Travel – Lanzarote

Lay me in Lanzarote!

OD’d on Gran Can? Adrian Gillan gets sweaty on volcanic Lanzarote, the northernmost Canary!

LanzaroteJameosDelAgua

You’ll soon discover that this seemly barren island idyll off the African coast is, in fact, highly fertile!

TO STAY

  • Arrecife Gran Hotel (Parque Islas Canarias, Arrecife; T: +34 928 800 000; www.arrecifehoteles.com) – by far the tallest building on the island offers staggering views out over the bay, beach and pulsing heart of Lanzarote’s capital, Arrecife. It also boasts one of the world’s great spas (12 euro for hotel guests; only 15 euro for non-guests) – press every button and the whole joint explodes with water – plus classy top-floor Stars Bar and Altamar eatery.

TO SEE & DO

Capital Arrecife boasts a wonderful waterfront, with two little castles and the stunning little El Reducto beach – often far less crowded than those in the island’s three main resorts. Costa Teguise, just north of Arrecife is especially popular with families; Puerto del Carmen, just 15 minutes south of Arrecife by regular bus service, caters more for a younger clubbing “Eng-er-lish” crowd; and Playa Blanca, on Lanzarote’s southernmost tip is arguably the quaintest, classiest option.

Yet, if sun and sand aren’t your every thing, other – equally natural – attractions abound. Seven sites stand out, managed by Lanzarote’s Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism (www.centrosturisticos.com), in no small part preserving and promoting the work of arguably the island’s greatest son: aritst, architect, planner and visionary, César Manrique (1919-1992) who persuaded the powers that be and – most significantly – the local people themselves of his philosophy that man should build low and design aesthetically, so as to maintain an essential harmony with nature. The “seven centres” can be reached independently by hire car, or via regular coach tours from major resorts:

  1. El Mirador del Río – stunning vantage platform in the northernmost part of the island.
  2. La Cueva de los Verdes – cavernous tunnel formed by lava flows that once spewed from La Corona volcano, featuring “jameos” – volcanic caves with collapsed roofs. Amazing concert venue!
  3. Los Jameos del Agua – like La Cueva de los Verdes, located inside the volcanic tunnel created by the eruption of La Corona volcano, but in the section closest to the shore, now largely exposed to the air, and part-flooded into a lake, dotted with tiny white crabs!
  4. Jardín de Cactus – massive manmade crater full of cactuses, amidst an agricultural landscape of tunera plantations dedicated to the cultivation of the natural red dye, cochineal.
  5. Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo – International Museum of Modern Art, situated in the old military fortress of the Castillo de San José in capital Arrecife’s port. Great restaurant too.
  6. Monumento al Campesino – “living museum” complex, showcasing local crafts, foods and wines!
  7. Las Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) – in Timanfaya National Park, amidst a wide area affected by the volcanic eruptions that hit Lanzarote, most recently in 1824, leaving a quarter of the island almost completely buried under a thick layer of lava and ash – the heat from which can still almost instantly ignite straw or boil water and set it shooting high into the air. Excellent Manrique-designed mountain-top restaurant with panoramic views across this well-nigh lunar landscape!

Fuerteventura day-trip – it’s scarce 10 minutes by high-speed ferry (photo ID required), from Playa Blanca on Lanzarote’s southern tip, to the largest Canary, notably its most northern town of Corralejo and the nearby sand dune system, blown over from the Sahara. Free bus to ferry: www.fredolsen.es

TO BOOZE ‘N CRUISE

Bars

  • Black & White (Centro Atlantico, Puerto del Carmen; www.blackandwhitelanzarote.com) – Lanzarote’s only official gay-bar, located in Puerto del Carmen’s sprawling seafront Atlantico Centre. Open 21.30 – 04.00 daily, busiest after midnight, not least the “video room”.
  • Flanagan’s Showbar (Calle Juan Carlos 1-6 Old Town, Puerto del Carmen; T: +34 680 446770; www.flanagans-showbar.com) – not “officially” gay but this drag den is camp as they come!

Cruising

  • Behind and around the Castillo de San Gabriel – on capital Arrecife’s waterfront, after dark!
  • Plus any of Lanzarote’s many nudist beaches – and, frankly, wherever your gaydar twitches!

OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS

  • Low fares airline Monarch offers year-round flights to Lanzarote from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £51.50 one way (£90.99 return). Monarch also offers a unique range of tasty hot and cold meals onboard, with prices from £3. Seats can be pre-booked at £5 per one-way flight to avoid the last-minute free-for-all experienced on some other airlines; or, from only £15, why not try one of their extra-legroom seats which offer up to six inches more space? Regular travellers are rewarded too, with a range of benefits through the airline’s loyalty scheme, Vantage Club. Passengers travelling on scheduled flights can also avoid the queues at the airport by taking advantage of online check-in which is available between seven days and 4½ hours prior to departure. Book at www.flymonarch.com or on T: 0871 225 3884.
  • General info about Lanzarote: www.turismolanzarote.com
  • Gay info about Lanzarote: www.lanzarotegayguide.com
  • General info on Spain: www.spain.info/uk; or request a brochure via 08459 400 180 (24 hrs)
  • Spanish Tourist Office: PO Box 4009, London , W1A 6NB; T: 020 7486 8077; F: 020 7486 8034; E: info.londres@tourspain.es

– ends –

Visuals: Selection of 3x hi rez Lanzarote jpgs attached on accompanying email. Please also kindly include the Monarch image (small) provided, in the ‘Contacts’ section, next to text, since Monarch kindly assisted.

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