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Whenever a friend mentions that they’re of visiting Mallorca or Ibiza, I sit them down and tell them about Menorca.
I describe the beaches – surrounded by pine trees, clear and bright on the southern side, and jagged and dramatic on the windswept northern side.
I talk about the laidback atmosphere where the party is more about good food and quality wine than nightclubs that go until dawn.
I tell them about how I’ve spent time there hiking, cycling, kayaking, and sailing to explore the undeveloped natural landscapes.
And then I think about what I should explain next – the cities, the ancient sites, the local producers, the cultural tours.
The island may not be as famous as its Balearic cousins, but there are lots of things to do in Menorca. More than enough to spend a week, but not so much that you would feel overwhelmed. Not that you ever really feel overwhelmed here.
The charm of Menorca is that everything is better than you expect – but without any sense of ostentation.
The food is exquisite but the chef acts like they’ve been cooking it for decades (they probably have).
The series of historic sites from a mysterious civilisation that disappeared 3000 years ago are fascinating, but just sit there in fields with nothing stopping you from exploring yourself.
And the beaches are some of the most striking you’ll see in Europe but, except during the peak periods, you should be able to just turn up and find a spot to set up for the day.
There’s lots to do in Menorca and, although you don’t want to ever feel rushed, it is worth planning ahead a bit so you’re not constantly criss-crossing the island. Which is why I would like to give you some advice, based on my list of the best things to do in Menorca, Spain.
Where there is a specific location, I have marked in on the map below.
It’s possible to get around Menorca on public transport and you can see the maps and timetables of the public buses here.
The buses aren’t particularly convenient if you want to see a lot of the island, though. I would recommend hiring a car if you want to explore Menorca, and you should be able to find a good deal here.
Best cities and towns in Menorca
Although I think the nature is the biggest drawcard of Menorca, there are also some fascinating cities (and towns) on the island that are worth exploring.
Over the centuries, Menorca has been controlled by many empires – the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Turkish, the British, the French (and more) – and each of them has left their own mark.
The cities and towns are also where you’ll be able to easily access some great food and drink, and see some of the more modern cultural institutions.
Here are the my tips for the best cities and towns in Menorca.
The capital of Menorca is Mahon (or Mao, in the local language) and it has a population of just 30,000 people. It’s a convenient place to stay for your holiday to Menorca.
The central part of Mahon is small enough that you’ll be able to wander through the streets and explore the mix of architectural influences here. You might be interested to pop into the art gallery in the Ca n’Oliver mansion, or the Museum of Menorca in an old Franciscan monastery.
Also keep an eye out for other interesting buildings like the Town Hall, Casa Mercadel, and the Governor’s Residence. There are also some lovely vantage points along the water’s edge.
When you’re hungry, I would suggest popping into the fish market for something to eat. There are some wonderful tapas bars here where you can get affordable and fresh snacks… with a glass of wine, of course.
And, also, Mahon is built around a port so, to see it from a different perspective, head out on a boat tour of the port. There are a couple of operators in town, Yellow Catamaran and Don Juan Catamaran, that run regular trips
Along with Mahon, Ciutadella is one of the two main cities on Menorca. It was the capital of the island until the British moved it to Mahon in the 1700s and is still considered the religious centre of Menorca.
This is because of the main sight here – Menorca Cathedral – which is from the 13th century and one of the few original buildings in the city. Almost all of the rest of Ciutadella was destroyed when a Turkish armada attacked in the 16th century.
When Ciutadella was rebuilt in the 17th century, it was given a consistent feel in a Romantic Italian style. It means now, as you explore, it is visually stunning and feels a little like being on a film set.
The historic centre is a site worth visiting and you’ll see most things by just wandering. In particular, head for the Plaza des Born where you’ll find the Town Hall, the theatre, the Torre Saura Palace, and the Salort Palace.
You’ll be able to learn a lot more with some local knowledge and you could consider this audioguide tour.
Outside of the two main cities, Fornells is probably the most popular town with tourists. It is not large at all, with only about 1000 residents, but it feels relatively busy for its size.
Fornells is based around a small bay, which has been used by the local fishing industry for centuries. While it’s still used for fishing, it’s also the launching spot for tourist activities like sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing.
While you may not want to stay in Fornells for your whole trip, there are some nice accommodation options here for a night or two. It’s also a wonderful place to spend some time having a meal and some drinks by the water.
There are a few other smaller towns in Menorca that you’re likely to pass through as you drive through the centre of the island. They may not be worth the trip in themselves, but you can stop and check them out as you drive through.
- Alaior: With a charming old town, it is considered to be a cultural centre of Menorca and has some nice cafes and restaurants.
- Ferreries: Located in a very scenic part of the island’s hills, this is a popular spot to start hikes and cycling trips.
- Es Mercadal: There is a crafts centre here with traditional and modern handicrafts, plus some excellent affordable restaurants.
- Es Migjorn Gran: An authentic local town that will give you a good sense of the traditional island way of life.
Best Menorca beaches
There are 99 beaches in Menorca and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. There’s a lot of variety – particularly between the north coast and the south coast.
The north is normally quite rough, which isn’t maybe as relaxing but makes for a more adventurous trip to the beach. While the south is calm and has more secluded coves with clear blue water.
If you’re in Menorca for at least a few days (which I recommend), you can try a variety of beaches in different parts of the island to see the variety for yourself. Here are my tips for the best Menorca beaches, to help you plan.
Cala Galdana and surrounds
One of the most famous beaches in Menorca is Cala Galdana because it has a fair amount of development here. There are a few hotels, some decent restaurants, and watersports here like kayaking.
I prefer the secluded beaches but I’m mentioning Cala Galdana first because it’s very easy, good for families, and you may want to consider actually getting your accommodation here.
But from Cala Galdana, there are walking paths you can take in either direction to stunning quiet beaches that will give you the atmosphere you came to Menorca for.
To the west, you’ll Cala Macarella and nearby smaller Cala Macarelleta. Turquoise water surrounded by white cliffs, they are stunning and so are well-known. But access for cars is prohibited in summer and that keeps the numbers down a bit
To the east, you can also walk along a trail to another set of twin coves – Cala Mitjana and the smaller Cala Mitjaneta. Although I think they’re almost as beautiful as the other secluded coves along this stretch of coast, they’re normally not quite as busy.
Other south coast beaches
There are quite a lot of other beaches along the stretch of coast either side of Cala Galdana and each of them is nice in its own way. But another one that’s quite special and worth mentioning is Cala Turqueta.
If you would prefer a more expansive beach with lots of space on the sand, I would recommend Platja Binigaus, which has a parking lot less than 10 minutes walk away.
The longest beach on Menorca is Son Bou, with more than three kilometres of white sand, and you’ll find restaurants and cafes here. And another easy one on the south coast (where a lot of families choose to stay) is Cala en Porter, from which you can walk to the scenic Cala Coves.
Best north coast beaches
On the north coast of Menorca, one of the most famous beaches is Cala Pregonda, which has the distinctive red sand and rocks of this side of the island. It is not nearly as crowded as the popular southern beaches and I think the cool rock formations are a real bonus here!
From here, you can follow a trail east that takes you past a couple of smaller coves to Platja de Binimel.la, another popular option along this stretch. It’s easier to reach because you can park right at the beach.
If you’re using Ciutadella as a base, then the most convenient of the best north coast beaches are the two beaches called Playas Algairens, which are separated by a rocky shoal. The larger one is close to the parking and the smaller one is a nudist beach.
Cala Cavalleria is one of the largest beaches on the north and has coarse red sand. I like the sane dunes that surround it, covered in grass and bushes, with a walking path crossing through them.
And if you feel like a bit of an adventure, Cala Tortuga is one of the more remote beaches on this side of Menorca. The beautiful white sand and black rocks make it worth the effort, though.
Best Menorca activities
Although Menorca is the perfect spot for a relaxing holiday, the landscapes of the island lend themselves to exploring. Here are a few things to do in Menorca that are a bit more active than just sunbaking on the beach.
Hiking is a fantastic way to explore Menorca and there are lots of different trails to choose from. There are paths that link the beaches and coves along the coast as part of the Cami de Cavalls (more on that soon) and just doing a stretch of that could be the best option.
For some other hikes, you can do the walk up to San Agueda Castle, the trail between Cova des Coloms and Binigaus, or along Algendar Gorge.
If you are particularly interested in hiking, you could base yourself in the town of Ferreries because there are some decent hikes around there, especially the 25-kilometre route between Santa Agueda and Els Alocs.
For more information, I would suggest this guidebook with 16 one-day inland walks.
Another great way to see Menorca is by bike and there are options for the casual cyclist and the hardcore mountain biker.
The coastal loop trail, the Cami de Cavalls, can be used by mountain bikers as well as walkers, and you’ll find some of the best stretches there. There are also lots and lots of other small trails (called camis) all across the island and so you can just ask a local or explore yourself.
There are also quite a few new sealed cycle paths for people wanting a more relaxed ride. The different stages connect to each other (not always on a dedicated cycle path) from one side of the island to the other. You can get a brochure at a tourist office with the details.
If you’re interested, there are also some good trails for horse riding both inland and along the coast. I must confess, this is not something I know much about, but you’ll be able to find more information if you look for it.
There is one option that may be of interest for you, though, and that’s horse riding on the beach!
With the stunning coastline, kayaking is a fantastic way to see parts of Menorca that can be quite inaccessible otherwise. You can paddle from beach to beach, exploring coves and going into caves in the cliffs.
I think it’s such a fun way to spend a few hours – especially when you can just have a quick swim whenever you feel like it!
There are a few places you can rent kayaks. One of the best is from Artiem Audax at Cala Galdana. You can also arrange it in advance from Fornells. Both locations have some awesome coastline that are very different from each other.
If you’re interested in seeing the coastlines from the water but don’t feel like the effort of kayaking, then sailing could be your answer!
There are lots of local sailing companies that will take you out for the day for a wonderful tour along the island, stopping at small coves and beaches for swimming and snorkelling.
Some of the sailing tours will provide quite an extravagant lunch and drinks, so it’s definitely a great day out. If you’re interested, I would suggest looking at reserving one of these options:
Cami de Cavalls
I’ve mentioned the Cami de Cavalls a few times now, so let me tell you a bit more about it – because this is often one of the things to do in Menorca that people visit for especially.
The Cami de Cavalls is the name of a trail that follows the coastline around the whole of Menorca. In English, the name means ‘Way of the Horses’ because it was originally used by horse riders who were patrolling the shore, watching for pirates or other enemies coming to attack.
The trail fell into disrepair over the centuries but was reopened as a continuous track in 2010 and it now goes for 185 kilometres.
While many people walk, cycle, or horseide along stretches of the Cami de Cavalls, others will come to Menorca for the challenge of doing the whole thing. You can walk it at whatever speed you like, but most people will do the trail in 6 to 10 days.
I have written a story that has lots more information about walking the Cami de Cavalls in Menorca, so you can check it out if you’re interested in trying it yourself.
While Menorca does have the same kind of historical sites as the rest of Spain, you will find a fair bit of heritage in the cities and towns of the island. But out in the countryside, you’ll find the oldest history – from nearly 3000 years ago!
Scattered across the countryside are the remains from an ancient civilisation called the Talaiotic Culture. Very little is known about them, though, because they didn’t leave any writings or art. Most of what we know about the civilisation is from the buildings.
These structures, most of them built with piled-up rocks, are likely watchtowers, and tombs, and temples. They must have had some kind of religion and organised cemeteries.
There are more than 1500 of these Talaiotic sites across the island and I would recommend visiting some for a cultural thing to do in Menorca. I have a detailed article about the best ones to visit.
But you should definitely go to the largest site, which has the best explanations, called Torre d’en Galmes. The ruins here show the layout of a town, with houses and public buildings, all grouped together. It’s quite fascinating.
As you can see, there are lots of things to do in Menorca. I hope my recommendations have been helpful. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.
This post is part of a paid campaign to promote the Balearic and Canary Islands, as part of their #SpanishIslands Campaign. However, as usual, all the views are my own.