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Lanzarote has begun to grow out of its package holiday persona and slip into something more comfortably suited to its many natural charms - almost all of which were born out of a set of devastating volcanic eruptions that changed the island forever. In fact of all of the islands of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is perhaps the most intriguing. It is filled with plantations, stunning lengths of coastline, wild national parks, vast volcanic craters and blackened lava fields that contrast beautifully with lushly carpeted valleys, which are themselves topped with thickets of palm trees and centuries-old grapevines.
The highlights of Lanzarote are almost all naturally occurring and one way or another related to the island’s volcanic past - though many have been further developed by César Manrique - an artist native to the island. To get the best insights into Lanzarote’s volcanic charms, we suggest a visit to the Timanfaya National Park, whose mountainous and rocky landscape comes to a point at the Islote de Hilario volcano, where at the summit you’ll find not only glorious sweeping vistas of the island but also a restaurant designed by César Manrique, which relies on the heat rising from the volcano to do the cooking on a grill made from 9 layers of volcanic rock. To see some more of César Manrique’s ingenuity, take a trip into the caves of Jameos del Agua, which are a series of magical lava caves, which are home to a salt lake, a restaurant, pretty gardens, a museum and an excellent auditorium.
Urban explorers should travel to Teguise - Lanzarote’s historic 15th century capital. Once there you’ll find two antique convents as well as a small selection of colonial mansions that flank picturesque cobbled streets, all of which seem to lead to the Plaza de San Miguel which is home to a wonderful Sunday market. Lanzarote’s prettiest port is undoubtedly Arrecife, which along with some nice beaches and a stylish Mediterranean-style promenade, has an enchanting lagoon, a lively marina and a maze-like old town that’s filled with rowdy bars and traditional, if not romantic restaurants.
The collection of beaches along the southern coast that make up the Playa de Papagayo are some of the island’s best, with curved golden coves that are separated by tall crags of volcanic rock and tranquil waters that are perfect for snorkelling. At the other end of the island you’ll find the long and sumptuously curved bay of Famara which is a vast expanse of sand and water that is perfect for long days spent under the sun as well as more active days in the water surfing and kiteboarding. If you’d prefer something a little more remote and off the beaten path then we suggest the Playa de las Conchas, which you’ll find nestled on the far side of La Graciosa islet just off Lanzarote’s north coast. The beach here is stunning, unspoiled and blessed with the finest of golden sands that blend into deep swells of the dreamiest, glistening turquoise sea.