Nestled in the middle of the western Mediterranean Sea, Menorca is the second largest of the Balearic Islands after Mallorca. Its UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status has prevented the area from being swallowed up by development and tourists. Its beautiful deserted beaches and unspoilt countryside rich in flora and fauna provide a deeply authentic travel experience.
Mahon, or Maó as it’s also known, is the capital of Menorca. This laid-back town is famous for its remarkable natural port, which is the second largest in the world after Pearl Harbor. Its history as a British colony is exemplified in the elegant architecture – a medley of Spanish and Georgian styles – that lines the narrow cobbled alleyways alive with pavement cafes. Fifty kilometers away, on the west coast, lies the old city of Ciutadella with its picturesque port, majestic cathedral and charming car-free historic quarter.
Menorca’s mysterious prehistoric past has left it with a wealth of Bronze Age sites for the visitor. There are over 1,500 megalithic stone monuments and Talayot villages scattered across the island, making it feel like an enormous open-air museum. The most important include Talatí de Dalt near Maó and Naveta dels Tudons just outside Ciutadella.
The island’s rolling countryside is crisscrossed by marked trails and routes, perfect for hiking, cycling and horse riding. However, the best way to experience Menorca’s wonderful, contrasting landscapes is by walking or biking along Camí de Cavalls, a recently restored ancient path that encircles the island, passing through secret sandy coves, dramatic cliffs and languid fishing villages.
With turquoise waters and secluded coves, the beaches are where Menorca truly shines. Except for the south, where the seashore is wider, sandier and more developed, the island’s coastline is a treasure trove of clandestine sandy bays backed by pine trees or rocky red cliffs.
Among Menorca’s most popular tourist resorts are Cala Galdana, Arenal d’en Castell and Punta Prima, all offering beautiful beaches, watersports facilities, and a handful of bars and restaurants. Nevertheless, holidays on the island are best enjoyed at one of the luxury villas in Menorca. They are scattered all over the island and are the main option for those looking to explore the more authentic side of this serene Mediterranean paradise.