View to Los Lobos and Lanzarote

View to Los Lobos and Lanzarote (Photo credit: palestrina55)

Lanzarote is a hot favourite with sun starved tourists from northern European nations such as the UK, Eire and Germany.  Especially during the winter months – as this small Canary Island is in fact the closest sunshine destination for British based holidaymakers at that time of year, with flights taking just four hours from all main airports.

Like the other six Canary Islands, Lanzarote is owned by Spain and is part of the EU, so it also feels pretty familiar to anyone who has explored the Spanish mainland, with similar customs and cuisine.

However the scenery here is markedly different, forged in fire as a result of massive volcanic activity which has left large swathes of the island looking like something out of a science fiction film.

Timanfaya National Park


Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Timanfaya National Park, a region which is also known locally as the Fire Mountains.  Timanfaya lies at the epicentre of a six year long eruption that rocked Lanzarote to its core during the 1730´s – an event that created a lava carpeted wilderness, covering about one quarter of the island, that is both eerie and surreal.

Tourists can explore this volcanic wasteland on guided coach tours before visiting the El Diablo Restaurant, one of the many unique creations of the famous local artist César Manrique, where chicken and fish is cooked on massive grills by geo thermal heat emanating from a now dormant volcano below.

Jameos del Agua


Manrique had a massive impact on his birthplace, campaigning against over development whilst also creating ecologically friendly attractions that work in harmony with Lanzarote´s volcanic terrain.

The Jameos del Agua is arguably the greatest manifestation of this philosophy, as here he transformed part of an enormous lava tunnel some 6km long into a multi faceted events and performance space, featuring a concert auditorium, underground lagoon and beautifully planted tropical gardens.  This really helped to put Lanzarote on the map in the late 1960´s – winning publicity for the island in magazines and newspapers around the world and attracting VIP visitors such as Hollywood legend Rita Heyworth and actors such as Peter Sellers and Omar Sharif.

LagOmar


The Jameos del Agua also provided the inspiration for Omar Sharif´s very own residence on Lanzarote, called LagOmar (Omar´s Lake), which was built into the side of a mountain and former quarry in the small village of Oasis de Nazaret in the centre of the island.

The actors didn’t get much time to enjoy his new holiday home however, as shortly after taking possession he lost the property in a high stakes game of bridge, leaving Lanzarote never to return.  Today LagOmar is open to the public as a house museum and restaurant.

The Valley of 1000 Palms


Lanzarote is a dry and arid island.  There are no natural water sources, rainfall is minimal and lava fields predominate, restricting the growth of plants and trees.  So a visit to the north can come as a bit of a shock, as here there is a beautiful green valley packed with Canarian palm trees.

The Valley of 1000 Palms is the legacy of a centuries old tradition in the village of Haria which sits on the valley floor.  As here locals have been planting a palm every for every new born baby for hundreds of years, resulting in this amazing, verdant oasis.

Breathtaking Beaches


Lanzarote

Lanzarote (Photo credit: vertigojff)

Along with its hot, dry climate Lanzarote’s beaches are the key to the islands enduring popularity.  There are around 90 of these to explore and some are real jaw droppers, most notably the huge 7km long beach and bay at Famara and the stretches of bright white sand located close to the village of Orzola and known collectively as the Caletones Blanco.

You´re never more than fifteen minutes from the beach at any point on the island, making Lanzarote an ideal choice for anyone who likes their holidays to feature plenty of sunbathing as well as sightseeing.