The enduring appeal of Lanzarote may be about lazy winter beach breaks and last-minute flights to the sun for some, but be prepared to explore its vast inner territories and strange black landscape and you may get a few surprises. It certainly has its party resorts and near-constant sunshine, but Lanzarote is also home to a 500-year-old artisan culture, tucked-away rural towns and ancient volcanic vistas.
Lanzarote holidays from Thomson or all-inclusive specialists like First Choice make the island easily accessible. When you do land at the airport in Arrecife, take a detour and head to the central town of Teguise, instead of hitting the beaches of the south coast. This former capital dates back to the 15th century and has much in the way of intriguing colonial history and traditional charm. Come for the huge local market which takes over the town every Sunday. Make time also to visit the old castle, beautiful plazas and palatial architecture.
Still further north, the quiet settlement of Haria is a gem of a discovery, with its Moorish and North African vibe visible in the white dwellings and even in the abundance of palm trees throughout the centre. Like Teguise, Haria has kept its Canarian roots alive and is surrounded by attractive green valleys and farmland which stretch up towards Orzola on the northern tip of the island.
Now as much of a major draw as the coast, there’s nothing secretive about the vast Timanfaya National Park; lava plains stretch as far as you can see, palpable heat rises from the earth and the huge crater of Mount Timanfaya looms against the sky. Lesser known is the nearby wine region of La Geria, where grapevines spring – somewhat unexpectedly – from the slate-coloured ground. Thankfully, the local tipple is definitely worth stopping for.
A trip here wouldn’t be complete without at least one day on the beach, but for more peaceful places to soak up the sun, try the sweeping, often near-deserted bay at Famara. A childhood favourite of artist César Manrique, this is located on the north-western coast of the island.
Alternatively, the black sands of Playa Quemada are a must for first-time visitors and despite its distinction, it’s a lot less crowded than other south-eastern options like Playa Blanca.
It’s easier than you may think to discover hidden gems on Lanzarote; like many of its Canarian neighbours, the island’s natural and cultural heritage has been preserved in its towns and countryside, available for all those who wish to seek it out.