complete but you will find contact telephone numbers on it. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
16. Buy Menorcan Sandals
Avarcas sandals were once the footwear of Menorcan farmers. Now they’re on trend and everyone seems to be wearing them. They come in every pattern you could think of from sparkly glitter to animal print. Of course, the original ultra-soft leather versions can still be bough and are as popular and comfortable as they always were.
17. Try Menorcan Wine at Bodegas Binifadet
After a long break from wine-making, due to diseased vines, Menorca re-entered the arena again some 20 years ago. Binifadet winery is excellent vineyard which combines food and drink in a beautifully ambient setting.
The restaurant serves good international cuisine and wine-based dishes of goats cheese and preserves. You can also take a tour of the vineyard to learn how Menorcan wine is made.
18. Explore Menorca’s Fortresses
Menorca was once regularly invaded by its European neighbours and maraurding pirates and so fortresses were built at Maó harbour to help protect the island. We visited La Mola, an impressive 19th century fortress, and the 18th centrury Fort Marlborough which was built by the British.
Sant Felip Castle can also be visited. Various watch towers and defence turrets are visible all around the island and these were used to send alarm signals when invasion forces were spotted.
19. Discover Binibeca, Mencorca’s white town
Binibeca is a small resort town on Menorca’s south coast. It was built in the 1970s and designed to recreate the fishing village atmosphere of Menorca past. The tiny white buildings are festooned with flowers and set in a maze of winding alleyways. There’s a small sandy beach, bars, restaurants and shops.
20. Monte Toro
Monte Toro, the island’s tallest mountain at 358 metres above sea level, makes for some of the best views of Menorca. On a clear day you may spot mainland Spain. Mount Toro has been a shrine and place of pilgrimage since the 13th century and many believe the mountain is the spiritual centre of the island.
After you’ve checked out the incredible panoramic views visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin of El Toro.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Menorca? – check rates and availability
21. Discover Harbourside Bays
With so much coastline you’ll find plenty of pretty water-side areas lined with bars, cafes and restaurants. Enjoy a meal with views over the water as fishing boats bob about and your freshly caught lunch is brought ashore.
22. Check out the Mayonnaise
I love mayonnaise on my chips and rumour has it that I have a Menorcan serving girl to thank for it. In the 18th century the French army commanded by Duke de Richelieu landed in Menorca. The Duke stopped in Mahon for food in small tavern.
There was only dry meat and no cream but a girl from Mahon improvised and made a sauce using eggs and olive oil. The duke loved it and took the recipe back to Paris. To this day locals insist on calling it mahonnaise.
23. Take a hike on the Cami de Cavalls
Menorca is hiker, biker and horse-rider’s dream. The Camí de Cavalls is an ancient bridal path that encircles the island’s coastline for 186k. It was originally used by the military to help guard the island and connects all the Camina Cabise watchtowers.
The trails showcase Menorca’s eco-systems and wildlife with some ancient history thrown in. The path is also used to reach some of the island’s most inaccessible beaches.
If you haven’t already planned a holiday and are still working out where to go this year think about a holiday to Menorca. This was my third visit to the island but this time I saw a new, slower and more natural side to it which I loved. If you’re thinking of visiting Menorca and have any questions drop me an email or a tweet and I’ll be happy to help
Flying with Jet2
We flew with Jet2 and it was my first time with the airline as they’ve only just started flying from Stansted. The check-in staff were smiley, helpful and just so genuinely nice!
The plane was brand new with smart seats and plenty of leg-room made the two-hour fifteen-minute flight fly by. I loved the whizzy red lighting and seating which matched their branding.
For my week’s parking at Stansted I used parking comparison website for UK airports Looking4Parking. After parking up in their designated car park right next to departures I took my keys to their kiosk. It took two minutes to do a little paperwork and I was ready to check in.
I was invited to Menorca by Traverse and Visit Spain to discover the island and to attend a blogging conference with around 50 bloggers, You Tubers, vloggers and Instagrammers. We spent two days in conference and five full-on days, and nights, exploring the island. We got around the island in Nissan Leaf electric cars which nicely reflected Menorca’s sustainable ethos.