Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! In my last two newsletters, I’ve been sharing highlights from my recent, epic Mediterranean cruise. What I loved about this “bleisure” trip (combining business and leisure travel) was the ability to see so much in a condensed amount of time (just under two weeks). It’s given me a punch list of places to return to and inspired me to encourage you to consider a Mediterranean cruise. It’s a fulfilling, hassle-free vacation in that you unpack once and focus each day on seeing a gorgeous area of Europe.
This week’s newsletter covers my time in Spain. I’ve been to Spain before, and it’s always a treat. On my Mediterranean cruise, I focused on one of the lesser-known Balearic Islands and the very well-known city of Barcelona located in autonomous northeastern Spain’s Catalonia region.
Read on for the scoop about why both places must be added to your travel bucket list…
The Balearic Islands
According to Spain’s tourism board, the Balearic Islands are one of the most popular destinations in the western Mediterranean. You’ll find charming villages, enchanting coves, stunning beaches with crystal clear water, gorgeous sunsets, and lush natural landscapes great for hiking and biking. There are many ways to enjoy the islands: relaxing in an atmosphere of peace and quiet, spending quality time on a family beach vacation, or partying until all hours as you enjoy the islands’ festive nightlife.
Four islands make up this island group off the eastern coast of Spain: Ibiza, Mallorca, Formentera, and Menorca which have their own unique personalities. The island I visited, Menorca, is the hidden gem neighbor to well-known Ibiza and Mallorca. Menorca is now on the radar of Americans having been the cover story of Conde Nast Traveler magazine earlier this year.
💎Hidden Gem Tip: If you know generally when you can travel next year, think ahead and begin the planning process this fall for next spring and summer. You’ll get the best pricing and availability by booking earlier than everyone else. Yes, travel in 2024 is expected to be at high levels once again. While your family is together this summer, discuss where everyone wants to travel and what schedules look like. You’ll be glad you did.
Menorca is a quick 45-minute flight from Barcelona making it easy to visit from the mainland. Vacationers who want to bring a car can take the longer ferry ride. Menorca isn’t overrun with tourists as its relatively off the mainstream radar thanks to its more famous neighboring islands.
Large cruise ships don’t stop in Menorca because they can’t turn around in its quaint harbor. Luckily, we had no problems docking in the picturesque town of Mahon which is ideal for strolling and shopping (the island has a long history of shoe-making).
On an island tour, I was able to cover a good deal of ground, seeing Menorca from a variety of angles. It’s a tranquil island with white-washed limestone houses with their signature emerald green shutters. There are over 130 stunning beaches, some accessible only by boat and unspoiled, making it an ideal vacation destination for beach lovers looking for a mellow week in paradise.
The show-stopper was having a glass of cava at a cave bar and cliffside restaurant (pictured) that offered jaw-dropping views. Sunsets are beyond epic, but come here any time of day with your loved ones or best friends. It’s a true WOW.
💎Hidden Gem Tip: If a cruise – ocean or river – or a land trip to Europe is on your travel bucket list, let’s talk about the best destinations and itineraries for you.
Post-Cruise in Barcelona
Hands down, Barcelona is a must-visit European city. This cosmopolitan capital of the Catalonia region of Spain is easy to visit and explore. Did you know that Catalan is the official language of the region and not Spanish (although both are widely spoken)? My tour guide told me that both languages are taught in school.
Barcelona is known for the unique influence of architect Antoni Gaudi, whose works are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most famous being the cathedral La Sagrada Familia. The public park called Park Guell and Casa Mila are also must-see attractions for visitors.
Strolling the old quarter, relaxing in the green spaces and on the beaches, and eating (and drinking) at the many fantastic restaurants are all a part of the experience. I enjoyed fantastic meals and cocktails on many a rooftop overlooking the city. Consider a splurge stay at the modern-vibe Edition which has the most incredible rooftop restaurant and is located next door to an amazing food hall with a gorgeous colorful roof (photo below). Hidden Gem Travel clients get their VIP perks here as well as many of the other highly-rated hotels in Barcelona.
I look forward to returning to Barcelona again soon – one visit is definitely not enough!
Wishing you and your family continued good health,
Make your own Wanderlist for 2023! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you.