Lanzarote is one of those places that’s been on my travel wishlist for a while, but I’ve not quite got round to. I heard it whispered in tones of reverence by schoolfriends as I grew up, with tales of beaches and sunshine and sparkling seas, and later expanded with stories of volcanic landscapes and interesting wine. It even SOUNDS exotic, something to do with the Z in the name perhaps… but what I’m getting at, essentially, is that Lanzarote has captured my imagination – and these are the reasons why:
1. Volcanoes – this is the first thing that I think of (with wonder and excitement that’s been lingering since I was a child) as I imagine the landscape, the beaches, the lunar like terrain that’s ripe for exploration. Around 360 volcanic cones call Lanzarote their home, and consequently the views and the experience are like nothing you’d see anywhere else in the world, with vast black sands framing the peaks and troughs which lead to the focal point of it all – Islote de Hilario. This is one of the most original ‘kipukas’ in the Canary Islands, covered in pyroclasts from the Timanfaya eruption in 1730-36, and boasting many impressive geothermal features including some artificial geysers, steam steak cooking, and spontaneous flames (after a bit of fuel throwing jiggery-pokery) for the delight of tourists. As an active – but sleeping – giant of a volcanic area, also hosting the Atlandtida Tunnel (the longest volcanic tunnel in the world) there are plenty of bizarre and amazing features to inspire all ages. Apparently you can even go on a camel ride around them, too.
2. Warm all year round – I’m a naturally warm person. By which I mean, I like to be warm or else I get very, very grumpy. There are two ways to deal with Winter in my opinion – invest in lots and lots of snuggly blankets, a decent heating system, and ideally, an open fire with marshmallows… OR go somewhere warm and forget that it’s cold back home. Snuggly blankets and fire would have no place in Lanzarote, with an average temperature of 22 degrees. Even in January. SOLD!
3. Beaches – despite the vastly volcanic nature of Lanzarote, and the associated black sands, there are also some beautiful white sandy beaches where the warm weather can be enjoyed with a bit of sunbathing, swimming or snorkelling. The Playa Blanca resort is popular in this respect, with a spectacular coastline but equally spectacular crowds during peak seasons. That’s why some of the smaller beachy areas would be my preference, and there are other less well frequented options close by. Lastly of course there’s Famara, with its sand of a more beige but-still-beautiful colour, impressive pink cliffs and a reputation for watersports including surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Something to keep the kids happy whilst I relax with a good book!
4. Architecture – Lanzarote is lucky to be the home of Cesar Manrique, an artist and architect who recognised the worth of retaining the beauty and culture of the island, supporting the development of planning regulations which have kept new buildings sympathetic to the traditional colours and designs of the area. There are also many examples of his own architectural design to be explored, from the Mirador del Rio which sits atop lava rock and cleverly blends into its surroundings, to the Jameos del Agua, a network of lava caves which house a salt lake, subterranean restaurant, gardens, museum and an emerald green pool. All very unique to Lanzarote, and a definite reason to get on a plane and explore.
5. Vineyards – Back in the 16th century, ‘Canary wine’ from Lanzarote was a royal favourite. And in recent years, Lanzarote has restored it’s past position as a grape destination, with 13 wineries sporting rows of sunken vines in the desolate black soil. Surely a sight to behold? Preferably with a chilled glass of the product they support – a wine with a strong mineral and volcanic flavour. Or so it is said, anyway. I’ll be happy to try it for myself and find out! There are plenty of wine based events to try, and even a ‘wine run’ – a half marathon with a route that winds through each winery, with tastings at each… and for the winner, the grand prize of his or her height in wine.
6. Family friendliness – admittedly, in my younger years, this wasn’t such a priority for me – but then of course I was the young person myself… and had my family decided to take the leap and venture away from the U.K., I would be the child benefiting from the friendliness I have been told of. Now I have three children, a destination with something that interests everyone (see above!) and caters for all ages in a welcoming way gets the massive five star ticks from me. It helps if it’s not too expensive too – and there are some great Lanzarote deals here online that mean family friendly applies in wallet as well as cultural terms.