10 Cool Things To Do In Menorca Beyond The Beach
Written by Jaillan Yehia
19 15 11
The island of Menorca is sleepier and more tranquil than its big hitting Balearic neighbours, with a reputation for impeccable unspoiled coastlines and eco tourism that’s a world away from the hedonistic holidays associated with Ibiza and Majorca.
Best known for beautiful white sandy beaches and Caribbean-worthy coves Menorca is the chosen destination for many nature-loving families seeking a low key beach break within easy reach of the UK.
Yet the small island is packed with its own history and culture offering unique shopping, outdoor adventure and farm-to-table cuisine at every turn.
Here are my 10 favourite things to do in Menorca…
10 Cool Things To Do In Menorca
1. Visit The Legendary Viewpoint at Bull Mountain
The highest point in Menorca (at 342 m) is Monte Toro, meaning Bull Mountain, and it has a special place in the hearts of residents, as well as being a lure for tourists seeking the island’s most stunning vista.
The legend behind this lookout point inspired the name: back in the 13th century a light was seen shining on the mountain top, causing the locals to investigate.
A giant bull appeared and used its horns to break the rock and reach the very top where the people found an effigy of The Virgin Mary – with absolutely no explanation of how it arrived there.
Now there’s a church at the top which is a pleasure to explore and makes a great place to hide from the hot sun if you visit on one of Menorca’s 300 annual sunny days.
2. Try A Tipple At Menorca’s Original Gin Distillery
Menorcan gin was made popular by the British Navy – back in the day when alcohol was a more trustworthy tipple than water due to its disinfecting qualities.
Visiting the charming local distillery Xoriguer is one of the best things to do in Menorca for gin fans – here you can see how they hand-make artisan gin and get involved in some serious tastings.
There plenty of different drinks and flavours to choose from at the – everything from a gluhwein-style schnapps to a prickly pear infusion – but you can’t go wrong with the signature Mahon gin which can be bought in the traditional stoneware bottle from the extensive on site shop, complete with carry handle for ease of swigging, true sailor style.
3. Explore Spooky Ancient Burial Monuments
Menorca’s answer to the Pyramids and Stonehenge, the taulas and navetas give you some creepy clues to the ancient history of Menorca and make for an interesting little excursion.
Menorca wasn’t inhabited at all until around 5,000 years ago, as the rocky nature of the island means it wasn’t thought to be as fertile as the neighbouring Balearic Islands.
By the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age the tribal population of Menorca began to grow, and started building burial chambers for their dead, which have some gruesome and fascinating stories behind them – and leave a few unanswered questions: were the giant T-shaped taula monuments sacrificial altars or primitive astrological moon-dials? And why did they dye the hair of the dead with red dye before entombing them in the navetas?
If you’re partial to a leisurely stroll or a full-on hike you can choose anything from the easiest gentle walk through the Menorcan countryside to tackling a unique hiking holiday on the island that’s anything but pedestrian: the full Cami de Cavalls.
This is a 20-section coastal path takes the visitor around the entire island, revealing some amazing secluded beaches and charming villages along the way, making it the perfect thing to do while on holiday in Menorca if you’re into walking.
You can enjoy Menorca’s idyllic walking trails at any time of year, but Spring makes the ideal time to visit and take in the surrounding scenery: 900 types of native plant life burst into bloom, and it’s also the height of season for many species of migratory birds who flock to Menorca.
5. Snap Up Locally Made Shoes As Souvenirs
For such a small island, Menorca packs a big punch in the shoe department: whether you know it or not you’re already familiar with Menorca’s biggest export: traditional Menorcan sandals known as abarcas (sometimes avarcas) or menorquinas have become one of the most enduring and popular styles of summer footwear in the world – and they’re still made by hand on the island.
There are endless shops selling these comfy and stylish shoes in every combination of colours and patterns you can imagine, but for fans of locally made souvenirs, the best thing to do while in Menorca is to make sure you head to the port at Mahon where Toni’s Abarcas workshop is the last existing place which still uses traditional materials and techniques that haven’t changed in generations.
High class shoe brands Pretty Ballerinas and Jamie Mascaro were also founded in Menorca, with a history dating back to 1918 when the firm began making dance shoes so that the upper class ladies could practice ballet.
Now you’ll be doing pirouettes when you see the factory outlet prices at their main location in Ferreries – and your head will be spinning at the choice of colours and styles on offer here too.
6. Try the Ultimate In Seafood Specialities
If you want to splash out on seafood while you’re in Menorca there are of course a million places to do so – and you don’t need to spend a lot to get incredible ocean fresh food – usually washed down with an appetising sea view.
But number 1 on any seafood fan’s list of things to do in Menorca is visiting the island’s upscale eatery Cafe Balear – a high class harbourside restaurant which specialises in the signature Menorcan Caldereta lobster soup which makes an amazing treat for any seafood fan – as well as making a hearty dinner in its own right.
The restaurant also serves a great selection of other fruit de mer delicacies, like escupinas: think of them as the discerning person’s oyster, a type of local cockle that’s sensitive to the environment making them more delicate and rare, and costing twice the price.
7. Kayak The Island’s Coves and Calas
It’s almost essential to see one of the Spain’s most truly unspoiled coastlines from the sea, and you can do this on a boat trip of course, but it’s only by kayaking in Menorca that you’ll have the once in a lifetime chance to enter the multicoloured world of the island’s sea caves.
The turquoise waters are always an inviting place for a dip, but there’s something undeniably empowering about tackling this rugged coast on a kayak and being at one with nature in a place famous for it.
You can also clamber out at various points to see that gorgeous coast from a quiet rocky outcrop which, having arrived by sea kayak, you’ll have all to yourself.
8. See Sunset From A Cave Bar
The ultimate place to drink a sunset Pomada – that’s Menorca’s signature cocktail, made with local gin and lemonade – Cova d’en Xoroi has the wow factor inside and out. This bar is made up of a series of caves and terraces, all built into the side of sheer rock with stunning sea views, and almost feel like it has been lifted out of Ibiza – though it retains is Menorcan laid back vibe, which is definitely a good thing.
There’s also a tempting shop, also built into a rock face of course, which has one of the coolest collections of souvenirs you’ll find on the island.
9. Horse Around With Menorcan Horses
There’s a special breed of horse which you can only find on Menorca – the Cavall Menorquí – and these Menorcan horses are easy to spot as you walk, cycle or drive through the pretty countryside.
This powerful breed is a major part of the historical tradition of the island, always present at fiestas – but as a tourist you can get hands on with these beautiful animals with a horse riding excursions or by seeking out one of the races in Mahon or Ciutadella – or simply stop to admire them as you drive around the island.
10. Explore The Twin Cities Of Ciutadella & Mahon
Finally, there’s nothing quite like a leisurely stroll around an historic old town – perhaps ice cream in hand – while on holiday. Menorca, despite its small size has two different quaint and laid-back historical centres, each with its own port, at opposite ends of the island.
Both the historic seat of power Ciutadella in the north of the island, and southerly Mahon (also known as Maó) the current capital, are ideal places to spend time exploring; full of cobbled streets, town squares and unexpected finds.
If you’re looking for things to do in Menorca and get bored of lying on the beach, a couple of days spent meandering around these beautiful cities, taking in their views and vistas, shopping and stopping for coffee as the mood strikes, is just the ticket.
SavoirThere visited Menorca as part of trip with The Travel Mob – you can get more information about Menorca on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) via the hashtag #MustSeeMenorca
For more information about visiting Menorca check out www.menorca.es
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