When people think of the Balearic Islands, it’s often the party lifestyle of Ibiza or the package holidays of Majorca that are the first things to spring to mind. In fact, Menorca often gets overlooked completely by tourists drawn to the bright lights and showy resorts of the neighbouring islands.
But for those in the know, Menorca is the gem of the Mediterranean. Surrounded by fantastic beaches, covered in lush vegetation and with a vibrant local culture, this little island takes some beating.
So if you’re thinking of exploring this island idyll, here are five things you should know before you go.
1. It gets the first sun of the day
As the Balearics lie off the East coast of Spain and Menorca is the most easterly of the archipelago, it is the first place in Spain to see the morning sun.
This makes it perfect for any early birds or those who want to wake early and make the most of their trip.
2. It has some of the best Bronze Age sites in Europe
Thanks to its handy location sandwiched between Spain, France, Italy and North Africa in the Mediterranean Sea, Menorca has been a stopping off point for travellers and civilisations for thousands of years.
As a result, historical sites are scattered across the island, with those dating back to the Bronze Age among the most impressive.
Many of the sites, like the Talatí de Dalt and Es Tudons, are close to the city of Ciutadella and can easily be explored in a day or two.
3. It used to be British
In 1708, during the war of the Spanish Succession, Menorca was invaded by the Royal Navy. They claimed the island for Britain, who maintained possession before losing it to the French during the Seven Years’ War.
Though the British domination was fairly short lived it saw the capital of the island moved from Ciutadella to Port Mahon where it remains to this day.
As a result Mahon is one of the very few places in Spain where it’s possible to see authentic Georgian architecture and drink authentic gin.
4. It’s home to your favourite condiment
In 1756, when the French captured the island from the British, the victorious army celebrated with a feast.
The festivities took place in the capital Mahon, and after trying a local condiment, made by mixing oil and egg yolk, the French named it Salsa Mahonnaise, now known the world over as mayonnaise.
5. It has more beaches than Majorca and Ibiza put together
Boasting 120 beaches totalling 220km of coastline, Menorca does indeed have more beaches than Majorca and Ibiza put together.
If you’re planning a trip, many Menorca Villas will be located close to at least one beach so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the length of the coastline during your stay.
As far as Mediterranean islands go, Menorca has it all, and as many of the large crowds are drawn to the busier neighbouring islands, you can really enjoy the culture, the landscape and the history of this Balearic paradise.