The slightly shorter days also provide the ideal opportunity to enjoy Menorca’s spectacular sunrise without having to get up too early to watch a ball of golden orange or fiery red peek over the horizon bringing sparkling light to the day ahead. The sunset is equally magnificent, turning the sky wonderful shades of orangey purple as it disappears for another day, leaving behind hues of pink, mauve and blue amid a golden glow.
As the summer season draws to a close in October, some restaurants and bars around theresorts will start to shut for the winter, while others will remain open until the end of the month or even into early November. However, rest assured, there are still lots of things to do in Menorca during the autumn for holidaymakers and residents of all ages.
It is advisable to rent a car at this time of year as the bus services, whilst good between the main towns, are less frequent outside the high tourist season and may have finished in some resorts. A car also gives you the freedom to discover new places and, being only 48km in length, you can drive from one side to the other in about an hour. There are some good deals to be found and parking is also easier both in the towns and at the beaches.
It has to be said that the weather can be a little mixed in October ranging from warm and sunny, ideal for a trip to the beach, to windy and rainy, perfect for sampling Menorca’s gastronomy in a cosy restaurant – so be prepared and pack accordingly. However, it is never that cold, daytime temperatures average between 15º and 22º C and although there is a chill in the air at nightfall, there is not such as vast temperature drop as experienced in the UK. Autumn isgenerally the wettest time of the year, with October often receiving the most rainfall with an average of 105mm.
As the end of October approaches, use the shorter days to explore and evenings to relax with a drink, music or DVD and simply unwind. If you don’t know the island that well, the key to enjoying Menorca out of season is to do some research beforehand and plan your days to avoid the ‘what shall we do now’ syndrome. From pre-historic monuments and discovering the strong Anglo-British connections, to country and coastline walks, cycling and horse riding, through to pure relaxation, sampling local delicacies with friends or engrossing yourself in a good book, savour time out to enjoy the more tranquil autumn days and take advantage of what Menorca has to offer, whatever the weather holds.
Head to the beach
Menorca’s stunning beaches are definitely the place to be when the sun shines. Even though the bars, restaurants and shops in the resorts may be closing down for the winter, the beaches are still there to be enjoyed, so why not take a picnic and discover some of Menorca’s more remote and isolated treasures…? Not too hot or too crowded, the beach is the perfect place to unwind, read or go for a swim where the sea temperature will be a very pleasant 25º C in September and dropping only to 23º C in October. Beaches in the north tend to be more rocky and rugged but also mostly sandy while the southern beaches are larger with fine white sand, and they all have beautiful crystal clear water. What’s more, there will be no queues to park as often happens at some of the popular beaches in the height of summer.
For more information, visit our Beach Guide.
Enjoy the countryside
If you like getting out and about, then walking, cycling or horse riding offer the perfect way to discover and enjoy the Menorcan countryside in autumn. Menorca is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, protected for the wide diversity of its natural habitats, conservation and strong cultural identity. Menorca may not be able to boast the vibrant colours of autumn leaves, but the countryside is spectacular bathed in sunlight, making it a paradise for nature lovers with its lush woodlands, deep ravines, high cliffs and abundant wetlands. Of particular note is the nature reserve of Albufera d’Es Grau, a wonderful conservation area of some 1,800 hectares with a lagoon and rich with natural flora, fauna and bird life.
Walking is one of the best ways to discover Menorca’s huge diversity of terrain. Take your time to amble along narrow unpaved lanes between the impressive dry stone walls that make up the characteristic landscape or take coastal paths that lead you to some of the loveliest undeveloped beaches on the island. In complete contrast, there are designated walks for the more energetic, where you can follow trails that require you to climb through deep ravines and valleys that run through the centre of the island.
You can also cycle your way around Menorca. This is a fantastic way to enjoy the spectacular Mediterranean scenery and find hidden areas of beauty as you meander through patchworks of fields separated by typical dry stone walls or follow the Camí de Cavalls, the ancient coastal path that encircles the island. Cycles of all kinds can be hired from activity shops in the larger resorts or from specialist sports shops in the main towns.
Horse riding is very popular in Menorca. The island’s mostly flat terrain makes it ideal for exploring the countryside on horseback whatever your level of experience, from complete novices to experienced riders. Lessons are available as well as the opportunity to go pony trekking through beautiful woodlands and discover the island’s hidden rural countryside. Check out Menorca Horse Riding where the friendly team can take you on some great excursions to suit your level of experience.
A round of golf
What better way to enjoy a beautiful Autumn morning in Menorca, and get some exercise as well, than a visit to Menorca’s only 18 hole golf course at Golf Son Parc Menorca.
Open all year round, Golf Son Parc has a championship quality course that is ideal for beginners and experienced golfers alike. The course is both challenging and picturesque and is located just a few hundred metres from Son Parc beach on Menorca’s north coast. The golf course is surrounded by wooded hills and a protected wet zone with an abundant variety of bird life. In the distance are views of Monte Toro, Menorca ‘s highest point. An enormous amount of care has been taken to develop the course sympathetically with the environment by leaving natural features such as rocks and planting with native flora.
The golf course also has tennis courts and an informal bar and restaurant which serves snacks and more substantial meals all day, including a full English breakfast to set you up for the day. Visitors are always welcome and you don’t have to be a member to use any of the facilities, just turn up and enjoy the facilities, although it is advisable to your teeing off time in advance to avoid waiting.
For more information about Golf Son Parc, click here.
A taste of town life
In the larger towns, it’s ‘business as usual’ whatever the season. Autumn is a wonderful time to discover the historic buildings, shops, bars, restaurants and local street markets in towns such as Maó, Ciutadella, Mercadal, Alaior and Ferreries. A little research and a street map will make your trip all the moreenjoyable and ensure you don’t simply walk by places of interest, unaware that they are hidden behind some unassuming frontage. Also, check out if there are any events or street concerts taking place, a great way to experience local life and traditions.
In addition to the main towns of Ciutadella in the west, with its Moorish architecture, pretty port and little alleyways to explore and the capital Mao to the east, renowned for its distinctive Georgian style buildings with sash windows and Juliette balconies, cobbled streets and impressive harbour lined with bars, restaurants and shops, why not take time out to discover the towns in between..? The towns of Es Mercadal, Alaior and Ferreries all have their own charm and are often forgotten in the height of summer as holiday makers head off to the beaches.
Es Mercadal: A peaceful market town of whitewashed buildings, cobbled streets, little boutiques, restaurants and bars and renowned for its rich agricultural land, confectionary and highest point on the island Monte Toro. Alaior: Built around a hill dominated by the church of Santa Eulàlia, this medieval town with its maze of narrow streets and whitewashed buildings has become w for shoe making and dairy farming, in particular the local Mahón cheese, and is home to the island’s only university. Ferreries, a typically Menorcan town steeped in history that dates back to the early 14th century, lying almost hidden in the valleys surrounded by hills with spectacular views over the countryside, and famous for its international shoe and furniture industries.
The smaller town of Es Castell is also of particular interest from a historic aspect as it was an important British settlement during their occupation in the18th century, which they renamed Georgetown and was home to famous residents such as Lord Collingwood, evidence of which is still apparent today. Wander around the quaint narrow streets steeped in history and end up at the pretty, sheltered harbour of Calas Fonts lined with bars and restaurants (some of which stay open all year) perfect for a drink or lunch, especially on a sunny day.
A couple of years ago, the shops in Maó open on Saturday nights for the first time between 17.00 and 20.00 hours, from October until Christmas, when there were also musical, cultural and artistic activities taking place, making for a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere to enjoy some additional retail therapy. This trend has continued and many shops continue to remain open in the town on Saturday evenings in the lead up to Christmas.
Eat like a local
With many of the seasonal restaurants closing, autumn provides the ideal opportunity to search out where the locals eat and sample some authentic Menorcan cuisine. The popular Menu del Dia, usually offered only at lunchtimes, often features traditional dishes and may be a couple of euros cheaper out of season, making for a very well priced and enjoyable lunch break.
Particular Menorcan specialities to look out for include the famous ‘caldereta de llagosta’, a typical lobster stew that is also made with shellfish for an equally tasty but less expensive option; ‘sobrasada’, a spicy sausage that features in many recipes; paella, a favourite of everyone whether made with shellfish, meat or vegetables; ‘queso de Mahón’, Menorca’s own cheese made in farms around the island; ‘Xoriguer gin’, a legacy from the British occupation; ‘carquinyols’, a type of macaroon; and, of course, delicious tapas are to be found everywhere.
However, to ‘eat like a local’, doesn’t just mean restaurants that serve ‘Menorquin’ or Spanish dishes. The British know a thing or two, especially when it comes to Fish and Chips and Sunday lunch where no one does it better, and there are bars and restaurants around the island that will hit the spot if you fancy one of the nation’s favourites. Menorca’s beautifully converted farmhouse restaurants are also well worth a visit and can be found in picturesque countryside settings, offering a variety of cooking styles.
Check out our Restaurant & Bar Guide, do some research or ask for recommendations and make a list. If used only as a guideline, this will save trying to decide on somewhere suitable if the weather is not so good or arriving at a chosen venue only to find out it has shut for the winter. Outside the resorts, there are no hard and fast rules about which restaurants or bars will stay open all year, which close and which will be open only at weekends. It is therefore a good idea to do some homework in advance to ensure a type and style of restaurant that satisfies your requirements. Whether traditional Menorquin, Spanish, British, Italian, Indian, Chinese or Japanese…..they are all available to be enjoyed.
Getting to Menorca
Although the regular charter flights finish at the end of October, Menorca is still readily accessible throughout the late autumn and winter months. In addition to the weekly direct Friday flight out of Gatwick with Monarch Airlines, travelling via Barcelona is also a good option. With daily flights from the UK’s main airports, it is easy to connect with one of the frequent flights between Barcelona and Menorca that run throughout the day. Despite a longer journey time and change of aircraft, a key benefit is that you can travel from your airport of choice and, what’s more, you can enjoy a couple of hours in the state of the art Barcelona terminal which is full of great shops, bars and restaurants as well as wifi areas so you can keep in contact.