Mallorca or Menorca: which one to choose
Major beauties, minor differences!
Dreaming of a getaway in the Balearic Islands, but can’t decide between Mallorca and Menorca? Both Mediterranean islands are sunny at least 250 days a year, have amazing cove-like beaches with turquoise waters, exceptional architecture and natural treasures.
It’s a hard call, we understand. However, there are subtle differences between the two that will help you make your choice, depending on the kind of a holiday you are looking for. Let us guide you through the Mallorca-vs-Menorca dilemma:
- Beaches and water sports
- Cities and towns
- Entertainment and nightlife
- Activities in nature
- Local gastronomy
Tip: maybe consider taking a post-summer island-hopping tour around the Balearics? Check out our guide on island hopping in the Balearic Islands off-season and find out what to expect.
Scenic alley with in the medieval town of Alcúdia in Mallorca
Mallorca vs Menorca: the Balearic battle
The obvious difference between Menorca and Mallorca, is that Menorca is clearly smaller. Imagine that Mallorca’s Palma capital alone has four times as many residents as the whole of Menorca! Receiving thousands of tourists every year, Mallorca is also better known across the globe than Menorca.
In general, Menorca (or Minorca) is far more quiet and laid back than its larger and more popular neighbor. This means that, contrary to Mallorca, the island won’t be crowded, not even in the high season. And you won’t the rich and famous, the superyachts, and the party enthusiasts that are everywhere around Mallorca.
On the other hand, there is a reason why Mallorca (or Majorca) is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and a favorite among celebs. This island really has everything: magical sandy coves, incredible mountain landscapes, great food, countless sights and cultural events… and the list goes on!
Let’s find out where each island might earn a couple more points:
Beaches and water sports
Mallorca has a coastline of more than 550 km, with over 200 beaches to choose from. Most of them are unspoiled, with white sand, dunes and transparent turquoise waters. Its exotic, picture-perfect coves, such as Es Trenc, Cala Mondragó and Port de Pollença, combined with its warm climate, are one of the main reasons why the island is so popular with travelers.
Mallorca’s beaches are usually equipped with facilities and entertainment amenities. This means, though, that they are a lot busier than the ones in Menorca. The second has over 75 calas and sandy coves between rocky cliffs, each one a precious discovery. Menorca’s beaches are ideal for those who like to wander and explore secret spots, relax and enjoy the calm scenery.
When it comes to water sports, Mallorca is definitely the winner, as there are numerous places where you can try water sports and outdoor adventure activities. However, Menorca’s calm beaches with crystal-clear waters and sea caves are perfect for snorkeling and diving, and you will find water sports facilities in some bays, such as Cala Galdana.
The postcard-like cove of Cala Macarella in Menorca
Cities and towns
Do you prefer to visit vibrant cities or peaceful villages when on vacation? Mallorca’s capital, Palma, is breathtakingly beautiful and extremely lively. Its unique architecture with Moorish influences, charming streets, many museums, galleries, busy bars and restaurants, and impressive gothic cathedral of La Seu make it an attraction for travelers (and culture lovers). The preserved medieval town of Alcúdia is also a must visit.
Menorca’s towns are much smaller. The capital of Mahón and the town of Ciutadella have around 30,000 inhabitants each, a lot less compared to Palma’s half a million. However, thanks to their size, they are ideal for relaxing day trips. In Mahón, you will enjoy strolls at the town’s lively harbor front and between Mahón traditional whitewashed or colorful houses. Ciutadella has a romantic old town worth exploring, while you should also look out for flea markets in the island’s interior.
The lively harbor of Mahón in Menorca
Entertainment and nightlife
This one’s easy. If you want to go out and party, Mallorca is just the place for you. The capital of Palma is bursting with life all year round and it offers several options for fun evenings. There are countless bars and clubs that you will find mainly between the Old Town of Palma and the neighborhoods of La Llonja and Santa Catalina. And if it’s a wild night out you are looking for, you must try the beach resorts in the infamous Magaluf.
Excited about Mallorca’s vibrant nightlife? Find out all ways to reach the island in our complete guide on how to get to Mallorca.
Menorca is quite the opposite. The nights on the island are more peaceful, without drunk tourists walking round the street. The number of places for entertainment, though, is quite small. The island has a certain “hippie” character and nights here are more relaxed.
Tip: you must definitely spend an evening in the “Cova d'en Xoroi”, Menorca’s most famous cave. The place has been turned into a disco (!) and you can enjoy chill music, drinks and long sunsets, while later there’s DJs and dancing.
The burning horizon of Palma in the evening
Activities in nature
Who said the Balearics are only sea and sun? Away from the coast, Mallorca’s Tramuntana Mountains (a World Heritage site) make up the island’s spine and offer breathtaking views. Its slopes are ideal for cycling and hiking (some routes are challenging) especially in spring when the almond trees are blossoming. Outdoor activities are also possible in the fascinating villages, such as Soller and Deià, lying under their shadow. And let’s not forget the green Mondragó natural park, with its popular picnic areas.
Meanwhile, Menorca is mostly flat, which makes it great for hiking and cycling. The most popular walking route is the Camí de Cavalls (“horse path”), a 185-km trail running along the perimeter of the island, which allows hikers to enjoy the interior of the island and visit a few timeless villages along the way. Moreover, Menorca’s green spaces extend all over the island; the Albufera Natural Park des Grau is its largest nature reserve hosting hundreds of birds, plant species and wonderful hiking trails!
Tip: Menorca has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1993. This is why most of the time there are no facilities or garbage cans at its beaches. So, make sure to carry a bag for your trash.
Trekking by the sea at the Camí de Cavalls route in Menorca
When it comes to food, the two islands are pretty similar. Their cuisine is based on typically Mediterranean ingredients, but it has also been influenced by the culinary traditions of their past occupiers.
Mallorca has a plethora of tapas bars, local restaurants and bistros serving tasty Mallorcan dishes, such as the tombet vegetable soup and the coca de Trampo Mallorca-style pizza. It is also a big wine producer, with large vineyards in Binissalem and Santa Maria, and smaller ones across the island.
Menorca, on the other hand, stands out for its Mahón cheese (also the birthplace of the mayonnaise!), cured pork sausages (sobrasada) and lobster stew. There are also a few winemakers and wineries, but they can’t compare (in number at least) to Mallorca’s production.
Tip: whichever island you choose, we recommend going on a wine tour or a cheese tour, or both!
The mouthwatering “coca de Trampo” Mallorca-style pizza
By now you should have made your decision. Is it the peaceful and relaxing Menorca? Or the vibrant paradise of Mallorca? Or is it both? Maybe consider an island-hopping trip and grab a ferry from Mallorca to Menorca so you don’t miss any of the two islands’ gems and flavors?
Whatever your final choice, keep in mind that you can always book cheap ferry tickets online on Ferryhopper with no hidden fees!
Fan fact: is Mallorca and Majorca the same place? For answers to this and other important questions concerning the Balearic island, check out our post on why you should visit Mallorca (or Majorca?).