I’ve made no secret of my long-running love affair with Spain. Ever since I moved to the UK, I’ve found some excuse to make yet another trip to the country, trips which have seen me hunting down Roman ruins outside Seville, discovering the secrets of Santillana del Mar and eating my body weight in pintxos in San Sebastian.
Even with all of these getaways, up until this year, my Spanish explorations had been limited to the mainland. So you can imagine my delight when I was invited to be part of the #MustSeeMenorca trip to the Balearic Island of Menorca. For four days, I would attend blogger workshops while taking in some of the many delights of the island.
Menorca may not be as firmly on the tourist track as its sister islands, Ibiza and Majorca, but this is what makes the island so charming. People may most commonly visit Ibiza or Majorca to experience the nightlife but Menorca is the island you travel to in order to escape and relax. Even with other visitors around, the island, with its sleepy towns and vast stretches of empty coastline, feels like it’s well and truly off the tourist grid.
During my short time on the island, I managed to fall in love with the place. I already want to go back and travel Menorca for much longer, and I’m kicking myself that it’s taken me 30 years to discover the Spanish islands. If you’re not quite sure about whether or not you’d like to experience a holiday in Menorca, I’ve put together my 25 favourite photos from my time on the island to provide you with some visual persuasion.
I’ve been to Greek islands and I’ve been to Croatian islands, yet I’ve never seen seawater as blue as the waters surrounding Menorca. In fact, I feel like I spent most of my time fiddling with my camera trying to capture just how blue the water really is. We spotted this little slice of (BLUEBLUEBLUE) paradise in Alcaufar.
I don’t think it’s wrong to say that, generally, Menorca’s sister islands of Ibiza and Majorca are known for their party scenes. While I’m sure you can find somewhere to party in Menorca, the thing that sets this island apart is its wonderfully inviting slower pace of life. It’s perfect for families and individuals who want to get away from it all; for a Londoner like me, I relished the chance to escape high-octane city life and swap it for a lazier seaside mode.
Menorca definitely features a slower pace, but there are plenty of pursuits for active travellers too. Menorca is popular with cyclists, but I’d love to come back to the island for its offerings to walkers. There are hiking trails riddled across the island, but the Cami de Cavalls is Menorca’s most famous route. The entire trail measures in at 185km, which is broken up into 20 official sections.
Did you know that Menorca has one of the most impressive – and concentrated – collections of megalithic structures in Europe? This fact is another draw for me to return to Menorca soon, but you can find reminders of the island’s long, long history – which featured interactions with the Roman, Byzantine and Moorish empires – just about everywhere you look.
Es Castell is a prime example of this. Built by British soldiers during the 18th Century, Es Castell was originally called Georgetown. You can find out more about this past at the nearby Military Museum in Placa de S’Esplanada. For me, I think Es Castell has one of the prettiest harbours, with a promenade lined with shops and enticing restaurants.
Given it’s an island, lighthouse aficionados will be delighted to know that you can find seven such structures around Menorca. We had time to visit Cap de Favaritx lighthouse, which can be found within Parc Natural de S’Albufera des Grau. The striped black and white lighthouse is set in a dramatic location, with a bay that swoops in towards the tall beacon. Completed in 1922, the lighthouse is worth a visit to not only see it standing in stark contrast with its surroundings, but also to explore the nearby cliffs and coastline, the rock of which is riddled with holes caused by erosion.
I could write about Spanish food all day. Although Menorca is well known for its own delicacies, such as its decadent lobster stew (Caldereta de Langosta), tasty soups (such as Oliaigu) and dishes using local Mahon cheese, you’ll be able to find Spanish staples too. My Achilles heel (ok, one of them) happens to be Spanish croquetas. We had some excellent versions at Restaurante Sa Musclera, an absolute gem of an eatery in Binibeca. If fried balls of molten cheese and other fillings aren’t your thing (why?!), then you’ll be able to find all of the other tapas that Spain is equally famous for at restaurants on the island.
Like the history of any other country, there are some darker chapters in Menorcan history. One afternoon, we caught a boat to nearby Lazareto Island and this turned out to be a fascinating visit. During the 1700s, it was decided that this tiny island would become a quarantine station, as diseases like the plague had become a massive concern across Europe. From 1817 until 1917, the island was the home of ship passengers infected – or rather suspected of being infected – with contagious diseases. It wasn’t a pleasant life here, as detainees were completely segregated from the outside world and even within the complex itself. This is best illustrated by the chapel pictured here, where inmates would be passed holy bread and wine via a long shovel-like contraption from the middle of the courtyard, thus avoiding all physical contact. It may not be a lighthearted period of history, but I loved visiting Lazareto Island, as it felt like a physical capsule that transported us to another time.
This was a pleasant surprise for me, as I love tracking down street art while I’m travelling. For like-minded folk, you’ll find plenty of street art to keep your camera busy while you’re exploring Menorca. From quick tagging to elaborate large pieces to the colourful mural pictured above, the small sample I saw suggests that there’s plenty of high-quality street art scattered around the island.
We’ve ticked off cycling and walking already, but it should come as no real surprise that sailing is a popular pastime in the waters off the island. We had our conference in the Barcelo Hamilton; it’s a beautiful hotel that also happens to be a spectacular spot for watching the sailboats go by. So that’s exactly what I did in between the blogger workshops.
Considering that this post is all about photos, any photographer will be delighted by the landscapes that await them in Menorca. I definitely put my wide-angle lens to good use!
Menorca’s Cova d’en Xoroi is popular with locals and tourists alike, so if you’re planning to take in the sunset at the island’s famous cave bar, make sure you get there early. We were lucky enough to witness a colourful sunset here, and I’d highly recommend a visit to Cova d’en Xoroi. I mean, how many other times are you going to be able to say that you’ve spent an evening in a cliffside cave bar?
I mentioned that Menorca has its own famous dishes and other great food on offer, but it would be a real shame to visit the island and not eat seafood. Anything you order is likely to be extremely fresh. This was definitely the case when it came to the flavourful mussels and succulent prawns we sampled at Can Bernat Des Grau restaurant, located near Mahon.
I can neither confirm nor deny (read: I definitely did) that I looked up real estate prices for Menorca when I got back home. The idea of owning some property so that I could have an island escape whenever I wanted was very appealing – especially when all Menorcan houses seemed to be as pretty as the one above, with pristine white walls and wooden fences.
Did I mention how BLUE the water is in Menorca? This ladder leading down to the sea near our hotel in S’Algar turned out to be one of the most inviting photos I took during the trip. If you are planning to take a dip while in Menorca, keep in mind that some beaches are rocky!
Another day in Menorca, another picture-perfect sunset. I took this one from Lazareto Island, and a passing boat completed the image. Grab a drink and make a point of catching the sunset – I guarantee that this will turn out to be one of the best things you’ll do while in Menorca.
For those keen to top up their tans, Menorca has no shortage of beaches to visit. In summer, you’ll find that most of the other island visitors have come here with the same idea but, if you’re looking to escape the crowds, try to find your own beach instead. There are plenty of tiny secluded bays and coves where you can set up for the day. I won’t reveal the exact location of the beach pictured above, but you may just find it in the Punta Prima area if you know where to look…
Menorca may be renowned for its white-walled buildings and fences but you may notice other colourful structures that stand out amongst their neighbours. We found some brightly coloured buildings on the stretch between Es Castell and Mahon, so if you love taking photos of picture-ready windows and doors as much as I do, you’ll find no shortage of inspiration in Menorca’s towns.
Not far from Mahon you’ll find the natural wonder of Parc Natural de S’Albufera des Grau. Not too long ago, parts of this reserve were due to be taken over by massive construction projects but protests by the locals eventually led to the area being declared a protected national park instead. And thank goodness for that – I loved exploring this national park, which is filled with all manner of birds, fish, reptiles and more. If you look carefully at the water, you may even spot eels, as these creatures call the waters of Parc Natural de S’Albufera des Grau home.
This photo manages to capture all of the things I loved most about visiting Menorca: the coast, the water and, just in the distance, a remote lighthouse, which, for me, is a visual representation of the island’s historical importance, in this case, its role in European maritime trade.
I’ll admit it: Our goal was to walk all the way to this fort, which, from where we were standing, looked close enough. This was all a matter of perspective, however, as what appeared to be a straight line to the fort transformed into a lot of hidden, sweeping bays. We didn’t go all the way to the fort (I’ll save that for my next trip) but we did get close enough to witness just how isolated this lone tower, sitting on top of its cliff with nothing else around, really is.
Menorca has long been a player in maritime trade, so you’ll find plenty of harbours located around the island. The island’s capital, Mahon, actually boasts the impressive title of having one of the largest natural harbours in the world. My favourite harbour, however, is the one found in Es Castell. I snapped this shot as we were leaving the harbour on a boat, and I loved how the still water managed to pick up just about every reflection from the scene around it.
This is another shot taken in the vicinity of Parc Natural de S’Albufera des Grau, where, apart from the walking trails and nature, you can also find this beach, complete with some water sport equipment for hire.
And another shot from the same location because this beach was really just too pretty for its own good!
Of course my last image features that water yet again, but what I loved most about our time in Menorca was the feeling that we could stumble upon dramatic, unexpected beauty at every turn. It was a short stay on the island, but it planted a seed in my mind: one day I will come back and explore the island extensively. It genuinely felt like no stop we made could be considered a bad one; this image was actually taken at our very last location before heading back to the airport.
If Menorca wasn’t on your travel radar before, I hope that this post gets it on the map for you. With its offering of historical sites, excellent food and drink, beaches and the added bonus of its intoxicating relaxed approach to life, I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Menorca. I know that I intend to go back – and visit the other Spanish islands – as soon as possible.
Note: I came to Menorca as part of a press trip but, as always, all opinions and croqueta overdoses are entirely my own.
Have you visited any of the Balearic Islands yet? What would be YOUR top reason for visiting Menorca? Let me know in the comments below!
* Pin it for later:*