The most rural of the Balearic Islands, Menorca is a lush, hilly island. Like the other islands in this chain (Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera) sun and beautiful beaches are guaranteed. Plenty of safe paddling and rock-pooling locales make this the perfect destination for families.
Despite its small size, Menorca has had two capital cities. When the British took control of the island in the 1700s, they moved the capital from Ciutadella, an old Moorish city in the west of the island, to Mahon (Mao to the locals). Mahon has one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Now, it is a bustling town with stately public buildings, such as the Palace Torre Saura, an attractive Old Town and a lively waterfront. Ciutadella is a beautiful city that has acted as the island's religious centre since the fourth century. Plan a June visit to attend the festival of Saint John.
Menorca is famous for being windy (to the point where it has been nicknamed ‘The Windy Island’), which can be a welcome relief during the hottest months. In general, the island benefits from a Mediterranean climate. The hottest months are July and August. If you’re visiting in late October or November you may experience some rain, but in general, sunshine is guaranteed in Menorca.
When to fly to Menorca
Menorca’s peak season kicks off in May and doesn’t end until October, but the island is also beautiful in April. Festival season takes place in July and August, bringing an influx of visitors to the island during those months.
Late October and November bring the potential for rain, making this a less popular time for visitors. September is a great time to visit, as the temperature hovers around 25 C (77 F), but there are few crowds (as long as it’s not a school holiday).
Getting around Menorca
There are several buses that run from Menorca’s Airport to Mahón. They usually run every 30 minutes. A taxi is also an option if you want to reach other parts of the island, but you can also jump on public transportation to Mahón city centre and then use local buses to access other towns.
You can easily rely on the cheap and effective public transportation in Menorca to get around, or hire a car, but it’s important to book a car in advance and make sure you have the right documentation.
Menorca Airport or Mahon Airport (website: www.menorca-airport.com) is in the southeastern area of the island, about 5 km (3 miles) from Mahon.
Menorca insider information
- In the south of the island the beaches of Sant Tomas and Son Bou feature white sand and clear, blue waters. One of the most popular resorts on the island is Binibeca Vell. One of Menorca’s earliest resorts, it was built to resemble a traditional fishing village. The sandy cove at Binibeca Nou is one of the island’s best beaches.
- Cala Macarella beach, at the south of the island, is featured on many local postcards. It’s one of the most beautiful spots on the island. A free car park is located a 20-minute walk away, and the beach features a restaurant and a lifeguard on duty.
- Menorcan festivals are just as lively as the celebrations on mainland Spain: Sant Joan, held in Ciutadella, marks King Juan Carlos's name day; Sant Agustin,held in Felantix, includes horse-riding shows and dancing; Diada de Catalunya is a national holiday throughout the Balearic Islands.
- Balearic cuisine features hearty fare like suckling pig, tumbet (a local version of ratatouille), sopas mallorquinas (a meat and vegetable broth with slices of brown bread) and snails. Pa amb oli is the local snack -- bread rubbed with olive oil and tomato and topped with ham or cheese.
- The three main islands of Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza are well linked by ferry. Trasmediterranea and Baleària operate fast ferries from Palma to Eivissa, a journey of two hours. Baleària also sails from Port d'Alcúdia in Majorca to Ciutadella in Menorca. For a day trip, Cape Balear sails between Cala Rajada in Majorca and Ciutadella in Menorca.
- Gin has been made on Menorca for hundreds of years. To make pomado, the island's national drink, mix gin with lemonade. Visit Xoriguer gin distillery in Mahon for a gin-making demonstration and a free sample.