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Two people are principally responsible for the way Lanzarote looks today – Mother Nature and local hero/environmentalist Cesar Manrique. Both had a hand in several of the island’s major sights. Catch the dramatic glory of the Fire Mountains of Timanfaya, a surreal landscape of petrified lava, volcanic cones and trademark white embellishments by that man Manrique. The same tag team created the fascinating grottoes of the Cuevas de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua, part of a network of underground volcanic tubes.
Take in the minor miracle of the vineyards of La Geria where you can sample the fruity delights of grapes that somehow eke an existence in fields of black ash. For a little more colour, get an eyeful of the glorious golden beaches and turquoise waters of Papagayo in the south. Be wary though, you also might get an eyeful of something you hadn’t bargained for as some of the coves are popular with nudists.
At the other end of the island, the Mirador del Rio (yes, Mr M. designed this too) gives a staggering view over the ocean and neighbouring island of La Graciosa. This eighth island was once a favourite hideout of plundering pirates. Find out more about their Canary Island exploits at the Piracy Museum in Teguise.
Bag your fashion brands like Zara and Mango at the trendy Biosfera Plaza in Puerto Del Carmen. For more local souvenirs pick out some lacework made my Lanzarote nuns at the Sunday market in Teguise old town or other local arts and crafts such as olivestone jewellery at the Saturday artisans market in Haria.
There are plenty of wineries in La Geria where you can try before you buy. You could do a lot worse than picking up a bottle of Bermejo to take home.
Of course, any trip to Lanzarote isn’t complete until you’ve paid reverence to Cesar Manrique. Take away a souvenir homage to the great man from the Casa-Museo del Campesino in Mozaga.
Lanzarote is a cosmopolitan culinary island, evident in the differing tastes on offer. Try the unusual Polish/Irish blend at the harbourfront Bodeco’s or Thai cuisine at Casa Siam, both in Puerto del Carmen. If you fancy a touch of Greek there’s only one place to go, http://www.sebastyans.com in Playa Blanca. Take a stroll along the attractive promenade of Marina Rubicon and you’ll come across a whole plethora of other varied eateries, most with pretty harbour views.
For a plateful of local tastes, the contemporary styled La Tegala in Macher is surely one of the best for Canarian cuisine and tapas. Of similar reputation is Punto Fariones, one of Lanzarote’s most popular high quality seafood restaurants.
Puerto del Carmen is Lanzarote’s party capital and where you’ll find lively fun bars and nightclubs like The Bank, catering for the boogie till breakfast crowd, and Titti Trollop’s Music Hall Tavern, where, if you haven’t guessed from the name, your drink and dinner comes with a comedy drag show.
For another alternative drinking experience, head underground to La Cueva de Lagomar bar and restaurant, located in the grounds of a house that once was owned by Omar Sharif.
If you prefer something a little more laid back and in the open, the bars lining the Marina Rubicon harbor in Playa Blanca will be just up your street. Try Café del Mar for cool cocktails at sunset. In Playa Blanca itself, grab a Guinness at The Irish Anvil or Paddy Macs Irish Pub, or partake in a local tipple at one of the many other beachfront bars.
There are many accommodation options in Lanzarote, it all just depends on how plumped you like your pillow. Live it up at the 5-star Hesperia Lanzarote in Puerto Calero or the Gran Melia Salinas in Costa Teguise. Or for more intimacy opt for a boutique guesthouse such as Finca Malvasia or the fabulous eco resort of Finca Arrieta , complete with luxury yurts and free-roaming livestock.
From old donkey paths to mountain bike trails, Lanzarote is full of walking routes. Although you can’t wander freely around Timanfaya National Park, you can amble amongst the volcanic peaks of La Corona, the beaches of La Graciosa and the ash-black vineyards of La Geria. Several adventure activity companies offer guided treks including Olita andCanary Trekking.
Head to the fishing village of Orzola in the north and catch the ferry to La Graciosa. Formerly a pirate hideaway, this eighth Canary Island is now home to around 600 people scattered between two sandy settlements. As well as sensational walking, the island also has some of the best beaches in the Canaries.
Alternatively, take the 25-minute ferry from Playa Blanca to Fuerteventura to adventure amongst the sand dunes of Corralejo, operated by Fred Olsen.
If the sound of the ocean crashing against the shore isn’t enough for you, there are several alternative soundtracks available. Grunge-sters and metal heads might like to check out the live rock at Harley’s Powerhouse Rock Bar in Playa Blanca. Jazz aficionados would prefer the live offerings of Jazz… mi madre! In Costa Teguise. For some underground sounds, keep an eye on the Lanzarote culture and concert schedule for the cave concerts in the Cueva de Los Verdes.
Swimming in areas unmanned by a lifeguard, or near beaches flying a red flag. The currents in Lanzarote can be surprisingly strong.