Let’s be honest, most of us Brits think of Lanzarote – and the Canary Islands as a whole – as a fly and flop destination, full of sun loungers and cheap beer and not much else.
But the stark volcanic landscape of Lanzarote is peppered with jaw-dropping viewpoints, black beaches perfect for surfing and alien-looking national parkland plus Bond-esque lairs designed by local architect and artist Cesar Manrique.
Find out why there’s more to the island than meets the eye with this list of my favourite places in Lanzarote…
The fourth-largest of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote sits at the North Eastern point of the chain, closest of all it’s neighbours to the Sahara and almost parallel to Agadir, yet cooled by it’s own winds, the island enjoys the perfect temperature year round, making it a great place to escape to during the British Winter.
For lovers of the outdoors and culture vultures, Lanzarote’s reputation doesn’t necessarily precede it though, but to overlook the island is a mistake – here are my favourite places to go in Lanzarote for those who can’t and won’t just sit on a beach all day:
1. El Golfo, the Emerald Green Lake and The Boiling Pots of Los Hervideros
Typical of Lanzarote’s raw natural beauty the Green lake is a geological marvel whose backdrop was made famous in the film One Million Years B.C. Just along the coast by car is a collection of caves and inlets formed like the Giant’s Causeway by the pummelling sea’s waves which have created blowholes in the volcanic rock. These are dramatic, off the beaten track natural wonders which will define your holiday to Lanzarote more than any day at the beach.
2. Fundacion Cesar Manrique
One of the Lanzarote-born artist’s sites on the island which fuse architecture with the unique spectacle of lava-ridden landscapes, this lair of a home made from naturally-occurring lava bubbles is great fun to explore. The influence of Matisse and Picasso on the artist from his time spent in the USA is evident in the shapes and forms of this, as well as the other six sites on the island, and you can also thank Manrique for Lanzarote’s low-rise traditionally-painted and whitewashed buildings remaining so prevalent – it’s largely thanks to his campaigns that the island is so unspoiled.
3. Teguise Market
One of the real highlights of my visits to Lanzarote, Teguise market is held on Sunday mornings from 9am until 2pm – and is the place to go for a lively morning’s entertainment, some great shopping and to enjoy a wander around a beautiful example of Lanzarote’s village streets with their traditional white and green houses.
From lace and handmade pottery to the usual market fodder made in China and found the world over there is a genuinely great selection of goods here, including some items that I had never seen elsewhere on my travels and that found their way home with me – a rare statement to make.
4. Park Nacional de Timanfaya
You need your own set of wheels to get the most out of Lanzarote that’s for sure, and every time I have visited I’ve found cheap car hire in Lanzarote online pretty easily, but make absolutely sure you hop in a car and check out the sights of Timanfaya National Park on your trip – this volcanic national park will really make you question whether you’re still on planet earth, let alone in Europe (which technically, and politically the islands are, despite their close proximity to Africa).
The park was created nearly 300 years ago when one of the world’s biggest volcanic explosions rocked the island for six whole years, spewing out millions of cubic metres of lava and creating The Montañas del Fuego you see today in the centre of the area. You can also eat at Manrique-designed Restaurant del Diablo where the food is cooked in the boiling hot volcanic soil.
5. Puerto Calero
Surely the antithesis of everything you might think of when imagining a resort in the Canaries, Puerto Calero is a 450 berth yachting harbour adjacent to two of Lanzarote’s best luxury hotels – the Hotel Costa Calero and The Hesperia Lanzarote.
This is a discerning and relaxed part of the island perfect with a few villa rental options an a smattering of upmarket restaurants and bars, giving you, the perfect venue for a sophisticated night out where you can mix with locals and seafaring visitors alike.
The busier Puerto Del Carmen area is also close by and but you can travel between the two quickly by car or taxi (there is a bus too) – so if you tire of the relaxed vibe here, you can go and party at PDC instead.
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