Lanzarote is a land of contrast and contradictions. The oldest and easternmost isle of the Canaries has many reasons to stand out. Its otherworldly and alien-like landscape of vast lava plains, startlingly azure waters and other geographical wonders are only the beginning of what this desert island has to offer. The land has a deceptive character, seemingly arid and barren in the wake of thousands of years of volcanic formation and dust from North Africa. Yet, despite a millenium of isolation after the fall of Rome, life thrives in various forms. Believed to be Atlantis by ancient Greek writers and its status as a ‘World Reserve of the Biosphere’ by UNESCO have made it a nature lover’s paradise with its mystical, uncorrupted beauty and biodiversity.
Volcán de la Corona– Obviously, you cannot go to Lanzarote without climbing a volcano. Yes, you heard right. There are around 150 (mostly dormant) volcanoes on the island that are accessible to the public. Tour guides take tourists on majestic and invigorating treks to the edge of their calderas, the most popular being Volcán de la Corona. Prepare yourself for breathtaking views of the coast and the seemingly miniscule towns that are scattered across the island’s desert plains.
Papagayo Beaches– It is Lanzarote’s southern coast that is considered to be the most beautiful and undisturbed place on the island. The secluded beaches of the area known as Papagayo are only accessible by car and hiking, and for good reason. Development and commercialisation of the area would hinder the purity of its quiet atmosphere and stunning views. The blue green waters against striking golden sand is a surprising yet refreshing change from the black volcanic shores of its northern counterparts. North and South poles indeed.
Castillo de San Gabriel– Apart from its natural beauty, the island’s history is a perfect example of how myth and reality combine. While shrouded in mystery, its legendary status amongst the ancient Romans and Greeks made it an irresistible target for resources and colonisation in the 14th to 15th centuries. Its rich history of rediscovery by Mediterranean seafarers, eventual conquest by the Spanish as well as the ongoing speculations of the island’s original inhabitants are shown in the museum of Castillo de San Gabriel, in the heart of Arrecife which overlooks the vastness of the Atlantic with a faint Morocco in the distance.
El Lago Verde– The island’s volcanic nature boasts many wonders to behold such as the otherworldly green lake, El Lago Verde near the town of El Golfo on the west coast. Microorganisms and sulphur have created the lagoon’s stark green colour, making it not only beautiful but extremely toxic to humans. The area is fenced off and to be admired from afar. As disappointing as it sounds, that doesn’t stop you from taking gorgeous pictures of the lake against the contrasting black and red sands of this crater and the motions of the Atlantic Ocean that pound the beach a few yards away.
Cactus gardens– You continue to explore, you will notice that there is no shortage of remarkable natural phenomena as Lanzarote’s plant life has evolved and dramatically adapted to harsh and extreme conditions. Jardin de Cactus and Mirador de Haría have an array of rare species of plants ranging from the alien-like dragon tree to pink and purple cacti.
Food and Drink
La Luna– Tapas culture comes alive as night falls upon the romantic back streets of Arrecife. La Luna (the moon) is a name befitting this intimate, culinary escape where one dines under moonlight and in cool open air. The menu consists of mainly seafood tapas made with a Canarian flare.
Los Cascajos– An all you can eat buffet with a mountain top view. It is a popular stop for those on excursions to the northern parts of the island which strives to give visitors an authentic experience with traditional Canarian cuisine that is reminiscent of a grandmother’s home cooking.
La Lasana– If you’re taking a break from non-stop exploring and activity, there’s nothing better than settling in for the night and having great takeout. La Lasana is worth the mention for its excellent value for money, portion size and, of course, its exquisite Italian cuisine.
The trend in Lanzarote is the rental of guesthouses and private apartments rather than luxurious commercial resorts. The local Santorini-like white and blue houses have received much attention for being eco-friendly and remote. Most of these homes are promoted by Airbnb or Booking.com at affordable rates for as low as £15 a night. The best and affordable private rentals are found near Costa Teguise, Playa Blanca and Puerto del Carmen. There, you will find a combination of relaxation, adventure and comfort with access to main beaches and shops.
Shopping in Lanzarote is a perfect balance between the commercial and independent. Malls, street shops and markets are all found in the island’s resort towns of Arrecife, Playa Honda, Playa Blanca and Teguise where one has access to the top international brands, the products of local businesses as well as quaint cafes for hungry shoppers. It has anything you can possibly need. However, Lanzarote also prides itself on the Sunday and craft markets of Teguise and Costa Teguise where Canarians sell homemade jewelry and other souvenirs. From what are they made? Lava, of course!
Is Lanzarote worth the visit? See the above 😉