Spain Guide


Menorca Balearic Islands

Menorca is one Spain's Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean off the east coast of the mainland. It's lush, green and stunningly beautiful with no less than 100 beaches along its largely unspoilt coastline. If you're a party animal, stick with Ibiza or Mallorca. But if you're looking for a quiet, relaxed holiday in a lovely, natural setting then look no further.

The island is the furthest east of the Balearics just 48 kilometres long and 20 kilometres at its widest point. It's just under two and a half hours flying time from London and can also be reached by ferry from Barcelona, Valencia and Mallorca.

You won't find the high rise hotel development of Benidorm or Magaluf here, just a sprinkling of holiday accommodation around small resort centres dotted along the coastline. Lively teenagers describe Menorca as dull. Visitors seeking peace and tranquility say it's paradise on earth.

The Romans conquered the Balearics in 123 AD and christened this easternmost isle with a name which means "the smaller one" (compared with the "greater one", Mallorca, to the west). True, it's only half the size of its more famous neighbour and certainly can't boast the wealth of tourist facilities and mega nightclubs to be found in Mallorca and Ibiza.

But Menorca has a distinct charm which sets it apart from the more developed coastal resorts of Spain.

The best way to appreciate the island is to hire a car and explore the wonderful beaches, the verdant pastures of the interior, the delightful fishing villages and historic towns.

Take a break from hotel food and discover the fine seafood restaurants which serve the freshest fish you've ever tasted. It's so good that King Juan Carlos of Spain pops over in his yacht for a meal of fresh lobster!

The island has a rich history and culture spanning thousands of years; its wealth of ancient sites and monuments have earned Menorca a reputation as an open air prehistoric museum.

Menorca's strategic position in the Mediterranean led to its dominance by various civilisations including the Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Moors. It came under British rule for nearly 200 years in the 17th and 18th centuries, hence the very English, Georgian style feel to the capital city of Mahon.

Much further back, evidence has been uncovered of prehistoric villages from the first and second millennium BC. And you can still see the caves which once formed part of the troglodyte settlements here. No less than 2,000 prehistoric finds have been uncovered on the island.

Nature lovers will delight in the island's unspoilt, pine clad coves, its limestone ravines and its wealth of wildlife which includes eagles, kestrels, kites and even wild tortoises.

Young families will appreciate the uncluttered, white sandy beaches and absence of all night bars and clubs.

For sports enthusiasts there's a nine hole golf course, horse riding, hiking and, of course, a good range of water sports.