Mainland Spain often steals the limelight when travelers map out an itinerary. While you can't skip La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, The Alhambra in Granada, or Plaza de España in Seville, we're making a case for stretching your gaze beyond the major mainland cities and toward the Balearic Sea, home of some of Spain's best-kept secrets.
Just off the coast of eastern Spain sits an archipelago of white sand islands, known as the Balearic Islands. You're probably familiar with the glitziest of the bunch, Ibiza, and perhaps even the largest, Mallorca, but if you're searching for some of the best beaches in Europe, head to Menorca. Just because it sounds like its more popular neighbor doesn't mean Menorca should be overlooked. According to Spanish local Jessie Bush of We the People, it's home to a host of attractions, from pristine swim spots and excellent restaurants to gorgeous boutique hotels.
Skip Ibiza, and spend three days in Menorca—it won't disappoint.
If you're searching for a laid-back vacation, Menorca should be at the top of your list—one of the main activities on the island is simply spending time at the beach. "We've traveled to our fair share of sexy beach spots, and I'm going to put it out there and say that Spanish beaches may take the top prize," says Bush. "Every beach is bizarrely beautiful but so different; the cliffs are raw and magnificent, and the water is always impossibly clear."
Add these swim spots to your list:
Cales Coves: "An impressive coastal corner, which is home to over 90 excavated coves that date back to 500 BC," says Bush.
Es Caló Blanc: A small, stunning beach on the south side of the island with unbelievable azure water.
Cala Mitjana: Locals swear by this gorgeous swim spot, pictured above.
Son Bou: A vast, sprawling beach on the south side of Minorca.
Cala Turqueta: As the name suggests, the turquoise water at this beach is incredible.
Found a last-minute sale fare? Bush scored 50% off her hotel booking in Menorca by booking last minute, so it could work to your advantage. Add these gorgeous boutique hotels to your list.
Jardí de Ses Bruixes: A great spot to stay if you'd like to be central, this boutique hotel has a magical orange tree–filled courtyard that you'll want to spend all day in.
Hotel Torralbenc: The Mr. and Mrs. Smith Hotel boasts traditional farmhouse-style charm in the Spanish countryside.
Alcaufar Vell Hotel: "Rustic, spacious, and pretty much in the middle of nowhere," says Bush of this Spanish villa.
There's so much more to Menorca than the white-sand beaches. Much of the island is best explored on foot, so give yourself time to wander the quaint side streets to explore these gems:
Bodegas Binifadet: A local winery and restaurant that serves excellent vino.
C'an Olga: One of Bush's favorite spots, this traditional Menorcan restaurant has a charming lush courtyard.
S'Albufera des Grau Natural Park: A stunning national park with wetlands, sand dunes, and woodlands.
Favàritx Lighthouse: A gorgeous active lighthouse offering views of the Menorcan coast.
Have you visited Menorca? Tell us what beaches, hotels, and activities you recommend.