Minorca holidays

Experience Minorca

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

There are so many beaches on Minorca, tourists are spoilt for choice. The large number of beaches means there's an area for every holidaymaker's preference, and there's no fighting for towel space.

Arenal d'en Castell has become a popular tourist destination, largely thanks to its semi-circle bay of clear, calm blue waters that make it an ideal for swimming. There are plenty of hotels around the bay and although it's not a place for those wanting to escape the crowds, it's a great destination to soak up some sun in total comfort.

For those seeking a more secluded beach, Cala Pregonda is the answer. With white sands and blue waters, it's a great place to relax. Access is limited, so the crowds are kept at bay. There is a road leading here from Binimel-la, a busier beach resort, and for those willing to make the extra effort this unspoilt bay is well worth the journey.

There's no end of stunning coastline on the island, and one of the best places to appreciate them is at the port on Mahon. This natural harbour stretches five kilometres inland and the harbour front is a feast of restaurants and bars, along with quaint boutique shops. This is where the rich come to party, so expect plenty of luxury yachts parked in the port.

Heading up to higher ground in Minorca is also an option. Mount Toro, the highest point on the island, can be found just outside of Es Mercadal and is well worth the hike. Tourists are advised to take a picnic and plenty of water on the trek to the peak, then relax and take in the view across the island and out to the Mediterranean Sea.

The 19th century fortress of La Mola, found at the entrance to Mao Harbour, is a great place to explore. The site is quite big, but guided tours are available, both on foot or by bicycle and even on horse. There are also jeep tours available, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural environment surrounding this historical landmark.

Alaior is widely considered to be Minorca's third capital and the island's cultural centre. As an old town that practically creaks with character, it doesn't suffer from the usual high-street chains of shops that are found in more densey populated areas. Instead, it's peppered with unique boutiques, quaint cafés and traditional bars. A weekly market sees this sleepy settlement bursting with life, as locals and visitors alike scour stalls for bargains.

Top Landmarks

UNESCO has declared the entire island of Minorca as a biosphere reserve. This is due to the extensive natural lagoons, stunning beaches and historic monuments found here.

Complementing Minorca's natural beauty are a plethora of historic monuments and ruins, with the island something of an open-air museum. Sites can be found all over the island, but the En Goumes Tower in Alaior is very impressive. Here, the ruins, including the still standing tower, date back to a prehistoric settlement.

The island also has sites from the Bronze Age. The most notable of these locations is Es Tudons, also known as the Nevata, in the north-west of the island. Here, eager historians will find a prehistoric burial site with two chambers that are still in fantastic condition.

Monte Toro, the highest point on the island, is an important place of pilgrimage for the locals. A convent is located at the peak and is home to Franciscan nuns. This peaceful, spiritual place is well worth a visit. It isn't the only sight worth seeing at a high altitude, though. Ferreries is Minorca's highest town, and each Saturday morning it plays host to the Mercat de Ferreries market, with stallholders selling local crafts and artwork as well as food and drink.

As the sun goes down, many tourists flock to Cova d'en Xoroi at Cala'n Porter. This bar is one of a kind, with outside terraces set in natural caves 25 metres above sea level.

Entertainment

A popular pastime in the Balearics is attending trotting races. The idea is that the jockey has to keep the horse trotting and prevent it from galloping. During the summer, there are trotting races every weekend, and it often seems like the whole town turns up to watch. Some of the big races are held in the Hipodromo de Ciutadella Torroe del Ram in Cala en Blanes. Betting is a huge part of the sport, so for those tourists wanting to win big, watching the races a great way to spend an evening.

In terms of hitting the town for a few drinks, Minorca is quieter than neighbouring Ibiza, but it can still hold its own. However, for some late night fun, Cova d'en Xoroi is a real experience. This cave bar is transformed into a club where revellers can party until the sun comes up. Found in Cala'n Porter, the bar offers amazing views and a party experience that can't be missed.

A slightly different type of club is Escola Menorquina. Here, horse riders perform on Andalucian horses, all of which are trained in the traditional Minorcan way. The performances are highly entertaining and are very beautiful.

There is only one casino on the island, Mahon Casino on the harbour front in Mahon. It's a great place to end up on a night out, and with a restaurant and bar, it's also a good place to start.

Dining Out

Enjoying the Mediterranean cuisine is a highlight of any holiday to Minorca. There are many seafood restaurants across the island, and for foodies, the best place to head is the western town of Ciutadella. Here, there are many dining options, including traditional English and Italian choices. Many restaurants are carved into the cliffs, with stunning views of the water.

Along the harbours, particularly in Mahon, there's an abundance of eateries for tourists to enjoy. Prawn salad is a favourite with visitors, and the speciality dish of caldereta de llagosta, a fresh lobster stew, is something all tourists should taste. Other Spanish dishes which are often served include baked fish in tomato sauce and fideua, a paella dish with noodles and fresh fish.

As a Spanish island, Minorca has tapas bars throughout the island. Staples are spicy chorizo sausage, olives, cheese and roasted peppers.

Lunch is often followed by a siesta and dinner is usually eaten late, at around 21:00pm. However, many restaurants cater for earlier diners too, especially in the tourist areas.

For those who are peckish during the day, a quick snack is never far away. Churros, a sweet fried doughnut, can be found at many street stalls all over the island and are delicious!

Beach

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Minorca has many beaches to choose from, but Son Parc is easily the most popular. There are many holiday apartments here, but as the beach is so big, it never feels crowded. There are pedalos to hire and beach bars that provide refreshments and food. For a beach with a bit of history, there’s Cales Coves, as the caves here are full of Bronze Age cave paintings. It is a secluded spot, so although it doesn’t boast white sands, it has the serenity some visitors seek.

Romance

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With many of the beaches catered to families, couples can head to the historic town of Ciutadella for something a little more romantic. Here, couples can wander the narrow cobbled streets to find a quiet tapas bar for a few secluded drinks before heading back to a private villa for the evening. Couples can also charter cruises around the coast, stopping off at one of the waterfront restaurants for a meal and views to remember.

Family

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Binibéquer is a relatively small beach, but it’s ideal for families. The shallow waters of the cove are perfect for children, and there are sun loungers for parents. Many of the resorts around the bay offer activities for children, too. There is also Cala’n Porter beach. This is one of the oldest beach resorts on the island, and has a wide range of family water sports as well as many restaurants and amenities.

Adventure

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For adventure, it has to be Punta Prima Beach. One of the largest beaches on the island, Punta Prima is renowned for its water sports. Found in the south east of the island, the beach features windsurfing equipment for hire, along with sailing equipment and pedalos. Swimming is great here, along with scuba diving and snorkelling thanks to the crystal clear waters. However, swimmers should only get in the water when the green flag is up, meaning its safe to swim.

Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

The official language of Minorca is Spanish, which is spoken along with Catalan. Most natives are fluent in both. While to the untrained ear, Spanish and Catalan might sound the same, they are in fact two very different languages. Variations of Catalan have developed, almost from village to village and the resulting variants are known, collectively, as Minorqui. Although English isn't an official language, most people working in the tourist industry here speak English. However, it is advisable for those heading out of the main tourist destinations to take a phrase book.

Currency

The national currency of Minorca is the euro, with 1 euro split into 100 cents. Minorca is a hub for tourism, which means that ATMs can be easily located. Banks tend to offer the best exchange rates, while post offices also feature competitive rates. Official exchange offices, or cambio, are a convenient option as they stay open longer than banks and post offices. Banks tend to open between 8.30 am and 1.30pm, at which time they close for an hour. Afternoon opening hours tend to be between 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Credit and debit cards are used widely in Minorca, with most hotels, shops and restaurants accepting VISA, Maestro and Mastercard.- although it might be required to present identification with a card purchase.

While the Euro is the only currency that is accepted on the island, it is possible to change pounds sterling and US dollars in banks and money exchange places.

Visas

Minorca is part of the European Union (EU) and is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement, in which 26 separate European Nations have opened their internal borders to other member nations. As a result, Minorca is open to citizens of all Schengen states. Citizens of EU countries which have not signed the agreement, including the UK, are also granted access to the country without a visa and for an unlimited period. However, it can still be worth carrying a passport, credit card and driving license in the event of needing to pay for certain things, such as car-hire.

Climate

Minorca is blessed with a typical Mediterranean climate, meaning hot summers and pleasant winters, so it’s easy to see why it is such a popular holiday destination. Summer in Minorca spans May through September. Average temperatures of 25°C can be expected, with 11 hours of sunshine and clear skies. Minorca is known to be quite windy, but this can be a blessing during the hot summer months. The average temperature in winter is still a comfortable 13°C, although it can be overcast.

Main Airports

Minorca Airport, also known as Mahon Airport, is located in the south-west of the island. It is the only airport in Minorca. Despite Minorca being a relatively small island, Minorca Airport is of a reasonable size, with 16 gates and dozens of seasonal charters flights. There are also year-round scheduled flights with European airlines. The airport deals with approximately 2.5million visitors each year.

Flight Options

Year-round flights operate from Edinburgh, the Isle of Man and Southampton, while the majority of airlines operate scheduled routes to Belfast-International, Birmingham, Glasgow-International, London-Gatwick, London-Luton and London-Stansted, among other UK airports. All other UK flights are seasonal. The average flight time is around 2 hours, 15 minutes from London.

Travel Advice

Budget carriers offer the cheapest air deals from the UK, but tickets often need to be booked well in advance to make a saving. The cheapest deals on accommodation are available outside of peak season. Heading to the island in September could mean tourists will still get the benefit of the glorious weather, but not the inflated hotel and villa prices of July and August.

Other Transport Options

It's possible to reach Minorca by ferry from mainland Spain or neighbouring Majorca. There is a daily service from both Barcelona and Valencia, however, travelling by ferry is not the quickest way to reach the island, as the journey can take around 8 hours 30 minutes. Minorcan taxis offer good value for money and are easily recognisable as white cars, with a green light on the roof.

Getting Around

Minorca is a small island, so domestic flights aren't necessary. The roads, especially in the tourist areas, are well maintained, making car hire an attractive option. Taxis are a popular way to cover short distances, while affordable, hourly local buses connect the main beaches and towns.

Bus

Buses are an option for those not in a hurry. The bus station in Mahon has services to most of the main towns and beaches on the island. Fares on TMSA's bright yellow and red, air-conditioned buses are reasonable. Timetables are available at the main station in Mahon, but are also printed in the local paper.

Car

Car rental is an economical way for families to get around the island. Car hire branches are found in the main towns, the capital of Mahon and at the airport. UK drivers need only bring their current driving licence from home.

Driving is on the right and wearing a seat belt is compulsory and strictly enforced.

The main roads are in good condition, particularly those in the main tourist spots. The back roads are less well maintained, but often lead to the more discreet holiday spots.

MAP

MINORCA`S WEATHER TODAY

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Port de Mao is the second largest natural harbour in the world, stretching for 5kms and only superseded by Pearl Harbour.
  2. As the most eastern Balearic island, the inhabitants of Minorca are the first people in Spain to see the sun rise.
  3. Despite attracting millions of visitors each year, Minorca houses a population of just over 94,000.
  4. Minorca produces its own gin, from the Xoriguier Distillery.
  5. The island has its own blossoming shoe industry, the mainstay of which are colourful sandals, known as 'avarcas'
  6. On average, Minorca enjoys around 2,700 hours of sunlight each year

FACTS

  1. Port de Mao is the second largest natural harbour in the world, stretching for 5kms and only superseded by Pearl Harbour.
  2. As the most eastern Balearic island, the inhabitants of Minorca are the first people in Spain to see the sun rise.
  3. Despite attracting millions of visitors each year, Minorca houses a population of just over 94,000.
  4. Minorca produces its own gin, from the Xoriguier Distillery.
  5. The island has its own blossoming shoe industry, the mainstay of which are colourful sandals, known as 'avarcas'
  6. On average, Minorca enjoys around 2,700 hours of sunlight each year

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