Thursday, July 14, 2016

5 Favorite Things to Do in Menorca

by Laura Bianchini

Menorca’s laid-back feel and slow pace make it an ideal place for an unforgettable summer escape. Much smaller than Mallorca and less busy than Ibiza, it has a relaxed vibe and a more authentic Spanish feeling. Menorca is not a busy package holiday destination, it’s still quite unspoiled and thankfully tourism has not tainted it – there are so many beautiful places to see and things to do. Which is why we think it’s the perfect destination for a luxury yoga retreat in Spain, with plenty of time in between yoga classes to discover the island or just relax on a gorgeous beach.

Menorca has a striking coastline with some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, from large stretches of fine white sand in the south to small swimming coves in the north. It’s great for snorkeling and scuba diving, kayaking, boat trips and sailing. There are also hiking trails and horseback riding paths along the coast, as well as several cycling lanes. You can splurge on spa treatments, take day trips to charming towns, shop along pedestrian streets and browse open-air markets. Menorca also has a strong cultural side, with large cathedrals and palaces, as well as archaeological sites spread across the island.

1. Discover some of Europe’s most gorgeous beaches:

From large organized beaches to secret coves and swimming holes, Menorca is a beach-lover’s paradise. Some say there are around 120 different beaches on the island, and some say more. About 70 of them can be accessed quite easily, while others can only be reached by sea – these of course are the gems of the island, where life stands still. Just you, the soft white sand, crystal clear blue water, and silence. Even during high season, you can still find a remote beach on Menorca to get away from it all.

Most of the long white sandy beaches can be found on the southern coast, where several of the main tourist resorts have been developed. But luckily they’ve not been overrun by fast-food joints and souvenir shops. Some of the more popular beaches are Cala GaldanaCala en PorterPunta Prima and Son Bou. These beaches have sunbeams and umbrellas, and are all worth a swim. Some of the smaller beaches may get a bit crowded in high season but are definitely worth a visit as well – try Cala en TurquetaCala Macarella and it’s smaller sister Macarelleta, all with fine white sand and turquoise water.

2. Stroll around Menorca’s charming towns:

After a few hours on the beach, why not take a break from the sand and stroll around Menorca’s charming towns for a bit of history and culture. The elegant towns of Mahon, the current capital, and Ciutadella, the former capital, are a must-see. Both are full of culture and beauty, with cathedrals, palaces, and charming pedestrian streets lined with boutique shops and cafés.

Ciutadella on the western part of the island has a Moorish feel with medieval architecture, cobbled lanes, Gothic churches and palaces. As well as a 14th-century Cathedral built on the site of an ancient mosque. The town has a lovely harbor where you can end your evening watching people go by while enjoying a pomada – a popular refreshing drink of local gin and lemonade.

Mahon, the current capital on the very eastern tip of the island, has the largest natural port in the Mediterranean surrounded by elegant architecture from the British occupation in the 18th century. Cafés and restaurants line the harbor as well as the pedestrian streets, making it an ideal place to take a break and enjoy the laid-back Menorcan lifestyle. Take a boat trip along the harbor, buy a pair of the famous abarcas leather sandals, visit the mansions, churches and Gothic cathedral, and stroll around the narrow streets and shady squares.

Binibeca and Fornells are two other charming towns easily visited in an afternoon. They are a bit more off the beaten track but on every visitor’s list of places to see in Menorca.

3. See Menorca on horseback:

Menorca is famous for its passion for horseback riding and has a long history with horses. The island’s terrain is mostly flat, making it ideal to explore on horseback for all levels – from novices to experienced riders. You can easily visit the countryside as well as the coast in one day.
There are many riding clubs that organize day trips along the famous Cami de Cavalls trail to get the best views. Just another wonderful way to explore the island and see it from a different angle!

4. Cycle your way around the island:

Another great way to get some exercise and discover Menorca is to cycle your way around the island. There are many cycling paths that criss-cross the island depending on what you want to see. And you’ll meet plenty of other cyclists along the way who will be happy to share their adventures and give you tips on where to go.

5. Take a boat or kayak to a secluded cove:

Snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, boat trips – you can spend several days exploring wonderful beaches only reachable by boat. There are several agencies that offer organized boat trips for the day to these beautiful beaches, passing hidden coves and wonderful swimming spots along the way. This is one of the best ways to discover this magical island.
If you’d rather explore these secluded places while also getting a bit of a workout, you can rent a canoe or a kayak and go on a more energetic adventure. The island is particularly well suited for kayaking and canoeing with many sheltered coves and hidden spots where larger boats can’t enter. Many of the smaller virgin beaches can only be accessed from the sea, so kayaking or canoeing is a great way to discover them – you’ll feel like you’ve landed on a secluded island in the middle of nowhere! There are several centers around Menorca that specialize in kayaking and canoeing courses, and they also rent out all the equipment for your sea adventure.

And so much more to explore…

These are just some ways to discover beautiful Menorca, but there are so many other things to see and do on the island. Of course, just relaxing on a lovely beach with a book and a drink is one of our favorite pastimes! And we do plenty of that as well on our luxury yoga holiday.

Menorca offers a true Spanish lifestyle, the locals are wonderful, the culture and traditions of the island will draw you in, and the island has a very welcoming and laid-back feel that will see you coming back for sure. We think it’s still one of the best-kept secrets of the Mediterranean.

About the Author, Laura Bianchini

Laura has worked in the travel industry for many years, primarily organizing tours for U.S. visitors to Europe, accompanying many guests on their first trips abroad. Born and raised in Rome with an American mother and Italian father, she has lived in New York and London and has traveled extensively to many parts of the world, always in search of those special beautiful corners of the planet. She is a yoga instructor and has been practicing for over 12 years, experimenting with various styles from Vinyasa, Iyengar and Ashtanga, to restorative and Yin yoga, continuously learning and discovering how yoga can help people physically and emotionally. After holding marketing jobs in banking and media in New York and London, Laura decided to make a change from corporate life to start her own business. Combining her passion for travel and yoga, she created Yoga Escapes, keen on sharing those two passions with others on her retreats.

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