Bounded by mountains
Sitting proudly on the eastern tip of Lanzarote, its capital Arrecife is spectacularly bounded by mountains, farmland and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean... a civilised base from which to explore the whole island.
There’s no shortage of places to splash the cash in Lanzarote, with most places boasting an array of shops, boutiques and markets. A good place to start is the Calle Leon Y Castillo in Arrecife, known as the Calle Real to locals. Along with high-street chains such as Vero Moda and Zara, there are cigar emporia galore and a small street market. For an earthier experience, head to the weekly market in sleepy Teguise, where you’ll find everything from handmade lace to African figurines, fake Rolexes and fresh local food.
Food & Drink
From salty papas arrugadas (wrinkled boiled potatoes) to tiny papas crías (wild potatoes), Lanzarote overflows with dishes that make the most of the local staple – the humble spud. Get stuck in at El Diablo (Timanfaya National Park), which opens only for lunch but specialises in traditional fare. Spectacular though the views are, they don’t quite compare to eating supper in a lava tube, which is exactly what you get at Jameos del Agua (Road Orzola). Less striking but just as lovely is El Charcón (Arrieta Wharf), a pretty beachside restaurant that specialises in seafood and sea views.
Expect weeks of dancing, parades and one-off exhibitions and events during the island’s annual party month. Festivities commence in Arrecife, followed by San Bartolomé, Puerto del Carmen, Haría, Playa Blanca, Costa Teguise, Tinajo, Famara and La Graciosa.
One of the toughest physical challenges on the planet, Ironman Lanzarote kicks off with a 3.8km swim off the coast of Playa Grande followed a 180km bike ride round the island before finishing with a marathon along the promenade in Puerto del Carmen. Exhausting but fun.
Head to the church of San Ginés in Arrecife for the highlight: a colourful procession around the church over an elaborate carpet made from coloured salt.
International Jazz Festival
It’s not exclusive to Lanzarote but with some of the world’s top jazz acts making a beeline for the island, it’s well worth a visit. Teguise hosts the main event – a free concert staged in a vast carpa (marquee).
Fiesta of the Virgen de los Dolores
An annual excuse for the islanders to dust off their glad rags and party, the fiesta celebrates Lanzarote’s patron saint, the Virgen de los Dolores. Although there is a religious element, most of the action is focused on eating and drinking as much as possible.
Thanks to strict building regulations, you won’t find any towering blocks on Lanzarote. Instead, everything is low rise and frequently self-catering, although there are some stylish gems in the mix if you know where to look. In the main resort of Playa Blanca, try the luxurious H10 Timanfaya Palace (Calle Gran Canaria 1, Montaña Roja) or the cheaper THB Tropical Island Resort (La Secreta). Away from the tourist hubs, try the wonderful Gran Meliá Salinas (Avenida Islas Canarias), which is sandwiched between two white-sand beaches and perfect for a spot of chilled R&R.