Planning a holiday to Lanzarote? Take a look at our top ten things to do while you’re here…
1. Timanfaya National Park
This national park’s landscape looks like something you’d expect to find Dr Who stumbling about on. It’s dusty, bleak and covered with volcanic ridges and rocks. But this isn’t the setting of a BBC sci-fi programme. It’s what was left behind after the Montañas del Fuego – a group of more than 100 volcanoes – let rip in the 1730s. It’s also Lanzarote’s number one attraction.
2. Cesar Manrique Foundation
Lanzarote’s famous artist, Cesar Manrique, was a man who led by example. He didn’t just lobby for strict planning rules in Lanzarote, but he built his house following his guidelines, too. His home is now a museum run by the Cesar Manrique Foundation. From the front, it looks like any other whitewashed Canarian house, but step inside, and you’ll find futuristic rooms tucked into volcanic caves
3. Rancho Texas Park
Dig out your cowboy hat for a day out at Lanzarote’s biggest theme park, Rancho Texas Park. The whole place is themed around the Wild West, and activities like pony rides, canoeing and panning for gold are some of the big draws. Plus, you can see tigers, snakes and giant tortoises in the Animal Magic zoo. The fun continues at night with a barbecue, line dancing and cowboy show.
4. Los Jameos del Agua
Why build a concert hall when you can convert an underground grotto instead? At least that’s what Manrique thought when he came up with the idea for Los Jameos del Agua. The end result is a couple of volcanic caverns that have been turned into a 600-seat auditorium, plus a restaurant and bar. To check out the acoustics, stop by during the Festival of Visual Music of Lanzarote.
5. Mirador del Rio
What do you do with a one-time fort that once held a battery of cannons? Well, if you’re Cesar Manrique, you make the most of its clifftop position and turn it into a flashy bar and café. But it’s not just quirky architecture that has people visiting the Mirador del Rio. You get first-class views of El Risco beach and the salt plains, too.
6. Castillo de San Jose & International Museum of Contemporary Art
Back in the 18th century, pirates were a real headache for Lanzarote’s locals. To protect their treasures from swashbuckling thieves, King Carlos II ordered the Castillo de San Jose to be built. Centuries later the fort had started to crumble, so Manrique stepped in for a Grand re-Design. Now, it’s an art gallery with an impressive collection of abstract works by artists like Picasso.
7. Jardin de Cactus
You can’t miss the entrance to the Jardin de Cactus. It’s guarded by an eight-metre-tall metal cactus. The gardens themselves were the brainchild of Cesar Manrique, who wanted to give the former quarry in Guatiza a new lease of life. Altogether, more than 10,000 cacti from the Canary Islands, America and Madagascar fill the landscaped hillside terraces.
Forget wetting the baby’s head. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, Haria’s newborns were celebrated with the planting of a palm tree. Now there are so many, Haria’s been dubbed ‘the village of a thousand palms’. Trees aside, stop by and explore the quaint streets lined with whitewashed houses, visit the Saturday craft market, and leave a flower on Cesar Manrique’s grave. It’s in the town’s cemetery.
9. Las Cuevas de los Verdes
Hundreds of years ago this place was such a nifty hideout from pirates, one of its tunnels earned the nickname ‘The Refuge’. These days, though, it’s not terrified locals that head into the network of caves and tunnels, it’s curious tourists instead. The real highlight, though, is an underground lake. Stand on its edge, look down, and the reflection of the roof will leave you feeling like you’re gazing into an abyss.
It’s easy to nip across to Fuerteventura from Lanzarote. The islands are neighbours, and it only takes 30 minutes on the ferry to reach Fuerteventura’s biggest beach resort, Corralejo. There are bars and restaurants all the way along its waterfront. The star attraction, though, lies just south of here. Parque Natural de las Dunas is a gigantic beach measuring ten miles long by three wide.