Disclaimer: the following reviews are based on my own experience as a paying customer.
I’m a Mallorcan woman, so as an ardent advocate of my own island and because of work commitments, I’ve hardly visited the other 3 Balearic Islands in my adult life. A month or so ago, my friend Ager, whom I met in Bali, rang me up asking if I’d like to join him on my home’s smaller sister.
Needless to say, I said yes.
The Balearic Islands are a Spanish cluster on the Mediterranean, sitting in between the Iberian peninsula and Italian islands Corsica and Sardinia. Mallorca is the largest islands of the 4, followed by Menorca, Ibiza (arguably the most infamous) and Formentera. I could go on for ages on how the party tourism is destroying this corner of Mediterranean heaven but instead, I thought I’d write my tips on how to fully enjoy your time on Menorca, the smaller, rockier sister.
I only had less than 48 hours to make the most of it, so everything had to be timed with precision. But, as you might already know, I kind of don’t plan that much for short trips. I was lucky that my friend is a social animal and had a million ideas of what to do.
What to do in Menorca in 40 hours or less
Platja Macarella y Macarelleta
These two sister beaches are an absolute gem. They sit on the south coast of the Island, neatly tucked in between long rocky cliffs. Expect turquoise waters and Mediterranean pines, as well as paddle surfing, snorkelling, and climbing (if you’re experienced, there are no tours I could see).
If you visit in summer, beware that the parking lot is closed and the only way in and out is with a public bus from Ciutadella. The bus will take around 30 mins, and then you’ll have to do a soft hike down to the beach.
I’d heartily recommend hiking a bit further on to La Macarelleta, the smaller beach. You’ll find that it’s a lot more crowded than Macarella, but I thought the sand and water were cleaner.
Top Tip! I didn’t do this, but I still regret it. Before we arrived at La Macarelleta we heard rumours of a possible hike to la Turqueta – a small beach famous for clear blue waters. We thought it was too far and too hot so we didn’t go there, but I really wish I did.
On Sunday morning, mere hours before my ferry to Mallorca departed, we drove the 45 minutes from Ciutadella to Fornells for a kayaking adventure. Fornells is a minuscule fishing village on the North Coast of the island with a wonderfully local ambience and beautiful streets.
Beware of the multitude of restaurants targeting tourists. I’ll admit that I myself was tempted by the Calderetas de Langosta, but the prices put me off immediately.
Mahon might be the capital of Menorca, but Ciutadella is the heart of the island. It’s nested around a sea entrance to the island, and homes, shops, bars and restaurants spread like a spider web from the towering castle in the middle.
Ciutadella is known for the end of June festivities that kick off the summer – St Joan. Once upon a time, as a fresh-faced 19-year-old baby, I was part of the flocks of young Mallorcans desperate to see the horse dances, races and indulge in the drinking (pics for another time). This time I was grateful to take it easier.
Eat, Sleep, Explore
La Cuina des Pep
Give La Cuina des Pep a chance. This tiny restaurant, right at the end of the main strip of Fornells (not on the seafront), is locally owned and caters to locals as well as lost tourists. If you don’t want to have a sit-down meal you can purchase pre-made food from their counter at a cheaper rate.
We had a complete, inexpensive feast. We built our appetite with some patatas bravas and albóndigas de pulpo (octopus “meatballs”); followed by arroz marinero (fish rice) and tiras de secreto (a type of meat). We all had a drink and some coffee too. All for €22. I can’t recommend this place enough – but do beware if you are vegetarian, vegan or plant-based because this is definitely not the place for you.
We stayed in Hostel Menorca – a small youth hostel 5 minutes away from the town’s centre. It doesn’t include breakfast and the bathrooms and showers left me desperate for some more privacy, but it was comfortable and close to the nightlife. Facilities include a wonderful kitchen, but the coffee machine is not free and the coffee is not great either. It also has a parking lot right next to it with free-of-charge spaces (white lines), which was appreciated.
I paid €90 for two nights.
Kayak with Dia Complert
I’m more of a sailor than a Kayaker if I’m honest, and my competitiveness and stubbornness makes me a truly scary rowing partner (you can ask my friend if you have any doubts). And yet I still agreed to jump on a kayak and explore the coast from the bottom of the cliffs.
The instructors at Dia Complert are truly lovely. Joshua went over the basics before we boarded and then had the patience to ensure everyone felt safe and were safe. It was a gorgeous experience without a doubt. After crossing the bay, the whole fleet faced a slightly choppy sea that scared us but all was worth it after we were able to snorkel in a cave (no pics of this because I don’t have waterproof gear).
Dia Complert is a tiny business and the staff are friendly and dedicated. While I think one might struggle without some basic Spanish, give them a go. A half-day excursion will set you back €40, but it was worth every cent.
Check out Kopas and Iguanaport for gorgeous terraces overlooking the port.
What I missed
As usual, these short-lived trips leave me with a long list of places to visit. If you make it to Menorca this summer, make sure you tick these off your list and let me know what you thought!
- Mahon: you’ll land here, as it’s the capital of the Island. Mahon is surrounded by a beautiful coastline, although the town itself has gems (or so I’ve read).
- Sa Cova d’en Xoroi: the ultra insta-friendly and famous bar in a cave. I suspect it might be incredibly overpriced, but anything for the gram, amirite?
- Binibequer: another Instagram backdrop, you might have seen the stone streets of Binibequer in your feed.
- El Hogar del Pollo: I ALMOST ate dinner here, and I’ve never been more upset to have missed a restaurant. It’s a local tapas bar in the heart of Ciutadella, get ready to cue.
It usually happens that the more impromptu a trip is, the more you want to go back. There’s so much more I want to see of Menorca, and I’m sure I’ll come back soon.