Menorca villa holiday guide
Menorca, the most northerly Balearic Island, enjoys the excellent weather of this eastern Spanish archipelago, making it a firm favourite for holidaymakers. When you step out of your luxurious holiday villa, you’ll find two sides to its personality. Inland, it’s a place of whitewashed villages and towns, where locals linger in the narrow streets or catch up on the latest gossip over coffee in a shady square. On the coast, resorts emerge between endless beaches and isolated coves – with a good dose of wetlands and woodlands in between. Since UNESCO declared the island a Biosphere Reserve in 1993, islanders take great pride in their home. And while it might be an open-air museum, it’s one where you can swim in, walk past and get close up to the exhibits.
Eating and drinking in Menorca
So much of Menorca’s cuisine revolves around getting your fingers dirty. And whether you’re serving up a feast from the comfort of your own private villa, or dining out in cosy seaside eateries, you’ll be bound to enjoy every mouthful. If you’re splashing out on a lobster stew (caldereta de llagosta), you’ll need numerous tools to crack through to the tastiest pieces of flesh. And if you pick a swirly ensaïmada pastry, expect a dab of icing sugar on your nose with every bite. A recent growth of small shops offering pre-prepared, home cooked dishes (plats preparat) means you’ll easily be able to find local tapas-style bites to take back to your villa for a relaxed lunch by the pool. To drink? Well, the favoured tipple is pomade - gin Xoriguer topped with ice-cold lemonade. At fiesta time, bars serve it in tiny paper cups; it’s easy to lose count of how many you’ve had. Or head to the Xoriguer Gin Distillery and pick some up yourself to sip throughout the day in the luxury of your villa.
Relaxation in Menorca
You’ll be sure to find plenty of ways to unwind in a luxurious Menorcan villa, whether you’re sipping coffee on a private terrace, dining al fresco under the stars or basking in the sunshine around your private pool. However, this beautiful island also offers a range of stunning day trips that will keep you away from the bustle of the bigger cities. As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, much of the coastline is protected; there’s not a building in sight at coves like Cala Pilar or Cala Mitjana. But even resorts have their quiet spots. The longest beach – Son Bou – gradually gets calmer as you walk west, away from the pedalos and sun loungers. At the end of the day, soak up the last rays of sun at the beach bar in Binibeca or head to Cova d’en Xoroi for a cocktail.
Between fortresses (like La Mola or Fort Marlborough), watchtowers and ports (well-known ones like Maó, or lesser-known places like Sanitja) - there’s a nautical theme to Menorca’s top sights. To get your bearings for day trips, El Toro is a good place to start. The highest point on the island (a mere 358m tall) lets you peer down at the whitewashed houses in Es Mercadal and Alaior and boats on the bay at Fornells.
Active pursuits in Menorca
While the peaceful relaxation of a private villa could tempt many to soak up the sun from the pool side, more active visitors to Menorca will have plenty to keep them busy. Cyclers, ramblers and horse riders can cover the island’s perimeter on the 185km-long Camí de Cavalls. Split into 20 well-signposted sections, this ancient bridleway cuts across beaches, under the shade of olive trees and past dry dry-stone walls that divide the countryside into fields or tanques. Out on the water, Fornells is a safe place to get your confidence up on a kayak, yacht or windsurfing board. You’ll find more seasoned sailors skirting around the shores of Illa de l’Aire(Air Island) – directly opposite Punta Prima beach.
Discovering Menorca's nightlife and entertainment
If you fancy an evening away from your villa, it’s worth heading out to experience Menorca’s fun night-time offerings. During the summer months, Menorca’s towns and villages pay homage to their patron saint with a weekend of festivities. Ciutadella’s celebrations – in the name of St John – kick-start the fun in June. Menorcan horses are the stars of the show, parading through the streets and rearing up onto their hind legs. You’ll also find fairgrounds, fireworks, markets and live music at fiesta time. All washed down with a traditional glass of gin and lemonade, naturally.
Shopping in Menorca
Designer brands Pons Quintana and Jaime Mascaró make their shoes, belts and bags on the island. Pop in to their factory stores (in Alaior and Ferreries, respectively) to pick up a bargain or two. Throughout the summer islanders wear avarques or leather sandals. Look out for the ones with recycled tyres for the sole – they’re the originals. Visit an evening market for jewellery, pottery, artwork and crafts, such as the ones on the waterfront at Ciutadella or Calasfonts.
Menorca's arts & culture
Home to Spain’s oldest opera house, Maó’s Teatre Principal is worth a visit, particularly when home-grown talent like baritone Joan Pons or Simón Orfila return to the island to perform. In the summer months the island’s an open-air venue. Sit under the stars to hear anything from jazz to chamber orchestras in locations like the fragrant Claustre del Seminari (cloisters) in Ciutadella or the cool Claustre del Sant Francesc in Maó.
Travel and transport to Menorca
For most villa holidays it’s essential to hire a car if you can – it gives you the flexibility to explore the island at your own will, makes supermarket shopping a breeze and allows you to reach some of the more remote attractions and beaches. However, while there are no train services on Menorca, you will find plenty of buses that can visitors to most parts of the island.