1. Discover a legend
Volcanoes may have created Lanzarote, but César Manrique shaped it. This Arrecife-born architect, sculptor, designer and all-round local good guy sculpted lava flows and volcanic caves into public gardens and adorned roundabouts with wind chimes. Most importantly, he ruled out advertising hoardings and high-rise buildings across the island.
See his beautifully unique studio-home, crafted from five volcanic bubbles, at the Fundación César Manrique first. And you’ll soon be spotting his influence pretty much everywhere else.
2. Stand atop a volcano
Enter the “mountains of fire” (Montañas del Fuego) and find yourself adrift in a sea of lava, stretching to the horizon and up to decapitated mountain peaks. This is Timanfaya national park, scene of one of the worst volcanic eruptions in the history of man and today a testament to the power of nature over us. Timanfaya was a village, now submerged in lava.
After the obligatory bus tour, refuel with local fish grilled on a barbecue powered by the earth’s heat at Restaurante El Diablo, sculpted from the lava by, you’ve guessed it, Manrique.
3. Taste the difference
Not much of Lanzarote’s high-quality wine makes it off the island, so you’ll likely have to visit to taste this unique volcanic tipple. Call in to one of the cluster of bodegas in La Geria to see the hardy vines growing inside handmade crescents of black lava stone. After that, pick your favourite from the delicious dry white and natural semi-sweets produced here. La Geria is frequented by bus groups, so we recommend the more chilled out Los Bermejos (and their surprisingly excellent oak-aged reds).
4. Escape to treasure island
Before tourism shuffled in, the Canaries all looked like Isla Graciosa, an unspoiled hulk of volcanic rock with just two tiny villages of white cottages clinging to its slopes.
Take the (at times rather boisterous) crossing from Orzola through the Atlantic swell to land at Caleta de Sebo. Pick up bikes here and peddle north along sandy streets for Montaña Bermeja, where a steep path climbs up the volcanic cone, to yield all-encompassing views across the island and down to some of the most idyllic white-sand beaches you’ll ever see. Catch the first boat of the day (usually 8am) to beat the crowds.
5. Enter another world
Manrique saved Lanzarote from the worst ravages of concrete tourism. But perhaps his finest hour was saving the Jameos del Agua, a series of gaping holes in the lava blanket once used as a fishermen’s dumping ground.
Manrique turned them into something spectacular. Now you can descend through lava tubes to find a subtropical garden leading on to a saltwater lake inhabited by hundreds of miniscule albino crabs. Concerts – usually local folk music – are held here regularly so check what’s on.
Lanzarote tops our list of 10 low cost summer holiday ideas for 2019.
6. Get sand in your toes
Beaches aplenty encircle Lanzarote. But to those in the know, there is only one: Papagayos. Here you can sunbathe in a nature reserve, reclining on a crescent of buttery sands framed by undulating volcanic hills, before taking a dip in water calm enough for even the littlest of visitors.
Pack a picnic or nab a table at Casa Angelina for locally caught clams, prawns and octopus, overlooking the postcard-perfect turquoise waters and Fuerteventura beyond.
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7. Promenade through town
Take a late morning stroll with the locals through Arrecife and you’ll see Canarian streetlife at its best. Here, in Lanzarote’s capital, stylish locals promenade along one of the most picturesque waterfronts in the Canaries, designed, of course, by local man Manrique. Walk along to El Charco, a natural lagoon that has been recently cleaned up and is now all bobbing fishing boats and sugar-cube fishermen’s cottages.Find a Hotel in Lanzarote
8. Ride the waves
The Hawaii of Europe?
That’s what the surfers and windsurfers who fling themselves daily into the island’s Atlantic swell call Lanzarote, claiming it has the best waves this side of America. Dive in with ex-World Champion Antxon Otaegui to learn how to ride the waves on a windsurf. Or take a surf lesson with Surf School Lanzarote at Playa de Famara, the best beach on the island for beginners.
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*Updated December 2018. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.