Menorca is a gentle island with soft inclines, and a biosphere of diverse species and cultural heritage, protected by UNESCO in its entirety. With both included and optional excursions available, you can explore idyllic towns in detail, find intriguing Bronze Age burial sites and Roman relics, and taste local delicacies from cheese to gin, before reaching the peak of Monte Toro where you can look over Menorca, from coast to coast on a clear day, for a different perspective on the pretty towns and unspoilt landscapes.
7 nights in hotels (accommodation as specified or similar)
Fly from London Heathrow Airport on a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to Menorca’s Mahón Airport. On arrival we transfer to the Hotel Port Ciutadella (4T+).
We begin our day with a guided tour of Ciutadella de Menorca, the original capital of this, the most easterly Balearic island. On a clear day it is possible to see neighbouring Majorca from Ciutadella’s coastline, making it an important position for both defence and trade. The Romans developed the village of Jammona, as it was called then, before the Moors and Christians took control. Pirates, led by the legendary Barbarossa, destroyed much of the original architecture however the narrow streets that grew from the remains create a wonderful maze to explore, and Roman relics are still found regularly. After the tour, taking in highlights such as Minorca's greatest Gothic church, and Placa des Born, where medieval knights once jousted, the day is yours to explore and enjoy.
Today is at leisure to wander; with the hotel just a short walk away from Ciutadella. Alternatively, take a half-day optional excursion to see La Mola Fortress. A guide will take you through the ambitious 19th century fortress, giving a sense of the soldiers who defended Mahón Harbour from this impressive complex. The speed of advances in gun technology meant the fortress was outdated before it was completed and you will notice the alterations made to accommodate the new artillery.
Alaior - Rafal Rubi - Son Bou
A guided tour will take you to the centre of Menorca this morning. We start in Alaior, a pretty hillside settlement of whitewashed houses and a medieval feel. The town is famous for its master-bakers who create traditional sweet pastries and La Menorquina ice-creams, and is the island’s cheese-making capital, with herds of cows grazing the surrounding pastureland. On our journey you will have spotted small stone cairns and we visit two of the original Bronze Age burial sites next - the Rafal Rubi navetas. These bi-level monuments were built to protect the spirits of the dead, who were buried here with a collection of pottery and bronze jewellery. Our final stop is Son Bou, a popular town that sits on the island’s longest beach, with fine sand, crystal-clear waters and the remains of an early Christian basilica at one end. We return to Ciutadella to spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Spend today relaxing at the hotel or choose an optional excursion to Mahón. This full-day trip includes a guided tour of the small capital with its picturesque port. It is worth entering the Church of Santa Maria to see the exceptional organ, with 197 of the 3006 pipes made of wood. Board a small cruise boat to sail along the Mediterranean’s largest natural harbour, passing pretty houses and interesting defence structures which played a large part in Menorca’s history. You will also visit the Xoriquer gin distillery, the original commercial producers of the island’s favourite drink.
Es Grao - Favàritx - Monte Toro
We have another included excursion today to see the coastal village of Es Grau, surrounded by 70 acres of wetlands that are s'Albufera des Grau Natural Park, a UNESCO-protected haven for birds. We head to the unusual lighthouse located on Favàritx headland to admire its stunning wild setting including imposing slate cliffs. Our coach takes us up to the highest point of Menorca, Monte Toro, from where you can look across woodland on a clear day to see the entire coastline. Whilst here, we visit Mare de Déu del Toro Sanctuary, still run by a community of Franciscan nuns. Legend tells of a bull who led locals to a statue of the Virgin Mary at the top of the mountain. The sanctuary includes the holy cave where the statue is said to be found.
Spend your last day relaxing in Ciutadella or take a full-day optional excursion to visit a cheese factory, to sample the island’s unique cheese before, continuing to Es Mercadal for lunch at a traditional restaurant. Spend the afternoon exploring Fornells, a beautiful small fishing town of traditional whitewashed buildings on Menorca’s rocky north coast, on a guided tour.
Day 8 Ciutadella - Mahón - London
Today we transfer to Mahón Airport for a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to London Heathrow.