Minorca, Spain: Best Things to See and Do on this Balearic Island
The easternmost Balearic Island, about 142 miles southeast of Barcelona in the Mediterranean Sea, is a more tranquil, family-friendly option compared to its vivacious neighbors (we’re looking at you, Ibiza). Minorca, which is spelled locally as Menorca, is primed for an intimate relaxation-meets-exploration affair—spanning just 432 square miles with 135 miles of coastline, you can see so much in just a few days.
Logistics-wise, you’ll want to rent a car upon landing at its international airport, since hailing taxis is not an option in most locales there, and ridesharing apps are non-existent. Navigating Minorca (and this itinerary for that matter) is not hard, with Menorca-1 being the principal east-west thoroughfare, connecting its two biggest cities, Mahón and Ciutadella. The route spans the entirety of the island but totals less than 30 miles, with roundabouts directing drivers to smaller cities, historical sites, and, yes, beach destinations aplenty.
(Pictured above: Cala Escorxada)
Villa Le Blanc Gran Melía
Head to Santo Tomás, a quiet, central beach town on the island’s southern coast, and check in to the Villa Le Blanc Gran Melía (Urbanització Santo Tomàs Playa). which is Minorca’s first carbon-neutral resort and regarded island-wide as a cultural game-changer for its luxury-meets-sustainability approach. The outdoor pool and patio areas offer panoramic vistas of turquoise waters and rock-draped coastlines. Order a pomada—it's Minorca’s most famous homegrown cocktail, consisting of lemonade, gin, and crushed ice. But don’t accidentally have too many right away—they are addictive, and you will want to be able to have more later.
Camí de Cavalls
After a few hours of taking in the vistas, it’s time to get out and about. The island of Minorca is encircled by a walking-and-biking path known as Camí de Cavalls. In Santo Tomás, the path is pristinely laid along its entire coastline and, heading west, provides a coastal bliss straight-shot to two of the island’s most prized calas (or coves), Cala Binigaus and Cala Escorxada. Each features its own version of white sand beaches and dramatic cliff inlets. From town, it's an approximately 3-mile walk to Cala Escorxada, with Cala Binigaus along the way.
Following your coastal excursion, it’s time to venture into the mountains. A 20-minute drive north of Santo Tomás, you’ll find the highest peak on the entire island, Monte Toro (pictured above). Measuring 1,175 feet, it’s more of a hill than a mountain, nonetheless it's visible from miles away. Atop it, there is a quaint white chapel, coffee shop, and coin-operated lookout binoculars. The peak is relatively flat and paved, so you’ll only need an hour or so to explore.
Torre de Fornells
Close your first day with a trip to the northern coastal town of Fornells, just 20 minutes' drive north of Monte Toro. Congratulations—you’ve arrived at the northern coast. That’s right: You’re seeing the north and south coasts of the island on the very first day. Fornells’ most iconic landmark is the Torre de Fornells, a defense tower built by the British in the early 1800s to protect the harbor. The stone-and-mortar tower is the largest of its kind on the island. If you just so happen to be there at sunset, the historical vibe under the oft-orange skyscape will not disappoint.
Cala en Porter
You explored a nice chunk of central Minorca on Day One—now it’s time to head east. Whereas the bulk of Minorca’s beach towns can be devoid of restaurants and shops, the village of Cala en Porter has a handful of options along its Avenida Central. Beyond that, it’s a popular destination for rolling out a beach blanket and taking in a limestone-layered, cliff landscape.
And take note of this for later: The town is also home to the most famous nightlife venue on the island, Cova d’en Xoroi (Urbanización Cala en Porter, Carrer de sa Cova). Literally a cave-in-the-cliffs-gone-nightclub, this spot offers tickets for day sessions, sunset time, and night sessions. Unless you’re planning to head to Ciudadela for a multi-stop night of dancing (more on that in a bit), this is the place to do it.
Continuing your eastward journey, you’ll arrive in the island’s capital, Mahón. Visibly, Mahón is very much a destination for boat lovers, with a mix of yachts, sailboats, and shipping vessels navigating its inlet all day long. Spend a few hours exploring the town's historic Georgian-styled residences and stone-tile pedestrian walkways. A good starting point could be a tour of its principal church, Iglesia de Santa María (Ajuntament)—you can’t miss its yellow façade towering over nearby apartments. From there, Mahón’s main market, Mercat de Pescados (Plaza de España), is within a couple of blocks and it's where you'll find vendors serving up Spanish staples like patatas bravas (fried spicy potatoes), Mahón cheese, and Minorca’s most iconic dish, a lobster stew known as caldereta de langosta. For history lovers, the Museu de Menorca (Plaza des Monestir) curates rotating displays on the island’s history in multiple languages.
Before heading back west, pop down to the village of Binibeca, which is a 20-minute drive south of the capital. There are two main attractions to explore, the first being Binibeca Vell, a small Mediterranean village with narrow streets and whitewashed homes—the scene almost looks like it was patterned after Mykonos, Greece. Five minutes southeast is the Binibeca Nou cove, which has some of the island’s most blue waters and a long-running bar serving fresh seafood catches. More often than not, you’ll find a rental pedal boat operation on the beach, too. Whether you end Day Two on a loungey or active note, that’s up to you.
Naveta d’Es Tudons, Torretrencada, and Torrellafuda
On the final day, we’re heading west to see what we've missed so far. En route to Minorca’s largest city, Ciudadela (spelled locally as Ciutadella), you can get a taste of the ancient Talayotic culture of Minorca. Throughout the island there are 25 unique sites dating back to 2100 BC, and you can experience three of them within a 15-minute loop along Menorca-1. The most eastern spot is Torrellafuda, surrounded by a hand-laid rock wall and various monoliths scattered in an old olive grove. Just south, Torretrencada equally shifts the mind toward historic times, with Stonehenge-like stone structures. Naveta d’Es Tudons is the area’s most trafficked archaeological site, anchored by a large, igloo-shaped tomb. Plan 90 minutes or so to take in all three.
Minorca’s former capital (and its largest settlement) exudes a medieval charm—the maze-like roads are dotted with outdoor restaurant seating—like few others. You’ll want to spend the bulk of a day here wandering and gawking at its architecture, particularly its marble-draped central church, La Catedral (Carrer de Ca'l Bisbe). The church's museum of paintings, wood carvings, and precious metals is worth exploring, too. History aside, it's easy to rejoice at the range of Ciutadella's boutiques, bakeries, and fresh-caught seafood joints. The city’s central square, Plaça des Born (pictured above), flourishes beneath a towering obelisk that commemorates the townspeople’s final defeat to the Turks in the 16th century. Ciudadela is the hub of most of the nightlife on Minorca—the liveliest discotheques and live music haunts line its boat-flanked port (Passeig des Moll).