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Balearics | Menorca

With more than 100 sun-soaked beaches and stunning blue seas, it's no wonder Menorca, the second largest of the Balearic islands, is so popular with tourists. Despite its popularity, Menorca is still the perfect destination to experience traditional Mediterranean life, with a leisurely pace, wonderful scenery and welcoming atmosphere which make it the ideal choice for your holiday. Whatever your budget, Menorca has resorts and accommodation to suit all pockets, as well as all tastes. It is the perfect place to choose for a family holiday, with plenty to keeps the kids entertained, but is also a great choice for a short stay in the sun or a last minute getaway destination for adventure-seekers or anyone just wanting to take a break. You can relax on the beach, explore the stunning natural beauty with some well-planned walks or try out any of the huge choice of sports on offer, including golf and numerous water sports. The typically Mediterranean climate means Menorca is a great place to catch the sun, with warm temperatures lasting from May to October, and even the winter months offer pleasant, mild weather. If lazing on the beach or playing sport aren't for you, then why not explore Menorca's rich heritage. The Spanish island has at various times been occupied by the Turks, the British and the French, and you can see their influences in the architecture, the customs and the food. The island's proud history is-known - it has a lively format involving horses, racing and even some jousting! Families often head to the child-friendly Cala'n Forcat, with its action-packed water park, while Arenal D'en Castell and Cala Galdana are perfect for making the most of the sun, sea and sand. Whatever you want from your holiday, Menorca has got it covered.

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Beaches - You will be spoilt for choice as you explore more than 100 gorgeous, golden beaches in Menorca. There are family-friendly stretches of soft sand, hidden coves dominated by rugged cliffs and bays boasting crystal-clear water shaded by the striking pine trees. The most popular lie on the east, west and south coasts, such as Son Bou - the island's largest beach - or the coves at Cala Galdana and Cala'n Bosch. If soaking up the sun while the little ones play is your idea of heaven, the Punta Prima and S'Algar are among the places to head. If you want action-packed water sports like diving and windsurfing, try Cala Tirant. Go a little further afield and you can find even more secluded spots - the north and south coasts are filled with quiet bays where you can enjoy privacy and the peace for which Menorca is famed.

Eating Out - Menorca's many resorts are home to a wide choice of bars and restaurants, with several offering family-friendly service and even kids clubs and play areas. Fish and fresh seafood are in plentiful supply in Menorca, along with many local delicacies - including the Menorcan invention mayonnaise. Choose from any of the harbour-side restaurants, bars and cafes to sample freshly-caught mussels, tuna and seabass - as well as the famous speciality caldereta de langosta, a sensational lobster casserole. The town of Fornells has a great reputation for this dish, but it can be a little expensive to eat here. Don't worry though, Menorca has food to suit all tastes and budgets. And it's not all seafood - there’s plenty of choice, including the British-inspired roast meat and gravy meals and delicious local sausages. Don't forget to round off your meal with one of the famous deserts, ranging from locally-produced ice cream to the armagas macaroons. There's also international cuisine available, such as full English breakfast and fish and chips at family resorts like Cala’n Forcat and Cala’n Bosch, and pasta and pizza in almost every town. The local gin is also a must, although unlike the gin you get at home, this Menorcan treat is usually drunk neat with just a little splash of lemon to create a 'pomade'.

Nightlife - Unlike many of the resorts in Majorca and Ibiza, the nightlife in Menorca is all about relaxation. Most tourists enjoy a walk on the harbourside and a trip to one of the excellent cafes or bars, but there are a few lively bars in Es Castell and Cala’n Bosch where you can party the night away. The party atmosphere can also be found in Cala’n Forcat and Son Bou, where nightclubs and themed pubs keep the party going, while Cala’n Porter is home to a must-visit disco. The capital, Mahon, offers jazz clubs and cool cafes, while Placa de Joan in Ciudadela caters for every musical taste, from funk to house.

Shopping - If you're looking for excellent quality leather, then Menorca is the perfect place to shop. The locally-produced leather is exquisitely soft and used to make the jackets, bags and belts you’ll find in the many, many leather shops. However, most of the Menorcan leather ends up as shoes and sandals. Shoemaking is one of the biggest businesses in the island, and you'll find plenty of great bargains in all the resorts. The best shopping is in the capital, Mahon, and Cuidadela, where you'll find all the big names and fashionable boutiques sitting comfortably near the wonderful markets. From Monday to Saturday you'll be able to check out the bargains in the markets at Placa de S’Esplanada and Ciudadela’s Noveau, If it's food you're after, Mahon has fresh and tasy vegetables on fruit on sale at the indoor market at Claustre del Carme, while in Cuidadela on a Saturday you can sample the farmers' market next to the cathedral. If you are buying local produce, especially the local gin or cheese, look at for the 'denominacion de origen' label. don't forget, many shops shut in the mid-afternoon.

Scenery - This small island boasts a magnificently diverse coastline, from the golden sands of the long stretches of beach to the coves which nestle at the feet of the rugged cliffs. It's worth the effort to go and find the hidden caves and sheltered bays either by walking or riding, some feel so secluded it is almost as if you are the very first to discover them - although an easier option is tour the coastline by boat. However, it isn't all about the coastline - inland there are quaint and picturesque villages to explore, plus ancient landmarks to discover, including prehistoric towers built from stone. In the north you can visit sites rich in archaeology by foot or bicycle, for example, while gentle walks around the island will let you experience the incredible rolling hills and pine woods. Menorca's cities Mahon and Ciudadela are packed with history, the narrow streets, bustling markets and wonderful old buildings giving you a real sense of the island's history and culture.