Lanzarote is the most easterly of the Canaries, separated from Africa by 115km/71mi of sea. Off its northern tip are the three small islands of Graciosa, Montaña Clara and Alegranza.
Like Gran Canaria, Lanzarote has been invaded in recent years by mass tourism, but it has developed in a rather different way. The holiday settlements are smaller and less brash, and the extraordinary lava landscape with its gleaming white towns exerts a powerful charm.TopographyThe island's greatest length from north to south is 60km/37mi, from east to west 20km/12.5mi. There is more evidence of volcanic activity on Lanzarote than on the other islands in the Canaries: it has about 300 volcanic cones, varying in height but mostly between 400m/1,300ft and 600m/2,000ft, which create a kind of lunar landscape in the interior of the island. At the north end of the island the hills fall steeply down to the strait between Lanzarote and Graciosa, El Río; in the south they merge gradually into the coastal plain, El Rubicón.
Lanzarote's capital and port, on the east coast, owes its name (arrecife = "reef") to the many small ridges of rock off the coast. Arrecife is not only important as the base of the Canarian deep-sea fisheries: it also has several canning factories and is the center of the island's commercial life. So far it has remained largely untouched by tourism.
Castillo de San José (International Museum of Contemporary Art)
The Castillo de San José, at the north end of Arrecife, was built in 1779 on the orders of King Charles III; it is now occupied by the Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo.
Established in 1974, the Timanfaya National Park is well-known for its volcanic activity and reptile population. Visitors can drive along the 'Volcano Route' to catch a glimpse of the natural phenomena.
Islotes del Norte de Lanzarote (Riscos)
The north of Lanzarote and the offshore islets of Alegranza, Graciosa, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste form a nature reserve whose greatest attraction is the Famara cliffs, up to 600m/2,000ft high, the nesting-place of large numbers of seabirds, as well as ospreys and a species of falcon which is found only here.
Dunas de Corralejo (Isla de Lobos)
Other great tourist attractions are the Cueva de los Verdes, a 6,100m/6,700yd long cave system, and the Jameos del Agua, a cave with an attractive garden laid out by the local artist and architect César Manrique.