Menorca Guide

Menorca is the second largest island in the Balearics. Although a package holiday desination for many years it is not as developed as Mallorca, and retains areas of unspoilt coastline and traditional villages. The main towns are on opposite sides of the island, Ciutadela to the west and the port of Mahon to the west. They are connected by the main road that cuts across the island, to the north the coast is rugged, and has a wilder feel and to the south are limestone cliffs and and valleys leading to white sandy beaches.

There are prehistoric sites across the island, and fortifications from more recent times in the 18th century when Menorca came under British rule. Inland Menorca is a patchwork of drystone walls built to protect the pasturelands and olive trees from the tramontana winds. 'Queso Mahon' is locally produced and centred around the towns of Alaior and Ferreries. From the town of El Mercadel the highest point of the island, El Toro (357m) can be reached with fabulous views across the island.

South Menorca

The south of the island is characterised by the longest sandy beaches, clear waters, and spectacular cliffs and gorges. The larger hotels and villa developments are concentrated here, on the south coast at Cala en Porter, Son Bou,Sant Tomas, and Cala Gandana, and to the south-east corner from S'Algar to Binibequer Vell. There are lovely coves at Cala En Turqueta amd Cales Coves, and the 'pirate' caves at Cova d'en Xorai are a good place to enjoy a drink during the day (becomes a nightclub after the sun goes down).

Towards Mao are the pretty villages of Es Castell and Sant Esteve, popular with weekenders from the city where you'll find great waterfront restaurants and bars. Inland from here are some of the better examples of Menorca's prehistoric past. 'Talayotic' settlements dating to the 1st and 2nd millenia BC are typified by talayots, a type of tower, and the taulas, the T-shaped structures usually found close by - good sites to visit are Trebalugar, So na Cacana, Torralba d'en Salort and Talati de Dalt.

North Menorca

The north-west corner of Menorca is the wildest and least developed part of the island with near-deserted beaches and coves 'off the beaten track' such as Binimel-La, Cala Pregonda and Cala en Pilar. Along the coast are pine and holm oak forests, and just inland from here the ruined Castell de Sant Agueda built by the Moors.

If you like seafood then head for Fomells, a pretty, popular fishing village with waterfront restaurants, famed for 'caldera de llagosta' (spiny lobster stew) .The village sits at the entrance to the Bay of Fornells, which offers some protection from the tramontana winds and has beome a popular place for windsurfing and sailing schools.

Further east towards Addaia larger resorts have been developed; the Illes d'Addaia and Punta de Montgofra - are popular diving areas, and close to the charming village of Es Grau is the S'Albufera de Grau Natural Park, an important wetlands habitat for migrating birds.