Fancy an escape to Spain’s Balearic Islands that doesn't involve literally rubbing elbows with throngs of party-loving holidaymakers? Set your sights on Menorca, the much quieter, significantly less crowded alternative to Ibiza and Mallorca. You’ll enjoy a truly relaxing break on this easternmost island in the Balearics, where you can take your sweet time hiking the rolling countryside, swimming in the azure waters or tucking into a fresh seafood feast at a harbourside restaurant. As for accommodation, look no farther than Menorca’s self-catering villa rentals, some of which come with sea views and private pools.
Find many villas to rent in Menorca’s major towns
Menorca’s key municipalities sit on opposite ends of the island: Ciutadella in the west and Mahon, also called Mao, in the east. These destinations offer hefty doses of local history and culture, while still giving you close proximity to the coast.
One can't harbour ill feelings for historic Mahon
Mahon’s natural harbour is among the most strategically located in the Mediterranean – and the largest in the world. It’s arguably the town’s biggest draw, both for the various nations that have invaded Menorca through the centuries, and the crowds of travellers that descend upon Mahon today. Set on cliffs that overlook the harbour, Mahon boasts a wealth of Georgian architecture and historic and cultural attractions. Museums here include Museu de Menorca, housed in a 1600s former monastery, and Ca n'Oliver, set in an early 19th-century mansion. Both have displays on Menorca’s history, as well as exhibitions of artworks and artifacts.
Ciutadella is charming to the core
Ciutadella, Menorca’s ancient capital, also offers tons of heritage and culture. You can start your sightseeing at Place des Born, the main square, which is easy to identify, thanks to the 19th-century obelisk honouring those who died defending the town against the Turks in 1558. While wandering, keep an eye out for grand neoclassical buildings and homes, plus the Catalan Gothic mosque-turned-cathedral. If you're heading out on a sunset stroll, the Castell de Sant Nicolau is a highly recommended destination. Once used for defence, this octagonal stone tower at the entrance of Ciutadella’s port offers beautiful sea views.
Veer off the beaten track and stay in the smaller villages
If you'd rather sit out the museums and instead settle down on a patch of sand for a day in the sun, then one of these seaside villages might capture your interest.
Heed the call of cave, cove and cliffs in Cala En Porter
Cala En Porter is a village and beach resort in the municipality of Alaior on Menorca’s southern coast. Tall limestone cliffs frame Cala En Porter’s popular beach cove – a sight that won't feel too foreign to many travellers from the UK, and may even call some British beaches to mind. A unique experience you'll find here is partying in a cliffside cave that’s steeped in local legend; if your ears perked up after reading that last sentence, the nightclub in question is called Cova d’en Xoroi, and it’s open seasonally. You can also wine and dine at sea level in one of Cala En Porter’s many restaurants and bars.
Fornells is for the lobster lovers
Situated by Fornells Bay, Fornells is a small fishing village that’s home to about a thousand people, though that figure swells considerably in the summer months. The local harbour teems with watercraft ready to ferry travellers eager for water sports and boat excursions, but it’s the traditional fishing vessels that carry the highlight of a stay in Fornells: fresh lobsters, cooked to perfection in the village’s many seafood restaurants.
It’s all about the beach in Arenal d'en Castell
Arenal d’en Castell may be small, but it’s certainly not low-key – you might actually come across more fellow travellers here than in Mahon or Ciutadella. This resort town on Menorca’s northern coast flanks a large, near-circular bay that features one of the island’s most popular beaches, beloved by locals and holidaymakers alike. You might have difficulty snagging precious real estate on Arenal d'en Castell’s beach in the summertime, but on the other hand, holiday homes and villa rentals abound, and you can simply ditch the massive seaside crowds for an unfettered cocktail party by your private pool.