The most eastern of Canary Islands, Lanzarote is located 125 kilometres away from the African coast. Arrecife being its capital, this volcanic island is famous for its natural beauty, with moonlike landscapes on its inner parts and tropical beaches hidden in the coastline. Uniquely cultivated vineyards of Lanzarote are included in Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, while a few endemic species, such as domestic crabs and lizards, call Lanzarote their habitat.
Estimated to be the first of the Canary Islands to be inhabited by humans, Lanzarote was initially populated by the Phoenicians, to later become a settlement of Romans, Arabs, Castilians, Ottomans and the Spanish respectively. However, most sights date back to Castilian times, with other conquerors not leaving much behind.
Although bus routes around Arrecife and the surrounding areas are relatively frequent, when it comes to other parts of the island public transport reduces to rare or none. Taxis are suggested for short distances, but renting a car proves more affordable for longer routes.
Lanzarote’s Natural Beauty
Outdoors enthusiasts will be pleasantly surprised by Lanzarote’s diverse sceneries. Start with Timanfaya National Park, the island’s most martial landscape. The park is not open to individual exploration but a coach trip around the area is included to the entrance fee, while free guided walking tours are also available. For an extra fee visitor are also welcome to see the park through camel rides. Located at Montanas del Fuego (Fire Mountains in English), the current scene was formed by several volcano eruptions during 18th century. Today it features rare plant species and boiling bores, where you can pour water and watch a geyser-like phenomenon.
El Golfo is Lanzarote’s other volcanic site. Half of the volcanic crater destroyed by sea waves, the other half is flooded by sea water, forming a bright green lagoon. The colour of the water is caused by special organisms living in the lagoon, while dark sand separates it from the sea, creating some fascinating scenery.
From volcanic dark scenes to heaven on earth, head to Jameos del Agua on the northern side of the island. A system of roofless caves has been turned into a man-made paradise, with swimming pools, restaurants and gardens perfectly blending in with the natural surroundings. The cave system features an underground lagoon, which is home to an endemic type of albino blind crab.
Actually part of Jameos del Agua, Cave of Los Verdes (Green Cave in English) used to serve as a hideout for the local population, in order to protect themselves from pirates. Beautifully lit, part of the cave is used as a concert hall due to its fantastic acoustics.
Overlooking Arrecife’s port, Castillo de San Jose was constructed in late 18th century in order to defend the port from pirate attacks but never actually became of use. However, due to the financial support it provided to impoverished local workers, it has named Hunger Fort. Today the travellers come here to enjoy nice sea views, visit the on-site Modern Art Gallery or dine at the fort’s restaurant. Anterior to Castillo de San Jose, nearby Castillo de San Gabriel dates back to 16th century and now houses Arrecife’s archaeological museum.
Famous for its vineyards, Lanzarote features its very own Wine Museum. Occupying El Grifo Winery’s former cellars, the museum exhibits tools and other items, which were used in the process of wine making during the previous centuries. Apart from the displays, the building itself is quite interesting, since it was constructed during 18th century from volcanic stone and wood collected from shipwrecks.