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Most travelers have already heard of Ibiza and Mallorca — two popular island destinations located off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. But it’s time to put the spotlight on Menorca, the lesser-known (and less crowded) of the three Balearic Islands.
Menorca, located just 55 minutes from Barcelona by plane, was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993 and is a hot spot for food, wine and sunshine for those in the know. Additionally, its beaches have been praised by magazines such as Reader’s Digest and Conde Nast Traveler.
If clients are looking for the perfect respite from their jam-packed European vacation, consider this rejuvenating itinerary to Menorca.
Day OneCheck into Casa Telmo, an ideal weekend abode. Located in Menorca’s capital city of Mahon, this intimate five-room hotel resides in a historical building that has been rehabilitated and transformed into a stylish retreat that inspires both adventure and relaxation.
Each guestroom features unique designs and artifacts, making the entire property feel like the private manor of a jetsetter with impeccable taste. While one accommodation will evoke romance and class with its British-inspired decor, another will transport guests to the action and adventure of an African safari with animal prints and tribal artwork. The property as a whole, however, remains cohesive thanks to the designer’s concerted effort to preserve a majority of the building’s historical characteristics. Lucky guests will get to meet the enviably chic owners and designers, Benito Escat and Pol Castells, who frequent the property.
Another highlight of a stay at Casa Telmo is the daily breakfast consisting of local goods, which guests can enjoy on the outdoor patio or in the common area, before setting out for a day of island adventures.
Walk around the picturesque streets of Mahon, passing the Church of Santa Maria and stopping by the city’s beautiful sheltered harbor. If in need of an afternoon snack, the adorably rustic Pipet & Co cafe serves everything from fresh juices and salads to heartier burgers, bowls and a wonderful homemade sangria.
Take a drive to Cova D'en Xoroi, located in Cala en Porter, to enjoy a cocktail (or two) as the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea. To say Cova D’En Xoroi is just a bar would be a gross understatement given its premiere location carved inside a cave that overlooks the water. Order Menorca’s signature cocktail: the Pomada, which consists of gin, lemonade, ice and a slice of lemon. Stick around long enough, and this spot transforms into a club with live music.
As hunger begins to strike, look no further than one of the island’s most classic restaurants, Ses Forquilles. Located just minutes away from Casa Telmo in Mahon, Ses Forquilles offers traditional Menorcan cuisine in an understated setting that makes guests feel like locals. For a taste of Catalan, order the coca de vidre, a regional specialty that consists of a sweet, crispy bread lathered in olive oil, salt and tomato.
Day TwoWith no time to waste, hit the road early for a 30-minute drive from Mahon to Cala Galdana, a popular beach located on Menorca’s breathtaking south coast. From here, clients can pick up their own private boat — no license required — from My Boat Menorca, a family-owned company.
Guests don’t need prior experience driving a boat; the company gives a 10-minute tutorial prior to departure. Via a four-hour or eight-hour excursion, clients have the freedom to visit more than 10 of the island’s most beautiful beaches, including Cala Macarelleta and Cala Mitjaneta, at their own pace in a single afternoon. Expect turquoise waters, gorgeous white cliffs and hidden coves only accessible by boat. Each boat comes equipped with a navigation system, a canopy for shade, storage for personal belongings and an easy-to-use anchor for when it’s time to dive in. There is also a cooler onboard, so don’t forget to stop at one of the many supermarkets near Cala Galdana to stock up on provisions for the day.
After an exciting adventure on the water, clients can opt for a 25-minute drive to Ciutadella, Menorca’s oldest city and original capital. Similar to Mahon, the city offers a winding maze of streets, full of delicious patisseries and chic shops. For a sweet treat and a much-needed caffeine fix, head to Herbera Bakery and order the ensaimadas, a pastry from Mallorca traditionally made with saim, or pork lard. For a little retail therapy, stop by Nagore or any of the local shoe stores to purchase a pair of leather sandals, a specialty of Menorca.
Finish your epic day with a sunset dinner at Cafe Balear, located on Ciutadella’s harbor. Cafe Balear serves seafood, exclusively — most of which comes from its own boat, the Rosa Santa Primera. Don’t skip the paella, which is full of flavor and a little intimidating (the dish takes up the majority of the table and serves a minimum of two or three people).
Day ThreeMake the 15-minute drive from Mahon to Binibeca Vell. This town of white-washed houses was built and designed in the 1970s to resemble a traditional Mediterranean fishing village. The intricate maze of streets (or alleys, really) are a treat to wander through and will yield some envious photos. A morning visit is recommended as this town is best experienced with minimal crowds and noise, emphasizing the simplicity and serenity of the environment.
Before making the journey home, sneak in a couple more hours of beach time. Head to the small and secluded Cala Binidali, which is in close proximity to Binibeca Vell. Though perhaps less popular than other beaches on the island, Cala Binidali offers clear water for a final dip in the Mediterranean Sea and, more importantly, is easily accessible thanks to the parking lot located at the beach’s entrance.
For a final meal in Menorca, dine at Bodegas Binifadet. This gorgeous winery, located a short drive from the airport, is a family-owned property that dates back to the 1970s. They offer tours, tastings and a refreshing menu that complements their selection of wines. Some standouts were the Binifadet Rose and the sparkling rose. Dishes of note include salmon marinated in Xoriguer gin with tzatziki sauce and the miso-olive roasted eggplant with goat cheese and pomegranate. It’s impossible to go wrong here, especially while dining on the outdoor patio with views of the vineyard.