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Reasons to visit Menorca

Menorca (also spelt Minorca) is a quiet and relaxing island favoured by couples and young families who love its gentle countryside, lovely sandy beaches and unhurried pace of life. About half the size of Mallorca and with very little traffic, it can be very easily explored by car. Like the rest of Spain, Menorca has had a rich and varied history, but its rule under the British during the 18th century has set it apart from the other Balearic islands.

The British influence is very much in evidence in its capital, Mahon (or Mao, which is its local name). Mahon lies at the eastern end of the island set on a hill overlooking one of the largest natural harbours in the world and was the place Lord Nelson stayed shortly before the battle of Trafalgar. The town has an attractive mix of Georgian and local architecture with plenty to offer in the way of shops, bars and a twice-weekly market. The area around the harbour comes alive at night with entertainment centred around the lively bars and waterfront restaurants.

The other main town is Ciudadella, the original capital of Menorca. It's an historic town with a picturesque harbour, beautiful gothic cathedral, cobbled streets and one of the prettiest tree-lined squares in Spain (the Placa des Born); it also holds one of the biggest celebrations in Menorca, the Festes de Sant Joan which includes jousting and the jaleo (when accomplished riders encourage their horses to rear up on their hind legs in front of the crowds).

Inland, Menorca is dotted with many prehistoric monuments including large circular structures called 'talaiots', 'navetas' or burial chambers and most mysterious of all 'taulas' T-shaped megalithic structures. In the centre of the island lies Monte Toro, Menorca's highest peak, and the site of a quaint little convent, offering panoramic views of the whole island.

As much of the island is protected, nature lovers will delight in Menorca's unspoilt countryside and coastline which offers plenty of opportunities for birdwatching and walking. Watersports enthusiasts will also be spoilt for choice with Menorca boasting more beaches than Mallorca and Ibiza put together, there is everything available from sailing, windsurfing and scuba diving to swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear waters.

The island has also many excellent seafood restaurants, the lobster being so good that the former King of Spain often pops over to the island from Mallorca on his yacht for a meal of fresh lobster! Some of the most famous restaurants are in Fornells, a picturesque fishing village on the north of the island set around a small palm fringed harbour. Nearby is Playa de Fornells and Cala Tirant, where a superb beach can be found.

Most of the north has a wild rocky coastline and therefore is unsuitable for development leading to most of the resorts being in the south. With the absence of any coastal roads on the island even the south has managed to avoid over-development; many unspoilt coves being only accessible on foot. One of the most popular resorts on the south coast is Cala Galdana which is set around a beautiful horseshoe bay surrounded by almost vertical pine clad cliffs. Also popular, especially with families are the resorts of Santo Tomas and Son Bou which has the longest sandy beach on the island.

There are so many reasons for visiting Menorca but a holiday here will almost certainly be relaxing.

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