Destination guide: Lanzarote

How to explore the amazing volcanic landscape of this Canary Island, most recently used as a Dr Who backdrop

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It seems unfair that when location scouts are set the task of finding barren, craggy backdrops to portray hostile environments for scenes of human struggle in TV and film, they head straight for Lanzarote. Just recently, in series 8: 7 of Dr Who, it was used to portray the moon. Yet there’s more to Lanzarote than an alien, arid and pockmarked scene, much more indeed. Bright turquoise waters, creamy white sands, green palm trees and pretty market towns that lurk just over the other side of the island…

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Lanzarote has recently seen a rise in the number of independent travellers coming to the island to explore its nooks and crannies, and this number is expected to Rocket when the BBC’s new sitcom, Woody, airs in 2015.

Outdoor pursuits – surfing, windsurfing, sailing and walking opportunities – are everywhere. There’s been a huge increase in the popularity of cycling on the island too, and with its smooth tarmac roads, cooling year-round winds and dramatic vistas, it’s no wonder. It really is one of the best places in the world to explore on two wheels and pulls in everyone from professional athletes-in-training to the leisure bikers. You can go from volcano crater to sandy beach in just a couple of hours and a few hard pushes on the pedals. Plan your routes around these top sights…

Timanfaya National Park

Covering 50 square metres and with more than 100 volcanoes that rose up in just six years in the 1700s, this is a national park like no other. The volcanic lava formations are still apparent, protected by the island’s year-round mild climate and lack of rainfall. The volcanoes are dormant, but you can cook your food from the heat that rises from vents – up to 400 °C. Take your time ascending the slopes to admire the moon-like terrain, then whizz down the relatively car-free roads in the Fire Mountains. 

Famara

Situated on the north west coast of Lanzarote, Famara, is a beautiful sleepy village with a laid-back vibe. The approach from the east on a bike is spectacular! Whizz down the LZ-402 road through pretty, sandy scrub and watch the hand gliders sail down the hills on your right. Famara boasts a brilliant seafood restaurant, Restaurante Sol, as well as a surf beach, shipwreck, amazing walks along El Risco cliffs and views out to La Graciosa island.


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Los Jameos del Agua

On the north west coast of the island is a cultural centre that is formed around one of the largest volcanic tunnels in the world. There are three openings in the tunnel, and the space is now has an underground restaurant and bar, a large underground lake, an auditorium and an outdoor swimming pool. At night, dinner and jazz is served up to wide-eyed visitors. The 30km coast road that runs from Arrieta to Orzola, bypassing Los Jameos del Agua, is dotted with screen-saver-worthy white sandy beaches and aqua bays.

La Geria

Not far from Timafaya National Park is Lanzarote’s wine region, La Geria. Cycling through this extraordinary landscape will transport you a million miles away from the earth. Single vines are grown in circular stone bunkers that protect them from the Trade Winds. Producers must dig down beneath layers of volcanic ash to plant the vine, and this amazing agricultural feat goes to show just how far man will go to produce wine. 

Wait, there’s more…

Learn to sail

Year-round winds mean you can fill your sails easily, and enjoy anything from half-a-day to a week sailing in the sun. The Puerto Calero Sailing Centre offers tuition in eight-metre racing boats or smaller two-man dinghies. Prices start at £60 for four hours (call +34 644 269 454).

Taste the wine

Learn all about the intriguing process of how to make wine in volcanic ash and taste the result (it’s pretty good), at Bodegas Rubicon winery in Yaiza. 

Take a hike

If your saddle gets too sore, give yourself a break from the bike and explore the highs of Lanzarote by foot. There are beautiful walks, easy-to-follow trails and rewarding views at every turn. You’ll find walking information in local tourist offices and hotel lobbies.

Enjoy the spa

A hard day in the saddle calls for a relaxing time at one of Lanzarote’s many spa centres. Try Hotel Costa Calero Thalasso Spa with large indoor and outdoor seawater pools. Access is part of their all-inclusive accommodation packages.


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Region

Canary Islands, Spain, Europe 

Airport

Lanzarote Airport

TV and films shot here

Dr Who, Clash of The Titans, The Heart of the Sea, One Million Years BC, Broken Embraces, Enemy Mine, Woody

Local food

Fresh seafood like calamari, octopus, tuna and sea bream. Papas arrugadas (homegrown potatoes cooked in seawater) with green mojo (garlic and coriander) and red mojo (garlic, chilli and paprika) sauce. Goat- and sheep-milk cheeses, Homegrown white wine.

Getting there

Radio Times travelled with Jet2holidays who offer specialist leisure cycling breaks to Lanzarote, available from £249 per person for one week. We stayed at Hotel Costa Calero in Puerto Calero

Cycling packages include: flights to Arrecife from six Jet2.com UK airports, including East Midlands Airport; bike carriage up to 30kgs; a hand-picked selection of 4-star hotels with cycling friendly features including direct access to the best routes, secure CCTV storage plus repair, maintenance and bike-cleaning facilities; transfers for cyclists and their bikes; bike hire packages including top-of-the-range brands like Cannondale.

All of our contributors maintain editorial independence at all times and conduct first-hand research.


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Visit the Canaries with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details