An island of volcanic rock just 80 miles off the coast of Africa, Lanzarote’s sandy beaches and welcoming resorts make this a perfect getaway for the whole family; while thrill seekers will delight in its alien landscapes, mysterious caves and windswept northern coast.
As the island is relatively small, despite being the third biggest of the Canary Islands, your flight to Lanzarote is unlikely to be followed by a tiring transfer. Popular resorts Playa Blanco and Puerto del Carmen are both within a 30 minute journey from the airport and provide entertainment and relaxation for the whole family. The resorts are host to numerous restaurants and bars, many owned by the large ex-pat community, which offer home comforts for travellers.
With a golden stretch of sand separating the azure sea from the mountains behind, nearby Papagayo beach is a favourite with holiday-makers seeking a warm retreat. After all, the island averages 13 hours of sunshine a day in the summer months with barely a drop of rain to dampen spirits.
Away from the resorts, Lanzarote also offers opportunities for the adventurous to take flight. The coastline on the north-west of the island, such as at Famara, offers excellent hang-gliding, surfing and windsurfing prospects.
The vibe in the north-west is completely different from the resorts in the south, with the historic capital Teguise offering more laid-back pleasures which may be more reminiscent of mainland Spain. White-washed houses give way to tidy courtyards housing tapas bars, as life moves slowly amid animated chatter from the locals.
Many visitors also arrive to see the vineyards, such as the island’s oldest El Grifo, that produce the island’s distinctive sweet desert wines. It may seem surprising to see vineyards amongst the black volcanic earth, but wine has been produced here for over 200 years.
Lanzarote’s unique diversity - the island is recognised as an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve - is best seen in the work of the late environmentalist César Manrique and the sights at the Timanfaya National Park.
Manrique’s life and work is displayed at the César Manrique foundation, only 15 minutes journey from the airport, and shows subterranean retreats, crooked stairways and bubbling lava pools which show how Manrique wanted to ensure that sensible development on the island lived in harmony with its natural environment.
Further west, the Timanfaya National park is host to Lanzarote’s biggest ‘Fire Mountain’ - the active, yet thankfully dormant, Islote de Hilario volcano. Crowds gather at its sweltering peaks every summer therefore, if you can bear the higher temperatures, it is been seen in the afternoon when visitors are fewer.
The centrepiece of the park is a restaurant designed by César Manrique, where your order is grilled using the heat rising up out from the volcano itself while you enjoy the best panoramic views of this eerie and inspiring landscape. Unsurprisingly on an island of this size, the seafood comes highly recommended.
As the temperature on Lanzarote is relatively consistent, with an average high in of 21°C in January and 29°C in July, visitors arrive throughout the year. Many enjoy taking in the traditionally Spanish festival Dia De Los Reyes - day of the Three Wise Men – which celebrates the giving of gifts that many would associate with Santa Claus. A procession is usually held in Arrecife, the island’s capital, on the 5th of January with the Wise Men handing out sweets and gifts to children.
The Nuestra Señora del Carmen festival is celebrated from mid-to-late July, which involves the effigy of Saint Carmen being given a maritime procession, as her floral tribute is taken out to sea by boat. In August the island’s patron Saint San Gines is celebrated in a ten day long festival which involves traditional sports and the electing of this year’s Miss Lanzarote, culminating in a grand fireworks display.
The lure of the island ensures that flights to Lanzarote are worthwhile all year round, whether for an autumn adventure, a winter warmer or summer sunshine break – there’s never a dull time to arrive. Over 2 million people choose to holiday in Lanzarote every year. It’s not hard to see why.
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