If you like to combine sunbathing with sightseeing then the small Canary Island of Lanzarote is an ideal destination. As the climate here delivers excellent weather all year round, whilst the island is packed with fascinating attractions.
Lanzarote is one of the seven Canary Islands, which are all owned by Spain – despite the fact that they are located much closer to the African coast than the Iberian mainland. Conquistadores subdued the native aboriginal population of these islands during the early 15th century, before using the Canaries as a platform for the creation of empire in Latin America.
As a result the Canaries boast an historic legacy which on Lanzarote is most evident in the former island capital of Teguise, where quiet cobbled streets are lined with impressive mansions and palaces that once belonged to wealthy merchants and military men. Many of whom grew rich on the slave trade and the exports of locally produced staples, such as salt. Some of the buildings in Teguise date back as far as 1455 and a handful, such as the Palacio Spinola, are now open to the public, providing a fascinating insight into the life of a rich nobleman.
Tourism on the island is concentrated in the three main resorts of Costa Teguise, Playa Blanca and Puerto del Carmen. Puerto del Carmen is the main resort and home to the majority of the best hotels and villas in Lanzarote. Many of which are located in the prestigious enclave of Los Mojones, which is located around ten minutes walk away from the main beach at Playa Grande.
Playa Blanca is the second largest resort and is rapidly growing in popularity, thanks to the fact that it boasts some excellent beaches as well as the best microclimate – making it the obvious choice for sun seekers during the winter months.
Playa Blanca is also just a short drive from the island´s most impressive natural wonder – The Timanfaya National Park, which literally burst from the earth during massive volcanic eruptions during the 1730′s. Around a quarter of Lanzarote´s total land mass was covered in a sea of molten lava as the eruptions raged for six years, leaving an eerie legacy of surreal lava fields that have become a major tourist attraction.
Visitors can tour Timanfaya on guided coach tours, before decamping to the El Diablo Restaurant where the food is cooked on giant grills powered by the geothermal heat emanating from below. This unique eatery was designed by the island´s favourite son, César Manrique, who created a total of six Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism around the island that all work in harmony with Lanzarote´s amazing landscapes.