...HELLO- HOLA... GOODBYE- ADIOS/ADEU... PLEASE- POR FAVOR/SI US PLAU... THANKYOU- GRACIAS/GRÁCIES..
WHERE TO SLEEP
This charming 6-room guesthouse is situated almost equidistant from everything in Menorca. Its location in the quaint town of Ferreries is perfect for exploring all that the island has to offer. The owners, Stephanie and Ignasi do an incredible job of making sure each guest is comfortable and taken well care of. The rooms all have windows that open up to the small cobblestone street below and/or the courtyard out back where you can enjoy you morning coffee and the beautiful breakfast spread. They have done an amazing job of curating each detail of all the uniquely individual rooms. Tip- rent a car, it is essential to maneuver about the island, there is a free parking lot a 5 minute walk from the hotel.
Hotel Petit Maó
If being closer to the action is is more your style, check the Ses Sucreres sister hotel run by the same couple. Rooms have the same uniquely styled vibe as well as a wonderful breakfast spread. Step out your door and you are on the hip, cobblestones streets of the port town of Maó with access to lots of great restaurants and bars. As an added bonus, there is a pool!
Newly opened (summer 2018) Hevresac in Maó is quite the gem. This rehabbed early 19th century house is the third addition in the hotel family run by Stéphanie and Ignasi of Ses Sucreres. While I haven't had a chance to stay here yet I can say undoubtedly that you will receive the same level of hospitality and impeccable design associated with their other two properties. I was lucky enough to see it a week before opening and it looked incredible already!
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Sa Llagosta- Fornells
Located in a lovely spot overlooking the bay of Fornells this seafood restaurant is known for their caldereta de langosta, or lobster stew. The town of Fornells has many waterfront restaurants that have langosta, or llagosta in Catalan, but this one stands out because all the other menu items are a level above the other places. The stew is phenomenal of course but not miss the artichoke confit with camot (a typical Menorcan blood sausage) and a fried egg, or the sardines... the food here is stuff made of dreams.
If you are looking for a swank lunch or dinner this is your place. Located near the port in Ciutadella, Mon has one of the better (and affordable) tasting menus on Menorca. I will say the ambiance is a little stark and modern for my taste but the food more than makes up for that. The chef running this spot even earned a Michelin star at the restaurant he helmed in Barcelona!
Sa Bodega- Maó
A great afternoon/early evening vermut spot in Maó with friendly service, a great wine list and yummy snacks!
Bar a Vins- Maó
This wine focused tapas bar has some of the best selection Balearic wines as well as Catalunyan wines. With a focus on using fresh and local ingredients the menu is one of my favorites in Maó, don't miss the huevos estrellados con chipirones, camot y habitas.
Es Llonguet- Maó
This yummy little bakery is Maó is a great place to stop for a quick bocadillo "para llevar" before heading out on a hike. They also have a great selection of classic island pastries both savory and sweet like pastissets, flaons, formatjades, carquinyols and more.
Cas Sucrer- Es Mercadal
This patisserie is known to have some of best ensaimadas on the island. If you are unfamiliar with these tasty, fluffy confections get ready to fall in love. Ensaimadas are yeasty breads shaped into coils then dusted with powdered sugar. You can get them in a variety of fillings like pumpkin and chocolate but my absolute favorite is the sobrassada stuffed one. The spicy sausage and the sweet bread are such a great combo!
★Can Pons- Es Mercadal
If you are looking to take the ensaimada to the next level this bakery in Es Mercadal is where to go. Specializing in unique combinations like apricot, butifarra con queso, apples, walnuts and cream and even one with all the embutidos (sausages and meats) of Menorca. Located just a half block from Cas Sucrer but attracting a different clientele for sure.
Torralbenc- near Cala en Porter
While I have not had the opportunity to stay at this chic, renovated farmhouse near Alaior I have gone to dinner here. The grounds are beautiful with rows of grapevines leading the way up the driveway from the street. If you are lucky the weather will permit you to dine alfresco overlooking the vineyard and pool. Order a bottle of the house red, white or rose and enjoy the scenery as well as the modern take on traditional Menorcan cuisine. This is a special occasion restaurant so don't be afraid to fancy it up a bit. Tip- arrange ahead of time to do a tasting in their celler before dinner!
Sa Taula- Fornells
If you find yourself in Fornells and have already tried Sa Llagosta check out this little beach bar and restaurant. The menu is fairly simple, serving mostly seafood and the wine list has some great regional options. The calamarcets amb ceba caramelitzada, or baby squid with carmelized onion, is to die for!
Ses Forquilles- Maó
A modern tapas spot with a bit of a rock-n-roll vibe. Their innovative spins on classic tapas dishes, some leaning towards an asian twist, are all made with local products and lots of flavor. This is always my first stop off the plane, it is consistently tasty and the service is some of the best on the island.
This slick vermuteria and tapas bar is a newer addition to Maó. The owners are always working the bar, one of them being Anatea herself, so you can rest assured you will get great recommendations for food and drink. I dream about the butifarra con seques and the ensalada de lentejas but everything else I enjoyed here was pretty memorable too.
Mercat del Claustre- Maó
Inside this former convent in Maó's main square is a nice market where you can find anything from produce and meat vendors to clothing and shoe stalls. There are a handful of great snack stalls as well if you are feeling a little peckish.
Sa Pedrera d'es Pujol- Sant Lluís
Located near Sant Lluís in what I would call the countryside is this beautiful restaurant with windows looking out to their lush gardens making it a great date spot. Stick to the small plates and their rice dishes and you won't be dissapointed.
De Vins Menorca- Maó
This well-stocked wine shop has a snack bar in the Mercat del Claustre so if you are looking for a bottle to bring back home or just to the room as well as some tiny tapas and a glass of vino while you shop, De Vins is the spot to stop at.
WHAT TO DO
Cami de Cavalls
The ancient path of GR-223 is over 100 miles of restored and well-marked trails that skirt the islands perimeter. Originally used for horses (cavalls in Catalan) and their riders to patrol the fortresses and watchtowers. The path is divided into 20 different stages most of them rural although some do pass through the towns. The hardest to reach, therefore the most beautiful, beaches on the island are only accessible by this network of trails or by sea. I highly recommend investing in this book which clearly lays out the trails and their difficulty as well as what you can expect to encounter on them. The cami de cavalls is the number one reason I keep returning to Menorca, if you love to hike or mountain bike I think you will feel the same way.
Rent a boat with Llatina Boats
No license required to take out this small llauts (typical Menorcan sail boats.) Head down to Fornells and rent one this stylish and easy to use boats for the afternoon and tool around the bay, anchoring when you see a nice beach and snorkeling or swimming to shore. They boats come with an ice chest so make sure to pack provisions!
Menorca Spanish School
If you are looking to brush up on your castellaño and are around for a week or more check out this awesome school in Maó. The instructors are great and the extracurricular activites range from sunset kayaking to museum visits and if you are lucky, hitting up a local festival.
Throughout the summer in Menorca each village has its own festival that centers around the island's special breed of horse. Always falling on a patron saint holiday these festes, or fiestas are made for celebrating with friends and family. You can expect lots of eating, LOTS of pomada drinking- the island's signature cocktail of gin and lemonade, usually sold frozen in a reused, unmarked water bottle- and watching the horses run through the narrow streets of town. They say it is good luck to touch the horse's heart as it runs past but for so many reasons I say "DON'T!"
Menorca a Cavall
Want to check out the cami de cavalls the way it was meant to be seen? This horseback riding outfit in the south is a great way to see some of the interior of the island as well as some of the really difficult to reach beaches with a guide. The horses are well-trained and easy for beginners to ride, if you are lucky to make it to a beach with no one on it you can even take the horses into the water!
Visit one of the 7 faros on the island
Menorca is home to seven unique lighthouses that all deserve a visit. The most iconic being the black and white striped Favaritx which stands tall at 28m and is surrounded by the S'Albufera des Grau national park. The Punta Nati lighthouse is a great place to watch the sunset while Cavalleria is best to watch sunrise because of its extreme northeastern positioning.
WHERE TO SHOP
★La Cereria- Maó
A lovely little shop in Maó that has a bit of everything... both established and emerging clothing brands for men and women as well as smell good bath stuffs and candles. This is a place where you will want to indulge a little for yourself instead of shopping for souvenirs for friends and family.
Homers Shoes- Maó and Ciutadella
My favorite Menorcan shoe company has been around for over 40 years and definitely has made a name for themselves; with shops all over the world you can find them while traveling elsewhere but why not buy directly from the source? They started off making simple, lightweight slippers and have graduated into higher-end sandals for men and women that feel like you are walking on a cloud.
Tembo- Maó and Ciutadella
Specializing in lightweight yet luxurious materials like linen and silk, this clothing store has a little something for everyone to wear on a beautiful, balmy island like Menorca. All of the designs are created exclusively for the shop too so you know you will have something authentic and unique.
The Loft- Maó
If you are in need of a cute new 'fit, a fun bikini or a pair of sunglasses because yours fell off the boat you chartered this women's boutique has a nice selection of clothing and accessories.
Can Doblas- Ferreries
I know you are probably like "why so many shoe recommendations?" Well it is because Spain is famous for making shoes and Menorca itself has its very own style made famous on the island. You will find Menorcan sandles aka avarcas all over the island, there are manufacturers in every town, but this small shop in Ferreries is one of my favorites. The store owner is incredibly friendly and helpful and because you aren't in Maó or Ciutadella which is more likely to be teeming with tourists you get a little more individual attention.
★Rapid Jesus 59- Ciutadella
It took me a while to find the name of this shop (I had to do a lot of googlemapping) but it was worth the search to rediscover this small, unmarked shoe shop on the corner of Carrer de la Murada d'Artrutx and Carrer de Sant Onofre in Ciutadella. The shop owner, who I must presume is Jesus himself, is hand-making all these super chic men's shoes in his small workshop. Not only can he look at your feet and accurately guess your size but he is pretty spot on about picking a pair that suits your style. If only he made women's shoes too...
Art Spai- Fornells
A small shop in the village of Fornells specializing in local, craftsmen artist made items like ceramic dishware, paintings and jewelry. They also have a nice selection of books about the islands hiking trails and the flora and fauna indigenous to Menorca.
Ca n'Aurelia- Maó
Looking to bring home some edible goods or maybe just some stuff to pack for a picnic? This little charcuterie in the Mercat del Claustre is a wonderful stop. You can find local wines and gin, cheeses, meats, conserves and more.