Last year we went to Menorca, a little paradise island in the Mediterranean Sea.
I have a friend from Menorca, she was thrilled when she heard we were going to visit her little island and gave us loads of great advice, she even drafted a small tour of the beaches to visit.
I also researched a bit on a few blogs and, together with that, managed to come up with the perfect itinerary. Here’s my tips of advice for you.
You should definitely rent a car. The island is very small, you can go from one end to the other in 50 minutes. You can opt to stay in the same place the whole time you’re there but you’ll be missing out on all the beauty this island has to offer. I definitely advise you to rent a car and visit as many different beaches as possible.
Places to stay:
My friend advised us to stay in Ciutadella. It’s in the west side of the island, it’s a charming village, the old town is gorgeous, and more importantly it has a lot of restaurants, and small markets. We picked a cheap option on Booking.com, and based our choice on price/location. We wanted to be within walking distance of Ciutadella’s city centre.
We absolutely loved Ciutadella, and if you’re visiting Menorca I strongly advise for you to book here, somewhere walking distance of the old centre.
Most beaches in Menorca are ‘wild nature’ so there’s no beach bars, lifeguards, and other facilities, so be prepared – bring food, water and shade with you. Also be prepared to walk, as most beaches you’ll have to walk quite a bit. It’s totally worth it though. Ah also, there’s a lot of nudity going on…
Here’s the ones we visited:
– Santo Tomas: it’s one of the few with facilities. It’s quite big and you can park very close to the beach. There’s a few hotels around so expect the beach to get crowded with the resorts’ tourists. It’s still very beautiful and the sea is turquoise. We picked this one because it was our first day and we didn’t have food or a parasol yet.
– Cala Macarella and Cala Macarelleta: the Mediterranean Caribbean, quite literally. These two small beaches are of incredible beauty. Both are very small but the views are unbelievable. It feels like you’re in the Caribbean. There’s a paid and non-paid parking. The non-paid you have to walk a bit more, but it’s about 20 min maybe? And the view while you’re climbing down is breath-taking. You can then go from one Cala to the other, following a narrow path in the cliffs. There’s a small restaurant/bar here, but I would bring my own food (as we did). It can get quite crowded.
– Cala del Pilar: be prepared to walk loads. You can park your car and from there I think it’s about 45 minutes’ walk to actually get to the beach. Go early in the morning as it can get quite warm. Once you get there though you won’t regret it at all. It’s one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen. The water was like a swimming pool. There are no facilities here.
– Cala Pregonda: this is another one of those you have to walk quite a bit to get to, but again, once you’re there you won’t believe the paradise before your eyes. It’s absolutely gorgeous. There’s a lot of space, the water is amazing, and the surrounding cliffs make it an absolute heaven. No facilities.
– Cala Es talaier: again on the ‘Caribe’ side of the island. You’ll have to park your car at either Cala en Turqueta or Son Saura parking and walk from there. We walked from Son Saura. It’s still a bit of a walk, and once you get there it’s quite a tiny place between two small cliffs, but it’s absolutely breath-taking. No facilities.
– Cala Mitjana: on the ‘Caribe’ side as well, this one is slightly bigger than Talaier and Macarella. The water is equally crystalline with that turquoise colour and the surrounding landscape is just beautiful. The walk from the car park to the beach is quite pleasant as you have a lot of trees and shade. It’s like being in harmony with nature: the woods, the beach and the sea. No facilities.
– Cala d’Algariens: this one wasn’t recommended by my friend, but as it was our last day we wanted something closer to Ciutadella. Also we were sick of sandwiches and wanted to try this restaurant nearby (see below). Thankfully this beach was yet another paradise. It’s a bit more crowded, and there are a lot of families with small children, the access to this beach is much easier, but still the white sand and turquoise water were just magnificent. We went for lunch and came back and stayed at the beach until it was almost night. And there were still people arriving, preparing for what looked like, family/friends’ parties.
*Note: if you’re quite a beach aficionado and want to have the best experience ever, it’s recommendable to keep an eye on the wind forecast. The beaches in the south are more ‘Caribe’ like, but when the wind blows from the south the waters can get a bit more restless, and will lose a tad of that Caribbean feel. However if you go north, when the wind blows from south, it will be like a swimming pool. And vice-versa. If the wind blows from north better to go south. When we were there, there was more wind from south so we opted to go north for the last day as well.
Also watch out for jellyfish. They’re tiny and brown in Menorca, and depending on the current there can be loads or none.
OMG the food in Menorca is just delicious. We had a few tips from my friend, and asked the hotel receptionist as well, but it will be difficult to go wrong in Menorca (unless you go to McDonald’s, what a waste!). Here’s our pick:
– El bar Triton: this one was recommended by our friend, and I think it’s safe to say it was our favourite. We liked it so much that we went back, and tried to go a third time but couldn’t get a table. It’s in the Ciutadella port, the view is amazing at sunset and the food is to die for. You can opt for a selection of Tapas and eat a bit of everything. I will definitely recommend the ‘Gambas a la Menorquina’ (I think that was the name), some of the juiciest prawns I ever had! The squid is lovely the meat as well, but the seafood is brilliant, really.
– Can Lluis: also in Ciutadella, this was recommended by the hotel receptionist. It’s a lovely restaurant, with typical food and very fresh fish, they also have a few set menus that can be quite interesting in terms of cost/quality/quantity relation. The people here are also extremely friendly. The mussels were delicious. Check it here.
– Es Molí des Comte Asador: this was a very posh restaurant in Ciutadella, it was one of the most expensive meals in our trip, but it was absolutely delicious. I think it was one of the few times I had meat, but I have to say that beef was just excellent. The melted cheese starter was also absolutely perfect.
– S’Amarador: located in Ciutadella port, not too far from El bar Triton, this is where we went as a ‘second option’ as El triton was full. It was a brilliant second option, in fact if I go back it will definitely be a first option. The staff was super friendly, we didn’t have to wait that long, got a perfect table outside with a view to the port, and the ‘Arroz Negro’ (black rice, made with squid/octopus ink) was absolutely amazing! The picture unfortunately wasn’t one of my best shots, I was really hungry, but honestly if I had to choose only one thing to eat over and over again it would be this. It’s been a year and I can still remember exactly how it tasted. It’s also a bit pricier though.
– Los Trogloditas: located in Cala Morell, a short drive away from Ciutadella, I found this restaurant in a web page called ‘Menorca Diferente’. Something about the beautiful sea view and the lovely white terrace stroke my attention and I am happy we decided to give it a shot. We went there for lunch. The owner, who was our waiter as well, was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The food was absolutely brilliant and it wasn’t at all expensive. The fish was very fresh and very tasty. I would definitely go back just to have lunch here one more time.
– El Trebol: we were recommended this one by our Menorquin friend but didn’t get to try it. Let me know if you do, it’s supposed to be really amazing. It’s in Moll de Cales Fonts, Es Castell.
Our favourite town was definitely Ciutadella, its port and the old part of town are beautiful. The night markets and environment make it a very charming and romantic city.
We also visited Mahon and Fornells. In Mahon we had dinner in the marina, but can’t quite remember the restaurant, it was ok but not brilliant. We didn’t have time to walk around much the harbour is very beautiful, especially at night with all the lights.
Fornells was nice as well, but I got the feeling it’s where posh people stay because all the restaurants are super expensive. It’s definitely worth paying a visit though.
On our way to Fornells we also stopped at Faro de Cavelleria, a lighthouse in the most impressive location. The view is just amazing, and completely worth the visit.
Menorca is blessed with an amazing weather, so don’t focus in August only as it will probably be quite crowded. We went on the last week of July, and were there for the first weekend of August and could already tell a massive difference. Whilst in July we could get a table anywhere and there were fewer people at the beach, the last weekend we were there, first of August, was just chaos. So try to book in advance for July or September.
Overall I have to say we fell in love with this beautiful island. We don’t usually say ‘I’d like to come back’, usually we’re more of ‘seen, check, next’ as we’d like to travel the whole world. But this is a place I could visit quite often, and actually can’t wait to go back. So take it from me, visit Menorca.