Menorca is a great choice for first (or second or third) family holidays abroad: it's just a couple of hours’ flight from the UK, has more beaches than its Balearic neighbours (Ibiza and Mallorca) combined, is quieter and more family focused, and offers beautiful scenery. Because there are no long stretches of coastal road, and because it’s a UNESCO biosphere reserve, it’s escaped the rash of sprawling high-rise coastal development seen elsewhere on the Med, and there’s a wide choice of intimate hotels and villas.
Things to do with kids in Menorca
Get an overview of the island from its highest point, Monte Toro (350m), midway between Mahon and Ciutadella, topped by a convent and church. On your way through El Mercadel at the foot of Toro, stop off at a bakery for a delicious crespell or amargo pastry.
Seek out some of the island’s many beautiful secluded coves, and visit the picturesque and characterful fishing village of Fornells on the north coast, famous partly because King Juan Carlos yachts over from Mallorca for summer lobster feasts – the village is well known for its superb caldereta de llangosta (lobster stew). It’s also a good spot for watersports, including windsurfing, in its beautiful big bay.
See the coast from a different angle by hiring a sailing boat or a motorboat from Nautic Fun in Mahon.
Explore the dunes, wetlands, scrub and Talayotic and Roman ruins of S'Albufera des Grau, an eight-kilometre coastal nature reserve, starting from Cap de Favàritz and heading north. Stroll in the pine woods lining the lagoon and spot migrating cormorants, in addition to 100 other bird species, and learn all about the different habitats at the visitor centre, where there’s a permanent exhibition.
Wander among the well-preserved monuments of Torre d’en Gaumes to the west of the island, the Balearics’ biggest prehistoric settlement, with stone towers, a defensive wall, a taula (T-shaped stone monument) and a dolmen (burial chamber).
Make a splash at Los Delfines Aquapark (open Apr–Oct) just outside Ciutadella on the west of the island: the best of the island’s waterparks, it has an Adventure River, a giant toboggan, hydro-tubes, kids’ water chutes, a Jacuzzi, and a seafood restaurant and pizzeria.
Take advantage of the cheap bike hire (including child-seats), often available at hotels or villas, and cycle along the flat coastal road at the top of the cliffs into Ciutadella, enjoying the spectacular views.
Wonder at the equine displays of the Minorcan Equestrian Show put on by the Club Escola Menorquina. Riders dress in the traditional island style and thrill spectators on purebred black Menorcan horses trained in the local style. Another splendid spectacle and showcase for Menorca's love of horses is the equestrian show at Ganadería Son Martorellet; kids are treated to a train ride in the interval. During the day you can visit the ranch for free. You can also watch harness races at Mahon and Ciutadella racecourses.
Go on a horse-ride or pony-trek led by one of the island’s many stables. Menorca Horse Riding near Mahon is one of the best reputed, or ask at your hotel. One of the best routes is the Cami de Cavalls, an old track encircling the island, once used for defending the coast on horseback. Menorca Horse Riding also offers pony rides for children and lessons.
Bar with a view.
Mahon gave the world mayonnaise (the name comes from Mahon/Máo), which is eaten here in abundance, usually with fish and shellfish. Although not traditionally Menorcan, paella can also be popular – everyone can pick the bits they like!
With more than 450 restaurants on the island, you certainly get plenty of choice. There’s no escaping burgers and fish and chips, but that can be a good thing once in a while if travelling with younger or fussy kids.
If you’re self-catering, try to pick up some local farmhouse cheese. And try the Menorquina ice cream, first made on the island in 1940 though now mainly produced in Barcelona.
Canoeing around Menorca.
When to go to Menorca
May and September are ideal for family holidays on Menorca. It's generally warm enough in April and October too, while the height of summer may be too hot and too busy. In winter there are frequent rain showers (to which the island owes its lush vegetation).
Mid–late June sees the island’s best fiesta, of San Juan in Ciutadella. Horses take prominence, with a display of medieval horseback sports.
Coastal hiking trail.
For family holidays on Menorca, expect to pay from £2,000 to £7,000/week for a family of four, including flights and accommodation.
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Flying time3.25hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.
Carbon footprint1.19 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.
Fishing off the Menorcan coast.
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Horse-riding on the Cami de Cavalls.
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