Updated in February 2016
Menorca is the low-key Balearic island that is often overshadowed by the fashionable Ibiza or the tourism powerhouse that is Mallorca. Yet it is all the more lovely for its wonderfully laid-back atmosphere, a genuinely family friendly holiday location that is the most British of the Balearics. It has more beaches than the other two combined too!
One slight disadvantage in recent years has been the relative lack of direct flights – especially in the summer holidays when demand can push prices to heady levels – but one upside of this is that property prices typically remain 30-50 per cent their peak levels, with fewer signs of bouncing back as they are already doing on Mallorca and Ibiza.
Where to Buy Property in Menorca
As with the other Balearics, strict planning rules have meant that there are plenty of beautiful shorelines on Menorca (also known as Minorca). In fact its wide choice uncrowded sandy beaches are one of its biggest selling points, and Es Grau is just one of the favourites, although the turquoise clear waters of pine-fringed Cala Macarelleta or Cala Turqueta are picture-postcard pretty.
Compared to Mallorca it’s a lot flatter, so less popular with serious cyclists and hikers!
Menorca is the first place in Spain to see the sun but if you want the best sunsets, head to the west of the island. The island’s gin (introduced by the English) is legendary for sundowners.
In 1993 the island was designated a biosphere for its natural habitats and at its eastern end it offers one of the largest natural harbours in the world, Mahon. Around Mahon is the biggest commercial and tourist hub of the island – and a highway runs across the island to the other, the resort of Ciutadella.
From that artery runs many minor roads that lead off to sheltered coves – or calas, fishing villages or small tourist resorts. Here we have a look at the main hubs for buyers, that tend to be British, French and Spanish.
In and Around Mahon
A good chunk of the island’s 4,000 UK residents, and indeed the biggest tranche of the Menorca’s total population of 72,000, resides around Mahon in the east of the island.
It’s popular because it is situated on a large bluff overlooking the large harbour (an attraction whether you own a boat or just love watching them go by), but also the main amenities from restaurants to shops, schools, hospitals and also the international airport nearby. An interesting random fact is that Mahon is where mayonnaise was invented – there’s a slight clue in the name...
Most British buyers in Menorca tend to be slightly older than those who head to nearby Ibiza; or those with young families for the ease of getting around. Of the three Balearics it feels the most safe and everything just seems very easy to navigate, from shopping to hiring a car to driving from one side of the island to the other or going to the beach.
There are a handful of wonderful B&Bs, or larger rural hotels, run by British expats, as well as some British families who live there full time, maybe making use of the Menorca Cricket Club (MCC), Rugby Club or Rotary Club.
In central Mahon you can get an apartment for around £60,000, although the most sought-after part is Cala Llonga where you can get a three or four-bed villa with a pool for around €690,000 – 30 per cent than at the market peak - although some properties go up to €4 million.
There have been a few bank repossessions in Menorca, and you might find a good one if you are lucky – always be wary of the location. Es Castell is the next-door town – with two coves – and you can get a three-bed apartment there for around €150,000 if you are lucky.
The Sant Lluis area on the south-east tip is also rather beautiful with Punta Prima a large beach popular for water sports and with families – it has been growing in size and you can get a four-bed villa there for just under €500,000, or a three-bed townhouse with change from €200,000. Binibeca is another lovely cove nearby with lovely fishermen’s houses.
Fornells in the north is another popular town – a pretty fishing village of whitewashed houses and palm trees lining the seafront. A two-bedroom apartment starts from around €130,000 but you can get four-bed villas from around €650,000, or even about € 1 million for a high-end new villa.
At the far west of the island, Cuitadella (de Menorca) is the other major resort, and the historic town is also the religious capital of the island. You can get a modern two-bed apartment there for around €80,000, three-bedders for €120,000–180,000, or a three-bed villa for around €300,000. There is a fair amount for sale across all price ranges.
Cala en Porter on the south coast is quite well established and even lively by Menorcan standards, with its buzzy beach bars and water sports scene. You can buy an apartment – one or two bedrooms, depending on the size and quality, for €70,000 plus.
Move away from the bigger hubs, and you have a choice of dozens of small villages on the coast or inland. Popular examples include Addaia (also known as Addaya), Alaior (in the centre) or those close to some of the best beaches – Alcaufar, Cala Mesquida, Son Bou (the longest beach in Menorca) or Cala Trebaluger (good for year-round living as well as the picture-postcard beach).
Also to flag up, and worth checking out if you like golf, is Son Parc, a lovely little development around the island’s only course. There you can get an apartment with great views from its roof terrace for less than €100,000 – and with good scope for rentals too.