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Menorca, one of the Balearic islands of Spain, has a history that goes back over 3,000 years, having been inhabited by the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Moors, the English, the French and the Spanish during various points in history. Yet these days this beautiful and unassuming island is one of the quieter spots of the Mediterranean - perfect if just what you are seeking is a peaceful getaway. Since a lot of the nature here is protected, Menorca is a visually impressive place with 900 species of flowering plants. Over-development has not reached Menorca, but adequate infrastructure makes it an appealing destination for independent self-drive exploration.
Who to Book With
There are several companies to choose from in Menorca, including top rental firms Hertz and Sixt, who have locations at the airport in Mahon. However, Menorca is a founded tourist destination and the rental market is competitive, with plenty of other hire firms on offer. To view the best prices and to choose from the widest choice of vehicles, it is recommended that you book online beforehand.
Best Time to Go
The weather is warmest and best during the summer months; if visiting at this time, you will be joined by plenty of other tourists. For a quieter getaway, you could visit during the spring. A particularly fine time to visit is during April and May when 25 species of colourful orchid come into bloom.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car, you must provide the following documents:
- An EU driving licence or a valid International Driving Permit
- A certified picture ID, such as your passport
- Details of payment from when you made the booking
- Printed booking confirmation, if possible
Menorca is easy to drive around and distances between resorts are relatively short. It takes less than an hour to drive from Mahon to the other side of the island using the C721, the main route of the island. Distances north-south are considerably shorter, and it is easy to reach the coasts by taking one of the many access roads off the C721, which runs along the spine of the island.
It is unlikely that you will experience any significant traffic problems anywhere in Menorca, although navigating the two largest towns of Mahon and Menorca can get tricky due to one-way systems implemented on the antiquated streets. It is probably best to opt to park your car in an easy-to-get-to location and then walk around, with both towns being a leisurely stroll at worst. There is public parking at the central theatre in Mahon. In Menorca Town, look for parking near the Cituadella.
While walking around the two main towns of Menorca - situated at either end of the island - is pleasurable, getting to other places on the island can be difficult. Here, there is only the option of public bus or taxi, which is why many visitors choose to rent a car. There is a regular bus service for getting between Mahon and Menorca Town that is reasonably priced. Otherwise, exploring other parts of the island is a hard task without your own transport, although there is a limited bus service.
It is easy to get to the beaches on the western side of the island by bus from Menorca Town, leaving from Ciutadella. Also, there is an hourly bus service between Menorca Town and Mahon. The journey takes around an hour including stops at several places, but is an economic way to cover the distance, costing around £4.30. Mahon also has a local bus network that serves all the beaches and towns of the east coast. Services are operated by TMSA.
Taxis are the most popular form of transport in Menorca and are second only to private vehicle rental due to the underdeveloped public transport system. Taxis are fairly priced, but are still an expensive way to get around Menorca. It could cost in excess of £40 to get from one side of the island to the other. There are taxi ranks in both Mahon and Menorca Town. Otherwise, from anywhere else on the island, you need to call for a taxi to collect you. You can contact Radio Taxi on +34 971 36 71 11.
The two largest towns of Menorca are a joy to walk around, but no doubt in your visit to this stunning island you will want to take in some of the magnificent scenery. Doing this on a day excursion is possible since Menorca isn’t that big and getting around doesn’t take that long by car.
El Toro Mountain (the Bull) - This is Menorca’s highest peak and climbing it will give you a wonderful panoramic view of the island. To get here, head east on the C721 for 30 minutes then take the turn-off near Es Mercada. The distance from Menorca Town is about the same since the mountain is roughly in the centre of the island.
S'Albufera des Grau nature park - This is one of Europe’s top birding spots. It is a wetlands area that is home to many protected species such as the great crested grebe and plenty of others. The birding hides in the heart of the park are only 20 minutes’ drive away from Mahon following the Fornells Road.
Fornells - This is a fishing village of 1,000 residents where it appears that time has stood still. Take a drive here, step into beautiful white-washed Mediterranean architecture and watch the fishing boats go in and out as the waves lap the shores of the bay while you take it in over tapas and some sangria. Fornells is 30 minutes’ drive from Mahon and 40 minutes’ drive from Menorca.