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Lanzarote: Your Perfect Spanish Break
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Lanzarote: Your Perfect Spanish Break

Why Lanzarote?

If you live in Europe, it is easy to get to for a start. Lanzarote is a tranquil island with a fantastic climate and many things to see and do. You can jump on a plane and be there in about four hours from the UK and back in 3.5 hours as there is usually a tail wind.

Where to stay

Having visited Lanzarote a number of times, I prefer to stay in Playa Blanca to the South of the island, just 45 minutes drive from Arricife airport. It is a newish resort but well established and has everything you will need including a variety of accommodation, good restaurants, marina and a long promenade where you can walk, jog, cycle or simply chill out.

Beaches to visit

The beaches in the main resorts are clean, safe and ideal for families; however, the following are definitely worth an excursion.

If you like sandy beaches, try Papagayo Beach, 3km from Playa Blanca. It is actually six sheltered beaches along a rocky coastline. Papagayo is part of a nature reserve, so there is a small charge per vehicle for access to the reserve and beaches.

I would also recommend taking a drive over to Famara Beach at Caleta de Famara on the North West side of the island where you will find a fine long beach back-dropped by cliffs that seem to rise straight out of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a haven for walkers and for surfers as it is exposed to wind and strong currents, but perhaps not ideal for sunbathers.

Culture

Teguise is the former capital of the island and the main cultural centre. It is one of the oldest towns in the Canary Islands dating back to the 15th century and is a place of historical interest. As many towns and villages on the island it has been lovingly restored and well maintained.

Visit sleepy mountain towns and villages such as Haria, Teguise, Yaiza, and San Bartolome or take in coastal fishing villages such as Orzola and El Golfo. As the island is small, you can see quite a lot by car in a day.

It is impossible to go to Lanzarote and not here the name of César Manrique, who was artist, sculpture and conservationist. His works are found all over the island, at road junctions, in museums and at tourist attractions.

Geography

Lanzarote is located in the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean close to West Africa. Although Spanish, it lies more than 1000km from Spain.

Lanzarote has protected status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which reflects its working balance between man and nature.

Learn about Lanzarote’s volcanic past at Timanfaya National Park and it’s best known volcano Montañas del Fuego (fire mountain). Walk inside the remains of a volcanic crater eroded by weather and ocean at El Golfo. In geological terms, Lanzarote sits on a volcanic hotspot and there are at least 100 volcanoes on the island. The most devastating eruptions happened between 1730 and 1736 destroying many villages including Timanfaya. No lives were lost as the island was successfully evacuated.

History

A French nobleman and explorer, Jean de Béthencourt conquered the island in 1402 on behalf of Spain. Before this, the local inhabitants were known as Gaunches.

It is unclear where the Gaunches first came from, as they were clearly not of Spanish descent. Archaeological remains confirm the Gaunches were a white race, tall, fair-haired and blue-eyed and lived off the land. Owing to their features, it is thought they came from North Africa or even northern Europe. There is evidence to suggest that the Phoenicians settled there as early as 1100 BC.

In the 17th century, Lanzarote was a hiding place for pirates, an opportunity for slave hunters, and a stop–off for explorers waiting for favourable trade winds before heading to the Americas.

Food and drink

Try the speciality Canarian wrinkly potatoes boiled in salted water and served with garlic and herb Mojo sauces – traditionally the potatoes were cooked in seawater. Vegetable and meat stew, usually made with goat’s meat is a favourite dish with locals, and as you would expect on an island surrounded by the ocean, there is an abundance of fresh fish.

Apart from these local dishes, you will find that the food is very similar to that of Spain, with lots of tapas bars and paellas. In addition, there is a very wide selection of cuisines from all over the world to sample in the restaurants.

Lanzarote produces very good wines, which is surprising for countryside partly covered by volcanic rock and ash. Ingeniously, local farmers manage to grow vines through the remains of volcanic debris.

Discover your own Lanzarote

Lanzarote has changed significantly in the last 50 years and tourism is the biggest employer on the island. The climate is fantastic and there is so much to see and do. Unearth Lanzarote for yourself; I am sure you will then want to return.


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