Ex­plore LAN­ZAROTE

Year-round sun­shine, golden beaches and de­li­cious food make Lan­zarote ideal for a win­ter hol­i­day break

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WITH its strik­ing black lu­nar-like ter­rain and golden sandy coves, Lan­zarote is a unique des­ti­na­tion of ex­treme, con­trast­ing beauty. Bask­ing in av­er­age tem­per­a­tures of 22°C, this Span­ish is­land is per­fect for a win­ter-sun hop, whether it’s to re­lax on its envy-in­duc­ing beaches, take in its un­ri­valled art and cul­ture, go for a scenic cy­cle ride, or dine in one of its lively towns.

AND RE­LAX…

IT’S not just its year-round balmy tem­per­a­ture that makes Lan­zarote such a draw for a short-haul win­ter break.

The most south­east­erly of the Ca­nary Is­lands is also where you’ll find ex­actly what you’re look­ing for in a hol­i­day – from a lazy es­cape to an ac­tive trip.

This world-fa­mous sport­ing des­ti­na­tion of­fers golf, windsurfin­g, pad­dle­board­ing and div­ing – down to Europe’s first un­der­wa­ter mu­seum, Museo Atlán­tico, near the south coast.

Ex­plore the works of lo­cal artist César Man­rique that are dot­ted across the is­land (in­clud­ing in the oth­er­worldly Ti­man­faya Na­tional Park), en­joy a tour at a vine­yard or buy hand­made keep­sakes at one of its bustling mar­kets.

Hire a bike to pedal one of Lan­zarote’s in­cred­i­ble cy­cle routes. It’s a great way to ex­plore the lush flora and fauna – one of the rea­sons Lan­zarote was de­clared a World Bio­sphere Re­serve by Unesco in 1993. Costa Teguise, Puerto del Car­men and Playa Blanca are con­nected to the cap­i­tal, Ar­recife, via a bike trail, so you can en­joy an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ride along the coast, stop­ping at tra­di­tional restau­rants to sam­ple lo­cal dishes.

These pop­u­lar tourist towns also pro­vide the per­fect lo­ca­tion for a ‘fly and flop’, with plenty of golden- and white-sand beaches (the is­land has more than 100) just a short stroll away, where you can re­lax, cock­tail in hand.

For some­where a lit­tle fur­ther afield, Playas de Pa­pa­gayo is a must. Here, you’ll find five idyl­lic beaches – some of the best in Lan­zarote – with white sand. These se­cluded coves are beau­ti­fully un­spoilt, as they’re pro­tected as a nat­u­ral park. Pack a snorkel to ex­plore the very clear wa­ters.

CAP­I­TAL DE­LIGHTS

RE­LAXED Ar­recife is where you will find busy mar­kets, fas­ci­nat­ing cul­ture, first-class cuisines and more golden-sand beaches.

Early records of the city date from the 15th cen­tury, when it was a small fish­ing vil­lage. To­day, much of this his­tory re­mains. In­side the 16th-cen­tury Castillo de San Gabriel, a fortress built to pro­tect the is­land from pi­rate at­tacks that’s ac­ces­si­ble via a 175m stone bridge, Puente de las Bo­las,

Find a tra­di­tional wine bar serv­ing one of the is­land’s de­li­cious whites, while you nib­ble on ta­pas

is the Mu­seum of His­tory, where you can dis­cover more about tra­di­tional life.

Wan­der around pic­turesque El Charco de San Ginés, a for­mer fish­ing vil­lage set on a quiet la­goon, then en­joy a cof­fee in one of the al­fresco cafés.

Palm tree-lined Playa del Re­ducto is the city’s main beach. With 19°C calm wa­ters, it’s per­fect for a win­ter dip.

The city’s new ma­rina is where you’ll find a very mod­ern vibe, with shops and luxury bou­tiques, busy restau­rants and a cin­ema. At cock­tail hour, head to a stylish lounge over­look­ing the port, or find a tra­di­tional wine bar serv­ing one of the is­land’s de­li­cious whites, while you nib­ble on ta­pas.

In Fe­bru­ary, the lively an­nual car­ni­val, with ex­cit­ing pa­rades, tra­di­tional danc­ing, colour­ful cos­tumes and tra­di­tional food, is a must-see.

MAG­NIF­I­CENT MAN­RIQUE

AR­RECIFE is also the birth­place of Man­rique, the artist whose revered work is cred­ited with trans­form­ing Lan­zarote. His in­flu­ence is ev­i­dent in ev­ery cor­ner, in paint­ings, sculp­tures, street fur­ni­ture, in the houses where he lived and worked – in­clud­ing his open-to-the-public res­i­dence in Tahíche, which has been turned into the César Man­rique Foun­da­tion.

Jameos del Agua, in the north­east, was his first arts cen­tre, which also has an un­der­ground concert hall and restau­rant – all lo­cated in­side a vol­canic tun­nel. It re­ally has to be seen to be be­lieved.

The Mi­rador del Rio is Man­rique’s 400m-high view­ing plat­form – cam­ou­flaged on the rock – that will give you an un­ri­valled 360-de­gree panorama of La Gra­ciosa and the group of islets that are part of the Chinijo Is­lands Na­tional Park. Visit in win­ter to avoid the crowds.

You’ll also find Man­rique’s work in the dra­matic 20sq-mile Ti­man­faya Na­tional Park; the stun­ning moon-like ter­rain is the re­sult of erup­tions that rocked the is­land for six years from 1730. Man­rique created the daz­zling white tourist fa­cil­i­ties and El Di­ablo (the devil) restau­rant, mak­ing it a key tourist at­trac­tion that doesn’t have an im­pact on the area’s nat­u­ral beauty.

Due to the park’s frag­ile land­scape (where NASA as­tro­nauts have trained), you can’t walk around on foot, but the en­try price in­cludes a volcano route tour by bus.

For those feel­ing brave, hop on the back of a camel! Take in the strik­ing views of some of the 25 dor­mant craters ris­ing from the gritty black on the nine-mile trail, then head back to the eatery for fish and meats cooked over 450-500°C of geo­ther­mal heat.

Leisure is­land: (clock­wise, from left) en­joy golden-sand beaches on Lan­zarote such as Playa Do­rada in Playa Blanca; see where lo­cal wines are pro­duced in La Ge­ria; indulge in some al­fresco eat­ing and drink­ing; get into the swing of things at Costa Teguise Golf; ex­plore oth­er­worldly Ti­man­faya Na­tional Park

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