The beautiful island of Menorca, or Minorca as it is often called, is a prime holiday destination for those who travel because of a love of beautiful nature, gorgeous beaches, intriguing museums, as well as fun and fascinating cultural events. This Balearic Island is located off the coast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. Menorca has been home to Moors, Englishmen, and Spanish, and this eclectic history has made for a unique and exciting culture. Also graced with gorgeous natural landscape and pristine, unspoilt sandy paradises, it is no surprise that more and more tourists looking for hotels are choosing to book their holidays on Menorca.
History buffs will have plenty to do and see in Menorca. The history of Menorca is believed to date back to around 4000 BC when people from mainland Spain and the easternmost Mediterranean began settling there. The island is covered with monuments and artefacts from the Talaiotic period including burial chambers and the mysterious and sinister looking T-shaped ritualistic tables known as "taulas". For those interested in prehistoric history, a visit to the Naveta des Tudons is a must. Over 100 corpses were in this Bronze Age burial ground, and the structure is the oldest roofed building in all of Spain. The Museu de Menorca is also a place to visit for those interested in prehistory. The museum houses impressive collections of coins, funerary objects, and pottery found on the island.
Little remains from the age of Moorish rule in Menorca, a period that lasted from 903 AD until 1287 when Alfons III conquered the island and Catalan was named the official language. There was a short period of self-rule before Menorca was incorporated into Aragón in 1349, and then in 1492 Aragón, Castile, and Granada banded together to create Spain as we know it to this day.
During the upheaval of the Spanish War of Succession, Menorca found itself under British rule in 1713. Remnants of this time can be seen in the multiple Martello towers scattered across the island, many of which boast spectacular views. The British remained on Menorca until the island was officially returned to the Spanish crown in 1802.
Menorca once counted dairy farming and shoemaking as their main industries, but today it is tourism. Each year close to one million tourists choose to spend their holidays on beautiful Menorca. In 1993, Menorca was declared an official Biosphere Reserve, a movement that aims to protect the unique and beautiful environment while supporting tourism.
The traditional summer festivals held on the island are a huge pull for many visitors who book hotels on Menorca. For example, the 'Festes de Sant Joan', held ever June in the city of Ciutadella, is a three-day folk festival for locals and guests alike. The festivities are opened by a man parading a sheep around the city streets, and later the main streets are lit with bonfires. Gorgeous black horses, locally bred, are adorned with ribbons and bows the next day. The riders showcase these noble horses throughout the town where they are encouraged to rear up on their hind legs while brave souls dash underneath them. The third day involves a harmless yet competitive type of jousting, and the whole "Festes de Sant Joan" ends with a colourful fireworks display. If possible, plan to visit Ciutadella for this impressive, fun, and beautiful festival when you travel to Menorca!
Literally every town in Menorca has its own cheese factory, and Minorca has gained a reputation as one of the largest cheese producers in Europe. Menorcan cheese has won numerous international awards, including the INTERFROM Award in France. However, all one needs to do is to step into a cheese shop in any town and let his or her taste buds be the judge. Perhaps the most famous of Menorca's cheeses is Mahón cheese. This semi-hard white cow's milk cheese is named after the port of Mahón and has a buttery and slightly salty taste with a sweet and nutty aroma. Be sure to give it a try!
Menorca has been producing wine ever since ancient times, though few people who travel to the island know this. These days, a crop of new wineries is again putting Menorca on the map for wine. Visitors can expect fruity and fresh white wines as well as full bodied and spicy reds. When on holiday in Menorca, try some for yourself! Some noteworthy vineyards include Vinya Sa Cudía in Es Grau and Bodega Vi de S’Illa in Alaio. These and many cellars are happy to open their doors to travellers. Enjoy a guided tour of the cellar and vineyard followed by a wine tasting.
One lingering relic from the British reign is the Minorcans love for gin. Homesick sailors demanded a sip of their favourite spirit, and soon a delicious and distinct recipe for gin was created on Menorca. The Xoriguer Distellery at Mahon harbour still creates gin using a secret recipe involving locally grown juniper berries. Daily guided tours of the distillery are available where one can witness every step of the process as well as taste the delicious results. Be sure to try the locals' favourite cocktail, a "Pomala". This mix of Xoriguer gin and lemonade is a staple at any festival and a treat not to be missed.
Here is a fact most people who book hotels and apartments do not know about Menorca: the island has more beaches than Ibiza and Majorca combined! You will definitely be able to find just the right place to relax and unwind or enjoy some snorkelling and windsurfing. Beaches situated on the northern end of the island tend to be smaller, surrounded by woods and greenery and with more cliffs. Those along the southern coast are characterised by long stretches of fine white sand and are some of the longest on the island. Because Menorca caters to the tourism industry, many beaches include amenities like bars, restaurants, shops and boat rentals. However, there is still a multitude of undeveloped, idyllic, and secluded coves and beaches. Find one that is right for you:
-Cala Trebalúger is considered an area of natural interest (Natural d'Especial Interès). This beach on the south of the island has high cliffs and gorgeous coves. It is situated at the mouth of a river which winds through a neighbouring canyon. It is perfect for relaxing and snorkelling.-ES GRAU: This sandy beach is over 600 metres long, and picturesque restaurants and bars are scattered throughout the nearby fishing village. Shallow water extending almost ten metres from the beach makes this an ideal destination for those with small children. Paddle boat and canoe rentals are available, as are guided boat tours. -CALA MESQUIDA: For those seeking out a beautiful, and unspoilt cove, Cala Mesquida is the perfect option. The nearby village has a small supermarket, bar, and restaurant. This beach is popular with locals at the weekend and is a good place to get away from the tourist areas. On a historical note, this is where French troops disembarked with the aim of taking over the island.
-CALA GALDANA: This stunningly beautiful bay boasts a fine sandy beach and crystal clear waters. The bay is enclosed by high cliffs that offer stunning views. The beach is located on a large resort, so visitors can expect bars, restaurants, and water sport options. The unique position of the beach makes Cala Galdana a great starting point for relaxing walks leading to other beach areas. The nearby "Penval Vermell" hill provides a gorgeous view.
-FORNELLS HARBOUR: Fornells Harbour is a lively destination with lots of shops, bars, and restaurants. For sports' enthusiasts, Fornells Harbour has a windsurfing, sailing, and diving school as well as boat, kayak, and bicycle rentals and water skiing.
With 218 kilometres of pristine coastline, you are sure to find your ideal beach in Menorca.
When searching for hotels or more private accommodations, why not try something a little different than a resort hotel? Whether travelling alone, as a couple, or with the whole family in tow, there is certainly a private holiday rental to suit your particular needs. Book a cosy beachside apartment in Mahon or a villa with a terrific view in Ciutadella. Get off the beaten path and treat yourself to something new. An apartment or home means more privacy and a more personalised experience than opting to stay in a hotel or resort. Explore the offers at HomeAway and get your holiday started.