When my mother was eighteen years old she ripped a piece of paper from a travel magazine featuring the idyllic, unknown island of Menorca. Way before the secret celebrities made their way to this beautiful island and in the middle of Generalissimo Franco’s dictatorship, a little seed was planted and fifty years later we made our way to this charming little island.
With it’s winding roads, powdery-sand beaches and beautiful clean streets, Menorca is a not-so-hidden-anymore, gem in the Mediterranean Sea. Protected by the UNESCO laws and comfortable with the few direct flights from the mainland. This Balearic Island seems to be unfazed by the haul of tourism making its way to her sister islands, Mallorca, Ibiza and even Formentera. It’s the easternmost and least dense of the four, with an easy hour drive from one side of the island, the capital Mahon, to the other side of the island, Ciutadella. Where the south-east of the island is more flat with little brick-stacked fences dividing plots of dry, grass land in perfect squares, the west features green hills and grand stables where the famous Menorquin Horse or Cavall Menorui is being bred and kept. And even the north and south are complete opposites of each other with more reddish kind of sand in the north and pearl-white sand in the south.
In 1721 the British moved the capital of Minorca from Ciutadella to Mahón thanks to it’s strategic harbor. It is said that whoever controls Mahón or Maò (pronounced like you’re enjoyingly, yawning the letter M), controls the Mediterranean. The city is centered around Plaça de la Constitució, with a beautiful, grand 18-century Santa María church in the middle of the square. The colorful streets are filled with small café’s and little restaurants including an array of delicious tapas bars. There’s a beautiful mixture of Georgian buildings and more traditional townhouses that lead up to the famous Parc d’ Mahon.
Mahón has a little bit of everything for everyone. There’s great shopping in the streets of Ses Moreras, Calle Nou and Sa Raveleta where the famous ‘Pretty Balerinas’ is being sold. The edge of the cliff of this coastal town overlooks the harbor with some of the best views and stunning sunsets. Down in the port you’ll find beautiful yachts and commercial boats flaunting their hauls while tourist can take little trips on tour-boats to the island’s hidden coves and secret beaches. Strolling past the beauty of the vessels in the port there are some great choices of restaurants, bars and lounge café’s such as Paputs Burger and Cocktail Bar. This laid back restaurant is a popular attraction for young crowds and serves food and drinks till late night/early morning.
When deciding on a place to stay in Mahón there are so many, if not too many choices of trendy hotels and laidback Bed and Breakfasts. Casa Telmo is a calm and cool 5-room B&B with charming apartment style rooms and a no-nonsense approach. Every little corner of this hotel is an Instagrammers dream and choosing a room will probably be the hardest part of your entire Minorca trip since every and all rooms are truly inspiring little getaways. Just around the corner from Casa Telmo is the picturesque, super tastefully decorated Jardi de ses Bruixes. Created by power couple Ajna and Fernando, this small boutique hotel is expanding with 8 more rooms and a private spa. The restaurant of the hotel serves amazing food and the garden is the perfect cozy first, second or anniversary date-spot. In the same area Casa Ladico opened her doors a couple of months ago and being the most stylish one of the three. The hotel has a little courtyard/garden with a perfect sized swimming pool and the rooms are spacious and beautifully designed. When deciding to stay for dinner, always go for the chef's menu if possible. This 30 euro, 6-course meal is a joy for all your senses.
Cituadella is the other primary city, or the so called secondary city, on the island of Menorca, all the way on the west coast. The Cathedral Basilica proudly overlooks this colorful city and serving as one of the many landmarks in a place full of little roads and quirky corners. The terraces of Citutadella are shaded by red, brown and yellow parasols and the cafes serve the authentic Pomada cocktail, a mix of the famous Menorcan Gin and lemonade.
The old town of Ciutadella thrives around the old-fashioned fish market at Plaza de la Libertad. This authentic, 150 year old market is surrounded by little stalls selling fresh produce and local specialties. Such as the famous Sobrassada, a raw cured sausage made with, ground pork, paprika, salt and other spices. Find one of the lovely butchers in the wings of the marketplace and get a taste of all the beautiful meats that Menorca has to offer. Located underneath the green and white tiled archways are two of the most famous bars, S’Aguart and Ulisse.
Ciutadella has some great places to stay such as Hotel Tres Sants and Can Faustino. Both conveniently located only a short walk from the old town one is more affordable then the other. Hotel Tres Sants is a beautiful boutique hotel situated in an old shoe factory, tastefully decorated with great rates. Whereas Can Faustino is a charming old palace with stunning views over Ciutadella’s impressive harbor and a true escapism retreat but also a bit pricier.
When looking for the perfect Menorcan beach you have a variety of choices, more then 120 to be precise. The north of the island features darker, mud-ish kind of pebblely sand. The beaches are a bit of a walk from most parking spots but worth every step you take. The sand at 4 Cavalleria Beach is suppose to have medicinal qualities making this our super power beach!
In the south you will find calm turquois waves peacefully landing on the dusty pearl-white sand beaches of ao Binidali, Trebaluger and Binigaus. More towards the south west you’ll find the bigger beaches at Cala Caldana, Punta Prima and San Tomas. San Tomas is one of the longer, bigger and full serviced beaches whereas Cala Mitjana challenges you to a short hike in order to enjoy her raw unspoiled beauty. These so called virgin beaches, meaning there are no amenities, restaurants or sun beds, all have spectacular waters and hidden coves. But non of the beaches in the south are public secrets and especially in summer all Minorca beaches will be flooded by sun gazers, beach lovers and water obsessed.
During our 5 day getaway we stayed in the luxurious Hotel Torralbenc. This beautiful hotel is located in Cala'n Porter, only a ten minute drive from the airport. Its situated in an old finca (farm) that has been renovated into a luxury accommodation, respecting the rich heritage and archaeology of the zone. The views are astonishing, the location is perfect and sunsets unforgettable. Torralbenc has about 22 rooms and is surrounded by vineyards featuring stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea. The rooms are white, beige and homey and the restaurant has a small but fancy menu.
Only a 10 minute drive from Mahon is Bodega Binifadet, a lovely restaurant and winery. You can go here for a quick little tour of their vineyard and taste a couple of wines before eating the most tasty fresh fish and variety of cheeses.
Located on the south-east side of the island is the little fisherman’s village, Binibèquer. Walking through the narrow, cozy cotton-white streets you’ll feel lost in the most perfect way and even a little Greek…
And then there are still the the Xoriguer Gin Distillery where you can get a taste of Menorca’s traditional gin. And the Camí de Cavalls which is a 3-day walk that takes you around the island to discover the beaches, rocks, pinewoods and cliffs of Menorca. There are more historical monuments to visit, more foods to try, more hotels to sleep in and more sand to be stuck in between our but cheeks. We fell in love again and again and again with this beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea and will hopefully keep falling in love with it by visiting Menorca as often as possible.