Visiting Fornells | An Authentic Fishing Village in Menorca

The charming fishing village of Fornells in Menorca epitomizes the concept of slow travel. Lazy days can be spent wandering along bougainvillea-scented streets, visiting landmarks from a bygone era or browsing artisan wares at an open-air market.

You can drift along the coastline in a kayak, learn to windsurf, or enjoy a catamaran trip to unspoilt coves for a picnic and a spot of sunbathing. All this before returning to the village for a delicious alfresco dinner beneath the stars.

If it’s an authentic Menorcan experience you seek, Fornells delivers.

Around the headland, and within walking distance of Fornells, is Platges de Fornells – an area with pretty apartments, low-key hotels and golden coves for snorkelling, diving and swimming. This location has some of the best sunset views and several waterfront bars where you can watch the spectacle in style.

Visiting Fornells in Menorca

A Brief History of Fornells

In centuries gone by, Menorca’s location in the Mediterranean Sea made it a target for Barbary pirates and foreign armies seeking out strategic territories.

The Castle of Sant Antoni was built in the 17th century under the rule of Felipe IV to prevent such attacks. As the castle took shape, the carpenters and stonemasons began constructing modest houses for the soldiers and themselves to live in. These houses became the blueprint for the modern-day village of Fornells.

The island subsequently fell into the hands of the British in the early 18th century. And eventually, they would add a truncated, cone-shaped tower – Torre de Fornells – to the head of the peninsular, to further strengthen their defences.

Throughout this tumultuous time, the village began to grow, attracting fishermen and their families to live here. Today, this maritime history is still evident, with both fishing and tourism being the mainstays of the seaside town.

On the western side of the peninsula (around a 10-minute drive), and not to be confused with Fornells village, is Platges de Fornells. It was built much later, in the 1990s, but in a traditional style. Today, it’s a popular tourist resort, with whitewashed houses overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, alongside scenic coves, walking trails, restaurants and bars.

Read More: Best Things to do in Menorca

Getting to Fornells

Renting a car to visit Fornells from Mahón? It’s an easy journey along the Me-7, then join the Me-15 road south of Ses Salines for Fornells Village.

Alternatively, the island’s main road, the Me-1 transports you to Es Mercadal from Mahón, Ciutadella and the south of the island. When you reach the town, exit north on the Me-15 to reach Fornells and Platges de Fornells.

If driving from Menorca Airport to Fornells, the Me-1 is the quickest route, taking around 30 minutes. Alternatively, a taxi from the airport costs approximately €37- €43 one way.

Prefer to travel by public transport? Hop aboard the L41 bus. The service operates from Mahón bus station to Fornells (Carrer del Rosari) with a travelling time of 50 minutes. This bus also stops at Arenal d’en Castell, Son Parc, Cala Tirant and Es Mercadal.

If you’re planning a day trip instead, you may enjoy this Full Day Private Menorca Classics Tour. It takes in Monte Toro (Menorca’s highest peak), Cap de Cavalleria and Fornells. Pickups are available from various locations across the island.

Best Things to do in Fornells

If you’re looking for the best things to do during your holiday in Fornells, here are a few ideas to inspire your travels…

Water Activities

Fornells Village is undoubtedly the best place in Menorca for watersports activities. You can begin your seafaring expedition on a daytime boat excursion discovering virgin beaches, hidden coves and colourful marine life. During the trip, enjoy a delicious tapas lunch of Menorcan delicacies and sip pomada (local gin and lemonade) while soaking up the sun on the deck.

Spend a leisurely day snorkelling or diving – searching for sunken ships and pirate treasures. Try your hand at windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding, or set sail for Cavalleria lighthouse on a romantic evening boat trip.

Those preferring a more immersive experience can book a guided kayak tour from Ses Salines to watch the sunset beyond the horizon. It’s the ultimate end to a day in Fornells and a great solo, couples or group activity.

Visit the Markets

There’s no better way to connect with the Menorcan lifestyle than with a visit to an open-air market. Luckily, in Fornells, there are many held throughout the year.

The local farmer’s market is held along the village’s main street, procuring an array of gourmet picnic items. Stall vendors sell the ripest fruits and vegetables sourced from local farms alongside homemade preserves, Menorcan cheeses and breads. The market is open on alternate Sunday mornings from autumn to spring and on Monday evenings in summer when the weather is cooler.

If you have a penchant for vintage goods and antiques, don’t forget to check out the Calle de les Roques flea market on Wednesday mornings during the high season.

At weekends during summer, you’ll also find an evening market along the quayside at Calle de la Mar, with stalls selling handmade jewellery, arts, crafts and sweet treats.

Explore Castell de Sant Antoni

The remains of the Castle of Sant Antoni can be found on the northern fringes of Fornells village. Although you wouldn’t know to look at it today, this castle was once a fully functioning fortress with stores, living quarters, a chapel, military offices and even a parade ground.

The castle stood for 150 years before being dismantled in the late 1700s following the reconquest of Menorca. The king of Spain believed that with no fortresses to be captured, there would be no strategic interest for invaders anymore.

However, this line of thought was premature, for in 1798, the British returned – once again, using the area as a landing site for its naval ships.

Today, you can stroll around the ruined castle walls (entrance is free), learn about its history from well-placed signs and witness the extensive restoration project taking place.

Walk up to Torre de Fornells

The circular structure of Torre de Fornells sits above the village with expansive views of the Menorcan coastline. It’s one of a network of military defences built during British rule of the island, and one of the best preserved.

The defensive tower, along with the nearby castle was built to prevent pirates and other armies from landing on Menorcan shores.

In its original form, it comprised a cistern for water, soldier’s quarters, storage rooms for food and weaponry and an upper terrace for surveillance.

Today, you can visit the interior of the tower which hosts a small museum (not open in winter) to learn more about its history and climb to the terrace to photograph views of Fornells Bay and Cavalleria lighthouse in the distance.

Walk the Coastal Path to Platges de Fornells

It’s relatively easy to walk between Fornells village and Playas/Platges de Fornells along a scenic coastal path. In early spring the area is abundant with wildflowers, and at other times, the rocky alcoves and shimmering blue Mediterranean Sea create a stunning canvas for photographers.

There are several routes you can take, with the shortest route departing Fornells village by the cemetery. On this route, you’ll meet the coastline at Bahia de Galma. From here, follow the rugged path along the coastline until eventually, the telltale houses with terracotta rooftops come into view. You can then choose to continue towards Cala Tirant and the Camí de Cavalls.

If you fancy a slightly longer trek, walk towards Torre de Fornells from the village and follow the route around the headland. It then meets the previous track at Bahia de Galma.

Alternatively, head inland from Fornells to meet the Camí on the road to Platges de Fornells. It’s not as scenic a route, but more straightforward and level if you’re not sure-footed.

I like to incorporate both routes and make it a loop track. It takes around 45 minutes from the Torre de Fornells to Platges de Fornells at a leisurely pace (read, stopping every few minutes to gasp at the scenery), and just a smidgen less to walk back via the camí.

Leave early to make a day of it in Platges de Fornells. The red sand of Cala Tirant (the nearest sandy beach to Fornells) makes a striking contrast against the white terraced houses and green hills of this natural bay. At one end of the beach, a small lagoon awaits where you can often find native turtles and birdlife.

Take a Dip at Cala Fornells

Cala Fornells is located between Castell de Sant Antoni and the harbour in the village. It’s a rocky cove, with a small beach area, or you can access the sea via dedicated ladders. The crystal clear waters are warmest in July, August, and September when temperatures are akin to stepping into a warm bath.

Enjoy a refreshing swim or snorkel, or if you prefer to stay on dry land, sit on the rocks with a snack from Ricardo Reira’s shop nearby. They sell the finest almond nougat (the almonds are toasted in a 17th-century wood oven) and some delicious ice cream and chocolate treats.

Arrive at Cala Fornells just before the golden hour to see the setting sun reflect sparkling droplets of gold on the water’s surface, it’s magical – so don’t forget your camera.

Along the coast, you’ll find plenty of other places for a quick dip. There’s a safe swimming spot at the port (just stay within the buoys). Or my favourite little serene spot (shown above, right) hidden away between the rocks at the edge of Carrer dels Vivers and Carrer Tramuntana.

Basílica des cap des Port de Fornells

If you’re interested in uncovering past mysteries, venture south of Fornells village to the site of Basilica des cap des Port de Fornells.

This beautiful stretch of lush countryside is scattered with the remains of what used to be an early Christian basilica. The ruins are said to date back as far as the 5th to 7th centuries and the site has been hailed as one of the most important discoveries in recent years in Menorca (contrary to its slightly neglected/unprotected state).

As you walk around the small site, you can begin to see the outline of a crypt, designed in the shape of a Greek cross, there are wall painting remnants too, beginning to tell the story of a unique religious complex that stood here in ancient times.

Hike the Cami de Cavalls to Son Parc

Active travellers can hike the Cami de Cavalls trail from Fornells Bay to Son Parc. The scenic stage of the trail passes La Concepcio salt flats, and the ancient ruins of the Christian basilica detailed above.

The track transports you through orchards and farmlands to sweeping sand dunes and coastal wetlands, where a large number of bird species spend the summer.

This section of the Camí traverses the headland, through pine forests, so it’s lovely and shaded in the summer, and when you complete your stroll at Son Parc, you can break for a swim, relax on the beach or sit down to a delicious lunch or dinner.

Best Places to Eat in Fornells

There are many wonderful restaurants in Fornells, and though many menus are seafood-driven, you can also find tasty pizzas, tapas, veggie and vegan dishes if that’s what you desire.

You’ll find cosy Restaurante La Guapa on the main street of the village. It’s a charming eatery with a small interior room and pavement side terrace perfect for lunch in the sun. The menu focuses on homemade Mediterranean cuisine, and the salads are made with freshly picked produce from their gardens.

C’an Tanu in the village is run by a third-generation fishing family including husband and wife team Pilar and Sebastian. Pilar cooks while Sebastian, a Menorcan fisherman by trade, brings fresh fish to the restaurant daily. The restaurant is renowned for its charming ambience, seafood dishes, paellas and stew.

Or head around the coast Fornells Beach (Platges de Fornells) and check out one of our favourite places to eat on the island, La Franola. Serving up tempting tapas (including many veggie-friendly options), the setting is sublime and you’ll want to stay for hours sipping cocktails in the sun.

Other things to do Around Fornells

Planning a day trip outside Fornells? Here are a few interesting places to visit within a short walk, drive, bus or bike ride.

Cavalleria Lighthouse

Located on the headland of Cap de Cavalleria, at Menorca’s northernmost point, is the Cavalleria Lighthouse. It was powered by kerosene fuel until the 1980s and is the oldest ‘faro’ or lighthouse on the island dating to 1857.

Most visitors come here for the sunrise and sunset views, or simply to discover more about the tower that shines its beam out to sea for 22 nautical miles (I can see it clearly from our apartment in Son Parc!).

The visitor centre/museum is open most days May-October (it costs €3 and they only accepted cash when we visited) and there’s a small cafe/bar selling drinks and ice cream.

Cavalleria and Pregonda Beaches

You may wish to pair your lighthouse visit with a trip to Cala Cavalleria. This pretty beach is a curved stretch of reddish-gold sand with shallow waters. It’s a great spot for a picnic, swim or a romantic stroll among untouched nature.

A little further along the coast is one of Menorca’s most revered beaches, Cala Pregonda. Protected from the Tramontana winds by small islands and backed by lush vegetation. The waters are calm for swimming and snorkelling and if you fancy renting a boat in Fornells, this is a scenic location to drop anchor for a few hours.

Son Parc

Son Parc is a purpose-built resort, catering to tourists and holiday-home owners, with a spectacular sandy beach, fantastic walking trails to hidden coves, and it’s also home to the island’s only 18-hole golf course which is shared with a flock of peacocks!

The family-friendly destination boasts a small commercial area for picking up beach day essentials and a selection of bars and eateries, making it a great place to spend a relaxing day.

Arenal d’en Castell

Arenal d’en Castell is an ideal resort for families. The sandy beach comes with sun loungers, parasols, kayaks and pedalos for hire, and there are plenty of beachside café bars for lunch. You can snorkel, dive, cycle, browse souvenir shops and even stay to experience the local nightlife.


Addaia is one of those picture-postcard places – an upscale resort with lush green islands and coastline. Low-rise, whitewashed houses flank the waterfront and expensive yachts bob up and down in the water.

It’s a popular area with couples and solo travellers and there are excellent walking, biking trails and water activities to discover during a day trip.

Es Mercadal

Visit Es Mercadal in the centre of Menorca for a true insight into daily life on the island. Local stores sell artisan gifts and Menorca’s famous Abarca sandals, and you can feast on some of the tastiest ensaïmadas on the island, in between admiring the town’s architecture.

Don’t forget to drive or hike to the summit of nearby Monte Toro, the highest peak for the best views of the island.

Fornells – Key Things to Know

Unlike the nearby resort towns of Arenal d’en Castell, Son Parc, and Platges de Fornells, the fishing village of Fornells stays open year-round and it can be rather lively on a sunny weekend!

You’ll find plenty of restaurants open, a few commerces, and a bank. Tours and sailing/windsurfing lessons are more seasonal, with offerings opening up between April to October.

Where to Stay in Fornells

Fornells is not a place where you’ll find flashy hotels, but rather low-key accommodation options most commonly in the form of holiday apartments or small villas.

Es Castell 2.7 (situated in the complex shown above) offers modest 2-bedroom accommodation with a communal pool and sea views. Ideally located, it also comes with a parking space for convenience.

For a larger group, Casa Ullastre is a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with sea views. You’ll love the rooftop terrace for your aperitivo, and the private garden.

Meanwhile, if it’s modern comforts you seek, Mevamar delivers. This waterfront property boasts three bedrooms, a gorgeous sundrenched patio, and a view over the bustling marina.

If you’re seeking glitzy tourist resorts with vibrant nightlife, Fornells and Platges de Fornells may not be for you. But if you want to experience a little slice of paradise on the northern coast of Menorca, sample the local lifestyle, partake in watersports and feast on the finest, freshest food, you’ll love it!

Read our other Menorca Guides here!

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