Lanzarote four ways
A favourite holiday destination for sun-starved Europeans, this Canary Island ticks all the boxes for a relaxing holiday.
Besides offering beautiful beaches, harmonious architecture, and rugged volcanic landscapes, the main tourist hubs – Costa Teguise, Puerto del Carmen, and Playa Blanca – offer services including seafood restaurants, deep sea fishing, and even a Wild West theme park for kids. But by far the best way to truly appreciate Lanzarote is to rent a car and hit the winding roads for a day or two of island exploration.
Road trip highlights include the remote Papagayo beaches in the south, the pockmarked hills of the La Geria wine growing area, the volcanic landscapes of Timanfaya National Park inland, and the unique architectural creations of César Manrique in the north.
1. Papagayo Beach
Playa Papagayo must be Lanzarote’s prettiest beach: a round bay protected by steep cliffs, with turquoise water, and a small café overlooking golden sands. The place is not exactly hidden, but so remote that you need a car to visit. Just drive a few kilometres along a very bumpy road until you reach the south corner of the island.
2. Timanfaya National Park
Timanfaya National Park is a breath-taking natural wonder. Even though it was almost 200 years since the last volcanic eruption, the 50-kilometre park is a vast expanse of petrified lava flows and sharp dark rocks, with only a handful of hardy bushes adding colour to the otherworldly landscape.
The surreal feeling grows stronger during a 30-minute drive in a tourist bus – an experience that feels like a cross between sitting inside a Mars rover and riding a roller coaster.
3. César Manrique
Artist César Manrique (1919–1992) is the creative mastermind behind Lanzarote’s harmonious architecture. There are no high-rise hotels and practically all houses have a traditional exterior of whitewashed walls and dark lava stones. Lanzarote’s main tourist attractions include Manrique’s more artsy creations such as Jardín de Cactus, a garden with more than 1,100 different varieties of cactus, and Jameos del Aqua, a huge concert venue built inside a cave. Another must-see is Mirador del Río, a panoramic restaurant carved inside a hillside. The bird’s-eye view over neighbouring La Graciosa Island is spectacular.
Text and photos Ville Palonen