Majorca or Menorca, they are both sunny mediterranean islands. They have more than 300 days of sun a year – with a record of 12 hours a day in summer!
Both islands offer the most amazing beaches and attractions for a fun holiday. But what exactly? How do they differ? Majorca and Menorca both belong to the Balearic group and have things in common.
Find out which of these two islands suits your Balearic holidays best, with the answers to the ten questions below! They include local tips and info too so you can have a wonderful holiday.
Which island would you choose for your holiday if …?
1. … you go mainly for the beaches?
The beaches alone are an excellent reason to visit the Balearic Islands. The biggest island Majorca has a coastline of 555 kilometres and a total area of 3640 km². There are over 200 beaches to choose from. The most famous or beautiful beaches can be found in our Top 10 Beaches in Majorca.
You can book one of our exquisite villas in Majorca to enjoy the island’s wide choice and variety of beaches, from comfortable with plenty of facilities to pristine beaches surrounded by nature.
Es Trenc, for example, is a pure white sandy beach of almost two kilometres with turquoise, transparent water. It is the kind of beach that gives Majorca so much appeal as a destination. You would think you are in the Caribbean!
Port de Pollensa is another example of Majorca’s picture postcard beaches, with the Tramuntana hills in the background but at the same time plenty of bars, restaurants, a marina, a promenade and other facilities, including water sports.
Because Majorca has long received more tourists than Menorca, there are usually more facilities and possibilities for entertainment. This also means, however, that its beaches can be a lot busier.
Menorca is Majorca’s little brother, more quiet with fewer visitors. It offers more beaches on a smaller and less densely populated area. About 700 km² make up the island – a fifth of Majorca – but with 216 kilometres of coastline and about a tenth of Majorca’s population.
In Menorca you can choose from about 75 beaches every day. These are often cute, hidden ‘calas’ or sandy coves between rocky cliffs, which is why every little beach in Menorca can be a wonderful discovery and a relaxing place to be. Menorca is just great for travellers who like to wander, walk and discover those secret beach coves. For more information about accessibility and other characteristics, check our guide to Menorca’s most beautiful beaches.
Some of the most spectacular beaches in Menorca are Son Saura, Cala Turqueta and Cala Macarella. The renowned Cala Macarella, which offers – within the same bay – the remote little nudist beach of Cala Macarelleta, is situated about 16 km from Ciutadella city.
2. … you love to visit nice towns or villages on holiday?
Palma is the capital and the city with the largest population of the Balearic Islands. Nearly half of Mallorca’s inhabitants are concentrated there, which makes Palma de Mallorca a lively city with lots of things to do.
The most famous attraction is La Seu, the cathedral of Palma and the symbol of the city.
Palma is a pleasant city which can give you a true holiday feel. Take a stroll through its charming streets and along the Paseo Marítimo, a nice promenade with palm trees in the port area.
If you prefer smaller towns, you can visit places such as Alcudia, a beautifully preserved medieval village with a marina and beach. A great excursion for the whole family!
In Menorca, you can equally alternate stunning beaches with daytrips to villages and towns. The largest cities are the capital of Mahón and Ciutadella, which both have close to 30,000 inhabitants – a lot less than the almost half a million of inhabitants in Palma de Mallorca.
Because they are relatively small, the towns of Menorca offer a relaxing day out. Take a nice stroll in the romantic old town of Ciutadella. Or go on a boat trip in the second largest natural harbour in the world, in Mahón!
The picturesque whitewashed village of Binibeca is also one of the places you can’t miss in eastern Menorca.
3. … you like some entertainment or a good night out?
Visitors who love going out at night, will probably prefer Mallorca. Palma de Mallorca, for example, offers many bars and also nightclubs such as Tito’s and Pacha Mallorca.
The nights in Menorca are generally more quiet. Drunken revellers are far from common on this island. Places for entertainment at night are, however, also rather scarce.
Foto: Cova d’en Xoroi
That does not mean there is nothing to do in Menorca. Its character is sometimes described as ‘hippy’ – social activities on the island are more relaxed. A must for an evening out is the Cova d’en Xoroi, the most famous cave of the island. It has been turned into a disco, where you can enjoy a drink, music to chill to and a beautiful sunset, after which it hosts DJs and theme nights.
4. … you prefer local and authentic to busy and popular?
Beach and the tranquility of nature. According to many Spaniards Menorca is the most authentic of the Balearic Islands. Its landscape and beaches are also wilder than Majorca’s.
It’s a different world, full of calas or small beach coves, sunshine and crystal clear turquoise water. Paradise!
Mallorca is more densely populated but offers some lovely quiet spots. It may take some more effort to find them though – especially in high season – but Mallorca definitely has unspoilt corners and
natural spaces where you can go and relax.
Both Mallorca and Menorca offer visitors ample opportunities to enjoy local life. Just go and visit the local markets in towns like Palma and Alcudia in Mallorca.
5. … you want to explore the local gastronomy?
Mallorca and Menorca have great local gastronomic products and dishes or recipes for visitors to discover, such as Mahón cheese in Menorca and Ensaimada de Mallorca. You can find them in colourful local markets or taste them in restaurants or bars in the villages and towns. You can go on a cheese tour as well as a wine tour.
Wine is produced on both islands. Mallorca is the largest producer, with the most important vineyards in Binissalem and Santa Maria, but there are also smaller winemakers spread throughout the island.
Menorca has fewer winemakers, but you can also go on a wine tour there. A must visit for wine lovers is the Binifadet winery in the southern village of Sant Lluis. It has a restaurant too.
6. … you like to enjoy nature on your holiday?
The Balearic Islands are more than beach and sun. The Sierra de Tramuntana, a nearly 100 km long mountain range, covers about 30 per cent of Majorca’s territory. In 2011, the Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are great viewpoints such as the Mirador de la Creueta. Among the Tramuntana mountains is also the Puig Major, the highest point of Majorca and of the Balearic Islands (1445 meters).
Apart from breathtaking views you can enjoy romantic villages in the Tramuntana Mountains in Majorca – from Andratx to Deià and Pollensa – all beautifully surrounded by a stunning natural setting in which you can do outdoor activities.
Also popular is the Mondragó natural park in Majorca, close to idyllic white beaches with turquoise, crystal clear waters along impressive cliffs. It is somewhat remote, but can get quite busy in for example the merenderos or picnic areas, especially in the high season.
Menorca is mostly flat, with just one mountain, the Monte Toro (358 meters). As it is located right in the middle of the island, you can observe the outline of the whole island of Menorca from its peak and, in clear weather conditions, even spot Mallorca. Menorca is a small island but offers abundant green space, with many fields enclosed by dry stone walls.
Thanks to its rural character, less tourism and a lower population density, Menorca offers a peaceful holiday destination. Renting a nice villa as a form of accommodation in Menorca is an excellent option for a quiet, money-saving holiday.
Don’t forget to visit s’Albufera Natural Park des Grau, Menorca’s largest nature reserve with more than 5,000 hectares. It is the natural habitat of hundreds of animal and plant species, especially water birds, and offers beautiful hiking trails.
In fact, the whole island of Menorca was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993. That explains why there are often no facilities at the beaches. Sometimes there are not even rubbish bins, for aesthetic reasons. Be prepared and bring a picnic and bags to take your rubbish with you.
Nearly half of Menorca’s beaches are not directly accessible by car, and some only by sea. That explains why many boats and yachts anchor in the beach coves. Another option to get to the beaches is by kayak.
You can of course go beach hopping by car or motorbike – renting a car is the best way to get around on both islands – but to get to Menorca’s virgin beaches, you may have to leave your car further away from the beach and then walk there. It is always worth the distance though. Just make sure you don’t have to carry too much or take a good rucksack.
7. … walking or cycling is your favourite activity on holiday?
Menorca is great for walking, cycling and horseriding. The most famous and popular walking route is the Camí de Cavalls (meaning ‘horse path’), which is a 185 km track running along the perimeter of the island.
In Majorca the Tramuntana mountains offer more challenging routes, especially for cyclists. There is also a central plain, Es Pla, which requires smaller efforts to cycle from village to village, in a wonderful landscape!
The scenery is very beautiful in the Balearic Islands, especially in spring with numerous flowers. It is a good idea to go there for an active holiday between September and June, when there are fewer travellers but still plenty of days of sun and little rain. Spring and autumn are also great to enjoy the beaches without the crowds.
8. … You’re traveling with children?
Majorca and Menorca offer a lot of beaches and natural spaces for children to play outside and enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities such as horse riding. The towns are not too big or busy either.
On Majorca you can find a great variety of beaches and resorts, many of which are family-friendly, with easy access, beach lifeguards, plenty of facilities and calm, shallow water for children to play in. You can often park near the beach and even the most pristine beaches in Majorca can offer basic facilities.
Still, Menorca can be appealing for families too because of its beauty and tranquility. It is true, however, that many of its pristine beach coves are harder to reach and sometimes require a walk of at least half an hour to get there. These are not very convenient for parents with young children but the good news is that there are also quite a few beaches in Menorca that are perfect for families with children.
9. … you or your children are a fan of water sports or other outdoor activities?
Menorca may not have many beaches with watersport facilities, but exploring the calm, transparent water along the pretty beaches by kayak is great to do with the whole family.
Those fond of windsurfing, sailing or water skiing can go to Ses Salinas and Fornells in the north, with its spectacular bay. You can also taste fantastic mediterranean food in the harbour in the white fishing village of Fornells. We strongly recommend the local Caldereta de Langosta or lobster stew!
Cala Galdana in Menorca is another large beach bay known for its excellent facilities, including water sports.
Menorca is perfect for snorkeling and diving. Its warm turquoise water offers numerous caves, colorful fish and even shipwrecks to discover and explore.
Mallorca is also great for diving and snorkelling. There are a lot of places where you can enjoy water sports and you can choose from outdoor adventure activities such as canyoning and climbing as well. Plenty of possibilities!
10. … you take an interest in local traditions and celebrations?
Menorca is an island with a unique horse tradition which goes back to the Middle Ages. The ‘Jaleo’ horse festival in Menorca is a true spectacle that you must go and experience in the summer, when it is celebrated on different dates in different towns and villages across the island.
Mallorca Ses Salines is the only place that has taken over this particular tradition of Menorca. La Festa del Cavall de Ses Salines takes place in August every year.
We could go on listing festivals, because the people of the Balearic Islands are no different from the rest of Spain when it comes to their love for a celebration! For more feastly events, have a look at the cultural agenda of the Balearic Islands.
Whichever island you choose, you will not get bored. Mallorca and Menorca both have unique ingredients for an unforgettable holiday.
Besides amazing beaches and a breathtaking mountain scenery recognised by UNESCO, Mallorca offers a vibrant capital and a great nightlife and entertainment program. Palma is even praised by the press as one of the best places in the world to live.
Menorca, on the other hand, offers the tranquility of a small sparsely populated island, and is recognized as a whole as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is full of paradisiacal beach coves, with a few authentic small towns and villages too.