Canary Islands Guide - Lanzarote Island
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Lanzarote
By Lucy Corne

Of all the islands, Lanzarote is the one whose volcanic past is most evident. In fact it is known as ‘la isla de cien volcanes’ (the island of 100 volcanoes), though in truth there are more like 300 volcanic cones scattered across Lanzarote’s surface. There hasn’t been an eruption here since 1824, but that’s not to say that the volcanoes are extinct. In fact their searing heat can clearly still be felt, as you’ll discover when you visit the highlight of the island, the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya.

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Lanzarote, the mystic island
 

When you first arrive on Lanzarote you might find the charred, arid landscape a little unattractive, but on closer inspection most people agree that it represents a unique and stark beauty. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the beaches here have black sand; in the south you can find white sandy coves that can rival even Fuerteventura’s beaches. Inland is the superlative national park and a striking, often monochrome landscape dotted with works of modern art and uniform whitewashed houses with the signature green paintwork. The colour palate is strictly enforced by the local council, who decreed that all buildings on the island would match in order to add to Lanzarote’s aesthetic appeal. Another region that makes for fabulous photos is the El Grifo vineyard in the south of the island. You wouldn’t expect vines to thrive in such arid conditions, but the porous earth retains a lot of moisture which the low-lying vines soak up each morning. Every vine is protected by a low, crescent-shaped wall, with the green stems providing a delightful contrast with the harsh, black landscape. And the wine is pretty good too!


Arrecife

Arrecife

Arrecife is not the prettiest capital in the archipelago. For some reason it lacks some of the charm found on other islands or indeed in other towns across Lanzarote. Still, it does have its gems if you just know where to look for them. The main shopping street is Calle Leon y Castillo, where you’ll find chain stores and a few handicrafts shops offering typical work from the island. There are also some good restaurants to be found in the compact city centre. The 18th century Castillo de San José was once a lookout for soldiers trying to spot rampaging pirates, but these days holds a rather nice modern art gallery, the Museo del Arte Contemporáneo. The city’s other castle, Castillo de San Gabriel, now houses a small museum detailing what little is known about the island’s aboriginal inhabitants. Away from these 16th and 18th century buildings, one of the focal points of the city is the Charco de San Ginés, an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. It makes for pretty pictures but at present the city authorities aren’t working to turn it into the attraction it could be. At the other end of town is the city’s beach, Playa del Reducto, a stretch of golden sand that’s often quite deserted. Visit Arrecife on August 25th for the Fiesta de San Ginés.

Continue to: Lanzarote, page 2 - Puerto del Carmen and Parque Nacional de Timanfaya

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Canary Island photographs provided by Lucy Corne.
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Links updated December 2011