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