Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the Canary Islands. The Spanish owned archipelago located around 100 miles off the coast of West Africa. Enjoying a semi tropical climate that is characterised by very low rainfall and temperatures that average 22 Celsius; even during the depths of December
As a result the island is popular as both a winter and summer sun destination and welcomes around 1.5 million tourists very year. The majority of them from the UK, Eire and Germany.
The island first came under Spanish rule in the early 1400´s when it was conquered by a Norman nobleman called Jean de Bethencourt. Who successfully subdued the native Guanche inhabitants before going on to conquer the other six Canary Islands.
During the 16th and 17th centuries Lanzarote became an important trading post between the New World and The Old. Providing a refuelling post for the Spanish galleons that traversed the Atlantic at that time, laden with Inca silver and African slaves. A lucrative trade that attracted the attentions of famous British privateers such as Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake (both to this day regarded as little better than pirates in Spain).
The island was rocked by a series of massive volcanic eruptions during the 1730´s; and again in 1824. Events that totally transformed much of Lanzatote´s interior. Wiping out farms and villages and replacing them with lava fields and burnt out volcanoes.
Today this entire region, known as the Moñtanas del Fuego, or Fire Mountains, has become Lanzarote´s most popular tourist attraction. The surreal scenery here really is out of this world and is often likened to the surface of the moon. With lava fields occupying an area of around 200km square; punctuated by the peaks of around 300 now dormant volcanoes.
Indeed the scenery here is so dramatic that it has been used as backdrop by numerous film makers. Just last year Pedro Almódovar released his latest film, Broken Embraces. Which stars Penelope Cruz and which was shot on location around the island. Whilst science fiction classics such as One Million Years BC and Journey To the Centre of the Earth were also filmed at The Fire Mountains.
Tourism is concentrated in the three main resorts of Playa Blanca, Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise. This is where visitors will also find the bulk of the best Lanzarote villas and hotels and apartments for rent. Rural tourism is also growing in popularity as more and more visitors seek to connect with the 'real Lanzarote.
As well as the volcanic region and 90 plus breathtaking beaches Lanzarote is also home to the many creations of the locally born artist, César Manrique. Who not only campaigned for the controlled development of tourism on the island but also created ecologically friendly attractions that work with the volcanic terrain. Such as the Jameos del Agua, Mirador del Rio and Jardin de Cactus.
Manrique´s work and Lanzarote´s delicate volcanic terrain was placed under UNSECO protection in 1994. The first island in the world to enjoy such status. You can explore this volcanic scenery in the Timanfaya National Park whose entrance is near to the village of Yaiza.
Map of Lanzarote and places to visit
Lanzarote places to visit
See more places nearby in the Canary Islands guide