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The great escape


Menorca is more laid-back than its Balearic siblings, but it isn’t all turquoise seas and white sands. “The jaunty yachts and cheerful holidaymaking atmosphere have their counterpart in much more sober sights,” says Jan Dalley in the FT. A dramatic past, “from the Talayotic culture of 3,000BC to Franco’s civil-war monstrosities, with multiple invasions… makes for an island rich in military history”.

Places of note The harbour in the island’s capital, Mahón, is dominated by the La Mola fortress. The grandest house on the waterfront is Sant Antoni, the “Golden Farm”, where Nelson and Lady Hamilton were thought to have enjoyed a tryst: “Actually (sorry) they didn’t.” Catch a summer concert at the Lithica quarries or hit the beach – there’s something to suit all tastes. Mesquida, 15 minutes from Mahón, is for “those of us who like it wild – just sand, sea, hills”, and family-friendly Es Grau is great for snorkelling and kayaking. Colourful Ciutadella, on the west coast, is all cobbled streets, pretty squares and medieval churches.

Famous faces Regular visitors include Rafael Nadal, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Elton John, who has a property here.

Weather Menorca is the breeziest of the Balearics, which have hot summers and mild winters.

To eat Arlette is a newcomer to Mahón’s quayside, with views of Isla del Rey: carnivores can tuck into brains and sweetbreads, but there are delicious vegetarian options. The famous Cova d’en Xoroi club is in a series of cliffside caves overlooking the sea: it’s one of the best spots for a sundowner in all of the Balearics. For the freshest fish, head to Cap Roig, above Mesquida beach.

1 To stay

Menorca Experimental is the new kid on the hotel block and garnering great reviews. Ten minutes’ walk from the sea, the 19th-century farmhouse has interiors inspired by Miró, Picasso and Dalí, a restaurant serving locally sourced food, a spa, a pool and yoga, pottery and painting classes. Doubles from £145 a night, B&B.

2 To rent

This villa above a secluded bay on the south coast has terraces, a garden and a pool with sun loungers and outdoor sofas. Two of the four bedrooms are ensuite. It’s a short walk to Cala Galdana’s restaurants and boutiques and many of the island’s best beaches are nearby. From £8,237 for six nights.

3 To Airbnb

On the waterfront in Es Castell, near Mahón, Fonduco Blue is a pretty house with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a roof terrace and an open-plan kitchen. From £546 for three nights.

4 To buy

This six-bedroom villa is seven miles south of Ciutadella and a short walk from pretty Son Xoriguer beach. Set in half an acre, it has sea views, a hot tub, a pool and an outdoor entertaining area. €4.5m.