“When I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the more beautiful places on the planet.” So said 20th-century artist and architect César Manrique of Lanzarote, the easternmost of Spain’s Canary Islands, where his legacy as a champion of low-impact development lives on in darling villages awash in white and rising no taller than a palm tree. Juxtaposed with windswept beaches and lush pockets of vegetation, the arid, volcanic terrain of Timanfaya National Park is like nowhere else on the planet; it often draws comparisons to the surface of the moon, or even Mars. Manrique’s abstract sculptures around the island complement the surreal setting, as do Lanzarote’s unique vineyards, planted piecemeal in rock-walled semicircles that shelter them from the winds. Wine tours are obligatory, and more than a thousand visitors come for the Lanzarote Wine Run & Traditional Cuisine Festival (June 18–19), an annual race-cum-wine-tasting extravaganza. The toasts continue with the St. John celebrations on June 23–24, when bonfires and festivities mark the beginning of summer.
Direct flights connect Lanzarote with London, Frankfurt, Madrid, and other major European cities.
Where to Stay
Built with the island’s volcanic stone and a sustainable ethos, La Isla y el Mar (doubles from US$200) opened in Puerto del Carmen late last year with 81 contemporary rooms overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Be Sure to Try
A volcano-cooked meal at Restaurante El Diablo, which uses geothermal heat to barbecue an array of meats and fish.
Divers can look forward to exploring Museo Atlantico, Europe’s first underwater sculpture park by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who finished installing its 300 statues on the sea floor in February.
This article originally appeared in the June/July print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Allure of Lanzarote”).