As other Canary Islands, Lanzarote also enjoys a wrong reputation. There are many people who think the archipelago is a mass destination, where the landscape has been disfigured by horrible buildings and coarse concrete flows.
It is not true for 90% for the territory. Lanzarote has various areas along the south coast of the island, where there are many pools, tennis courts and parables to enjoy, but the rest of the island is an extraordinary mosaic of boundless beaches, volcanic landscapes, beautiful caves, characteristic villages. An ideal place where you can rent a car and travel the roads of the island in any season.
Lanzarote is not big – about 800 square kilometers – and you can easily visit it in one day, by car. If you don’t like tourist villages or hotels, you can rent rural houses, b&bs in different villages: a great way to meet the inhabitants, enjoying the calm of the island.
The island takes its name from an Italian man, the explorer Lanzerotto Malocello, who first discovered it in 1312 and occupied it for some time.
You can reach Lanzarote, by buying a ticket from low cost companies (easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling): winter is a perfect season to discover it, because the temperatures are between 14 and 20 degrees.
Here are the best things to do when you go to visit Lanzarote, in order to plan the perfect trip on this amazing Canary island.
The art of César Manrique
César Manrique (1919-1992) is the genius of the island, the one who turned it into a tourist destination without compromising with unbridled construction.
In Lanzarote you will hear a lot about him, because you will find the hand of this multifaceted, eccentric, brilliant artist in every corner of the island.
Do not imagine paintings or sculptures, but extraordinary creations in which Manrique has transformed the landscape without disfiguring it – indeed, he has always given it added value.
The best way to understand what Manrique did for Lanzarote is to go to the Casa Museo César Manrique in Haría and the Fundación Manrique in Taro de Tahíche. You can let yourself be carried away by the many moving objects loved by Manrique, moved by the wind.
Climb the volcano
You can take the road that climbs up to Timanfaya, the volcano also called Islote de Hilario, whose last eruption occurred in 1823. The landscape is Dantesque: red and black, bare, wrinkled, fascinating in its roughness.
Once at the top, there is a restaurant called El Diablo, where meat and fish are cooked through the heat that the volcano releases (300°C): give a look to the opening too, that is similar to a well at the entrance!
And do not miss the magic tricks performed by guides outside the restaurant. Complete the tour with the ride on the park’s minibuses, which lead between the volcanic cones and the volcanic lava flows; and then enter the interpretation center of Mancha Blanca, in order to understand more about the wonders of this national park of Lanzarote.
Explore the caves
In the north side of Lanzarote the landscape is volcanic too. The Monte Corona erupted 5000 years ago, leaving one of the largest lava cave systems in the world.
The first one is Cueva de Los Verdes, where impressive rock formations can be admired; the second one is called Jameos del Agua (jameo is a volcanic tunnel where the vault is partly collapsed), which is one of Manrique’s many masterpieces. Here the artist has transformed a hole in the ground into an exciting attraction.
Mirador del Río
Mirador is a panoramic viewpoint and El Rio, “the river”, is the name of the short strait that divides Lanzarote from the island of Graciosa.
Manrique’s hand arrived here too: he destroyed the artillery station on the rock, for creating a beautiful restaurant, a large room with domes covered by earth and grass, which can be accessed through a meandering tunnel and a spiral staircase.
The most surprising thing of this place is the spectacular view that can be enjoyed both from the windows of the restaurant and terraces: shapes and colors are pure and Graciosa almost seems to float, like a sculpture suspended over the water.
The Vineyards In The Valle De La Gerĺa
Along the road 30, you come across a landscape that leaves you speechless. The black, rocky and rough soil is dotted with stone walls arranged in a horseshoe shape; and a vine grows within each wall.
Ingenious constructions: the screws collect the humidity that is formed with the dew, the walls protect them from the wind and make them shadow, allowing growth when it is impossible in such hostile environment. Lanzarote produces an excellent malvasia and the landscape becomes once again an artwork.
Walking in the Jardín de Cactus
Inside an oval enclosure, Manrique created a garden made up of various stone, narrow and concentric terraces, which sloped downwards like a funnel.
And in these terraces he began to plant hundreds of species of cactus, one of the largest collections in the world: it reached a total amount of over 10 thousand plants for over 1400 species.
There are several beaches that are worth visiting: Papagayo is characterized by a fine and golden sand.
If you think there are too many people there, you can go on foot to Playa de los Pozos, Playa de Muyeres and Playa de Puerto Muelas, a nudist refuge.
Then Playa de Famara, in the north of Lanzarote, is amazing, thanks to its black sand: it is not suitable for bathing, but this beach is the privileged place for windsurfing and for long walks in a beautiful setting.
El Golfo is characterized by amazing and extraordinary colors, especially those of the lagoon, which looks like emerald or agate, depending on the light – minerals and algae create this incredible palette.
You can go down to the beach from the Mirador and then sit at a table in the homonymous village, not far away, renowned for its seafood restaurants. On the way back, do not miss a visit to the Salinas de Janubio.