Es Grau is a seaside holiday destination, but it is small enough and beautiful enough not to feel like a resort and, despite the visiting tourists, it has retained its traditional village feel. There are a few restaurants and a couple of non-tacky gift shops in this small fishing village, which mainly consists of rustic whitewashed houses, stepped alleyways and a beach backing onto the S’Albufera des Grau nature reserve.
Located around five miles from Mahón, this fabulously quirky development was the brainchild of famous Spanish architect Antonio Sintes Mercadal. In the early 70s he built this cluster of two-storey buildings with the aim of recreating a traditional fishing village. Designed with Moorish styling, it comprises a small labyrinth of cobbled lanes and whitewashed houses, all overlooking a small harbour. Don’t miss Sa Musclera restaurant, offering top-notch food and a cozy bar.
Located on the more rugged but still lovely northern coast of the island, the region centred around the fishing village of Fornells is a fine place to rent a villa. Its long bay provides plenty of opportunities for watersports, as well as four tiny coves and a few small islets to explore. You can also find the Reserva La Concepció nature reserve, where you can visit the 19th-century saltworks where Flor de Fornells is still harvested. The other side of the peninsular is Platges de Fornells, where there are also some purpose-built developments, styled in the form of a traditional whitewashed Mediterranean village and scattered on the hillside overlooking Cala Tirant beach.
Technically a city, but more like a large town, Ciutadella (once the island’s capital) is an ancient port and a fabulously picturesque place to visit. The old town is characterful and well preserved, with pretty and often colourful architecture reflecting the port’s rich history. Narrow streets and cobbled walkways, lined with traditional rustic houses, give way to plazas with dramatic churches, and the shops and restaurants throughout the old town and marina area feel quite chi-chi. Ciutadella is well worth a visit; after all, it’s not known as vella i bella (old and beautiful) for nothing.
Cala En Porter
This seaside town is set high-up on one side of some giant cliffs that flank one of the island’s most picturesque beaches. Cala En Porter attracts all kinds of travellers, with a small but decent collection of bars and restaurants creating a low-key buzzy mood over the summer months. A short walk also takes you to one of Menorca’s best bars and sunset spots Cova d’en Xoroi, where you can reserve a table on one of the cliff-side terraces and watch the sun sink dramatically into the Mediterranean.
A short drive from the capital on the southwestern tip of the island, the quaint seaside town of Alcaufar comprises little more than a few lines of lovely low-rise houses overlooking a beautiful cove. Bright splashes of bougainvillea stand out against whitewashed walls, and an ambience of the sleepy and serene fishing village that it once was still pervades the town. There’s also a lovely little beach with calm crystal-clear water popular with families with small children.
As Mediterranean resorts go, they don’t get much better than Cala Galdana, on the southern coast of Menorca. The bay itself is stunning – an lovely curve of white sand, lapped by crystal clear turquoise waters, and surrounded by pine-topped cliffs; the resort itself is also small and fairly quiet, but with plenty of places to eat and shop. The water in the bay is very calm and shallow, so this is a particularly good places for families with young children.
Tucked away on the rugged north coast of the island, Cala Morell is essentially just a picturesque cluster of whitewashed properties, nestled in pine forest overlooking the sea. In a nearby gully, lies the fascinating Necrópolis de Cala Morell, a series of 14 cave-like burial chambers dating back to the pre-Talaotic period.