“lanzarote es pura magia... misterio. belleza limpia, insolente y desnuda. lección constante.”(*) the quote belongs to césar manrique, the artist who was once ashamed of being a native to this small canary island, ironically became its architect making it almost impossible to drive a few miles without stumbling upon his work. manrique’s commitment to the preservation of the volcanic island against the consequences of mass tourism were in many ways ahead of his time. thanks to him, the interaction between man, art and nature has been exemplary in lanzarote, making this place so distinct from other sun destinations, a place where you will always want to come back.
* “lanzarote is pure magic... mystery. clean, insolent and naked beauty. a constant lesson.”
what I loved the most about casa de las flores was that nothing was overly done. there were beautiful art installations in ever corner, yet it still felt like casa. óscar, the owner and a canarian himself, converted this 18th-century home into a five room hotel but instead of embarking on a full, heartless makeover, he opted to preserve as much as he could. every day, he and wife gigi prepare a delicious homemade breakfast that you can enjoy in the house's little courtyard. they share all their favorite things to do and see in lanzarote with such enthusiasm and generosity that you feel immediately compelled to fall in love with the island. located in a pedestrian area of the island’s former capital teguise, just a few minutes away from many restaurants and local galleries, casa de las flores is an invitation to disconnect from our daily lives and fully embrace lanzarote’s unique aura. the hotel is also environment-friendly, with solar panels installed to provide hot water and energy.
EVERTYTHING CÉSAR MANRIQUE
it’s almost impossible to visit lanzarote without stumbling upon the work of césar manrique and it’s even harder to come with a list of the attractions you must visit. my advice to you would be to visit all of them. start with his former house, now home to the césar manrique foundation, a intricate labyrinth of tunnels and caves, a place where art and nature come together in a unique way, always with a pop of color provided by the furniture pieces you will find along the visit. then proceed to his farm house, in the municipality of haría, where he lived until his death in 1992. perhaps this was my favorite, mostly because I loved the remote location and the perfect symbioses with its surroundings. another top attraction and probably the most visited one is mirador del río. located on the summit of the risco de famara, a 22-kilometer-long mountain range, this view point is the culmination of everything césar manrique stood for, blending art, architecture and nature, with unworldly views over la graciosa and the chinijo archipelago. the most mesmerizing aspect of this building is that it’s virtually unnoticeable from la graciosa.
other incredible testimonies of manrique’s work include jameos del agua, the cactus garden, the diablo restaurant located inside timanfaya national park, langomar museum, cueva de los verdes or the sculpture al campesino, manrique’s tribute to the people of lanzarote. again, visit as many as you possible can.
located in the southern tip of lanzarote, playa de papagayo is the most famous beach on the island and it’s easy to figure out why. what most people don’t realize is that playa de papagayo is actually made of 6 beaches in total, playa de la cera being my favorite. I would recommend visiting this beach in the afternoon so you can extend your visit until the sun goes down and enjoy one of the most magical sunsets in lanzarote. but if you don’t mind going on a little hop on hop off adventure, after you visit mirador del río, start with caletón blanco, a natural swimming pool of crystal clear water, and keep exploring all the other beaches you will find along the road. Just park your rental car - you will need one in lanzarote - and go for a swim.
if you’re staying longer, take the ferry from port of órzola - ferries depart every 30 minutes and last boat returns to lanzarote at 7 PM - and spend a day in la graciosa. this tiny, little island has no asphalted roads, so consider renting a bike to explore its heavenly beaches. you can also stay overnight but it is advised to book accommodation in advance.
lanzarote’s unique landscape was shaped by the volcano eruptions that took place mainly in the 18th century. for six consecutive years, between 1730 and 1736, the canary island saw what is now its most visited attraction, las montañas del fuego at timanfaya national park, erupt, destroying a total of 26 villages and a large part of its farmland. you can visit the park, where a designated tour bus will drive you through the roads still covered by lava but on a island where nature is the main attraction allow yourself to disconnect for a few hours and go on a hike.
there are countless hiking trails to choose from but caldera blanca is one you can’t miss. halfway the 10-kilometer route - don’t forget to wear appropriate footwear and sunscreen - you can explore a small volcano known as caldereta but once you reach the top of the main one you get a clear picture of why lanzarote has this magical effect on people. it has nothing to do with the views, although they are breathtaking, raw yet exuberant, and a perfect excuse for you to plan a trip to the island. but still, there’s something about lanzarote that set this island apart from other beach and sun destinations and hiking is definitely the best way to discover it. montana cuervo, montana tinasoria or montana colorada are other great options if you don’t mind hiking in the sun.
FOOD & WINE
grown in volcanic soil and boiled with lots of salt, papas arrugadas (“wrinkly potatoes”) play a vital role in lanzarote’s gastronomy. paired with either red mojo, if flavored with tomato, chillies and peppers, or green mojo, if flavored with coriander and parsley, they can be found in almost every restaurant, as an accompaniment to any fish dish, mostly dorada (sea bream) and cherne (sea bass). but if you want to indulge, then SeBE, the restaurant opened by chef santi benítez and his wife begoña ratón in October 2020, is the answer. the paella de carabinero (scarlet prawn) is hands down the best I have ever had in my entire life. when I close my eyes, I can still remember the taste of the socarrat, the crusty, slightly sticky bottom part of the paella that becomes caramelized.
despite its desert climate and volcanic activity, lanzarote has a long history with wine production so no trip to the canary island is complete without at least visiting one of its wineries. lanzarote is the only place in the world where you can find malvasía volcanica, a small and super delicate grape which cultivation is completely handmade and that goes beautifully with seafood and fish. go to bodegas tisalaya in the municipality of tinajo to visit the family winery owned by miguel morales morín.
cátia santos reis the world is yours but greece is mine” could be her mantra as cátia santos reis is yet to find a greek island she hasn’t fallen in love with. in the meantime, she keeps traveling the world. for CINCO editorial, the 34 year-old, will share her favorite things to do, visit and eat in every destination.