The Balearic Island of Minorca, one of the loveliest, most unspoilt islands in the Mediterranean
Despite its popularity as a beach holiday paradise, the Balearic Island of Minorca remains one of the loveliest, most unspoilt islands in the Mediterranean. This is the result of a thriving local industry that is less dependent on tourism for its survival than many of the other islands are. Minorca is therefore a great option for travellers wanting a more authentic Spanish beach resort holiday.
Minorca is only nine miles (15km) wide and about 32 miles (52km) long, and boasts stretches of varied beaches, from silver-sanded, gently curving bays to rugged, rocky inlets. Aside from beaches and resorts the island also has plenty of interest for history buffs and culture vultures, with several attractions to visit, including a world famous pipe organ and several mysterious, prehistoric archaeological sites related to the second millennium BC Talayot culture.
Unlike its Balearic neighbour, Ibiza, Minorca doesn’t offer wild parties, hectic nightlife and nightclubs where party people can dance the night away. The nightlife in Minorca is laid back and centred round hotels, quiet bars, restaurants and the occasional nightclub. In the capital, Mahon, there are a few live music bars, pubs, and tavernas where soaking up the views and atmosphere while sipping on a cocktail is rewarding, but even here the party scene is relaxed.
Resort towns such as Cala En Porter offer younger visitors themed bars, but most of them close before midnight. Known for its live bands and cocktails, Akalarre Bar on the waterfront in Mahon is a popular haunt, while the Caves of Xoroi in Cala En Porter is a must for drinks or to enjoy the cave disco and breathtaking views. Minorca is ideal for holidaymakers wanting to combine a beach holiday with excursions to picturesque, historic towns and outings into the charming rural interior; of the famous Balearic resort islands Minorca is the least likely to impress young party animals. The island is well-equipped with venues for the enjoyment of cocktails, local live music, drawn-out meals and the occasional dance floor, but it is not considered a great nightlife destination.
Most of the towns, and particularly the resorts, in Minorca are full of the usual gift shops selling tourist tat, but in Mahon exciting shopping opportunities abound. Head towards the centre of town where the cobblestoned streets are lined with boutiques, clothing shops, jewellers, ice-cream parlours and shoe stores.
The popular tourist areas are also loaded with shops. Mahon also has a wonderful market every Sunday where anything from clothing to fresh food and produce can be bought. There is also good shopping to be had in Ciutadella and Mao: Ses Voltes street is the place to head in Ciutadella; and the area around Carrer Ses Moreres in Mao is a good bet for designer gear. Both towns have artisan markets, in Mao on Friday evenings, and in Ciutadella on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Great souvenirs to bring home from Minorca include traditional leather sandals called Albarques,leather goods, jewellery and the Minorcan gin, Xoriguer. Most shops open between 9am and 9pm, but close between 2pm and 5pm for siesta.
In Mahon, explore the waterfront, take a tour of the 3.5 mile-long (5.6km) natural harbour on a glass-bottom boat, visit the Xoriguer Gin Distillery and admire the beautiful architecture. Head out to Fornells on the north coast for the day to enjoy a lazy lunch and spot of shopping in this sleepy fishing village, and organise a scuba dive in the marine reserve while you’re there.
Minorca enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot, dry summers. Experiencing about 315 days of sunshine a year, Minorca has a gorgeous climate for holidaymakers. July and August are by far the hottest months with temperatures reaching over 86°F (30°C). Winter, between December and February, is mild and often sunny.
The wettest months are October, November and December. The north wind known as the tramontanablows regularly in Minorca, bringing with it changeable weather; the island’s climate can be rather unpredictable but the summer season, between June and September is consistently dry and hot.
The peak summer months, between June and August, are the most popular time to visit Minorca, but many argue that the best time to visit the island is spring, in April and May, when the wild flowers and blossoms ensure the landscapes are at their best and the weather is pleasantly warm but not too hot. It is also less crowded and the prices tend to be lower (except over Easter). Many restaurants and some hotels close over the winter months when the island empties out