Exploring Lanzarote: the island of wind, magical colours and impressive volcanoes
Oh well, yes - we too are among the Italians who "escaped" to Spain during the pandemic. I won't be dwelling too much on the futile criticisms made to those who, in complete safety and in compliance with all current regulations (molecular Covid test within 72 hours of departure to Spain, molecular/rapid test 48 hours prior returning to Italy, fiduciary isolation of 5 days after returning and further control test at the end of isolation), decided to take a break from the poorly managed Italian situation to go and live a semblance of normality for a few days.
All I'm saying is that in Lanzarote - unlike most of the places in Italy where I've been - the rules are respected, for real. The controls are very strict and the cases (to date) are about 70 active on a total population of 150,000 people.
So, with that said, let's start the post right away with a little sneak-peak on 5 of the places we visited that we think you should definitely not miss:
Punta Mujeres Pools: Punta Mujeres was our base for the first week, in a small fishing village with a small convenience store and just a couple of restaurants. Rock shoes highly recommended
Isla La Graciosa: to be visited by renting a bike (if you don't want to die, take one with pedal assistance!).
Playa de Papagayo: hands down the most beautiful beach on the island, quite sheltered from the wind and with a breathtaking view
Il Charco Verde ("Green Lake"): a true wonder for the eyes, a greenish-colored lake right there, next to the ocean and immersed against a backdrop of sand and lava rock
The Wine Road: in Lanzarote there is a road which goes from Yiaiza to Masdache - called La Geria (LZ-30) - lined with very particular and surprising vineyards, made of holes in the ground shaped as an inverted cone. Stop by for a glass of wine in one of the stores you will meet along the way
Three fun-facts about Lanzarote:
It is full of ladybugs, at least at this time of the year. I heard it was due to last winter's very wet weather, which caused the flowers to bloom, which attracted aphids (flower and plant pests), the ladybugs' main food.
Throughout the island, you cannot flush toilet paper down the toilet, this is because - according to our Airbnb host, it all goes into the ocean
The island is so clean. We literally never saw a paper on the ground the entire vacation. In 1993 UNESCO declared Lanzarote a "Biosphere Reserve", since then the Cabildo of Lanzarote (the government) has been really careful to protect its natural heritage
WHERE WE STAYED
Since we were working remotely, it was essential for us to have a good Wi-Fi connection and a spacious house that would allow us to work in four people, without having too many problems. For ease of movement, we decided to opt for two locations on the island (one for the first and one for the second week) that turned out to be quite strategic: Punta Mujeres (here is the link to the house on Airbnb), for a week more immersed in nature and in a rather isolated and not very touristy place, and Playa Blanca (here is the link to the house on Airbnb), a place instead decidedly more touristy, with more restaurants and stores.
We were very lucky in both houses, really beautiful and in very convenient locations to visit both the north and the south of the island.
NORTH: PUNTA MUJERES, MIRADOR DEL RIO, CUEVA DE LOS VIERDES AND LA GRACIOSA
Punta Mujeres is a small village in the north of Lanzarote, where we didn't encounter any tourists and really got to feel part of the local culture. The people are very kind and welcoming, the atmosphere is relaxed and time seems to pass very slowly. The resort is famous for its natural pools carved out of the ocean, where swimming is a wonderful experience. We dined out a couple of times, always at Restaurante Palenke, great food, super friendly staff and reasonable prices.
Cueva de los Vierdes and Mirador del Rio
From Punta Mujeres it is very easy to reach the Cueva de los Vierdes, an underground structure formed after a volcanic eruption about 5 thousand years ago. The cave is famous for its little "secret". I advise you not to investigate further if you plan to visit it, in order not to ruin the incredible surprise.
A few kilometers from the Cueva, there is another wonderful attraction - whose view will surely leave you open-mouthed. I'm talking about the Mirador del Rio, an architectural creation that rises 479m above sea level from which you can admire the nearby Isola Graciosa and other wonders of Lanzarote. The name comes from the strip of land that separates Lanzarote from Graciosa, called the "Rio", river in Spanish.
In the afternoon we headed towards Famara, a place much renowned for surfing. To be honest, we weren't particularly impressed, probably because of the cloudy weather and strong wind. On the other hand, a place that we really liked was the town of Teguise. If you're passing through, I really recommend stopping to eat / drink something in one of the many places in the old town with tables outside; very evocative indeed.
Isla La Graciosa
La Graciosa Island does deserve a separate paragraph itself. Reachable by ferry only from Orzòla in about 25 minutes (26€ round trip), it represents a small paradise far from the civilization to which we are all accustomed. On the island there are only two inhabited villages, there are no asphalt roads, but only sand roads and the air you breathe is of pure peace. The best way to get around the island is by bike. If you're feeling particularly brave and you're in good physical shape, you can rent a normal mountain bike (10€ for the whole day), but I must say that I struggled a lot on some uphill stretches. If I went back, I would definitely rent a bike with pedal assistance (20 to 30€). Alternatively, there is also the possibility to tour the island by jeep (with driver) - obviously this option leaves less freedom for exploration. The small village of Pedro Barba is definitely the place we liked the most on the island, a village of a few dozen houses, all very low and with very thick white walls; it is about 6km away from Caleta de Sebo (the ferry port). My advice is to stock up on food and (lots of) water as soon as you arrive on the island and before renting the bikes, as the rest of the island is completely deserted.
CENTRE: TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARL, EL GOLFO AND THE WINE ROAD
Timanfaya National Park
As you surely know, the nature of Lanzarote is purely volcanic. A large part of the territory was even formed following the violent eruption of the Timanfaya volcano, between 1730 and 1736 and then again in 1824 (the most recent eruption). Timanfaya National Park, in fact, presents a landscape that would seem almost lunar, where lava and magma have created a real science fiction scenario with bizarre rock formations and layers of earth tinged with wonderful colours - red, orange and yellow. The bus tour takes about an hour.
El Golfo and the Green Lake
Just a few kilometers away from the park, there is El Golfo - a very quaint village, famous for its small quaint houses and its main street full of restaurants where you can eat the catch of the day. Another reason why this small town is famous is the wonderful Charco Verde, a memorable green-colored lake next to the ocean, set among the lava landscape of red and black sand. It's definitely worth a visit and, with the excuse, you can stop for lunch at one of the little restaurants by the sea.
The Wine Road
On your way back from El Golfo you cannot miss the famous wine route. Take the road that goes from Yiaiza to Masdache - called La Geria (LZ-30) and admire the wonderful and amazing landscape of vineyards made from the volcanic soil of the island. We also stopped to drink a glass of excellent wine (at the modest price of 2,90€ per glass, quite different from what we are used to in Milan!) in one of the stores you can find along the road.
SOUTH: PLAYA BLANCA AND PLAYA DE PAPAGAYO
Playa de Papagayo
My favorite beach on the island, hands down. To get there you go through a dirt road a few kilometres long and there is a toll to pay of 3€. Once at the parking lot there is an incredible view of the cliff from above and of the two coves that are respectively on the left and right of the bar (try their Gin Tonic with fresh fruit!). Going down the stairs you arrive in the two small beaches. Crystal clear sea and, thanks to the cliffs that surround the beach, even less wind than other places we visited, much more exposed. If you had to choose just one beach to go to, don't miss this one!
Playa Blanca doesn't really have anything memorable in my humble opinion, it represents the most touristic part of Lanzarote and an excellent base to visit the south of the island.
It has a very nice promenade, full of places to eat and drink. I must say, however, that in the evening there is a beautiful light to take pictures :) and an excellent Indian restaurant, Indian Delights.
A few extra tips
Have a stopover in Gran Canaria: the cheapest airline to fly from Milan is Ryanair - obviously. If you can't find direct flights to Lanzarote, however, take one to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and then move with Air Europa (cost Las Palmas - Lanzarote a/r about 60€). Air Europa is a phenomenal company, very punctual and with great service. Included in the price there are both a hand luggage of 6-8kg and a hold luggage of 23kg.
Rent a car: unfortunately, the island's public transportation doesn't allow you to move around nimbly. After several researches, we discovered that the most advantageous company is Cicar
Onion-dressing (is that even a thing in English? I'm not sure): I sound like my mother in giving you this advice, but the island is one of the windiest (if not the windiest) of the archipelago. Temperatures are always mild (around 20 degrees almost all year round), the wind is sometimes sharp and annoying but when the sun is shining it can get pretty hot
Taste their simil-local-cheesecake: if you get a chance, try the "cheesecake" with local cheese. Super yummy!