There’s a small island on the Atlantic Ocean where you can road trip through Martian landscapes, and watch volcanoes and dried lava meet the sea. Here, the soil is hot and dry, but grapevines still manage to creep out of the volcanic ash, creating extraordinary wine. Lanzarote is much more than the famed strip in Puerto Del Carmen, where fish and chips and plastic souvenirs bear easily-recognisable marks of package holidays. The true spirit of Lanzarote hides in the heat of the volcanic roads, amongst sandy beaches; it’s in the way palm trees sway in the wind, casting shadows on white-washed tavernas by the oceanfront.
Ready to explore 5 Unique Things to do in Lanzarote?
1. Dine at the bottom of a volcano at Jameos del Agua
Ever wondered what it’s like to dine at the bottom of a volcanic crater? You can now find out at Jameos del Agua Restaurant.
Picture a wooden staircase lined with palm trees taking you to the bottom of a volcanic tube, created by the eruption of Volcano de la Corona. There wasn’t much here except for debris and black basalt until Lanzarote’s favourite artist, César Manrique, transformed the space into what it is today. As you walk down the stairs, the restaurant is to your left. Ahead of you, there’s a lava tunnel leading to a natural saltwater lagoon, home to white blind crabs dotting the water, making it look like tiny, fallen stars.
Once you walk out to the other side of the lagoon – the acoustics here are so good it’s often used as a concert hall – you’ll see Jameos del Agua. Sat at the bottom of the crater, surrounded by palm trees, flowers and leafy paths, lies a gorgeously blue pool, contrasting perfectly against the white rock. There are palm trees hanging above, and it almost feels like stumbling upon a mirage in the middle of the desert. Only Spanish royalty are allowed to swim here, but dipping your toes in the iridescent-blue waters is almost just as good!
2. Visit the Cactus Garden (and eat a cactus burger while at it!)
The Cactus Garden was dreamt into life by César Manrique, whose vision was to create unqiue attractions to bring more visitors to the island.
Set amongst volcanic ash monoliths, the garden is home to 450 cactus species, the green of the plants contrasting beautifully against the bare rock. It’s a wonderful place for an afternoon stroll. To escape the heat, head straight to the restaurant where you can have a refreshing sip of cactus juice and bite into a succulent cactus burger!
3. Cycle through Volcanes National Park
Explore Moon-like landscapes where craters cut through the dry soil and rocky outcrops stick out of the black lava. Volcanes National Park, set in Tinajo, is the result of volcanic eruptions between mid 18th and 19th centuries. Marked with lava lakes, volcanic cones and tunnels, coming here feels like travelling through another world.
Hop on board of a mountain bike with Papagayo and experience the stunning sites on one of their excursions.
4. Have your lunch cooked over the volcanic fire
El Diablo is a brilliant combination of wind-swept volcanic landscapes and the creative vision of César Manrique. Sat amongst rusty-red rocks of Timanfaya – The Fire Mountains, the restaurant is set on top of an active volcano, high above the twisty roads. Manrique turned it into a piece of art and used the landscapes as the canvas.
At El Diablo, meat and vegetables are cooked in an open oven using the heat of the volcano. It’s an unforgettable experience, enjoying your meal and the stunning landscapes outside, knowing that right under your feet, ten meters deep, the earth boils at almost 300 degrees.
5. Go volcanic wine tasting
It’s no wonder than an island as extraordinary as Lanzarote helps create equally amazing wine. The volcanic eruptions left a permanent mark on Lanzarote’s terrain and affected all aspects of life on the island, including agriculture. Lanzarote vineyards, speckled around an active volcano, look just as unique as the surrounding terrain, rocky and dry. The volcanic ash acts as a natural fertilizer, and the high heat of the dry soil develops an alluring intensity of the grapes.
“When volcanic eruptions covered Lanzarote’s land in ash and lava, destroying most of the region’s agriculture, wine-growers became inventive. Digging crater-like hollows (called hoyos or gerias) by hand, vintners plant their vines deep into the soil, past the layers of ash. They fence off the sea-facing side with low, semi-circular walls made with lava stone. This protects the vines from winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. Each vine grows on one solitary, dug-out crater, which can be as much as 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep. The array of crescent-shaped stone walls (called zocos) cocooning spots of verdant green offers a patterned visual splendor in an otherwise arid landscape.”
To learn more about Lanzarote wines – and to experience them first hand, head on a wine tasting tour with Wine Tours Lanzarote, the island’s very first tour company of this kind.
Ready to explore Lanzarote? Let me know in the comments which place you’d like to visit the most.
This post was written in collaboration with Jet2, who provide direct flights to Lanzarote from the UK. As always, all opinions are my own.