As the fourth largest of the Canary Islands, and the closest to Africa, Lanzarote's landscape is by far the most dramatic. Expect miles and miles of lava, interspersed with the odd windmill, small hamlet or world-famous horseshoe-shape windbreaks protecting the vines. Just 37m (60km) long and 12.5m (20km) wide, it's perfectly possible to get to know the whole of this remarkable destination in a week's vacation. The north is more lush and varied both in geology and vegetation, but head south and marvel at the destruction caused by the longest volcanic eruptions ever.
Things to do
While for many Lanzarote's greatest appeal is the promise of year-round sunny skies and gorgeous sandy beaches, forsaking a visit to Timanfaya National Park would be like going to Egypt and not visiting the pyramids. Visit the nature-defying vineyards, trek along camel trails and mountain bike from top to bottom. However, if all you want is sun, sand, sea and more sun, be it secluded little coves or pristine stretches of golden sand, any one of Lanzarote's 99 beaches is bound to suit.
Restaurants and dining
Head to any of the coastal resorts and you'll find a plethora of the ubiquitous British bars, but steer inland and you'll discover a wide selection of restaurants and tapas bars serving Spanish and international food or traditional Canarian cuisine. Expect to find a lot of goat, rabbit and pork on the menu as well as goats' cheese -- a delicious local specialty. When it comes to a tipple, stick to local Dorada and Mahou beers or any one of the many excellent local wines.
Like all the Canary Islands, Lanzarote benefits from a unique duty free tax system, making perfume, alcohol and tobacco temptingly cheap purchases -- a fact not lost on the vast majority of visitors. There is a limited selection of well-known chains such as Zara in the more populated resorts such as Arrecife and Puerto del Carmen, but shops tend to be more boutique style than global brands. Look out for woven hats from Yaiza and Tinajo, lacework made by the island's nuns, or jewellery made from the local olivine stone.
Lanzarote after-dark tends to center around its larger tourist resorts. Puerto del Carmen is the island's party capital and offers the largest concentration of bars and discos along Avenida de las Playas. Nights out in Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca are a quieter affair, but nonetheless offer something for everyone. Head to Arrecife to mix with the locals and learn to salsa, where the emphasis is more on Latin music. Lanzarote may not offer the non-stop party scene of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but whatever music rocks your boat, you're sure to find somewhere to let your hair down.
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