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This article explains everything you may want to know if you come to Menorca on holiday and want to rent a car to enjoy the island in your own way.
This article is written by a native of the island, who knows it well. However, it is important to note that some of the data described may change over time.
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2 - The road structure of Menorca
Menorca is a Balearic island of about 700 square kilometres. From one end to another it measures just over 45 kilometers.
To simplify the layout of Menorca’s roads, we could describe it as the spine of a fish, with the port of Mahón as the mouth, a main road (Me-1) that crosses it like a thorn, from Mahón, the current capital, to Ciutadella, the old capital, and with a myriad of spines, or secondary roads that, starting from the main road arranged almost horizontally on the maps, connect it with the urbanizations and beaches of the north and south coasts .
This is of course a simplification, but it helps to understand, for example, that you cannot drive around the coast of Menorca. There are very few sections where you can drive parallel to the seashore.
What is possible when driving on the roads of Menorca is to enjoy the endless kilometers of dry wall, walls made by hand and without cement or mortar, an indisputable symbol of the Minorcan landscape and culture.
In Menorca practically all the towns inhabited by its residents throughout the year are found along this main road (the Me-1). We are talking about Ciutadella and Mahón, the two main cities (at their ends), and Alaior, Mercadal and Ferreries.
In general terms, we can say that this road network is in excellent condition, being constantly subject to maintenance, repairs and renovations.
It is important to take into account that the roads in Menorca are not designed for overtaking. It is technically possible, but there is only a double lane in a few places on the main road Me-1, and it is always uphill.
Many accidents occur when impatient drivers try to overtake slower drivers in places where there wasn’t enough room to overtake.
3 - Location of speed cameras in Menorca
As in so many other places, in Menorca there are fixed and mobile radars that control the speed of drivers.
Most of the cases these speed cameras are indicated by road signs, both fixed and mobile, but not always.
Map of road speed cameras in Menorca
In fact it is not uncommon to see a speed trap inside a vehicle parked on the side of the road.
Especially in the interior of some towns, it is common to find so-called information speed cameras, that is, devices that do not fine, but have a panel where they warn you if you are driving too fast on a certain path.
It is important to make it clear that the number, nature and location of speed cameras might change over time.
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4 - Traffic restrictions
4.1 - Don’t drive in Mahón old town
In Menorca there are already areas where only cars belonging to residents of one of those areas can enter.
The entrance to one of these areas is repeatedly indicated by at least 3 signs in succession, but there is no material barrier that you are going to run into before entering one of these areas exclusive driving, and that is a problem, because it is easy to lose attention and realize too late that you have entered one of these restricted traffic zones, and that is why this article wants to put emphasis on preventing such situations.
The center of Mahón is one of these exclusive driving areas for residents only. There is a sophisticated camera system in charge of systematically controlling the license plate numbers of the vehicles that enter these areas, generating an automatic fine against the person in whose name is the vehicle that has trespassed into one of these exclusive areas.
Click here to read an article in Spanish from a local newspaper about the traffic restrictions in the center of Mahón
There are plans to restrict traffic in other Menorcan towns, but today they are still not a reality.
In any case, my recommendation is not to relax when reading traffic signs and always act according to their instructions.
It is also important to bear in mind that some areas of access to the coast, such as Faro de Favàritx road or Cala Macarella road, are restricted to conventional traffic in order to "force" visitors to use the bus service that both Mahón and Ciutadella make available to tourists for this purpose.
Public buses to Favaritx and Macarella
Click on one of these links to access updated information on the public bus service to Favàritx and Macarella. Keep in mind that this roadblock and its corresponding substitute service only take place during the summer season.
4.2 - Parking only for residents in the urban area of Es Castell
The council of Es Castell approved an ordinance by which during the summer months, specifically during the months of June, July, August and September, only citizens residing in Es Castell may park inside the town.
This parking restriction will only apply from 6 pm to midnight.
It is important to note that streets where only residents are allowed to park during the periods of time mentioned above will not be marked by colored lines on the pavement.
The only indication for visitors to this restricted parking area in Es Castell de Menorca will be some signs (written in Catalan) at the entrance to the area.
5 - Menorca’s weather when driving
Menorca has a hot and dry climate during the 5 summer months and an bit cooler weather during the rest of the month.
In Menorca it rains relatively rarely, but when it does, the precipitations are intense. When driving a vehicle on the island, it is important to note that it practically never snows, and if it did, the ice would disappear in less than 24 hours.
The main dangers of the weather when you drive a car on Menorca are the strong wind from the north or south. the lack of of hills or trees on many stretches, can suddenly push your vehicle onto the shoulder or into the oncoming lane.
Although dangerous, these forces are controllable if you are aware of them and takes care when driving to avoid an accident.
On the other hand, the main road of Menorca (Me-1), of just over 40km, runs from West to East (or vice versa), which brings poor visibility or even blindness at the time of sunrise, if you are driving towards Mahón, or at sunset, if you are driving towards Ciudadela.
These cases can be considered more of an inconvenience when driving in Menorca than an imminent danger. The good condition of the roads, the good signage and, in general, the good behavior of the average Menorcan driver, outweigh by far the sometimes inclement weather, although it is important to point out that even in Menorca there are accidents, so it is highly recommended to be always careful when you’re behind the wheel.
6 - What do you need to rent a car in Menorca
The requirements to be able to rent a car in Menorca vary from one car rental company to another.
In Menorca there are car hire companies that only require a valid driving license, while there are others that require additional conditions, such as:
7 - Tips for renting a car in Menorca
If you want to rent a car for when you come on holiday to Menorca, here are some useful tips that can save you time and money.
8 - Animals on the roads
Driving along the roads of Menorca it is relatively common to come across animals that have left their natural spaces and that, for one reason or another, find themselves on the road. Be careful with them, but also be careful not to stop suddenly or make a swerve that could end in an accident.
Earth urchins are unfortunately the main victims of this type of incidents. In Menorca you can come across cats, hens, snakes, a dog or even turtles, from land or fresh water.
Yes, turtles in the middle of the road. The turtles have the curious advantage of being so slow that they can be easily dodged by vehicles, although their large number in the Menorcan countryside makes it relatively common to find them.
Watch out for kites, falcons and Egyptian vultures. Especially the first ones have the bad habit of circling over run-over animals, waiting for a moment when they can descend to the pavement and grab an easy bite. The size, daring and speed of these birds can surprise the most experienced driver.
Cows are huge like dinosaurs on Minora. It is not normal to find cows on the main road or on the secondary roads, but it is possible to do so on some rural roads, even if they are paved.
These cattle aren’t dangerous (in theory), but they’re not usually in a rush to get out of the way if they see a car approaching.
As an anecdote, there are still many Menorcans of my generation who remember the occasion in which a cow escaped from its farm next to the main road and a car drove into it, which made it fly for several tens of metres.
The same goes for horses. It is rare to find them loose, but it can happen on rural roads, especially those that cross agricultural properties to reach a beach car park.
Attention! It is also very common to find maintenance workers on the shoulders of the road, carrying out some repair work on the road or its surroundings. Take care of them, they are few and valuable :)
9 - Car parks with limited spaces
When renting a car to enjoy your holidays in Menorca, it is important to take into account a series of island realities.
One of them is the island government tendency to build too small parking on many beaches, with the hope to prevent them from getting overcrowded.
In some places you will find luminous panels at the deviation to go to one of these beaches, indicating whether there is free space to park in their parking area or not.
It is tragically normal that the car parks of some of the most renowned beaches in Menorca are already full at 8 in the morning in the peak months of the tourist season.
In this regard, I recommend you go to large or relatively unknown beaches if your vacation takes place in the peak weeks of the high season, and dare to try smaller top virgin beaches in less crowded times.
10 - Motorcycles, cyclists, horses and tractors
There is a true fauna of vehicles that you can find on the roads of Menorca and, due to the road characteristics of the island, can be more notable than in other places where the roads have been more adapted to the real traffic of the place.
It is relatively normal, for example, to find tractors driving at 30 or 40 kilometers per hour on the main road. Despite the fact that their drivers try to interfere as little as possible with traffic, the truth is that they end up creating long lines of cars until the tractor reaches its exit.
Groups of cyclists are very common, especially in the temperate seasons that precede and follow the summer months.
Due to their fragility, it is very important never to get distracted on the road, always overtaking them at least at a distance of 1.5 meters, to prevent the wave of air from overtaking to destabilize them.
Some roads in Menorca have very sharp curves, usually on narrow roads with little or no shoulders. That is why my recommendation is to always wait for a cyclist to be right behind the curve, to be careful and not have to swerve, which could have major consequences.
Certain rental motorcycles are not capable of reaching the top speeds of the main road, so especially in the months of July and August it is common to suddenly find yourself in the queue of vehicles behind one of them.
It is also possible to find horses with their riders on the side of a secondary road, but these cases are more an anecdote than a recurring fact.↑