Menorca (population 92,000) is the least overrun and most tranquil of the Balearic Islands. In 1993 Unesco declared it a Biosphere Reserve, aiming to preserve environmental areas, such as the Parc Natural S’Albufera d’es Grau wetlands, and the island’s unique archaeological sites.
Its 216km coastline is fretted with relatively untouched beaches, coves and ravines. Inland, criss-crossing its fields and green, rolling hills are an estimated 70,000km of dry stone walls.
Some say the island owes much to Franco for not being overrun with tourist development. While neighbouring Mallorca went over to the Nationalists almost at the outset of the civil war, Menorca resisted. Franco later ‘rewarded’ Mallorca with a construction free-for-all and penalised Menorca by blocking development.
The second-largest and northernmost of the Balearics, Menorca has a wetter climate and is usually a few degrees cooler than the other islands. Particularly in the low season, the ‘windy island’ is buffeted by tramuntana winds from the north.
Best places to stay in Menorca
Steal away: hidden coastlines of the Mediterranean
If lying elbow-to-elbow with sunbathing strangers on a French Riviera beach doesn't fit your criteria for a relaxing seaside getaway, 1) you're not alone and 2) never fear: there are still stretches of uncrowded, undeveloped, and untrampled coastline along the Mediterranean.
Menorca destination guides
Essential España: making the most of your trip to Spain
Heading to sunny Spain any time soon? ¡Qué suerte! (Lucky you!) This diverse country is a traveller's dream, with all the fine food and wine, architecture, outdoor adventure opportunities and action-packed nightlife you could wish for. Oh, and golden beaches. And galleries. And great shopping…well, you get the picture.