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Sea horizons, spicy lands in colors, mild climate year-round, like all the Canary Islands suggest…but Lanzarote has a million facets. It differs from the other islands in art, because of the valuable connection with the eclectic architect César Manrique, whose masterpieces have blossomed throughout the island creating a living art memory of his own.
Painter, architect and sculptor, Manrique, born in Arrecife in 1919, set out to transform the island into the most beautiful of all the Canarians, creating architectural frames and buildings without defacing the territory but enhancing its characteristics with a continuous dialogue with the environment. His art was born of unceasingly love toward Lanzarote, a dry, rough, volcanic, wild beauty, where light and color arouse an inexplicable attraction. Traditional architecture intertwined with Byzantine features, white walls, green and blue details of the same nuance of the sea.
Everything in Lanzarote, from nature to colors, inspired the genius of César Manriques. The cherry on top is his private home and studio, now a museum: Casa César Manrique enriched with his spirit still present in the original objects he left in the house. The architect decided to build it in the middle of a lava flow, after his return from New York, when he decided to settle permanently in Lanzarote. It’s the place where Manrique spent most of his time, and it stays authentic as a huge property with scenographic pools.
The dialogue between architecture and nature stands out here in a perfect mix. On the lower floor there is a small dance floor where once César held several charming parties and social gatherings, there’s his painting old studio now converted into a showroom for his works and several magnificent gardens with fruit trees and plants that surround the house.
Our tour started in the footsteps of César Manrique: get to know him better and discover all his jewels that conceal and guard priceless charm.
As the island is vast, we recommend renting a car and taking a tour through the uncharted panoramas by splitting the island into different areas, planning your days going up and down between sea and black volcanic views. Officially, the north has more nature, the center is sauvage and mystic and the south is more touristy but embraces the most beautiful beaches.
Atmosphere in the north is breathing with magic and mysterious vibes, beneath the surface of quiet and white-colored cottages that stand out in contrast to the dark green color of the volcanic mountains behind. As an ancient tradition tells, the island invited the inhabitants to plant a palm tree every time a baby was born and again, on a folkloric level, the shape map of the town resembles a witch on horseback, so Haría has been associated with witchcraft several times in the past.
And magic pervades everything, including abandoned houses. In fact, a fascinating project in this sense, is the one related to a completely renovated boutique lodgment, now part of heritage of the north: Las Casas de los Naranjos, a stunning emerald and white hotel immersed in native flora where thirty fruit trees adorn the front of the house and the perfume of orange flowers fills the air. The furnishings here have been restyled in keeping with the era of the two-hundred-year-old house, as have the sunlit patio and rooftop terrace.
To see the best views of the island sitting on the Mirador del Rio and enjoy a Leche Leche coffee while admiring the very nearby islets of the Chinijo archipelago, as well as the boundless seascape in front of your eyes.
To eat in the sun choose Tacande but don’t forget to explore and dine in the Teleclub of Haría for one of the best local-like experiences in Lanzarote! These places are now cultural centers and social hubs that once in the 1960s came into being a crossroads for interesting encounters. Locals would gather to play cards or sit, as if around a fire, to listen to stories on television, the modern invention of the time!
Continuing along the coast you can feel the sparkling vibe to be merged in Cueva de los Verdes and the caves and lava tunnels of Jameos del Agua, another wonderful creation by our beloved César Manrique. Home and refuge to a particular species of lobster, " jameos" are underground craters formed when parts of a volcano collapses. Manrique chose to transform them into cultural places to contemplate such a curious natural attraction. The idea completely reflects one of his pillars of creativity: harmony between nature and art.
By now, pleasantly mesmerized, we move on to Punta Mujeres, particularly popular for its natural pools, village houses and restaurants between water and vegetation and we merge into the sea for a relaxing bath with a gentle breeze in the hair. Then find a great place to eat like "La Piscina" Bar to taste the Canarian food by the pools, while enjoying a grilled octopus served with the traditional "papas arrugadas" (wrinkled potatoes) and spicy sauce "mojo picón".
After lunch, love to lose to wild flora and succulent plants, venture forth in the Jardins de Cactus, a jungle of thousands of species of cacti and botanical gardens, once again created by Manrique in 1991.
Another architect name should be mentioned as entering the Lagomar Museum in the small village of Nazaret. Lagomar owes its name and fame to actor Omar Sharif, who bought the house but lost it shortly after a card game. From 1989 the villa is a cultural hub, envisioned by architect Dominik von Boettinger, who transformed it also into a gourmet restaurant and museum . Here you can taste a drink at the Disco Bar La Cueva.
Going back to the coast, the best destination is Playa de Famara, one of the best surf paradises thanks to the strong wind that hits the beach and the fishing villages. In town, have great food at La Mar Café Famara, a restaurant with a cozy, friendly and intimate atmosphere, chilled vibes, beers and young crowd, or at El Risco, where to taste paellas and other traditional dishes such as the fried moray eel with grilled squid. This restaurant occupies the house and terraces designed and decorated by César Manrique for his brother.
Alternatively, still owned by El Risco, but with a different view on the island, go to Dunas De Famara, a newer version of the same restaurant but in a bit more modern place.
But one of the most charming spots in Lanzarote is the beach of Caleton Blanco, all protected by horseshoe-shaped rocks where you can shelter from the wind, perfect for those who have kids but be equipped! Small pools of lukewarm water are created, warming in the sun, and children can play in the white sand, like in natural fences.
Last but not least, from here it is possible to reach Arrieta and Orzola, a tiny fishing port from which it is possible to embark on an excursion to La Graciosa island. In Arrieta the recommendation is to eat seafood at the informal restaurant Casa de la Playa which offers amazing fish dishes right by the sea in the shade of a blue-and-white striped marquee. The grilled octopus is excellent.
Located on the central east coast it is possible to pass through the Teguise coast, have a bite by the sea at Casa Tomas, a typical spot for traditional spanish food, or at SeBe restaurant, specialized in recipes of rice and seafood and where the chef declared a very clever statement: in Lanzarote the nose is the volcano, the taste is the sea.
Not far from Teguise, in Teseguite, find Eguzkine, a pottery shop and atelier with table accessories and vases in every color and shape imaginable.
Back on the west coast of the island, definitely less touristy visit Tinajo, most famous for one of the local festivals held in September that celebrates harvesting. During the festivity all residents walk from all parts of the island to the Ermita of Los Dolores to give thanks to a particular image of Virgin Mary. This walk-pilgrimage lasts only one day but celebrations are carried on for a couple of weeks as well from the little town of La Santa. Here you can have lunch at Alma Tapas y + to taste tapas and more as the name declares, based on a market reinvented dishes or at Restaurant Salmarina, romantic destination with a typical cuisine.
For a melancholic spot in the wild, go to the village of fishermen of Tenesar. This gem is not at all touristy, an immaculate and remote corner of Lanzarote, where rocks, dust and silence reign. Its outline is set among the brown rocks that are constantly kissed by the ocean waves.
And to add some more poetry and culture, Manriques always offers the solution. Meet his genius again at the César Manrique Foundation, in the house known as Taro de Tahíche. This building, built on top of five volcanic bubbles, is an example of the artist's typical architecture. The museum is a must to learn as much about his representative works and to understand how the architect transformed Lanzarote, mixing art with nature and respecting the island's landscape and traditions.
And now ode to the god Bacchus! Fields covered with microscopic pieces of shells, San Bartolomé is the destination to visit if you are a wine lover, because of its "bodegas," located mainly along the road that leads to the Monument to the Campesino and the black earth of La Geria.
Lanzarote's wine route runs through the scenic LZ trail, where farmers cultivate vineyards on the fertile volcanic soil. On either side of the road are numerous tracks and paths leading to the vineyards. Stop at El Chupadero, a restaurant with a beautiful veranda at the back of the winery to enjoy tapas, at El Grifo, the oldest winery in the Canary Islands to taste typical malvasia grapes or do some shopping at the museum of Lanzarote viticulture.
In this area you can rest and sleep at Caserio de Mozaga, a traditional rural house with a beautiful landscape and historical heritage of Lanzarote, at Joya del Jable, a charming sustainable Canarian home located in the middle of a biosphere reserve or at the b&b Buenavista Lanzarote surrounded by vineyards and always enriched with sunlight.
Dreamy escape for the night: the boutique Hotel & Restaurant of Palacio Ico. The patio is simply delicious and romantic, taking you back to ancient times, an authentic example of Canarian architecture, which César Manrique included in his tips for the island in his travel guide for future generations.
A real hidden gem is Casa Noss, an open-air house-museum by a German artist that looks like an abandoned house but is actually a work of art that invites the curious to step through the door, ajar by a chain. Phantasmagorical presences are perceived through the sound of the wind mixed with the creaking of the parquet floor. The house is left like this on purpose, emanating vibes of intrusion and mystery.
Going deep in the heart of the island is for adventurers who love trekking where Vulcano El Cuervo is waiting for the most courageous.
The main attractions of Tías are the noisy lively Puerto del Carmen and the exclusive area of Puerto Calero, in the south-east, offering a range of stores, sport centers, harbor, fishmongers and excellent restaurants, such as Coentro one of the most popular addresses for foodies who love fusion dishes, here all created by the expertise of a Brazilian-born chef Joao Faraco.
For real literary connoisseurs you must move away from the coastline and take a look inside the ancient Casa Saramago, a house museum made of books that served as a refuge, inspiration and peace for the Nobel literature prize-winning writer José Saramago in his last 18 years of life.
The majority of Timanfaya National Park is located in the southern part of Lanzarote, certainly one of the most spectacular attractions on the entire island, home to the famous resorts of Parque Natural Los Volcanes, Montañas de Fuego and Islote de Halcones. Salty air, the red sun sinking into the ocean, immerse yourself in the small fishing village of El Golfo, where you can get the best sunsets and visit the Laguna Verde and green lake a volcanic crater filled with very salty water and algae that give a deep green color to the sea.
So that's why the iconic green sign of the Bar Stop de Yaiza is a traditional image of the beautiful southern city with its daily menu of tapas and Canary Island wines. The perfect stop before going to the Playa Blanca and Playa Papagayo, one of the most famous of Lanzarote but still one of the most crowded.
As said, the south, in general, is much more touristy, and maybe it is not your cup of tea. However, if you go to the Playa Papagayo area detour by going to one of the ones next door, which are also beautiful but with fewer people: Playa De Cangrejo, Playa De La Cera, Playa Del Pozo and the fisherman village of Playa Quemada, still unchanged over time, a last taste of authenticity before going back home.
Cute for a quick aperitif inside of a resort, Kamezi Deli & Bistrò is a nice temple of gastronomy to enjoy sophisticated market cuisine based on zero kilometer products sourced from the black lands nearby.
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