I’ve always felt nervous about traveling alone, but this summer I finally did it! I had to leave the UK to change my visa type, and I wasn’t about to let a perfect opportunity to go to the Mediterranean to waste. After browsing Skyscanner for cheap last-minute, I decided on Menorca, Spain. My round trip ticket was $58 from London with Jet2 and Thomas Cook Airlines. Have I mentioned how much I love European budget airlines?
I can officially say: Menorca is one of my favorite places in the world! Menorca offers everything you could ever want on a vacation: from beautiful beaches to delicious cheese. While it’s undoubtedly a tourist place, (hello sunburnt Brits at resorts) it’s also still quite wild. The whole island is a UNESCO designated biosphere reserve. As a result, there are many virgin beaches and unexplored coves to discover. Menorca, along with the more famous Mallorca and Ibiza, is one of Spain’s Balearic islands. Unlike it’s sisters, Menorca feels authentic, and there’s no neon billboards or tacky-beach-town stores to be seen outside of easy-to-avoid resorts. The native language of Menorca is Menorquin (a dialect of Catalan) but everyone speaks Spanish. I didn’t speak any English on my trip, but I would suspect English levels are high as a result of UK tourism (and the former British ownership of the island).
Where to Stay
I stayed in Ciutadella, the old Capital city of Menorca. This is on the other side of the island from Mahon, the current capital and the city where the airport is. Despite the inconvenience of crossing the island, I highly recommend staying in Ciutadella. Why? Amazing food, a beautiful port, good bus access to the virgin beaches, and most of all it’s one of the few places in Menorca where locals live year round. Far from being a tourist resort, staying in Ciutadella gives an authentic Spanish experience.
If you’re traveling solo and not opposed to hostels, I highly recommend staying at the Alberg Juvenil Sa Vinyeta. It’s one of the only hostels in Menorca, and it gives discounts to people under 30 and HI members. I absolutely adored my stay there. The staff are incredibly helpful, they have a wide array of free maps and transport schedules, and they provide free European breakfast (aka toast, juice, and coffee). Even if you don’t eat breakfast, it’s a great time to talk to other travelers about plans for the day and find travel buddies! 🙂 If you’re traveling in a group, renting an apartment in Ciutadella is a great option.
What to do
The one thing you absolutely can’t miss is the beaches! Pristine white sand beaches dot Menorca’s south coast (where I spent most of my time). I visited Cala en Brut, Cala’n Forcat, Playa Son Saura, Cala Es Talaier, and Cala Turqueta. A storm off the coast created big waves while I was there, but typically the beaches are calm. To the north, Menorca is filled with wild, dark sand beaches, rocky coasts, and adventure sports. No matter what type of beach you prefer, Menora undoubtedly has it!
Menorca is also a fantastic active holiday destination. The Cami de Cavalls, an ancient coastal trail, encircles Menorca. I hiked 5 miles of it to reach beaches I couldn’t get direct transport to, and it was absolutely gorgeous! If the water conditions are suitable, there are many boat tours that will take you around the island to the most inaccessible beaches and water caves. There’s also opportunities to kayak, snorkel, scuba-dive, stand-up paddle board, horseback ride, and jet-ski. I’d suggest researching and booking your activities in advance directly through the activity provider’s website to get the best price.
If you can drag yourself away from the water, Ciutadella is an incredible place to explore. It comes alive at night with an outdoor market on the steps, and there are many restaurants and bars along the harbor. You can buy Menorcan shoes, sample traditional cheeses and iberian hams, or tour the historical churches and abbeys that dot the city. For those with a car, Menorca also is littered with megalithic monuments that I’m dying to see on a future trip.
How to get around
Menorca has fabulous public transportation. From the airport, there are shuttle services that take you directly to your accommodation. I used Shuttle Direct, and it cost me around $16 round trip. For the penny pincher, there are public buses that run from Mahon to Ciutadella and Mahon Airport to Mahon. Once you’re in Ciutadella, most buses to the beaches leave from the main bus station (Plaça Pins). You have to buy your ticket ahead at the AutoTorres kiosk. Arrive early because the popular routes may sell out. I took Route 61 to Cala en Brut and Cala’n Forcat, and Route 66 to Playa Son Saura. It’s possible to walk in between many of the southern beaches on the Cami de Cavalls. The bus costs around $8 round trip.
If you’re not keen on public transport, it is possible to rent cars and motor scooters in Menorca. Many beaches have very limited parking, so you’ll need to leave early to guarantee a spot. If you have mobility difficulties, be aware that many beaches in Menorca require a significant (and often rocky) walk to access. You may be best staying at a traditional resort next to the beach, like Cala Galdana.
Overall, Menorca was the perfect destination for my first solo trip! Now that I know how fantastic (and not lonely) solo travel is, I’m sure it’s the first of many. I hope I can return to its beautiful beaches someday. If you’re interested in learning more about Menorca, I’m writing up a guide to the beaches.
Thanks for reading!