The list of Lanzarote's attractions are neverending! So if you've not quite hit the "book" button for your next sunny sojourn, then take a look at these bucket list tips and put this Canarian queen firmly on your flight path.
Let us transport you to volcanic vistas, beautiful beaches and the endless attractions and excursions of one of Europe's favourite holiday hotspots...
Lanzarote is simply synonymous with legendary local architect César Manrique. Look at the low-rise white sugar cube architecture and thank Lanzarote's lucky stars (more on those later) that his foresight enshrined into law that this holiday haven be protected from sprawling mass tourism. Preserving and celebrating the island's natural beauty, today's visitors bask in year round sun and ethereal volcanic vistas – not a concrete jungle of high-rise hotels.
His influence can be found in nearly all of the island's most spectacular sightseeing spots, starting with his house – Taro de Tahiche – now the home of the César Manrique Foundation. The story goes like this. Hunting through Lanzarote's lava fields, he found a spot where he could quite literally cement his vision for the island from the ground up. Five volcanic bubbles were transformed, tunnelled and turned into rooms.
It was highly progressive at its time. Dark volcanic stone, bright white walls, bold statement décor, even a fig tree turned centrepiece growing up from the floor through an open sky light. Not to mention the sunken garden, complete with climbing cacti and an idyllic pool. It's sure to invoke wide eyed wonder and some serious house-envy.
Once a home, it's now a peaceful preservation of nature, art and architecture entwined – and a homage to the island's national treasure – the man himself. Arguably more valuable even than its coveted art collection (which includes a Picasso, no less), is its role as a defining part of Lanzarote's landscape today.
The ying to Manrique's yang is Lanzarote's volcanic backdrop. 1730 saw one of the longest eruptions ever on record. For six years long lava bubbled and spewed, sending up an ash cloud and snuffing out the sun so worshipped by today's tourists. It's redemption, the Timanfaya National Park. Craggy and arid, scorched soil marbles in tones of black, ochre, copper and back-to-black, covering a quarter of the island in a spellbinding lunar-like landscape.
Although now dormant, you can't miss the distinctive smell of sulphur – or wander where you please. It is a volcano after all! You can however join an organised tour, topped off with a visit to the El Diablo restaurant. This is a barbecue like no other. Think 10 metres down, 300°C and your lunch cooked to a 'T' (bone) by geothermal heat. If the shock of a sudden geyser eruption doesn't have you out of the seat, the views certainly will. You could say it's an attraction of seismic proportions!
If you're a lover of Lanzarote's landscape but need some relief from the rays then splash down in Aqualava Waterpark for a soaking in scenic tribute to the island's volcanic surrounds. The pools are heated through geothermal energy, so you can drift down the lazy 'Magma River' in sustainable style. From white knuckle, white water rides at Timan-Fire to beach-like lounging in the salt water wave pool, there are fun frolics for the tiniest tots to the oldest man-child.
These wrinkled spuds might not look that appetising, but bear with us. Papas arrugadas are served all over the island. Boiled in salt water until it evaporates, they're served up alongside a Canarian sauce called mojo verde – the green, or mojo picon – the spicier red! Bursting with herby, garlicy flavour and a salty-tang, it's a side order that gives the humble potato its 'mojo' back for sure.
You can thank that six year volcanic eruption for Lanzarote's layer of mineral rich and fertile ground, making for great grape growing conditions – if you know how. There are several vineyards to tour and taste in the La Geria region. Visit and see the unique cultivation in action, as individual vines are planted in circular hollows, covered with black volcanic ash. The Malvasía grape is one of the world's oldest and you'll find reds, whites and roses throughout the sweetness scale in the many 'bodegas' or wine shops.
It's not just holidaymakers head over heels with Lanzarote, naturally the locals are proud patriots! That's why Canary Islands Day on the 30th May (celebrating the first sitting of an autonomous Canarian Parliament) is always such a big occasion. You're cordially invited to join the festivities. Flag flying, flower festooned, Canarian costumes and all. With street parties and parades in swing alongside pop up markets to the soundtrack of traditional folk music, what more reason do you need to get that volcanic-made wine flowing?
Blanco by name, blanco by beautiful white sand… This collection of coves cluster together in mass-worship of sublime turquoise waters. Breezier than some but utterly beautiful, pack up a picnic and set off for a day of family fun. With a peppering of dark volcanic stone, Mother Nature has used quite the colour palette here. Like any good parent she's also taken extra care to keep the kids amused. Calm waters and natural rocky tide pools are the perfect place for even the littlest hands and feet to dabble and paddle.
An amateur astronomer's attraction of galactic proportions, count Lanzarote's lucky stars from the viewing point at Peñas del Chache. The easy drive up to the 670m summit of the highest peak isn't quite the interstellar adventure you might expect, but the view from the top is quite literally out of this world! To the north of Haría you leave behind the bright lights of a holiday hub and gaze in awe instead at a starry canopy above. The Milky Way – a hazy band of stars shimmer overhead, punctuated by the most luminent. Antares is part of the Scorpius constellation, but you can also spot Sagittarius in summer skies, perhaps even showering Perseids. So don't forget your binoculars!
Another of famed local architect César Manrique's masterpieces, the Mirador del Rio stands head and shoulders above the rest at the lofty height of 475m. This veritable vantage point is outwardly inconspicuous, clad seamlessly in dark volcanic rock of its surrounds. The interior too shouts César style. Curved white walls are a sculpture in themselves, illuminated by vast circular sky lights and floor-to ceiling picture windows. The most celebrated work of art however belongs to Mother Nature – that irresistible vista where sea meets sky, the only welcome interruption views of the island of La Graciosa.
Ahoy there land lovers! It's time for a lesson on Lanzarote's more heinous history. The Santa Bárbara fortress, once a look out post and protector from pirates, now stands in testimony to this old foe who ravaged the island for centuries, pillaging and slaving as they went. The fortress' dark, grim façade is now filled with fascinating relics, replicas and exhibits to delight and inform all from the smallest buccaneer to the oldest sea dog.
The Cueva de los Verdes have a pirate history of their own, with locals laying low in these ancient cavernous lava tunnels to escape the raids. Now it's your turn to trace the steps of history as you take a tour to the centre of the earth. Watch in wonder as artistic illuminations reveal the grottos in all their glory.
A trip to Teguise is sure to be on your island itinerary. This lovely Lanzarote town was once its capital – inland, strategically protected from plundering pirates! Today a visit on Sunday is anything but a day of rest with its popular, bustling market in full swing from 5pm-10pm. A magnet for musicians, attracting artisans and a home for handicrafters, it tempts tourists looking to bag a bargain with a spot of friendly haggling. Stroll the stalls and stock up on souvenirs – ceramics, leather, jewellery – the works – all amid a living evening ambience.
Not technically Lanzarote we know, but what Canarian quest would be complete without a boat trip over to little sister, La Graciosa. Born of a volcanic eruption and reputed 'Treasure Island' of buccaneer booty, its real prize cache runs from its ocean depths to its craggy peaks, a heaven for hikers, cyclists and divers – or for anyone chasing the desert island dream. This is truly the road less travelled – if it had roads that is, or cars for that matter. What is does have are scattering of secluded golden beaches, a handful of low key hotels and beauty by the bucket load.
Just when you thought you had discovered all of Lanzarote's treasures, you come across this gem. Olivine, otherwise known as peridot, is a glittering green semi-precious stone that scatters the island's volcanic beaches – and it's yours for the finding. One happy hunting ground is the jet black beach of Playa de Janubio with tiny grains and jewel-studded stones aplenty. Even great pieces of black basalt can be cracked open to reveal lustrous lime centres. A proverbial diamond in the rough, let the treasure hunt begin!
The village of El Golfo might otherwise pass unnoticed if it wasn't for its jaw-dropping jade-coloured lake. Its origins couldn't get any more impressive – a semi-submerged volcanic cone retuning to nature – eroded by the sea – with what remains of the crater wall bordering a crescent-shaped luminous lagoon. It owes its oh-so-interesting hue to minerals and micro-organisms. In stark contrast to the olivine-strewn black beach and russet rocks, have your camera at the ready and forget about a filter! It's the perfect place to pause and explore awhile before heading back to El Golfo for a fish dish at one of the reputed restaurants.
Crafted in an old quarry near Guatiza and overlooked by pretty whitewashed windmills, the Jardín de Cactus is home to over 10,000 of these prickly plants. This is certainly no English country garden with its deep charcoal tones and volcanic rock formations. Amphitheatre-like, the spikey species takes centre-stage, with winding pathways giving you front-row views from all vantages. If you think the place has the Manrique mark about it you'd be right. Careful cultivation took place under his watchful eye, with artistic flourishes a celebration of Lanzarote's natural landscape. There's a touch of the Charco de Los Clicos in the spherical pools, don't you think?
If a Timanfaya trip has ignited your adventurous streak, a hike around nearby Montana Cuervo is in order. With less restrictions in place and trail that can be taken even by children, any budding volcanologist will erupt at the chance to hike the path that encircles then enters this volcanic crater. A centre-of-the-earth experience and certainly a core holiday highlight, don't forget to look out for olivine as you go!
Pretty Playa Flamingo is one of the sweetest sandy spots you'll find in Lanzarote. 200m of fine white sand and turquoise Atlantic waves tamed to a gentle lapping by two breakwaters make this is family favourite spot for a day of beach bliss. A nearby palm-strewn promenade of bars and shops, plus loungers, lifeguards and those must-have facilities demanded by civilisation-savvy sun seekers make for a full house in beach bingo.
This 18-holer designed by none other than Ron Kirby is anything but par for the course! Set between Puerto del Carmen and Tias, the deep blue Atlantic and rising volcanos are permanent spectators. Wide fairways and lush greens add fresh new hues to the island's earthy colour palate, respecting the natural undulations and features of the landscape. Come summer sun and winter shine, everyday's a golf day in Lanzarote – a hole in one for lovers of a round or two.
One of Lanzarote's latest tourist treasures, the Atlántico Museum was opened in 2016 beneath the waves off the coast of Playa Blanca. This underwater sculpture spectacle of Jason deCaires Taylor is part museum and part artificial reef – but always a profound social statement. 12 metres down, its exhibits provoke thoughts much deeper. The Raft of Lampedusa is one of the most perturbing and powerful, probing the humanity behind the current refuge crisis. Visitors of the Jardín de Cactus and César super fans should also look out for cement sculptures in abstract human-cacti form – nature and man merging in harmony is a page right out of the Lanzarote legend's book.
It's impossible to exclude this Canarian classic from your island itinerary. Unless you've been taking an incredibly long siesta, you can't have missed the influence famed local architect César Manrique has had on Lanzarote's landscape and its holiday-destination heritage.
Perhaps the most famous site to receive the 'César stamp', Jameos del Agua is the tremendous transformation of a 6km lava tube opened to the sky when the roof collapsed. The result – fabulous open-air volcanic caves! Surrounded with lush, tropical plants, the pièce de résistance is an idyllic pool where it's said only the King of Spain can swim. Keep a look out too for the natural lake. Home to the island's most unlikely inhabitants – the Jameitos – these blind, albino crabs are found only in Lanzarote.
Turn beach-hopper at this splendid sequence of beautiful bays at Lanzarote's southern-most tip. A protected peninsula of paradisiacal golden sands, they're loved by locals and the landscape alike, literally hugged by dark volcanic cliffs that advance to the sea then recede back to reveal the next sandy stretch. And another, and so on, until the turquoise waters lap at several captivating crescents with volcanos rising rusty and bold behind.
Land in Lanzarote during March for a spot of early season sun and watch as the place hots up – Carnival-style! Move over Rio, this month sees fabulously flamboyant processions and parties in all the principle resorts across the island. With feasting and fireworks galore, join the movers and shakers to the island's beat and party like it's 1984.
With over 3,000 properties you can bet we know a thing about pools, but this time you'll be leaving the villa behind and heading off in search of one of Lanzarote's best kept secrets – its natural pools. Swap Atlantic waves for a dip in crystal calm waters as little lagoons form in volcanic crevices and craters. Those at Punta Mujeres on the east coast are a sweet stop off enroute to Jameos del Agua, but for the most delightful dip, Los Charcones near Playa Blanca is the pick of the beauteous bunch.
Being both Duty and VAT free, there's a double whammy of super savings in Lanzarote for shopaholics to snap up. Choose Playa Blanca for your retail fix and you won't even have to swap a day of sun for a spot of indulgence. Choose between the open air Centro Comercial el Pueblo – Las Coloradas and, our favourite, the Marina Rubicon with its lovely promenade. Saunter from shop to shop by the sea, perhaps with a quick bar break to refresh your legs, if not your wallet!
Near El Golfo, the Los Hervideros coastline of course volcanic cliffs riddled with cracks and crevices is a spectacle in itself, but what you're really here to see is its wild water phenomenon. Literally translating as "boiling water", this gives you some inkling of what to expect. What you can't see beneath you is a submerged labyrinth of caves carved from solidified lava by the relentless Atlantic waves. Pummelling with such power, water forces itself into the caverns and is propelled upwards. The result disturbs the surface of sea, which seems to bubble and boil in anger at these restraining rocks. High tide is high time for the show stopper. With the ocean the rougher the better, bubbling turns instead to sprays of waters several metres high, complete with dramatic roar!
Away from the southern tourist trail idles a small north-western fishing village, La Caleta de Famara, with a beach that has become something of a mecca for surfers. All the surf schools on the island know this "European Hawaii" where wind-whipped waves will have you begging for your board. Everyone from beginners to budding pros will swoon over the surf, but even when the tide is low the rewards are high. 5km of golden sand looks out over the island of La Graciosa, with magnificent mountains reflected in shallow pools of standing water – if not the perfect wave, then the ultimate photo op for sure!
An oasis nestling beneath the dark slopes of the Corona Volcano, Haría is a little farming village happily situated in its own little biosphere. "The valley of the thousand palm trees" (although we've never counted) is uncharacteristically lush. None other than César Manrique made his home here, if that hints at the natural wonder of the place. In fact you can visit his old home, now turned into a house museum, and amble through the quaint streets and bright-white cuboid buildings of this traditional and tropical township. Time your visit to a Saturday morning and stop by the stalls of its lovely craft market for a souvenir or several!
You won't hear the Presa del Mala much talked of in Lanzarote tourist chatter. Aside from the fact that few tourists ever reach this region, this dam near the village of Mala has never served its original purpose well, failing to contain anywhere near the capacity of water it should. Since its build it's been little more than an intriguing addition to the landscape. It can't compare to volcanic vistas perhaps, but it's from here that Lanzarote's thrill-seeking, height-hunting abseilers get their concrete kicks! For a burst of adrenaline endorphins and off-radar holiday highlight, gear up, hook up and don't look down!
There's nothing like a holiday expedition for working up an appetite! Fortunately for you then, Lanzarote is gluttonous in its gastronomic goodies. You'll find pulpo a la pancha – grilled octopus that is – garnishing menus from the tiniest tapas bar to the swankiest eatery, and with very good reason. With the Atlantic all around, is it any wonder the 'frutos del mar' are at their best fresh from net to nosh? Forget those times you've suffered cephalopod dissatisfaction; chewy and bland these are not, with a crispy-tinge to the tentacles and lashings of Lanzarote's mojo sauce! Delicioso!
It seems fitting that the last of our '31 things' should end in Lanzarote's heartland with another of its attractions out of the imagination of César Manrique. You can't miss the sculpture that announces your arrival at this house museum. 15m of towering water tanks form a farmer and his diligent donkey, setting the tone for what's a celebration of traditional rural life.
The building itself is a reconstruction of a farm and tells the tale of how farmers managed to adapt to arid extremes. Embrace your inner agriculturalist as you explore, then descend a sweeping staircase to try some irresistible ingredients for yourself in the underground restaurant. Look out for the Manrique 'flourish' before you leave. We'll let you find out for yourselves exactly what that may be…
Villa & Flights
2nd Oct - 10th Oct 2019
2 Adults, 2 Children
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