The list of attractions is endless: idyllic coves such as Macarella or Binimel-la; charming fishing villages such as Binibequer Vell; gastronomic enclaves such as Fornells with its famous – and unforgettable – caldereta (lobster soup); unspoilt natural havens that include the wetlands of Port d'Addai; a magical prehistoric legacy; the urban magnetism of Ciutadella and Mahon... These are just some of the highlights to be discovered along the Cami de Cavalls, an evocative trail that invites you to discover some of the treasures of Minorca, the northernmost of the Balearic Islands.
Whether you make the journey on horseback, by mountain bike or on foot, the experience of any of the 20 different routes that comprise the complete trail around the Minorcan coast won't easily be forgotten. The Cami de Cavalls offers a many-coloured and multi-textured mosaic of reasons to fall in love with Minorca. Whichever direction you head off in, it reveals a breath-taking range of coves and beaches: to the north, you enter the kingdom of the tramontana, the mythical wind that breathes across the sands of Cap de Cavalleria and Cala Pregonda; in the south, you find bays and beaches clustered together including Son Bou and Binissafuller, and tiny coves like Biniparratx. But the Cami isn't limited to the wonderful coastal landscapes of Minorca; it also offers routes into such unique natural spaces as S'Albufera des Grau natural park.
As if that weren't enough, history lovers will have a hay day retracing the island's past along the Cami. There are over a thousand Bronze Age monuments dotted around – navetas (chamber tombs), taules (enormous rectangular stone slabs forming a T-shape) and talayots (huge tower-like megaliths up to eight metres in height) – so it's easy to feel you're travelling back in time to Minorca's ancestral past. The biggest prehistoric settlement on the island is Torre d'en Galmes, and the most famous monument is the 4000-year-old tomb, the Naveta dels Tudons.
To follow the Cami de Cavalls is to make a journey best allowed to unfold unhurriedly, like savouring a good wine. All along the route, the trail offers up surprises of the natural world, of local cuisine and of the ancient past rubbing shoulders with the modern world. Some surprise are as simple as the sunset seen from the cliff of the natural cave d'en Xoroi, one of the most beautiful sunsets in the Mediterranean: a magic moment when the sea and the sky is tinged with crimson and amber flashes and visitors are reminded that the ever-generous island of Minorca has just shared yet another of its treasures.
Tips & suggestions
A number of low-cost airlines fly direct to Minorca, and good package deals are also frequently available. The island is also connected by air to mainland Spain by low-cost companies Spanair, Air Europa and Vueling. By boat, Acciona Trasmediterranea offers six weekly connections between Barcelona and Mahon, and at weekends from Valencia.
Where to stay:
In Sant Lluis, Alcaufar Vell, a manor house dating back to the fourteenth century, still belongs to the original family, but has been refurbished and is now run as a hotel. Also in Sant Lluis, the refurbished Barcelo Pueblo Menorca is highly recommended for families travelling with children. In Es Castell, the 11 comfortable rooms of Hotel Sant Joan de Binissaida offer exquisite views over the bay of Sant Esteve.
Oliaigo (a simple vegetable soup), caldereta de langosta (lobster soup), sweets such as as cuscusso, cheese from Mahon... the cuisine of Minorca is a treat for the palate, a generous legacy of flavours inherited from the peoples linked with the island's history. The influences are diverse, including the Arabs who bequeathed sweets such as rubiols, and the British, whose long occupation of the island in the eighteenth century is remembered today in dishes such as the baked milk pudding greixonera dolça, and brou de xenc, a meat soup. In Sa Pedrera d'es Pujol, chef and owner, Daniel Gonzalez, offers a delicious fusion of tradition and innovation. Another suggestion is the Cafe Balear in Ciutadella, with specialities such as lobster with onion. And, finally, a word in your ear for foodies who are passionate about traditional cuisine: Ca'n Aguedet (Tel. 971 37 53 91), in Es Mercadal, will give you an opportunity to plunge deep into the ancient Minorcan gastronomic tradition with offerings such as the rice dish, arros a la terra.