Lanzarote could be considered one of the truly forgotten hidden gems of the Canary Islands, if not Europe. The most eastern of the larger Canary Island’s, Lanzarote is situated approximately 80 miles off the coast of Western Africa and around 620 miles away from the Iberian Peninsula featuring the home country of Spain.
Lanzarote as a holiday destination is very popular particularly at the southern end of the island where the main tourist hotspots are; Playa Blanca on the southwest tip of the island, Puerto del Carmen on the southeast side of the island, Costa Teguise which is just north of the capital of Arrecife.
Lanzarote has had its fair share of bad press through the years, with numerous takes on its name such as “Lanzagrotty” being at the forefront of the abuse that the island has suffered. However, the island not only has reasons to discount this abuse but also to discount the reputation is has acquired. Lanzarote is much more than a holiday resort for people just merely wanting some Sun on their backs. It is a deeply historical and cultural place that has been suppressed in favour of the booze and the party atmosphere.
Lanzarote is not all that it appears to be so read on to find out places to visit that are undoubtedly as beautiful as much as they are mysterious, so let’s begin.
Declared a National park on August 9th 1974, the Timanfaya National Park occupies land amounting to 51 square-kilometres. Situated in the southwest of the island, the entirety of the park consists of volcanic material of which the most recent eruption on the island occurred in the 18th century.
However, there is still volcanic activity occurring in the park and the most popular volcanoes such as La Montana de Fuego and La Caldera del Corazoncillo are quite imposing places to be and a challenge to trek through providing you with alternative stimulation while on holiday.
The Castillo de San Jose is an 18th century fortress that now houses the International Museum of Contemporary Art. Located close to the island’s capital Arrecife, the now art gallery lay abandoned for almost 100 hundred years before a local man convinced the town’s authorities to give him permission to turn the building into what it is today – a contemporary gallery, restaurant and bar.
Cesar Manrique, the local man whose idea it was to turn the fortress into what it is today, contributed the idea of the bar and restaurant while also putting together the contemporary art collection featuring works by Picasso, Tapies, Miro, Mompo, Millares and Manrique himself.
This fortress-come-gallery is well worth a visit if you value art and also a quality and atmospheric place to wine and dine.
Standing atop of Mount Guanapay, the Castillo de Guanapay was considered an impenetrable fortress that fended off numerous pirate attacks, something that all of the Canary Islands were subjected to throughout the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, the building provided a refuge for the locals during these times.
However, this wasn’t the only purpose of the fortress. It also served a rather more sinister purpose as it served as a prison for unwilling criminals. The fortress is more than worth a visit due to the history of the building and also the spectacular views from the parapet.
The Cueva de los Verdes, although not exactly a “hidden gem”, is certainly worth a peak due to its magnificence. It truly is a journey into the bowels of the island, located in the national park of La Corona in the west of the island, the tunnel was formed by the Corona Volcano is one of the largest and extensive tunnel formations in the world.
Interestingly, the caves have and are being used as a concert venue. The acoustics provided allow it to be such a place where one can enjoy the sounds of the music that they’re listening to, as well as providing an unbelievable and spectacular “arena” to listen and enjoy the music in.
The caves have a tremendous history too. They were formed from a prehistoric eruption from Mount Coruna, a now extinct volcano on the island and they also provided shelter during the 17th century for islanders who were avoiding pirate raids.
Cave tours can be arranged and through atmospheric lighting providing a somewhat subtle ambience to the caves, illuminating the incredible lava formations and allowing you to fully explore and gaze at the beauty of the inner sanctum of this natural gem.
Teguise is the historic capital of the island of Lanzarote and is still a mass tourist attraction. So, I suppose you’re wondering why I’m including it on this list? Well, the town has an historical quarter that is quite simply charming. Teguise is situated in the middle of the island around 6 miles from the coast and on an elevated, volcanic plain above sea level.
The centre of the town is where the architecture and the atmosphere get really interesting. With its whitewashed stone houses and detailed architecture, featuring an excellent museum and also some of the most historically important buildings on the island.
The centre of the historic quarter truly is a unique place, with the town being built on volcanic earth; it lends a unique quality to the town. Narrow, cobbled streets lend an atmospheric quality to the place and subsequently make this area a hidden gem for you to discover and cherish.